Expert advice and tips on improving your photography from Damien Demolder. Damien looks at Messing Woods by Bob Hill to offer advice on how it might be improved.

Before-BH

Before: Too much contrast blocked the shadows and removed detail from the lightest tones.

Photo: Messing Woods

Taken by: Bob Hill

Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro, 18-200mm, 1/250sec at f/8, ISO 400

Photography is all about light, but in the clambering for exciting subject matter and our human attention for the physical, we often forget that. Instead, we concentrate on things, objects and stuff. We should rather always first look to see where the light is most interesting, and then focus on the tangible elements and composition.

I like Bob’s picture very much because it is all about the light. He has spotted a wonderful display of autumn sunshine and photographed that – only including the trees and ferns as decoration and context.

However, as much as I like Bob’s composition and subject matter, I don’t think he has made as much of the light as he could have. His final frame is a little cool and contrasty, hinting at winter more than the last sunshiny days. That low autumn sunshine should be warm, soft and glowing.

He used daylight white balance, which is commendable just for the fact that it isn’t auto, but really I think to emphasise the colour of the light he needed to make use of shade or cloudy settings. And the processing is made harder with a bit too much contrast that blocks shadows and burns the detail from the lightest tones.

To show what might have happened had Bob paid more attention to the characteristics of the light at the time of shooting, I’ve produced a version that uses less contrast, which is darkened to protect the light on the ferns and which luxuriates in a warm glow.

After-BHHowever, Bob’s image is still a wonderful picture, and for his light-seeking eye he wins my Picture of the Week award.