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Author Topic: Church in Blizzard  (Read 7872 times)
shaunkeng
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« on: January 05, 2007, 02:27:16 AM »
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This shot was taken a couple of years ago during a blizzard in NYC. It was so cold my hands were freezing even though I had gloves on. I noticed 2 guys walking towards this church and hastily took this shot. One of only 2 I took. High ISO since night shot and hand held so lots of grain but I think it adds to the atmosphere of the shot. Comments encouraged
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allan67
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2007, 06:18:16 AM »
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Nice shot, but there are some things that might be improved:
the church seems to be falling away and the central spot is occupied by a trafic light - it's the sharpest and clearest object in the shot.

Try to crop away the right part of the image (with all the lights) and straighten perspective.

Waiting till there are no people in front of the the building would have also helped.

Allan
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2007, 06:24:17 AM »
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Hmm: I'm in two minds about this one.

First: the atmosphere is just fantastic. If this was a grab shot I'd done, I'd be pretty pleased!

What I'm not sure about is whether the intrusions of modern life (cars, traffic lights, window lights on high) into a Gothick scene (the men and the church) is an interesting observation on the layers of time one can find in a modern city, or an unwelcome distraction.

I disagree that the figures should not be there: they really add to the scale and feeling of the image, as does the dizzying perspective distortion.
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Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2007, 06:49:31 AM »
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Absolutely fantastic shot. It's wonderful how night and storm can turn the comfortable, pedestrian world upside down and inside out. The cathedral looms like an intrusion from an alternate reality. The traffic light becomes a foreboding Borg-like menace. The street lights become dark suns. The penthouse lighting at the top of the sky-scraper becomes a bolt of lightning between the twin towers of the cathedral. And the dark mist of the snow-filled sky ties it all together into a surreal dreamscape heavy with half-comprehended symbolism.

I wouldn't change a thing except to remove the USM haloing around the men in black. (One approach: carefully clone it out with a small brush with about 50% opacity.) Hard to say about the grain/noise from a reduced JPEG, but at this scale it seems to enhance the image to me.
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2007, 07:32:13 AM »
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I generally quite like this shot - perfect for BW.
grain adds to the mood
people add context
probably doesn't need the intruding branches and flag fragment on the rhs.
as per a previous post - did the auto focus catch the streetlight or the church?
« Last Edit: January 05, 2007, 07:32:44 AM by Tim Gray » Logged
DarkPenguin
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2007, 11:42:10 AM »
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The penthouse lighting at the top of the sky-scraper becomes a bolt of lightning between the twin towers of the cathedral.

Exactly what I thought when I looked at it.  I love everything about this picture except the spurious branches and the half flag.  (Should be easy to clone out.)
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Ken Tanaka
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2007, 11:49:38 AM »
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This shot was taken a couple of years ago during a blizzard in NYC. It was so cold my hands were freezing even though I had gloves on. I noticed 2 guys walking towards this church and hastily took this shot. One of only 2 I took. High ISO since night shot and hand held so lots of grain but I think it adds to the atmosphere of the shot. Comments encouraged
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93812\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Leave the image alone.  Don't crop it.  Don't "clone-out" anything.  Don't try to correct the perspective of the church (St. Patricks?).

The image is not an architectural record about the church.  It's not about the people, either.  It's about the other-worldliness of the whole scene imposed by such severe weather.   Whether or not that was your intention (sounds like "not exactly") that's the real value of this image as it stands.

Leave it alone.  Don't pick it and it will look better to you over time.  It looks pretty good to me already.
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shaunkeng
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2007, 12:58:26 PM »
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Thanks for all the comments!!

This shot was taken in a blizzard where it was maybe 10 degrees outside with nearly no visibility from the blowing snow. The picture doesn't do justice to this fact. As a matter of fact, what made me look up was the cab closest to the center was skidding out, that's why it is not parallel to the street. The shot was taken with my old Sony F828 (hence all the added grain beyond what should be there)

I don't want to get rid of the perspective distortion, I think without it the picture would lose that foreboding and gothic feel. Which ties into why I left the street lights in (after much deliberation). It seems if all the lights are reaching down into the scene, imposing its will on the storm to guide those foolish enough to be out there. Its that juxtaposition of modern elements with the church that I like. As the one poster mentioned, this is not a architectual picture of the church, its all about the mood. And in this case I think it serves the picture in capturing that mood.

This is what I'm most afraid people won't get and the reason I posted the picture. I'm afraid people will think it needs to be "fixed" when I believe this is one case it shouldn't.

Also I believe the 2 people are needed to give scale to the church, they also add to the lonely, cold feeling as they both look down to shield their eyes, hands in pockets as the walk (as one poster mentioned - context).

Yes its St. Patricks cathedral.
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howiesmith
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2007, 01:23:46 PM »
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This is what I'm most afraid people won't get and the reason I posted the picture. I'm afraid people will think it needs to be "fixed" when I believe this is one case it shouldn't.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93907\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

So what kind of comments were you wanting?
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shaunkeng
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2007, 01:36:37 PM »
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I'm not saying that comments are not wanted, of course any comment is welcome. I'm just stating that I think people won't get what I see. And I'm torn whether to "fix" the picture or leave it as I like it.

I just want as many opinions as possible to decide whether I do in fact need to edit it beyond normal clean up.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2007, 01:46:34 PM by shaunkeng » Logged
Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2007, 02:10:54 PM »
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I'm not saying that comments are not wanted, of course any comment is welcome. I'm just stating that I think people won't get what I see. And I'm torn whether to "fix" the picture or leave it as I like it.

I just want as many opinions as possible to decide whether I do in fact need to edit it beyond normal clean up.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93915\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I don't like any of the "fixes" that have been suggested, but I like the picture as it is. Of course, what I see in it is probably different from what you see in it (but much of what you describe comes across to me too.)

That being said, I urge you to "leave it as you like it," but not because I like it that way; rather because you are your most important audience. If someone suggests a fix that strengthens your feeling, go for it. Otherwise, keep it as it is.

Just my 2 cents.
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howiesmith
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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2007, 03:13:59 PM »
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Here's my 2 cents worth.  

Without an explantion (perhaps impossibe to make) of what the photographer was thinking (feeling) when he took the image, it is pretty much a crap shoot for anyone else to figure that out.

The phorographer is seldom present to provide such explanations, leaving the image to stand alone.  The viewer is on his own.

Therefore, the photographer ceases to "own" the image when he dispalys it.  I say it matters not one bit that the photographer's fingers were cold even though he had on wool gloves, the wind was blowing, it was 10 degrees and the taxi was skidding in the snow.  (Would you think anything different if the photographer had on super gloves and his hands were warm(er), it was really 14 degrees and the taxi was making a U-trun?)  The only thing that matters is what the audience members think of the image.

So, the photographer can offer up an image for comments if he wants.  Listen to those comments if he wants or cares.  Change the image anyway he wants or leave it as-is.  But he shouldn't explain why the comments are not what he had in mind.  All he is doing is confirming the viewer failed to guess what he was thinking or feeling at the time of exposure.

That may have been 3 cents worth.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2007, 03:20:24 PM »
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What you have is good, but I think a vertical shot would have been better, especially if you moved to the left just a litte. You'd get fewer distracting branch intrusions on the right edge, and the spires of the church not chopped off. I realize the possibility of a reshoot may be remote, but I'd go back there the next time a blizzard or a good nighttime fog hits if possible. I like the figures, and the up-angled perspective is a good thing. IMO it's silly to make every building shot look like an architectural catalog.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2007, 03:23:44 PM by Jonathan Wienke » Logged

shaunkeng
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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2007, 04:43:58 PM »
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thanks for the comments, much appreciated.
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shaunkeng
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2007, 05:01:17 PM »
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Here's my 2 cents worth. 

So, the photographer can offer up an image for comments if he wants.  Listen to those comments if he wants or cares.  Change the image anyway he wants or leave it as-is.  But he shouldn't explain why the comments are not what he had in mind.  All he is doing is confirming the viewer failed to guess what he was thinking or feeling at the time of exposure.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93938\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's actually not my intent. I'm talking about my internal debate as to whether the image would be better served with a different composition. I'm asking for comments for my education and offering my view for counterpoints. I believe this is the point of posting the pictures here. Without 2 way dialog from the artist I'm not sure why he/she would need to post here.
With that said, I did get some very helpful comments that I will use going foward.

Thanks again to everyone.

Shaun
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2007, 07:29:44 PM »
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The image is not an architectural record about the church. It's not about the people, either. It's about the other-worldliness of the whole scene imposed by such severe weather. Whether or not that was your intention (sounds like "not exactly") that's the real value of this image as it stands.

I'd agree with Ken... there are other options as to what 'could have been done' with this location at the time, but unless you can grab on to the hands of the clock and rewind, that isn't possible.  This shot I would leave as is.

Mike.
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howiesmith
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2007, 06:58:41 AM »
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That's actually not my intent. I'm talking about my internal debate as to whether the image would be better served with a different composition. I'm asking for comments for my education and offering my view for counterpoints. I believe this is the point of posting the pictures here. Without 2 way dialog from the artist I'm not sure why he/she would need to post here.
With that said, I did get some very helpful comments that I will use going foward.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93967\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The view offered is just my view.  I understand your "internal debate."  I have them frequently.  My view is if the debate is in deed internal, keep it that way.  Comments on prints for critique can be a very powerful education tool.  I guess it's the counterpoint that I don't care about.  Not in any egotistical manner.  I don't attend critiques to get explanations from the photographer about why I am wrong.  (And I may well be from the photographer's point.)  

But crit time is the time for the print to take responsibility for what it is.  At some point, the photograph will be on its own - no friend to defend or explain it.  It will just hang there on its own merits, people will view it and move on.  (Could be in a book, a magazine, on the web, almost anywhere.)

I don't think that for educational purposes, the photographer needs to participate, unless the critique is also intended to educate the critic about this photographer's work.  The photographer can put up an image for critique, get comments, and do what needs to be done without explaining why the image is as it is.  The critic can see what it is.

My question to you would be - did your explanations to the people offering comments educate you?  Or were they intended to educate the person offering a differing opinion?

My point still is, I look at a landscape and form an opinion, alone with the image.  I really don't care that the image is blurred because it was 10 degrees, the wind was blowing 50 mph, and the photographer didn't use a tripod becasue it broke yesterday.  I either like the image as-is (blurry) or not.  I may appreciate the effort put into the piece, but it doesn't change the result.

Comment: "Should have used a good tripod."
Response:  "I have one, usually use it, but it broke."  
Who cares?  The image is blurry.  Now the photographer may still like the image because it reminds him of some moment, but the viewer cannot (may not even want to) join him.  The piece may even evoke a memory in me of the time when ..., but again, who besides me cares?  ("The blur reminds me of the time my tripod broke.")  The image is still hanging there alone and blurry.

Comment:  "The image isn't sharp and the contrast is low."
Response:  "I used a home-made pinhole camera."
Do I then say, "Oh, in that case, I love it." or  "The image isn't sharp and the contrast is low."?

This is just my opinion, and not necessarily that of LL or anyone else.  I hope you feel free to offer prints for crit, and participate if you wish.  I have the freedon to skip any parts of the crit I don't want to attend.
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shaunkeng
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« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2007, 09:03:45 AM »
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The view offered is just my view.  I understand your "internal debate."  I have them frequently.  My view is if the debate is in deed internal, keep it that way.  Comments on prints for critique can be a very powerful education tool.  I guess it's the counterpoint that I don't care about.  Not in any egotistical manner.  I don't attend critiques to get explanations from the photographer about why I am wrong.  (And I may well be from the photographer's point.) 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=94071\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Interesting point of view. I thought this was a forum. My mistake.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2007, 09:04:19 AM by shaunkeng » Logged
howiesmith
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« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2007, 09:11:23 AM »
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Interesting point of view. I thought this was a forum. My mistake.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=94088\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It is a forum.  No mistake.  

I was merely offering a point of view on this forum, and certainly not a rule for participating.
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Chris_T
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« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2007, 09:18:53 AM »
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The view offered is just my view.  I understand your "internal debate."  I have them frequently.  My view is if the debate is in deed internal, keep it that way.  Comments on prints for critique can be a very powerful education tool.  I guess it's the counterpoint that I don't care about.  Not in any egotistical manner.  I don't attend critiques to get explanations from the photographer about why I am wrong.  (And I may well be from the photographer's point.) 

But crit time is the time for the print to take responsibility for what it is.  At some point, the photograph will be on its own - no friend to defend or explain it.  It will just hang there on its own merits, people will view it and move on.  (Could be in a book, a magazine, on the web, almost anywhere.)

I don't think that for educational purposes, the photographer needs to participate, unless the critique is also intended to educate the critic about this photographer's work.  The photographer can put up an image for critique, get comments, and do what needs to be done without explaining why the image is as it is.  The critic can see what it is.

My question to you would be - did your explanations to the people offering comments educate you?  Or were they intended to educate the person offering a differing opinion?

My point still is, I look at a landscape and form an opinion, alone with the image.  I really don't care that the image is blurred because it was 10 degrees, the wind was blowing 50 mph, and the photographer didn't use a tripod becasue it broke yesterday.  I either like the image as-is (blurry) or not.  I may appreciate the effort put into the piece, but it doesn't change the result.

Comment: "Should have used a good tripod."
Response:  "I have one, usually use it, but it broke." 
Who cares?  The image is blurry.  Now the photographer may still like the image because it reminds him of some moment, but the viewer cannot (may not even want to) join him.  The piece may even evoke a memory in me of the time when ..., but again, who besides me cares?  ("The blur reminds me of the time my tripod broke.")  The image is still hanging there alone and blurry.

Comment:  "The image isn't sharp and the contrast is low."
Response:  "I used a home-made pinhole camera."
Do I then say, "Oh, in that case, I love it." or  "The image isn't sharp and the contrast is low."?

This is just my opinion, and not necessarily that of LL or anyone else.  I hope you feel free to offer prints for crit, and participate if you wish.  I have the freedon to skip any parts of the crit I don't want to attend.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Very well said.

A photograph is a means of visual communication. A (good) photographer captures an image with an intent of communication something, at least to himself. A lot more than just because the image "caught his eyes". It is internal. When he shows an image to others, he will fall into one of two categories. Some photogs hope that others will interpretate the image like he did, and some leave the interpretation entirely up to the viewers. To these ends, some photogs will disclose their own intents and interpretations (like in the artist statements), and some will provide no clue. I think that either case is fine. Personally I don't feel offended if others' interpretations are drastically different from my own. I do value them as important feedbacks though.

Two examples to illustrate this. The first is my rather sarcastic interpretation of Ray's Thailand image here:

[a href=\"http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=12393&st=40]http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....pic=12393&st=40[/url]

The second is my interpretation of this image, before I read the photographer's comments. The image conveys the separation of the old from the modern in a harsh enviroment. The church is old, huge, dark, blurred by the snow/dof, lacking in contrast and in the background. It signals the passage of time and culture. The traffic light in the foreground and the lights at the right, though smaller in scale, are new, prominent, contrasty and in focus. They represent the modern world we live in. The tiny figures adds scale to the image, and are the poor souls caught in the middle a changing world, especially in harsh times as implied by the storm.

Photography forums are typically dominated by discussions of gears and techniques. When it comes to critiques, it is no different. It would be nice if there are more discussions on interpretations.
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