Haha, no problem Walter. No offence intended so none taken.
FYI, I'm not saying "That's it - I'm finished with this style of editing", merely - "I'm done with this particular image". It's a general approach I have to my work (as a whole) - I rarely re-edit images, I prefer to learn from any mistakes, and try to improve as I develop. I was aware of most of the flaws you guys have outlined, but at this stage I'm still getting to grips with the layer mask/custom brush and layer compositing techniques I'm using for this effect. I could see some of the smoke areas were too bright, but when I tryed to pull the tones down the three-dimensional appearance was lost, so I went with dimension over tone perfection. Similar issue with blending the smoke into the sides of the cloak, it's lack of experience stopping me from being able to pull it off convincingly (yet...
). I felt this was a good point to stop, as even though not "perfect", it felt coherant - and rather than risk losing that with extra complexity I decided to call this image done.
I will still be toiling away behind the scenes experimenting with the techniques required, and definitely have more images planned. But for a self-modelled first attempt (well third really, but first published and first working with a smoke effect), it's a nice starting point.
Thanks for the feedback fellas, I try to stay 'detached' and see my images as the viewer would - and this kind of feedback helps me know if I'm staying objective or not.
You guys are hard markers, but always fair.