Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: « 1 [2]   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Constructive criticism  (Read 8512 times)
howard smith
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1237


« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2004, 10:08:12 AM »
ReplyReply

Ian, I haven't looked at your iamges yet, so don't take anything personnally.  A critique can be harsh and still be a learning experience. (My grandson learned to walk by experiencing first hand the pain of falling.  Likey much faster than he tried it on a plush carpet.)

The value of a critique is in the "why," not that the image is good or bad.  I could tell you the images are lovely.  No value.  I could say I think the images are crap.  No value.  But if I tell you why, you can take the critique for waht it is.  My opinion and a basis.

An example.  I might say Adam's "Moon Rise" is aweful.  Why?  I once had my camera stolen in Hernandez.  So what you say.  But it helpful to know my dislike has nothing to do with the image.

Now I will look at your images.
Logged
IanS
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 46


WWW
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2004, 12:07:11 PM »
ReplyReply

Howard,

Quote
The reason I asked about the composition relates to other topics here. Your compositions seem to follow certain pleasing guides (rules?). Some say that's crap, some don't. Keep with the tried and true until you really understand why you want to do something else.

The composition is literally done according to what I find pleasing with my own eye. Part of the reason for posting was to get some discussion over the rules of composition whatever they are. I'd have to say it's the part of it all that I'm least comfortable with. I've a book on the subject but it doesn't really help me. Perhaps I need to read through it a few more times...

I'm curious as to which threads you're thinking of, sound like they may be worth a read through. Thanks for taking the time!
Logged
DiaAzul
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 777



WWW
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2004, 04:24:15 PM »
ReplyReply

Having seen your pictures, they are more what are described as animal portraits; and, as many have pointed out, this particular form of nature photography has been done over and over again (mostly because it is easy to set up and capture that type of image - though, still difficult to technically master).

The harder aspect of nature photography is to capture the spirit of the animals and dramatic interplay of nature in motion - for want of a better phrase. Pictures of static animals - good; images of moving animals engaged in their own habitat - better.

Whilst critiquing is good in order to get basic techniques (either picture taking, or post processing), it won't help you develop your own individual style of photography. For that you will need to (a) study examples of photographers you like, or who are acknowledged to be good in their field, ( go out and try to copy their style until you develop your own individual form of expression.

It may be that you have to learn to get up at 3am in order to catch animals at dawn, or be ready for the activity around dusk. It's all about finding out where and when to look and how to get your camera into the right place to take the image. Taking the image is the easy bit (and usually involves some luck) actually being in the right location in the first place is the hard bit.

A general good coffee table book of some exceptional wildlife photography (by amateurs and professionals) is La Vie Sauvage (I think its English title is the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the year book, or something like that). This should give you some good inspiration of what is on the cutting edge of wildlife photography.

Another good example of animal pictures is the National Geographic magazine, their 2004 picture book is on sale till mid January

National Geographic Wildlife Pics
Logged

David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
DiaAzul
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 777



WWW
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2004, 01:43:14 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
... but I don't see how he could have avoided that log in the picture you talked about. Assuming he could have frozen time and moved, then there would be two options, to move to the left which would cause the chimps to look directly into the camera, which is nice, but not the ideal photo.

The picture in question is
this one
The technique is called foresight and planning. It is about considering what may be a distraction in advance and then planning to be in a position so that when the 'picture' arises there are no distractions in the sightline.

Now, having said that, there are such things as unattainable ideals and in many situations it just is not going to be possible to be in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time without any icky things in the frame; but the point is to be concious in advance of what to look out for BEFORE the picture opportunity arises, and not at the instant in time that you have to take the picture (by then it is too late, as you point out, to actually do much about anything).

A lot of this is down to experience and making lots of mistakes. I think we can all point to 'the picture that got away...' paradigm in much the same way as fishermen loose the ultimate fish; and in some ways there is a lot of similarilties between the two subjects...just photographers are fishing for pictures. Both require technical skill, a lot of practice and a lot of patience.

As to the specific picture - yes it has some interesting features, however, the critique was and remains, was the log intentionally placed or did accidentally happen to be where it is in the frame? My question is about stimulating self critiquing and really questioning whether what you intended to be in the composition happens to be there by forethought and planning or is the result of laziness to really think about what you are doing. At the end of the day I am only asking the question, I am not going to say the picture is good/bad - I'll leave that for Ian to decide whether the resulting picture is as good as the image he intended to capture before the shutter was released (and don't tell me that you didn't have a clear idea of the picture you wanted to get - that is cardinal sin numero uno).
Logged

David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
IanS
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 46


WWW
« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2004, 02:21:30 AM »
ReplyReply

This is turning into quite an enjoyable thread for me!! Thanks all for your thoughts and comments.

DiaAzul,

I think your points are good ones. I did have a lot more pictures of awkward angles which I have now gotten rid of. The temptation for me at first in my ethusiasm is to fire away at anything. You then realise after a while that these shots come more often than others and that actually they're not really any good except as stepping stones to realising that for better angles you need more time, patience and a better understanding of the animal in question so you can get a better position.

The swan thing hit me as soon as I saw it on the monitor back home. Inexperience. I didn't notice the reflection at the time and saw it straight away on the screen!! However I now have a mental note next time when I get better light of what to look for. I must admit to being a bit stumped on exposure with the swan, they have this habit of sticking their head and necks underwater to eat(!!) which makes the neck quite dark, and even with -exposure compensation I still seem to be blowing the white which is very white anyway, ridiculously clean compared to their heads and necks!

As for the two chimps, I remember it being very odd light, strange colours, lots of blue haze, but they were having fun and it showed on their faces. Viewing positions are restricted as you might expect. I agree though, ideally the log wouldn't be there, I don't think there is enough resolution to crop a lot tighter. However, the park is a place where I can spend plenty of time so, one day, maybe the chimps will sit on a different platform without background clutter for me!!

The stump tailed macac (0797) I'm quite fond of. These guys spent 20 years at a laboratory in solitary confinement before being rescued. They have some quite deep emotional scars, and some very sorrowful expressions as a result. They do now however have a wonderful house and enclosure and are finally together in a social group...

Post processing I'm still coming to grips with. I'm not a big Photoshop fan and would prefer to do as little as I can get away with but have yet to find a consistent approach.

Like everyone says, I'm learning it's experience and it helps to hear other people's. It gives you something else to go away with and think about, so I'm grateful to you all.

I think Didger you might need to make it 2.5, intuition and instictiveness definitely have a large part to play, but if some of the rules help me understand what makes that intuitive part work then I'm all for having a look!!
Logged
howard smith
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1237


« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2004, 12:56:13 PM »
ReplyReply

DiaAzul, while I have not done it, the faces of people generally thought to be pleasing have been studied.  There are certain common relationships amoung their feature.  The size and location of the mount relative to the nose.  The size of the eyes and distance beweeen the eyes.  And so forth.

When a painter sets out to paint a pleasant face, he may not be aware of these relationship and succeeds in painting a pretty face.  The face usually doesn't have a small mouth located on the left side under a large crooked nose, with two beady little eyes, close together, peering out from under big bushy eye brows.  And so forth.  Yet, does the painter create a pretty face merely by accident?  No way.  Have you ever noticed that pretty people, while each different, do have ceratin common characteristics?

And sure, you can name examples that don't fit.  But look at David, the location of his navel, the span of his arms, distance between his eyes, the size of his mouth, etc..  Michaelangelo never saw David as far as I know, but there is a rather attractive man who fits the mold.  The statue didn't just happen.  It was cleverly designed to look beautiful, even more so than the actual David.
Logged
Jonathan Wienke
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 5759



WWW
« Reply #26 on: December 11, 2004, 05:42:47 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
didger, your ignorance is showing again
As is your arrogant pomposity...
Logged

howard smith
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1237


« Reply #27 on: December 11, 2004, 11:05:34 PM »
ReplyReply

Well Jonathan, the problem seems to be boiling down to I just don't accept as valid that composition is at best a rough average.  There is just too much documented evidence to the contrary.  I would be surprised if the Greeks sat down and decided that the Golden Mean would be attractive, and then built their buildings that way.  No, I suppose they designed builds that were beautiful and then noticed that they had certain proportions.

I agree completely that simply following the rules does not assure a good image.  I also agree there are great images that don't follow these rules.  I believe a photographer has less than a full bag is it doesn't contain a good working knowledge of conventional wisdom.  It is just as important as knowing how to use your camera equipment.  (I would guess there is a large number of modern camera users who have no idea how the meter sets the exposure, focuses the lens or what the depth of field will be on the final print.)

I seldom apply the rules conscienciously while shooting.  But I am aware of them and apply them while designing an image.  If there are no rules of good composition, then the subject of a photograph should fall more or less randomly anywhere in the frame.  I haven't noticed this to be true.

I understand what you say about Old Faithful and many other ikon photo sites.  I think of Antelope Canyon.  Let's say 20 people take 20 images a day for 300 days a year.  That is 120,000 images a year.  Throw in just 10 years, and you are looking at 1.2 million images.  It is likely that there are very few new, freah ways to shoot it and few if any new compositions.  But this has nothing to do with composition.
Logged
howard smith
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1237


« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2004, 12:28:17 AM »
ReplyReply

DiaAzul, I go with Jonathan here.  To split hairs, "about nil" is not impossible.  Just not very likely.  As I pointed out, with well over a million images of the inside of Antelope Canyon, the likelihood of anyone getting a new and fresh one is pretty small; even nil if you will.  I have seen in print some shoots that are essentially just like ones I have taken independently.  I saw an image in a gallery in Page and the photographer told me that the scene existed for just a few seconds once, and he got it.  I saw essentially the same shot in another gallery, in a book and on a co-workers wall.  So much for what one fellow thought was a one-of-a-kind.


"Formulae are for people who have no imagination."  I guess that includes folks like Newton, Einstein, Galaleo, Keppler, a number of others and me.  Somehow, I feel in pretty elite company.
Logged
howard smith
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1237


« Reply #29 on: December 10, 2004, 10:13:17 AM »
ReplyReply

I looked at the images.  Not too bad.

The subjects are mature.  That is, they have been well photographed already.  To seperate a mature subject from the rest, they must be new treatment.  While not bad, I have "seen these photos before."

One question though.  Why did you place the subject where you did within the frame?
Logged
DiaAzul
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 777



WWW
« Reply #30 on: December 10, 2004, 05:33:30 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Ideas are great, and there are a lot of good words spoken here, I'd like to see more pictures though. For those of us learning the ropes pictures can still be the best way to illustrate a point.
I would tend to agree with you, perhaps what is useful is not just for people to post pictures, but to describe how the picture was actually taken (what is the back story - how long was the photographer say hanging around, how did the picture happen). National Geographic is not too bad for that as there is some story to some of the pictures, the BBC wildlife book also gives some backstory to many of the images.

Going back to some of your pictures:

1/ Try and get the front, or front 3/4 of the animals. You have a few images from behind which are so-so to look at.

2/ You have a nice image of a swan, however, the reflection is cut off at the bottom. Also, the feathers are slightly blown out (so reducing exposure 1/2 - 1 stop may improve detail in the feathers). Generally, when photographing birds I found a need to be especially careful of exposure so as not to loose detail (perhaps 1 stop to preserve detail).

3/ You have quite a few pictures with foreground noise (sticks, twigs, posts, leaves) between yourself and the subject. You need to pay particular attention to the sight lines between yourself and the subject you are focusing on, sometimes foreground objects make good composition, sometimes they are just distracton - if necessary think about how to work them into, or out of the frame constructively.

Out of all the images I quite like 0797 - the ape/monkey with the red face. You captured the furtive look quite nicely and the red/green colours lift the image from being a bit grey. The other which could work out nicely is 0838 with the two monkeys/chimps - perhaps cropping a little more tightly to bring focus into their expression (even going as far as just cropping tightly on the upper body head); again, with this picture you have the distracting log in the background which could have been avoided.

The final point I would make is learning to post process the images to give some form of visual consistency to your work. This is a little bit more difficult to comment on without taking each picture one by one (and even then you are going to get a multiplicity of comments) - but suggest you look at cropping, sharpening, application of curves/levels and other processing techniques to really bring out the textures/colours of what you are shooting. Some of the pictures are a bit flat (lack contrast/punch) which could be jazzed up a bit in an image editing program.

Hope that helps a bit more.
Logged

David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
Stef_T
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 266


« Reply #31 on: December 10, 2004, 09:57:54 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: DiaAzul,Dec. 10 2004,18:33
Quote from: IanS,Dec. 10 2004,18:01
again, with this picture you have the distracting log in the background which could have been avoided.
First I'd like to say that those are some nice photographs. To a casual observer they are very good.

I'm no expert IanS, so maybe you can help me out, but I don't see how he could have avoided that log in the picture you talked about. Assuming he could have frozen time and moved, then there would be two options, to move to the left which would cause the chimps to look directly into the camera, which is nice, but not the ideal photo. The other option would be to move to his right, which would cause the monkey's to have either backs towards the camera, a bad picture in all regards.

The only solution I see is to move slighly to the left and get down on the ground, so that the bodies are above the log, but this probably was not possible under the circumstances. I'm not saying you are wrong Ian, please don't get me wrong, I am simply asking for your opion on how he could have avoided that log.


The picture in question is this one
Logged
Guest
« Reply #32 on: December 11, 2004, 10:51:35 PM »
ReplyReply

May I suggest that all participants "cool" it when it comes to personal attacks?

A heated debate is one thing, but name calling isn't appropriate here. This isn't DPReview.

Michael
Logged
IanS
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 46


WWW
« Reply #33 on: December 12, 2004, 09:52:28 AM »
ReplyReply

Wow!! You go off and do something for a day and a bit and come back to find a whole new thread!!  

I'll thank you all for your ideas, it obvious to me that we have people on opposite ends of the ideas scale who aren't going to agree or even agree to disagree.

At the end of the day what matters to me is that when you go out and take pictures, whatever your preferred methods are, you actually enjoy the process. If that's the case then it really doesn't matter.

I guess I'm one of those people who, if understanding something helps expand your ideas or horizons then I'm willing to take a look and then make my own decision as to whether it helps me. So from that perspective this thread has had some very interesting parts.

However, I think it would be nice now, to simply agree that there are many ways to skin a cat, and as long as the result is a skinned cat, then it's up to you which one you choose. I personally don't like reading some of the harsh words written so let's call time for now on the rules vs. go with the flow argument.

Once again, thank-you to those who provided the asked for constructive criticism, I appreciate your time and thoughts!!

Ian.
Logged
Pages: « 1 [2]   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad