Expert advice and tips on improving your photography from Damien Demolder. He gives his appraisal of Light in the Underpass by Lowri Perrin and offers advice on how it might be improved.

Photo: Light in the underpass

Taken by: Lowri Perrin

Nikon D3300, 31mm, 1/25sec at f/8, ISO 800

Before

Before

Lowri was attracted to the dingy atmosphere in this underpass, and says she liked the idea of the light coming out of the darkness. 
I do, too. Patches of light in dark places draw our attention, and are powerful tools for directing your viewer’s gaze.

Lowri has sent me her original image, and one she has worked on. In software she has done what most people do – pulled in the blacks and the whites to create a high-contrast scene. We all know, though, that nowhere has contrast like that, and that our eyes just don’t see that way. I tend to lower the contrast of the extremes of the tonal range, but inject that kick we are looking for by adding a curve to the middle tones. In that way, we don’t have to lose detail.

Before: Lowri has pulled in the blacks and whites

Before: Lowri has pulled in the blacks and whites

My version still has the dramatic difference between the bright and dark areas, but the blacks don’t blanket the shadows so we can still see interesting tones and shapes. The scene is very nice, but feels a little empty. It needs a person walking through the light area to bring the whole thing to life. I’ve drawn a rather improbable lady who looks as though she is chasing her bolting horse, but anyone with an interesting outline would do.

After: There's still plenty of drama in the image, but more detail can be seen in the shadows

After: There’s still plenty of drama in the image, but more detail can be seen in the shadows

After: A figure captured in the light would have brought the image alive

After: A figure captured in the light would have brought the image alive

What you have identified so well and captured, Lowri, is what I call a ‘scene with potential’. Now it needs some human activity to realise it.