Monday, October 20, 2008

Winning Images

So I can't help but blow my own horn (if I don't do it, who will?). Tonight at the Richmond Hill Camera Club, 3 of the 4 images I submitted won placements in the club competition. In increasing order:

"Water Hazard". This scored the most points of the three, 8+8+8=24 but it was not on the assigned topic so it came 3rd in the advanced class under "Pictorial" images. The judges thought it had great timing, great flow and movement, rich and strong colours. They wondered if it had been over-sharpened.

Canoe in the Mist. No specific comments but they loved the image. It tied for 2nd place in the advanced group, assigned category. 7+8+7=22 points.

Beached Canoe at Dawn. This tied for 1st place in the advanced group, 8+9+6=23 points. Note the low score from the "Russian Judge". The assigned category was "landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes" and he thought it was off-topic because it was a picture of a canoe, not a landscape, so he down-scored it.

The 4th image I submitted was the Blacksmith shot (below a couple of days). When it was shown at the judging, there were some artifacts on the left and at the top but when I reviewed the image later, they were not there. It may have had something to do with the computer setup at the judging. Anyway, the image was marked down for that reason.

I'm rather pleased: 3 out of 4 images placed.

FacZen Photography Tips

Straighten that Horizon

Time and again, competition judges have been heard to say, "The horizon isn't level, so I deducted a point from the score." Is that only in competitions, or is it also important in other applications?

Truth is, it's always important. It's one of those rules of composition, like the "rule of thirds" where it's something to be watched for. If the horizon isn't straight, the viewer has the immediate feeling that there's something wrong with the image. That's if it's a little off. If it's 'way off, perhaps the maker had a reason to make it that way -- to unbalance the viewer? To change the perspective? To force the eye in a certain direction?

So how do you do it?

Well there are some great tools in both Camera Raw and PhotoShop CS3. Here's an example and how to fix it in Camera Raw.

Here's an image where the horizon is slanted. Open the image in Camera Raw.
Select the "straighten" tool from the row of icons at the top of the image (it's the 6th one from the left, looks like an angle thingy), and drag a line along the horizon (or any object in the image that you want to be either horizontal or vertical... if you blow up this picture you can see where I dragged the line.

As soon as you let go of the mouse button, Camera Raw rotates the image to match the line you drew. It also crops it automatically as big as it can within the frame. Now when you open the image, PhotoShop takes the cropped, rotated piece as its own! Voila! Straight horizon with no pain. I wish everything would be so easy. By the way it also does the same thing with vertical lines.

Incidentally, no, I didn't take an image at an angle like that -- I fiddled it so that it would be obvious how it works. Neat clouds, though!

In my next post, I'll show you how to do the same thing in PhotoShop CS3, and we'll talk about resizing images.