THE PRIORY

By Michael Mattison Camera: Sony Alpha 35 Lens: Sigma DC 18-200mm Exposure: l/320secat f/5.6 (ISO 100) MICHAEL SAYS: photo was taken at Tynemouth Priory. It is a bracketed shot with three exposures. I converted it to mono and then used Photomatix 4.1 to process it. This was my first HDR image and I am hooked." ROSS SAYS: You either love or hate HDR, don t you? Personally, I m not a huge fan, but when it is applied well and used appropriately, there is no denying that the results look fantastic. For a first attempt, I think Michael has done well here. It is a dramatic location with photo potential. The sky is moody and the image suits the mono conversion, however, if I m honest. Inot convinced the original shot is quite strong enough in the first place. Due to the low viewpoint, the gravestones merge together and interrupt the skyline. The lens distortion is distracting, with the priory ruins appearing to lean unnaturally; this could be easily corrected while processing. I also think the priory is placed too far to the right of the frame, making the composition look slightly unbalarced. It might sound picky, but I find the edge of the gravestone or plinth protruding into frame on the far left of the image distracting. Therefore, I would quickly remove this using the Clone Tool. Most of my criticisms are minor points which can be remedied with just a little fine-tuning. Verdict: I think Michael should revisit this location. With a few tweaks, and a little more attention to detail, I think he will return with a really striking result. LEE FROST: I love HDR when it s done properly, but the look can be repetitive and predictable, like any strong technique, so it s best not used too often. Michael s image here is a classic example of HDR. It looks slightly surreal because there s so much detail there to take in, but not to the ridiculous levels we often see. Also, because he s converted the image to black b white as well, the HDR effect has been played down. That sky looks fantastic, and pulling out all the drama in the clouds would have been tricky using any other technique; I wouldn t fancy having to cut around the tops of those headstones and the ruined priory. I also like the way the texture on the face of each headstone and the stonework in the priory has been emphasised. Composition-wise, I m not so convinced. The priory ruin is the main element in the scene and although we re always spouting on about not putting the main element in the centre of the frame, I think that in this case it would have worked, with the priory towering over the headstones and that amazing sky behind it. Verdict: Great HDR effect, but not the best composition.

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