Photo-Development Challenge Results #1: Hillside Temple Buildings

Today I'm sharing the first results from Photo-Development Challenge: Inspire Me and Others With Your Artistic Interpretation. Today's photo is one of some minor outlying buildings at the Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) in Kyoto, Japan.

First, let's look at the uninspiring original:

The Unprocessed Original -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/640 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
The Unprocessed Original

This was from a productive outing four years ago that produced Temple Hopping in the Mountains of South-Western Kyoto, two examples for Heading Out To Photograph The Fall Foliage? Don’t Forget The Polarizer Filter, and an item on Visiting My Photo Archives: Random Pretty Shots #1.

For lack of a better idea, I'll present the various results in the order I received them, starting with my own interpretation that I apparently did when I was considering to post it four years ago:

Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on when used online)

The only change is the white-balance setting, though the impact is substantial. When writing a blog post about some place I've visited, I usually think of photos in terms of documenting the experience, and so I guess I didn't do much. (Often I'll do a lot to a photo, but perhaps because I ended up not including this one in a blog post, I didn't give it much critical thought.)

processing by Werner Gansz -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan --
processing by
Werner Gansz

Werner comments:

The composition of the meander from the two structures and red foliage was lovely so I sampled the gray tile for color temperature, then enhanced contrast.

I used radials to brighten the red tree and darken slightly the second building, intending for the viewer to start on the first structure and follow the meander to the foliage.

Also I am not a fan of tall thin verticals that modern cameras shoot so I cropped all verticals to 10x8. Happliy you framed extra on top and bottom (to may taste anyway)

My Reaction: This feels more pleasing than mine, with a white balance that feels more realistic. (The white balance from mine was set via a color-checker sample, which makes it perhaps correct but not necessarily pleasing.)

processing by Ben Willmore -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan --
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/640 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
processing by
Ben Willmore

Ben comments:

1) Crop to not allow the eye to wonder much and to clean up edges and define composition more.

2) bright highlights down to better see detail in rooftops.

3) Tweak color to make red/orange help define the image better.

4) darken where there is less interesting stuff,

5) brighten where there is more interesting stuf and try not to allow vignetting to over-darken path on right.

My Reaction: Love the whys and the whats, and the result is impactful. The lower of the two buildings feels like it's popping out of the screen.

I like it a lot.

processing by Daniel Cutter -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan --
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/640 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
processing by
Daniel Cutter

Daniel comments:

This shot is mostly green, so I turned straight to b/w. I tried to pull the focus towards the buildings: I used the correction brush to add clarity to the buildings while removing it elsewhere.

I added vignette and a grad filter to the top to add an horizon.

Yes, I'm still on Facebook: here

My Reaction: This is almost haunting, and the B&W treatment gives it an old look. The artificial-horizon idea is neat, though perhaps a bit too strong for my tastes, but it's hard to judge on its own merits because our view is tainted by having seen other versions.

processing by Austen -- Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) -- Kyoto, Japan --
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/640 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
processing by

Austen didn't provide a comment, but I can see in Lightroom that he cropped it a bit, and painted in some very subtle darker exposure here and there. He did a lot with the tone curve (adjusting how dark darks are, how middle middles are, etc.) and reduced saturation. He even added a bit of grain.

The result is a kind of old like the B&W one above, yet a completely different kind of old. It's almost like a colorized B&W shot. It feels much more calm and peaceful than impactful.

I didn't get as many submissions for this photo as some of the others, but I picked this one to start because the various versions are so very different — each person went for a completely different vibe — so it really makes me appreciate the exercise.

My thoughts on the artificial horizon highlight something important, though difficult, to keep in mind: comparing and contrasting different versions is explicitly not what we do with most photos... as consumers of others' imagery, we generally only see the final product with eyes untainted by other versions or possibilities.

Had Daniel's version with the dark horizon been the only view I had of this photo, I perhaps wouldn't have even noticed the artificial horizon, much less thought it was a bit too dark. It's impossible to know.

I gave some thought to having the images presented randomly for each viewer, so that not everyone's view is modified in the same way. Had I done this, folks who happened to see the dark-horizon version first may well have thought the next one they saw too garish, like drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth. The order things are presented in can really matter.

In any case, I really appreciate the four submissions, both individually and as a group. I hope we'll see similar quality for the other photos in the challenge!

I'm going to be traveling for the rest of the month, so it'll likely be a while before I get to the next photo, so if you're considering to participate, you've still time.

Continued here...

All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

I was very happy to view Anthony’s School History in your very interesting photos from lst Grade to
6th Grade. Congratulations, Anthony! Have a nice trip across the States.

Father Mac, Kyoto

— comment by Father Graham McDonnell on March 8th, 2015 at 8:36pm JST (9 years ago) comment permalink

Great, i love those results! and the idea of a horizon is neat, note taken.

I wonder why mine didn’t make it to the post though? I guess I’ll resend the email to see…

Yikes, sorry, please do resend… I don’t see it in my spam folder (though I did just find some others!). I’m in the middle of a crazy week so I don’t think I can get to your new mail soon, but when I do I’ll be sure to update the post with your version. —Jeffrey

— comment by nnkka on March 9th, 2015 at 2:18am JST (9 years ago) comment permalink
Leave a comment...

All comments are invisible to others until Jeffrey approves them.

Please mention what part of the world you're writing from, if you don't mind. It's always interesting to see where people are visiting from.

IMPORTANT:I'm mostly retired, so I don't check comments often anymore, sorry.

You can use basic HTML; be sure to close tags properly.

Subscribe without commenting