Robert Atkins  


Secret Place by Robert Atkins

February 2021 - Secret Place

February 2021 - Robert Atkins

Original

About the Image(s)

With COVID limiting the ability to get out and capture new images, I've continued to go back through old images and look again at ones that I liked but which didn't quite seem to work. This month's image was taken at least 10 years ago in Yellowstone on one of the last days that the park was "open" for the regular season before switching to winter mode with much of it closed (at least to auto traffic). It was already cold enough that the shutter on the old Graflex Optar 135mm lens I was using on my Crown Graphic 4x5 was malfunctioning and wouldn't stay open on bulb. I was shooting ISO 50 Velvia and it was still fairly dark, so I struggled to get anything close to the time I needed. I gave up when I decided I was too cold, wasting film, and increasingly irrationally worried about the grizzly activity that had been reported for the area.

The original attached above is the best exposure I got, and a miracle of modern drum scanning that it looks that good. The scan pulled stuff out of areas that looked almost black with the film on my light table. But, despite that miracle, I was never pleased with the composition. I've tried various horizontal crops in the past, chopping off the left and bottom in various amounts. I've also tried pano versions. But I still was not in love with anything. When going back to it this time though I tried a vertical and I think I like the balance here much better. I particularly like the horizontal cut created in the foreground and the repeating clumped patterns of the reeds. The background is of course mystical to me, with the fog and with the strange patch of more substantial frost which seems almost left from some meeting of fairies. Hence the title, Secret Place.

The work was all in Photoshop, bringing in an occasional Nik or Luminar filter effectively as another adjustment layer. There was a cold stillness that I wanted to preserve, but I did bring up the warmth in the grasses as a contrast. I shaped the light a bit to try to bring the eye from the foreground grass back to the magical frost patch in the background. I used a little Orton like effect - applied only to the background - to add to the mystical air I was trying to convey.

I have not had time to let the processed image "sit for a bit" as I usually do, so while I contemplate how to further enhance it, I'd love to hear the Group's thought on that as well.


13 comments posted




Paul Smith   Paul Smith
(Group 93)
Please explain your interest in the "Orton" effect...what does Orton bring to the party? BTW, your image is wonderful!   Posted: 02/09/2021 13:24:48
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Paul. The Orton like effect was actually Nik's glamor glow which I believe is pretty close to the same thing. My thinking was that the subtle softening / glow in and around the area of frost would enhance the mystical feel of that "Secret Place". What do you think - too soft? I generally don't like softening anything but here I thought it added to mood.   Posted: 02/09/2021 18:45:21
Paul Smith   Paul Smith
(Group 93)
Let me be clear...I love the image...wouldn't change a thing.
It's just that I was unfamiliar with Orion!
You just keep doin' what you're doin' ! I'll keep droppin" in!   Posted: 02/09/2021 19:21:25



Paul Smith   Paul Smith
(Group 93)
Orton   Posted: 02/09/2021 19:23:09



Emily Kawasaki   Emily Kawasaki
Hi Robert, this has a lot of great visual elements (the geometric shapes and clarity of the grasses/trees growing vertically vs. the rounded curve of the river/water, the blur of the ripples on the water, and the mist/fog in the background). The deep color with the whiteness of the pine trees remind me of a Bob Ross painting. It looks like a beautiful place to enjoy, lose yourself in nature, and take amazing photos. Great shot!   Posted: 02/15/2021 02:19:55



Emily Kawasaki   Emily Kawasaki
Hi Robert, this has a lot of great visual elements (the geometric shapes and clarity of the grasses/trees growing vertically vs. the rounded curve of the river/water, the blur of the ripples on the water, and the mist/fog in the background). The deep color with the whiteness of the pine trees remind me of a Bob Ross painting. It looks like a beautiful place to enjoy, lose yourself in nature, and take amazing photos. Great shot!   Posted: 02/15/2021 02:19:57
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Emily. It was a beautiful spot - but also really cold!   Posted: 02/22/2021 19:05:13



Dale Yates   Dale Yates
Hi Robert...this is a beautiful image! I like the overall mood of the image and the excellent use of light and shadow. The image has a mystic feel about it. The Orton Effect was done well and adds to the mood. Personally I would not change a thing! Excellent work!

In looking at your original image, I like the overall depth and dimension provided by the fog along with the light/shadows. The river/creek running through the image provides a good leading line. The bottom line is the composition is very good! In my opinion, you could also develop this image as well by bringing overall enhancement to the light/shadows and the fog and perhaps apply the Orton Effect not only to the patch of frost as shown in the final image, but also to the slight snow in the foreground and along the river bank. Just some thoughts...   Posted: 02/20/2021 11:34:04
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Dale. I really love the fog and mood of the left side of the original, and tried so hard to come up with a way to make it work. I kept finding though that that left side - with the leading line of the water - would pull the eye to that corner. And then there isn't much there. The subject is clearly the highlighted trees on the right, so I couldn't get it to work. But you've given me some ideas so I will keep trying!   Posted: 02/22/2021 19:02:36



Dan Mottaz   Dan Mottaz
Hey Robert, I always love viewing your images. They are so delicate and have an indescribable graciousness to them. This month's image takes that to an even higher level. The mood is captured in a manner that makes me feel like I'm seeing heaven for the first time. The light fog is pleasing to me as well as the soft light that illuminates the trees. You restrained from not bringing up the brightness globally. This gives just the perfect amount of subtle tension that holds me in.
I took some time to view your original and feel that is a nice composition on its own. Perhaps crop up a little from the bottom, but the fog or mist over the water trailing off to the left is very pleasing too. But, I can see why you formed your image as you did. It brings my attention to the tree area where it is wonderfully lit.
Did you do any kind of Clarity, Detail Extraction, extra sharpening, etc. on the highlighted trees. As I always qualify my reviews questioning the web feed's rendering, this area, as it appears here, feels a little too enhanced. You can see at full resolution if this needs to be dialed back or if it's the website that makes it look this way. I say this because my eyes desperately want to see a consistent soft, heavenly look in the tree area.
You used your color palette very nicely with your photograph. As a complement to your photographic and artist abilities, I'm sure you intentionally worked the predominate blue tones with the complementary warm colors of orange and yellow in the reeds so they show nicely together.
You never stop in impressing me with your high knowledge of photography and your ability to make a very pleasing picture.   Posted: 02/20/2021 12:49:33
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Dan, both for the kind words and the suggestion on overdoing the highlighted trees. I don't seem to know when to stop. I will try dialing things back a bit there.   Posted: 02/22/2021 18:51:51



Gerard Blair   Gerard Blair
For me, the most striking aspect of this image is the color contrast between the foreground and the remainder: the blue dominates but it is so well offset by the grasses where the orange/brown is almost (?) the complementary color (as I read my color wheel). In the right two thirds I see verticals taking this contrast from the reeds, through the reflections and into the trees: a beautiful journey for the eye to follow. I am also struck by the crop which puts the strongest element off-center. Was it a deliberate use of thirds? I find it really effective.   Posted: 02/21/2021 21:18:32
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Gerard. I searched forever to find this crop within the overall image. I think once I realized the image was really all about the highlighted trees, then I cut a great deal else out and tried to get that focus about on the thirds while also getting that balanced with the reeds in the foreground.   Posted: 02/22/2021 18:57:26



 

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