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Author Topic: Please critique my image.  (Read 3800 times)
katemann
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« on: March 12, 2005, 07:12:14 PM »
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Perhaps there is too much going on in the photo. You have too many lines running off at different angles. The eye doesn't know what to do. I wonder if you cropped....

So, what is the photo about? Why would you want to go back and see it again? That one single question has saved me thousands of dollars in printing ink.  :laugh:
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2005, 10:05:59 AM »
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The part of the fence nearest the viewer leads the eye into the photo, which is good, but then it bends and leads the eye back out of the photo again, before you've really seen the whole thing.

Also, the clumps of grass in the foreground (once you get out of the fence's dead end and start looking at the image again from another starting point) doesn't have any strong "shape" to it (for want of a better word...).  The left hand clump is cut off by the edge of the frame.

The colors are fine, though.  The slight blue cast makes it feel colder, which is good if that's part of what you're trying to do with it.  I'd be tempted to try to get the line of trees with a portion of the fence leading the eye to them, nothing else.  (Or maybe a row of footprints leading to the line of trees in the distance?)  As said above, there are too many things going on here.

Lisa
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katemann
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2005, 08:02:59 AM »
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I would like to offer a critique of the spirit of the critique of the photograph offered for critique.

Perhaps you can construct an argument that is not insulting to the other fellow, you know, not an ad hominem[/b] argument.

I'm sorry that my "attempt" at an artistic critique doesn't meet with your approval. I certainly hope that the original poster was honestly looking for suggestions. I think it's about 3 to 1 for simplification at this point.
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jdemott
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2005, 10:03:34 AM »
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geoset,

I don't know whether my comments will ultimately be helpful to Phil, but I do know that they were not a "knee jerk." I read Phil's question carefully, studied his photo, and thought about what he was likely seeing and trying to accomplish at the time he took the photo. Then I framed an answer that I hope is responsive to his concerns.

Perhaps, for your second posting on LL, you could attempt a similarly constructive attitude, rather than offering gratuitous slaps at your fellow posters.
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John DeMott
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« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2005, 11:48:51 PM »
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I hope all these specific suggestions are helping you. I have a more general suggestion. The fact that you mentioned right at the start that you're not satisfied with this image means you already have the most important information you really need, namely that the image isn't good. When you're out shooting, keep looking and keep working on your framing/composition until you're more confident that you've got something (there's a sort of "bingo" feel!!) Then look at what you've shot at home and see if there's anything that you don't have misgivings about and then do the best you can with it in Photoshop. THEN see what other people think if you're not confident about your own evaluation.

As Bob has shown, slightly more interesting images were possible with cropping, but the way this image really misses is because you just didn't find something dynamite while you were shooting. The elements of your shot indicate to me that a little more careful work in the field and more time would have given you something better to work with. If you know that something's wrong, then give it more time and effort until your own sense of right and wrong is satisfied.

If you absolutely don't trust your own sense of composition and what looks good and what doesn't, maybe you're one of those people that would benefit from studying rules of composition. I'd give your intuitive sense of right and wrong a better chance first, though.

Just my $.02 worth. Some folks disagree with my approach with a near violent vehemence, so pick the approach that suits you. However, if you already know that an image isn't right, you can improve your work no matter what approach you choose. Just keep looking for things and keep working on framing in the field until you hit something that gives you a better comfort level. Don't settle for something you know isn't really good and hope for a magic cure from well wishing advisors.
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didger
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2005, 08:49:00 AM »
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Quote
rules of composition are far more than a crutch
That's a matter of opinion.  Ansel Adams and Edward Weston were absolutely unequivecally NOT into these rules and Ansel went so far as to say that "THERE ARE NO RULES FOR GOOD PHOTOGRAPHS".  No doubt there are also successful photographers that depend on rules.  We're all free to choose and maybe some folks do better without rules and some folks do better with.  I haven't seen any evidence that the folks that choose to do without are at a disadvantage compared to those that depend on these rules.  Shouting the same opinion over and over again as loudly and as often as possible, and sometimes as rudely as possible and insisting that this opinion is proven fact is not the same thing as providing evidence.

Fortunately, if there's to be yet another war about this, I won't even be an amused bystander, since I'm leaving for 3-4 weeks of no internet access Death Valley and Sierra Nevada shooting in mere minutes;  no rules, and freedom from even debating about rules.    
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glenndavyphoto
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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2005, 06:40:32 AM »
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OK Phil, now it's coming . You have narrowed down the main subject matter considerably, which is good. Now, just something to ponder, what would happen if you used a shallower depth of field and focused more on the reeds in front? Those would then be a main centre of interest, with the fence playing a supporting role. The fence would perhaps (and perhaps not) be in focus nearest the reeds, yet "fade to blur" as it gets further away. This would give a feeling of more depth and give a stronger centre of interest without losing the importance of the fence in the overall composition. I'm not saying this is necessary, but it might be worth a look.

By the by, I agree with the earlier poster about learning the rules of composition (if you haven't already :: ). You don't want to be a slave to them, but it's one thing to break a rule of composition unwittingly, and quite another to break a rule with full knowledge of what you are doing. Just something to think about .

Good luck, and keep going. This stuff isn't easy .

Glenn
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philthygeezer
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2005, 05:47:19 PM »
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I think I've come close with this one but something is still missing. Could you suggest how I might improve this photo in composition and/or processing? Perhaps too much of a blue cast?  Other stuff?

Thanks, Phil

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jdemott
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« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2005, 07:19:21 PM »
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Phil,  

What is the photo about?  What attracted your eye to the scene in the beginning?  

There is a nice color scheme--blues, browns and white.  There are some interesting elements that could provide a unifying theme for the photo, such as the line of trees, or the grasses and shadows in the foreground.   But altogether, there are too many different elements all jumbled together--grasses, a fence going in a circle, a line of trees leading away, some distracting signs, etc.  As a result, the photo isn't about anything because it is trying to be about too many things.  

So, my suggestion would be to simplify the composition greatly.  Perhaps you could find a slightly different place to stand with the camera, or perhaps use a longer focal length to isolate just a few elements of the scene.    Find a key theme that attracts you, such as the grasses in the foreground or the fence, and then try to set up a composition that emphasizes that theme and eliminates everything else. There are probably dozens of interesting photos within a few yards of that spot, but they need to be taken one at a time.

One of the many photography books on my bookshelf (at the moment I don't recall which one) has an interesting sequence of thumbnails showing a whole roll of film taken by a pro photographer as he worked a scene, visually exploring what was there, and using the camera to move in ever tighter on the few key elements that were important to him.  The first few shots showed an overview of an easily identifiable scene; the last shots showed only details and they were by far the better ones on the roll.  I know that I always have to fight the tendency to somehow record the scene and to put it in context, when what I need to do it to isolate what is important visually and let the context take care of itself.

Just my two cents worth.  Hope these few comments help.
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John DeMott
geoset
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« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2005, 06:04:15 PM »
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I would like to critique the critiques already offered for this picture. To me they are the Knee jerk responses typical of photgraphers attempting to offer artistic criticism."Too busy, no focus, no center of interest, crop, crop,etc."
   This picture has mood; for me it invokes a real winter day in the  the relatvely benign eastern Canadian countryside. Sure it has a mix of elements, not all pictures have to be stark and simplistic (often called hard-hitting), but the diverse forms are reasonably well integrated and form a satifying whole. Not spectacular, but inviting and pleasant. These evoked emotions of winter are what the picture is about.
     Not all photgraphs have to be exercises in minimalist graphic arts. Start thinking about emotions and your photography might improve.
     Technically,if this were my picture I would consider converting to B&W and raising contrast slightly, but it may be better as is.
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2005, 08:35:24 AM »
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All of the above critiques seem valid, however, it does appear as if the image has not been converted to sRGB before posting on the internet. The image is a little flat in tone, which may be intentional, however, it does lead to comments that there is no defined object of focus, lots of conflicting elements in the image, etc...On the other hand, increasing contrast makes it much clearer as to where the focus in the image is (I played in photoshop a little), but looses some of the softness and mood of the original image.

The only additional comment I would make is that the eye naturally looks to the brightest point in the image, using heavy shadows in the foreground can, if not managed properly, weaken the composition of the image. It's not a rule of don't do it, but just be aware that it does effect the composition. I think in this situation I may have been tempted to do more with the fence, or the line of trees in the distance.

Overall though I can see why you like this image.
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David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2005, 12:00:28 PM »
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I'm not sure I would change much, but in the spirit of looking at another version of it, here is one possibility. I don't know if it is better or worse. One thing I would do for sure is to go to Levels in PS and adjust the levels in the normal manner as shown below. After that you may or may not like the slight increase in contrast added by the Curves adjustment. I think this example is just a bit overdone but it's all a matter of taste. Lastly I duplicated the layer, set it to Multiply, and masked out the lower part to darken the sky, then used a grey brush to slightly darken the snow because I thought the Curves had possibly done a bit too much. Lastly (actually the first thing I did) you may like a tighter crop of the image. I think it keeps the eye a bit more in the center. As always these things are simply a matter of taste so I offer this fwiw and some screen shots of what/how I did what I did. Again. I would do the Levels adjustment for sure. The rest is just a matter of taste. Some would prefer moving toward this image, others will think it "too much" but I thought you might like seeing at least one variation.



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boku
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2005, 05:35:34 PM »
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I'm seeing about 5 different story lines all at once here. (Analogy: a Sienfeld episode.) I'm sure that isolation and elimination, as already mentioned, would help. For example, despite the fact that the story line is weak, in the following example, there is only one story, the shore line:



I tend to portay snow with a bit of blue in the shadow and bit of warmth if the sun is shining. In the example, the gradation is strong.

Sometimes all I can get is blue to grey, but I make the grey slightly warm. For example:



I generally go for a photo that pops, but I tend to back off a bit in snow scenes. I get a more delicate effect. Ultimately, this sort of thing is stylistic.
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Bob Kulon

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howard smith
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« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2005, 08:16:23 AM »
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Just let me say the rules of composition are far more than a crutch for those that "don't trust [their] your own sense of composition and what looks good and what doesn't."
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philthygeezer
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« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2005, 01:37:51 AM »
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Thanks very much for all your replies!

I thought about the photo based on what you said.  My composition wasn't bad but there was no center of interest: I wound up trying to show 5 different things.  The Shoreline, the line of trees, the fenceline, the grass and the distant horizon.  

When I shot it, I thought the line of the fence and the tufts of grass were interesting.  These items were what I really wanted to show.  I've cropped the image to show just the grass and the fenceline, correcting a little blue out:



This is more of what I wanted the viewer to see.  What do you think now?
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katemann
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« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2005, 10:30:13 AM »
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So, I thought I might take a stab at this too, I hope you don't mind. I am sitting here at my store in a very inhospitable place for fine colour work so I won't play with the levels except for a titch more red to bring out the warm-cool contrast, which is one of the key elements to the picture. The other key element is the contrast between the man-made fence, which is ugly in my opinion, and the lovely grasses. Here's my crop.

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