Wordy Wednesday #31: Mont St. Michel

Our image today comes from the portfolio of Marco Klompalberts. Marco was kind enough to offer this up for review from The Imaging Forum community (TIF).   You can find out more about Marco on his Facebook page here, and his Twitter page here. Â As thanks for his submission, Marco will also receive a free combo pack of the 49 Photo Tips Vols I and II for his generosity (not that he needs it)! Thanks Marco!

Mont St. Michel

#1 – What rule of composition were used and why?

In looking at the overall composition, my instinct tells me that the Rule of Thirds is in use here.  Everything is weighted toward the lower right and a substantial portion of the structure exists right on that spot of the ROT points.  It works for me because the height of the peaks needs some room to set itself in the image.  As to whether it should be on the lower right or lower left is conjecture as I don’t know what is off to camera right.

#2 – Are any rules of composition broken?

I don’t see any compositional approach that seems to be intentionally breaking one of the rules of composition, but one thing that does strike me is that there is no horizon for a lower line on the Rule of Thirds grid.  now this is probably because of the clouds in the sky, but it is one thing that one could construe as “missing” in the composition here.  It doesn’t detract from the image at all, but is worth noting just from a review perspective.

#3 – What camera/lens combo was used?

Marco reports that this was shot with a Nikon D80 and the 18-55mm kit lens.

#4 – What lighting was used?

Although Marco did not specifically report his lighting used, based on the post production, I am going to guess that this is ambient lighting conditions, as he did indicate some bracketing for HDR-style effects (-2, 0, and +2).

#5 – How was it processed?

As already mentioned, Marco intentionally shot this with bracketed exposure with the goal of bringing out both the shadow details within the lines of the castle, while also maintaining detail in the much lighter sky.  I believe Marco said he did the post production in Nik’s HDR Pro.  Since I don’t own this particular software, I can’t speak to technique, except to note that the HDR effect does seem like it was done with subtle tones.

#6 – Did You Like It?

HDR is becoming a very popular processing technique, and I am very careful about how I use it.  Subtlety for me is key, and the ones that are heavily baked I am not normally a fan of.  Because Marco approached it with a light rather than a heavy hand, it has much more appeal for me in that regard.  I do wish the details of the building were a bit more evident.  At the same time I can also appreciate the negative space he needed to give the castle some space in the frame without the viewer feeling crowded.

If it were me, I might have tried it on the lower left, just to give more of a sense of scale.  Notice how the clouds seem to hang very low there?  It’s almost as if the building is “hanging in the clouds” as a result.  This also is a function of the lack of horizon in the frame, and maybe is his intent.  I’d have panned to the right a little, because it looks like there might be some more buildings over there that help define just how big this actually is.  The grandeur I feel is lost a little because of the lower right position, but again, this is just conjecture.

Anyway, those are my thoughts…what about yours?  Did you like it?  Not like it?  What worked for you?  What didn’t?  What would you do differently?

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1 comment for “Wordy Wednesday #31: Mont St. Michel

  1. Marco Klompalberts
    at

    Jason,
    Thanks for the review.

    About the missing horizon: here’s a link to a photo of Mont St Michel which includes the horizon (http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/222f90/#2). The photos were taken from approximately the same spot, I think.
    But when we were there the place was very crowded, and I didn’t want to include lots of moving people in the bracketed series (to avoid ghosting).
    But even worse: there was a lot of work in progress, so gates, cranes and other construction equipment scattered the lower part of the image. They were also visible sticking out to the left and the right of the citadel.
    I didn’t take the time to change to my 55-200 lens, so this was the farthest I could zoom in. Maybe I should have changed the crop a little in post?
    Looking back at the picture here, it also seems to lean a little bit to the left. Or is it just me?

    I too don’t like most of the “heavily baked” HDR’s that seem to be all the rage (although on some subjects it can work really well), and I was happy with this result.

    I had really looked forward to visit this place, because I had seen real good pictures of it. But with the crowd, the (little bit) bad weather, and all the construction work going on, it wasn’t what I had expected it to be and hard to get some nice shots.

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