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Awesome I really like this!!!
I understand the comments of Matt and Rob. HDR takes a picture to another level of Photography. Sometimes it can look over processed and sometimes it can give an awesome effect. It took me along time to accept HDR. We have a tone of tricks in the Digital Darkroom to enhance our images. Who is to say which one is wrong or right. We are all photographers, we all see the world differently and we all edit differntly. That is what makes each of us unique.
I'm going to start this comment with the caveat that I don't know the environment around this Buddha head. I know the location and have actually wanted to go there myself but have never made the time. I'm going to shoot straight in this and give more of a critique that a comment as that's how I learn and how TPN was an instrumental in my growth as a photographer. This image has no comparison with your image of the young boy in Sapa. They are night and day apart. First let me say, I'm not a big fan of overprocessed images and HDR type effects. So right there you lost me. The subject matter is unique and interesting. Though, the job of the photographer is to make it visually captivating and to communicate something. I think had you taken a wider approach to this image and shot it with a wider angle lens you might've been able to put this relic into perspective and give it some context. I think this is one of the few times that Cappa's adage "If your picture isn't good enough, you're not close enough." doesn't apply. In this case pulling out would probably have made a difference. But again, I don't know what else was outside the frame. I think this would have been a better image, even with the current crop, if you would've taken a lighter hand at the postprocessing. Travel photography doesn't need a lot of special effects to communicate the uniqueness of the environment or the culture in which we are visiting.
I hope you take this critique in the spirit in which it was written.
There isn't really much I can add to Matt's comments, I agree with him pretty much (although doubt I could have expressed the reasons why quite so well). The HDR process has taken this into the realms of graphic art rather than photography in terms of look and feel - which makes it seem less real, and hence... I think... makes it loose it's impact and immediacy as a photograph. If people look and think "nice, but it isn't real" then I think you do the object of the picture something of a disservice.
Looks a truely intriguing place though and I hope you have more images of it that we can get to see! I have never heard of this site before, let alone seen any photographs of it :-)
I absolutely agree Richard. I always felt I learned more through joining and participating in the original TPN than I did from any other group or website that I was or have since been involved in. Hopefully this new incarnation of the site will do the same for all of us!
I also agree with Matt that HDR is another potentially useful tool in the box, my misgivings about it stem from the way it is often overused to create very odd looking images - once a photograph starts to look too much like an extract from a graphic novel (or comic as we used to call em!) it seems to loose a lot of impact as a photograph. When I see a good example of it's use though I have no problem with saying so (and I even use it myself on occasion!)
And finally... must admit I have never had much to do with Nik software ;-) I shall look forward to seeing what it can do!
I agree with Matt on the HDR processing. I think some iconic sites you can take a risk on and do something artistic in post processing. I think others really just need to be presented in their natural form. This is one of the sites I think would be better suited to original image treatment and not so much post processing.
I'm glad you are finding our site helpful and you are taking people's comments in the spirit in which they are intended. Matt is a long time member of our site and he has a lot of experience in your part of the world. He spends a great deal of time working with NGOs on causes there.