Lesson 64: Photo Makeover Landscape Style

Gina sent me a second photo that she wanted some input on, also from her recent vacation on the lake.  Her question was, “This one is boring.  Too many trees?”  Here’s the original photo from Gina:

Original iPhone 4S photo taken by Gina
Original iPhone 4S photo taken by Gina

There are times when you walk around a lake until you find the perfect, sweeping landscape view and get a dream shot.  Then, there are times when you’re on vacation, hanging out with friends, maybe having an adult beverage or two, and you happen to really enjoy the view and you’d like a picture of it.

These are the times that you whip out your camera and you get the view that you have.  But then, you look at the photo and you think, “Gosh, it looks so much better in person.”  I find that most of the time, things look  further away in a photo than in person to me.  This is especially true with the iPhone’s very short focal length–it spreads things apart and makes them look more distant than they do when you’re standing there looking at the scene–don’t ever let anyone tell you photos don’t lie.

In this case, because Gina asked if there were too many trees, I looked at the sky to see if it was doing something dramatic and compelling.  It wasn’t.  So, I decided to try cropping the photo to a simple rule of thirds composition where the line between the far edge of the lake/trees and the sky fell at the top ⅓ horizontal line (see Lesson 52).  This puts the focus more on the lake and less on the sky.  It also pulled us in a little closer to the lake, making it feel bigger.  I also straightened it slightly, but those were the only two edits I made–the exposure is perfect and the focus is great.  Here’s the edited version:

Slightly edited version of Gina's photo
Slightly edited version of Gina’s photo

I used Snapseed to edit.  To see how to crop a photo in Snapseed, go to Lesson 41.  Now, just to make it easier to compare, here are the two versions side-by-side:

Your Assignment:  Which version of the photo do you like better?  Do you know why you like it better?

Take a look at a landscape photo you’ve taken where maybe it doesn’t quite work the way you’d like it to, but you’re not sure why.  Did you apply the rule of thirds to the photo?  Can you crop it to create a rule of thirds version without removing any important elements?    Do you like it better?  Are there other issues with the photo that you can identify?

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