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Author Topic: Street Photograph  (Read 7270 times)
61Dynamic
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« on: March 01, 2006, 10:15:52 PM »
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This is an older (relatively speaking: 2 years ago in a 3 year long career...) image I've had in my collection. I've gone back and fourth on it over time but now it is starting to grow on me a bit. A good critiquing should bring me back to reality if needed. ;)

It was taken in Las Vegas at the Venetian Hotel's gondola ride/shopping district. It is a unique area for street photography in part to the variety of people and the extravagant architecture Vegas is known for (daylight-balanced light makes WB easy to boot). When I took this it was extremely crowded and shooting was difficult with the 50mm on an APS-C camera. This moment came and went in 1/100th of a second.

Full critiques appreciated.

Canon 300D
50mm f/1.4
1/100 @ f/2.2
ISO800
« Last Edit: March 01, 2006, 10:16:32 PM by 61Dynamic » Logged
jule
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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2006, 02:19:40 AM »
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Not too sure whether I am competant to offer a full critique, but I can offer a few things which came to mind for me.

Wonderful image. Has this been croped at all? I would have loved a little more of the light pole. The curve at the top of the right doesn't have enough room to breathe, and the little box thing hanging down at the right is chopped off. The two boxy things either side, in their entirety, may have made a better composition complementing the two gentlemen,....but if that's all that was in the frame, can't do much about that.

I particularly like the shape of the lace wrought iron railing, lamp supports and the pattern on the man's shirt. The expression and the body shape of the gentleman on the left is interesting because it leads us to look where he is looking, which leaves us in a complete state of unknowingness about what he is looking at, because it is unseen, and there are no cues to assist us.

I think the angle and the lightness against the dark background of the arm of the gentleman on the left, leads the eye back into the image, after looking out towards where the gentlemen are looking.

The colouring adds to the relaxed mood. I sense companionship and friendship, expressed through their relaxed hand positions, and body stance.  

When I zoomed in to look more carefully at their facial expressions,  I noticed a hazy/fuzzy pixelly stuff around all of the objects, but not through the solid areas of colour. Not being a very technically proficient photoshopper, ..what is this?? I would appreciate a little help with my own understanding of this phenomenon please.

Thanks for posting this image and this opportunity. Julie
« Last Edit: March 02, 2006, 02:20:50 AM by jule » Logged

russell a
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2006, 09:05:54 AM »
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I can see why you like this shot.  It's well exposed and the interplay of pattern lends interest.  Compositionally, because the restaurant sign is practically dead center and isolated with plain wall space around it, it really dominates the image. And even though one could observe that the sans serif "Canaletto" relates to the solid shirt of the man on the left, and the script below to the shirt of the man on the right, the shot risks coming across as an advertisment.  The placement of the patterned elements in relation to one another is not optimal.  I wish you had taken some additional angles or crops.

Figure out what your point of view is.  Play around with it.  For example, if you have enough pixels, try cropping it down to cut the name of the restaurant more or less in half and adjust the aspect ratio appropriately.  That will sacrifice the affinity of the curly lamp top, but sometimes such sacrifice is necessary.  It does have a relaxed feel (which Julie mentioned) and, if you know the people in the shot and it's a restaurant at which you had a great meal and you want to remember it, leave it as is and frame it for your wall.
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2006, 10:34:03 AM »
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I like it very much technically; it's well composed and converted well to B&W.  I'm just not sure what it's trying to say or what sort of impression it's trying to give, so I find it uninteresting to look at for any length of time.  Can you enlighten me as to what you're trying to accomplish with it?

Lisa

P.S.  I give up.  Which state is "The Granola Bar State"?  (I have my suspicions, but dare not voice them.    And I *do* eat Granola Bars!)
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jule
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2006, 02:56:24 PM »
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I know this loses some of the narrative...but it looks less like an advertisement now. Thoughts?
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2006, 03:42:48 PM »
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Thanks for the responses thus far. It's helped me see some things I hadn't before.

The image has not been cropped and as I mentioned before, this was the only opportunity that showed its head for this shot. The walkway behind them filled with people just after I took it. In a perfect world I would have taken a few more photographs at other angles or more carefully framed this one.

The boxy things on the lamp post are speakers and that fuzziness you see when you zoomed in is simply jpg artifacts from web optimization.

The guys are watching gondolas pass by just out of frame. The reason I took the image was because of the bored look these two shared despite their surroundings and the general mood and business of everyone else there.

I have put some thought on the sign and it was the primary reason I have gone back and fourth with this image over time. Without the sign the image is a bit empty and slightly off-balance IMHO. I tried cropping down to half the sign but at that point the sign becomes a big distraction. In addition, as the version jule posted shows, much of what I enjoyed of the image (a telling of location) is lost. Cropped in too tight, they are just two guys leaning on a rail. Meh.

Here is a version with the sign and the speakers removed (I do like it better without the speakers at the very least).
« Last Edit: March 02, 2006, 03:49:18 PM by 61Dynamic » Logged
61Dynamic
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2006, 03:50:56 PM »
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P.S. I give up. Which state is "The Granola Bar State"? (I have my suspicions, but dare not voice them.   And I *do* eat Granola Bars!)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=59386\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Oh! Almost forgot to answer that.

The Granola Bar State is California. It's full of Fruits, Flakes and Nuts!
« Last Edit: March 02, 2006, 03:51:15 PM by 61Dynamic » Logged
benInMA
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2006, 03:57:03 PM »
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They are both looking at something and the photo doesn't give any clue as to what it is.   As such the story is kind of missing.

My eyes go to the two guys, see that they are looking, look for what they are interested in, and proceed out of the frame.   And then I'm done, nothing sucks me back in.

Street images are so tough because they have to have a bunch of elements that keep you interested and looking at the picture as opposed to just leading your eye out of the picture with nothing to draw you back in.

Nothing to say technically, that is all fine.
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russell a
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2006, 04:37:06 PM »
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Ah, well, if you are  doing the Trotsky bit (there is a widely published set of before and after photos in which Stalin had his wet photo lab guys remove Trotsky from the photo of a small group walking beside a river) then experiment with repositioning/fading/whatever the signage to see if you can keep it without it taking over.  A noble experiment at the least.
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2006, 10:50:25 PM »
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Oh! Almost forgot to answer that.

The Granola Bar State is California. It's full of Fruits, Flakes and Nuts!

Figured as much.  

Lisa in Northern California

P.S.  I think the photo is slightly more interesting *with* the sign and the speakers; it makes the whole scene more peculiar (which is good  ) to those who are looking closely, and makes one wonder where the heck it is.
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russell a
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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2006, 08:29:37 AM »
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Here's a thing or two about street photography.  One has to take what one can get, by and large. The difference between the great shot and the ordinary may be a matter of milliseconds.  If there is a powerful or poignant narrative then the image can survive pointless "studio-grade" critiques of composition and lighting.  If the narrative is not sufficently strong, the best thing to do is to chalk one up to experience, grab your camera and head back to the streets to cast for another.  My personal preference is not to mess about very much with images.  If cropping doesn't do it, I forget it.  Of course, in "The Age of Photoshop" we photographers have already been judged guilty and when one does get a great shot an increasing number of viewers will assume manipulation of every sort - from bribery to Photoshop.  So, if one does manipulate, don't feel guilty, join the great tradition of faking it that has enobled photography since its invention.
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OnyimBob
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2006, 05:51:53 PM »
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Daniel, I've been watching this post for a while, trying to make up my mind about your shot, and Russel's post crystalised it for me.
This is a classic street shot in which opportunity is taken or lost. Details such as the sign, speakers etc, may detract from the "narrative" (I'm starting to dislike that word even though it has meaning relating to context), but they were there. I'm not philosophically bothered if they're removed, and I must admit that in your second version their absence doesn't overly influence my aesthetic reaction to the shot.
The two men 'are' the shot. Their "bored' expressions, not knowing what they're looking at: surely this is what street shots are about - capturing the wonderful variety of human expression. When a narrative is too obvious doesn't it lose its punch? Mystery is the spice of (some) lives. My personal criteria dictates that if I'm drawn back again and again to a shot, then its been successful. Yours is successful for me.
Of course, if a shot manages to capture not just the human expression but also a fine balance of composition, tone, etc, then it becomes a great shot.
By the by, when looking at this photo, my mind dredges up that Cartier Bresson shot of the couple at the shop window where the man is gazing to his left at the (painting of the nude??) while his wife is admiring the goods. Its the expression dummy! Its the "humanness" that grabs.
Thanks.
Bob Munro.
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russell a
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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2006, 09:23:14 PM »
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By the by, when looking at this photo, my mind dredges up that Cartier Bresson shot of the couple at the shop window where the man is gazing to his left at the (painting of the nude??) while his wife is admiring the goods. Its the expression dummy! Its the "humanness" that grabs.
Thanks.
Bob Munro.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Bob:  The image to which you refer is The Sidelong Glance by Robert Doisneau, which is really in a different category than the photo under discussion here.  Doisneau's photo was one in a series for a magazine spread in which he set up behind a scrim in his cousin's shop and captured a number of people viewing the nude, which in 1948 was an unusual sight in a store window.  In the Dosineau we know the man is looking at the nude.  We assume his wife is looking at something less risque.

[a href=\"http://www.masters-of-photography.com/D/doisneau/doisneau_sidelong_glance_full.html]Sidelong Glance[/url]
« Last Edit: March 03, 2006, 09:30:19 PM by russell a » Logged
OnyimBob
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« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2006, 09:42:01 PM »
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Russel, well there you go! Sprung again! I still reckon if wasn't Bresson it should have been! Somehow knowing it was a set up has ruined the image for me.  
Now I'll have to check out Doisneau's work. See what you've done?
Bob.
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OnyimBob
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« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2006, 10:05:14 PM »
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Ah ha! Robert Doisneau! I followed your link and found the "Kiss by the Hotel de Ville". By coincidence there was an article somewhere here (Australia) in the last few weeks about that photo. More particularly, about Doisneau and the "kissers". Much speculation over the years about who they were, people falsely claiming to be the subjects and wanting loot, etc. etc.
Turns out this was a set up as well!  He staged the scene.
He was an interesting man was Doisneau.
Bob.
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russell a
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« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2006, 10:59:04 PM »
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Bob:  Re The Sidelong Glance, Doisneau set up the possibility but caught the precise moment that makes the shot a standout.  It doesn't ruin the image for me, Doisneau's methods were different than, for example, Winogrand.  Doisneau was a real hustler, in a way.  More problematic, perhaps, is the Kiss by the Hotel de Ville which was one of a series "Lovers in the Streets of Paris" he also did for a magazine.  Although Paris would seem fertile territory for such an assignment, Doisneau increased his odds significantly by hiring some under-employed actors to simulate "spontaneous" smooching.  This was the best image of the bunch and was spectacularly successful - reputedly a poster of this image hung in every dorm room in France (and elsewhere).  French laws regarding privacy (rights to an image is by the person being photographed) allowed some lawyers to get in on the act and in the late 90's 9 people sued Dosineau, claiming they were the person in the photo, including the woman who was.  Wily Dosineau had kept the paperwork all those years of what he had paid, and so all the suits were thrown out of court.  The woman had to console herself by selling her copy of the vintage print at auction for $244,000.

While Cartier-Bresson's reputed method was to remain invisible and alert for his touted "decisive moment".  Rumor has it that he paid the girl in this photo to run up the steps.  Siphnos
This was taken in '61, perhaps, being in Greece and pressed for time, he got tired of waiting for the decisive moment.  Those Magnum guys were known for getting the photo they wanted, whatever it took.  

With an approach that overtly rejected the Bresson mythology, William Kline would provoke his subjects to get their reactions and participation.  Here's one of his best known set up shots.  Little Italy  

Diane Arbus iconic shot of the kid with the toy hand grenade and attitude was number 8 in a string of 11 posed street portraits.  Kid with Hand Grenade  

So, even when we see what looks like pure luck, it may not be as pure as we think.  So enjoy images on the basis of what works for you.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2006, 11:33:23 AM »
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So, if one does manipulate, don't feel guilty, join the great tradition of faking it that has enobled photography since its invention.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=59452\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I certainly don't feel guilty manipulating an image. Of course, I have my limits. I believe there is not problem removing items here and there as long as the original intent of the image is not altered.

I removed the sign and other elements for the sake of experimentation. My final variation on the image maintains the elements found in the original with the exception of the speaker hanging out of frame.

Again, I'd like to thank everyone for their input on my photograph. It has been very helpful and let me see aspects of the image I hadn't seen before.
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