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Author Topic: The Lane to Downgate  (Read 3932 times)
EduPerez
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« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2011, 04:25:36 AM »
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Have you tried to reflect the photograph, so the path goes from left to right?
Cannot say why, but I tend to prefer photographs where the "movement" goes in that direction... is it just me?
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John R Smith
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« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2011, 04:45:50 AM »
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Have you tried to reflect the photograph, so the path goes from left to right?
Cannot say why, but I tend to prefer photographs where the "movement" goes in that direction... is it just me?

Well, Ed, that's an interesting idea, and indeed it could work better, I suppose.

But now I'm going to contradict myself regarding darkroom manipulation, and have to confess that this is absolutely one of the few things I would not do with a picture. So I must have principles after all (gosh). This is I think because I know all these places so well, that it would just look wrong to me. And of course, most of my audience (outside of this forum) lives here in Cornwall, and they know these places too. So I am not going to get away with a mirror-image shot of anything on my patch.

However, I am no stick-in-the-mud, and in the spirit of artistic freedom we'll have a bash anyhow. Here it is flipped, so you can judge for yourselves -

« Last Edit: January 17, 2011, 05:13:30 AM by John R Smith » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2011, 09:10:53 AM »
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Well, Ed, that's an interesting idea, and indeed it could work better, I suppose.

But now I'm going to contradict myself regarding darkroom manipulation, and have to confess that this is absolutely one of the few things I would not do with a picture. So I must have principles after all (gosh). This is I think because I know all these places so well, that it would just look wrong to me. And of course, most of my audience (outside of this forum) lives here in Cornwall, and they know these places too. So I am not going to get away with a mirror-image shot of anything on my patch.

However, I am no stick-in-the-mud, and in the spirit of artistic freedom we'll have a bash anyhow. Here it is flipped, so you can judge for yourselves -


John,

Personally, much as I liked the "correct" version, I do find the flipped image even more appealing. I do sometimes flip my own photos to get the left-to-right movement direction.

But if I ever get to Cornwall, I'll want to go back to the original shot.

Eric
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« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2011, 09:30:58 AM »
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John,

Personally, much as I liked the "correct" version, I do find the flipped image even more appealing. I do sometimes flip my own photos to get the left-to-right movement direction.

But if I ever get to Cornwall, I'll want to go back to the original shot.

Eric

God, you're a subversive lot, you really are. Now I'm starting to like the mirrored version better too . . .

However, it probably depends whether or not you know the location. After all, supposing Ansel had flipped "Clearing Winter Storm" left to right. I wouldn't have known any different, never having been there, even though that waterfall would be on the wrong side. But anyone who knew Yosemite would have been outraged.

I think I'm going to have to issue my stuff in two editions, a straight one for Cornwall, with flipped versions for North America and the Antipodes  Wink

John
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« Reply #24 on: January 17, 2011, 10:17:56 AM »
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John, Have you flipped???
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2011, 10:24:04 AM »
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… I am not after a "correct rendition of what I saw when I tripped the shutter", at all. I am trying to achieve a correct rendition of what I felt when I tripped the shutter...

Amen, brother!!!
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« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2011, 12:29:20 PM »
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... I am not after a "correct rendition of what I saw when I tripped the shutter", at all. I am trying to achieve a correct rendition of what I felt when I tripped the shutter. Which might be the difference between us, perhaps... The sun and clouds and light will never be exactly the same, ever again. Which is one point where I am in total agreement with HCB, and his insistence on the decisive moment.

John, I think I've been remiss in not answering this post sooner. I can't disagree with you about trying to achieve a correct rendition of a feeling, but you have to understand what HCB meant by "the decisive moment." He didn't mean what most people assume he meant.

"Photography is not like painting," Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. "There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative."

Henri's definition paints a subtly different picture from what people usually assume and supports what I said earlier about the difference between Ansel's approach and Henri's approach. The decisive moment involves seeing that "expression that life offers you" and having a well enough developed photographic instinct to recognize in an instant what you're seeing. In other words, it's not just a moment when everything in the scene is in balance; it's the moment at which YOU are in balance with the expression life's offering you. You make the photograph at that moment, not later in the darkroom.

Of course, feeling is a significant part of finding yourself in balance with the scene. But one would suppose that what you saw at the decisive moment is what put you in balance with it, and, in the long run, what will give you the feeling you were after when you tripped the shutter. So, it seems to me there's little if any difference between saying you want a correct rendition of what you saw when you tripped the shutter and saying you want a correct rendition of what you felt when you tripped the shutter. If it's a "decisive moment" the two statements say virtually the same thing.

I understand that you love this particular picture, and I have similar landscapes that evoke for me the delights I experienced in Northern Michigan as I was growing up. But I think Slobodan had it right in his first post: the picture's mostly devoid of meaning for someone who didn't grow up in those surroundings. No amount of reversing or Photoshopping is going to change that. Which is not to say it isn't a pleasing scene.
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« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2011, 01:18:01 PM »
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> We still have some problems, but funnily enough this picture somehow sums up the mood of the afternoon for me. See what you think – was it worth a rescue Job?

If you like it then the answer is yes.

I had a conversation with someone recently along the lines of some of the comments here – re how a foto is “read.” The person insisted that fotos have to be read right to left as that is how we are conditioned. Yet if an image is well composed, and yours is, then it doesn’t really matter. The summary of the conversation I had is that some people are rigid in how they view things and as such if a subject doesn’t conform to the viewer’s expectations then they may object.

So I guess if you are doing the image for yourself, you’ve done as you wish, but if you are trying to appeal to the LCD then flipping the image is a way to go.

Either way, it’s a nice snap.

On Russ’s point, I've heard elsewhere that the key to a successfully marketable foto is that it has to connect with the viewer. You said most of your viewers are local so the image will no doubt resonate with local viewers much more than in the sterile confines of the web.


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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2011, 05:52:44 PM »
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... some of the comments here – re how a foto is “read.” The person insisted that fotos have to be read right to left as that is how we are conditioned... some people are rigid in how they view things and as such if a subject doesn’t conform to the viewer’s expectations then they may object...

Well, I won't take it personally, but it is not about "some people" being rigid.. it is about human vision and perception, common to 99% of the humanity (o.k., in this particular case to those in the Western world). And it is not about "insisting" and "objecting", but about hinting why certain things might not work for (all) viewers exactly the same as the photographer intended.

"Insisting" and "objecting" based on "rules" would indeed be rigid, and here is why:

There are numerous single rules in the art of composition (the rule of thirds, rules of balance, s-curves, leading lines, etc.). However, hardly ever is a picture based on a single compositional element, there are usually two or more existing simultaneously, sometimes in harmony, sometimes not. The sheer number of possible combinations of single rules, let alone viewers reactions to them, becomes then mind boggling. And that explains why it is sometimes possible to break a rule or two and still have the rest work well as a whole.

Add to this alphabet soup of rules the photographer's and viewers emotions, mix it well, season to taste, and you will see why art in general is so subjective and unpredictable.. and yet remains quite seductive and fascinating.
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« Reply #29 on: January 17, 2011, 07:01:58 PM »
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… it's not just a moment when everything in the scene is in balance; it's the moment at which YOU are in balance with the expression life's offering you. You make the photograph at that moment, not later in the darkroom.

… there's little if any difference between saying you want a correct rendition of what you saw when you tripped the shutter and saying you want a correct rendition of what you felt when you tripped the shutter. If it's a "decisive moment" the two statements say virtually the same thing…

Becoming quite a philosopher, aren't you Russ Wink But that is ok, you are quite good at it.

I hear what you are saying and tend to agree, up to a point. But I like to shed light from different angles, so here it goes:

Once an image becomes a two-dimensional representation of reality, confined to a set of restraints idiosyncratic to the chosen medium (e.g., crop/frame ratio, paper contrast, etc.), it becomes a world of its own. And that world then needs rules of its own, hence the need to continue our work in the darkroom (or Lightroom, for that matter).

A digression here: this reminds me of an old joke, where a drunk explains how it is possible that he claims he had only one drink: "Well, when I get a shot, I feel like a completely different man… and that other man then needs a drink too".

Sorry for the interruption, folks… we are now back to our regular programming:

That "other man" (e.g., a print) needs its "shot" or fix too. Exactly how much, if any, depends, of course, on the type of shot (photographic shot, not alcoholic, this time Wink). No amount of dodging and burning is needed for Robert Capa's shot of the falling soldier… nor it would matter if the orientation is horizontal or vertical… flipped or not… 8x10 or 24x36. I think we all would agree on that.

But not all photography is about human drama, there are other genres, the landscape for instance (although there are some, and we won't mention here our friend Rob Wink, who would deny any artistic value to anything else but human presence, with a nice set of boobs, if possible). And landscape is notoriously difficult to translate into 2D: it gets stripped of the huge vistas we see when we are there, fragrance of the spring, scorching hot sensation on our skin of a mid-summer noon, light breeze bringing first rain drops to our face…

This 3D world, engaging all our senses, evoking our memories, now needs to be shoved into a Procrustean bed of, say, a black and white print, horizontally oriented, 8x10, paper contrast #2. And that medium now has a world of its own, with rules of its own, with the task to recreate that abundance of sensations and emotions we felt when we pressed the shutter, using whatever artificial means there are to "deceive" and create illusion that the viewer was there too: say, slight vignetting to concentrate viewer's attention;  dodging and burning for the same reason; rules of composition necessary to bring balance and harmony into this new world; cropping (yes, Russ), if for no other reason (and there are many), then to fit the chosen paper ratio.

So, Russ, my friend, it is not HCB's vs. AA's shooting philosophy, but choosing correctly the one that matches your preferred subject. If you shoot like HCB, then do not crop and do not post-process much, if at all. There is very little point, however, in shooting landscapes the way HCB shoots people, or vice versa.

Now... I need a drink Wink
« Last Edit: January 17, 2011, 08:31:58 PM by Slobodan Blagojevic » Logged

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John R Smith
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« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2011, 02:43:24 AM »
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Well

We have expanded this post into all sorts of very interesting areas. And I find a great deal of value in everything that has been said, even when these views are somewhat conflicting. Actually, Russ, I agree with HCB completely in your quote, as far as it goes -

"Photography is not like painting," Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. "There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative."

However, if HCB meant to preclude any further creativity later on, at the printing stage, that is where he and I would part company. So the post from Slobodan I think sets out very clearly a view that I would also share.

HCB's view of photography is almost a zen-like one where the photographer enters a state where conscious feelings and thoughts are, perhaps not suppressed exactly, but put to one side, and the subconscious takes over. Entering the "zone", in the way that a musician does when making an inspired performance. The same  sort of philosophy which is the core of the book "The Inner Game of Tennis". I think it is possible to get into a "flow" of this sort where the subconscious takes control, even in landscape photography (although perhaps not so readily from a tripod!). But this is not necessarily the only valid sort of photography, and perhaps too much has been made of it. There are many arts and aspects of art which spring from a more contemplative, considered approach, and they are none the worse for that. You cannot compose a symphony in a zen-like instant, nor make a wood engraving in a few seconds. Or write a novel, for that matter. If you subscribe entirely to HCB's view of photography and what it should be, we would have to attach no value at all to Weston's pepper photographs, for example.

A question for those who know - did HCB print his own work? Or did he rely, like many other pro photographers, on a collaboration with a colleague who did his printing?

John
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« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2011, 06:04:47 AM »
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HCB's view of photography is almost a zen-like one where the photographer enters a state where conscious feelings and thoughts are, perhaps not suppressed exactly, but put to one side, and the subconscious takes over. Entering the "zone", in the way that a musician does when making an inspired performance. The same  sort of philosophy which is the core of the book "The Inner Game of Tennis". I think it is possible to get into a "flow" of this sort where the subconscious takes control, even in landscape photography (although perhaps not so readily from a tripod!).

John, According to HCB, his favorite book was Zen and the Art of Archery.

Quote
But this is not necessarily the only valid sort of photography, and perhaps too much has been made of it. There are many arts and aspects of art which spring from a more contemplative, considered approach, and they are none the worse for that.

Making a good photograph is not a thought process. If you're thinking at the moment you trip that shutter you're not likely to get a first-class result.

Quote
You cannot compose a symphony in a zen-like instant, nor make a wood engraving in a few seconds. Or write a novel, for that matter. If you subscribe entirely to HCB's view of photography and what it should be, we would have to attach no value at all to Weston's pepper photographs, for example.

You're right. Landscape photography is a contemplative process, which is one reason why landscape painting is so much more effective than landscape photography. And, right again: I attach little value to photographs of vegetables. But as far as the other arts you mention: a good wood engraving takes time to finish, but the initial drawing is made very quickly. Ever watch a Japanese painter do a watercolor? A good novel, or better yet, a good poem is made in a series of flashes though the editing is contemplative. Notice that I've added "good" to each of those objects. A potboiler is made with a cookbook.

Quote
A question for those who know - did HCB print his own work? Or did he rely, like many other pro photographers, on a collaboration with a colleague who did his printing?
 

Virtually all of HCB's printing was done by a guy named Voja Mitrovic, an exceptionally good printer.
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« Reply #32 on: January 18, 2011, 07:54:08 AM »
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Becoming quite a philosopher, aren't you Russ Wink But that is ok, you are quite good at it.

Coming from Mr. philosophy himself that's quite a compliment, Slobodan.

Quote
Once an image becomes a two-dimensional representation of reality, confined to a set of restraints idiosyncratic to the chosen medium (e.g., crop/frame ratio, paper contrast, etc.), it becomes a world of its own. And that world then needs rules of its own, hence the need to continue our work in the darkroom (or Lightroom, for that matter).

That "other man" (e.g., a print) needs its "shot" or fix too. Exactly how much, if any, depends, of course, on the type of shot (photographic shot, not alcoholic, this time Wink). No amount of dodging and burning is needed for Robert Capa's shot of the falling soldier… nor it would matter if the orientation is horizontal or vertical… flipped or not… 8x10 or 24x36. I think we all would agree on that.

Since I shoot raw, everything that comes out of my cameras needs a bit of sharpening, and since I don't have a drum scanner in my studio, any scan I make needs sharpening too, so yes, some post-processing always is needed. But once a photograph is turned into a print (the other man) it becomes an objet d'art and enters the world of commerce where its scarcity and provenance is a lot more important than its quality as an image.

Yes, Capa's dying soldier is a classic example of the kind of war photography I called "cliche" in my B&W spotlight bio. It's sort of like what you see on the grocery store checkout counter magazines, all of which depend on shock for their effectiveness. But let's take something like Gene Smith's picture of a discouraged Dr. Ceriani leaning on a counter and smoking after having lost a patient. That isn't a war picture, though it is about human drama. And it's anything but cliche. Is this picture more effective as a carefully made print than it is on a page in Life magazine? And I'm not talking about the fact that in the magazine the picture is part of a story. You don't need to know the story to feel the power of that picture, which is why I keep seeing paintings that are copied from that photograph, without attribution to Gene Smith, a situation that makes me wish the copyright holders would go after the painters.

Quote
But not all photography is about human drama, there are other genres, the landscape for instance (although there are some, and we won't mention here our friend Rob Wink, who would deny any artistic value to anything else but human presence, with a nice set of boobs, if possible). And landscape is notoriously difficult to translate into 2D: it gets stripped of the huge vistas we see when we are there, fragrance of the spring, scorching hot sensation on our skin of a mid-summer noon, light breeze bringing first rain drops to our face…

This 3D world, engaging all our senses, evoking our memories, now needs to be shoved into a Procrustean bed of, say, a black and white print, horizontally oriented, 8x10, paper contrast #2. And that medium now has a world of its own, with rules of its own, with the task to recreate that abundance of sensations and emotions we felt when we pressed the shutter, using whatever artificial means there are to "deceive" and create illusion that the viewer was there too: say, slight vignetting to concentrate viewer's attention;  dodging and burning for the same reason; rules of composition necessary to bring balance and harmony into this new world; cropping (yes, Russ), if for no other reason (and there are many), then to fit the chosen paper ratio.

So, Russ, my friend, it is not HCB's vs. AA's shooting philosophy, but choosing correctly the one that matches your preferred subject. If you shoot like HCB, then do not crop and do not post-process much, if at all. There is very little point, however, in shooting landscapes the way HCB shoots people, or vice versa.

Yes, I understand the difficulties involved in trying to turn a photograph into a painting. I've made the attempt many times. But I think there's a bit of difference between landscape and Rob's quite good boobography. Boobography is done in a studio where you have complete control over the lighting, so, I'll have to say I suspect since I've never done boobography, I suspect that what comes out of the camera is very close to the final product. Certainly there are printing hurdles to come, but that's not quite the same thing.

As far as my views on landscapes are concerned, I think you could have finished that last sentence with the word "landscapes."

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« Reply #33 on: January 18, 2011, 08:59:31 AM »
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Landscape photography is a contemplative process, which is one reason why landscape painting is so much more effective than landscape photography.
Nature frequently gives the landscape photographer little or no time to contemplate anything before he has to release the shutter. Ansel Adams had only enough time to set up his view camera and take one picture before the foreground light disappeared for his famous "Moonrise, Hernandez, NM" landscape. He was driving by one evening, saw the shot and knew he had to act fast. It was very spur of the moment and he had no time to reflect on the scene before he shot it.

As for the second part of your sentence, I think we can all take that with a huge grain of salt, being that it comes from someone who doesn't particularly care for landscape photography in the first place.
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« Reply #34 on: January 18, 2011, 09:58:33 AM »
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Nature frequently gives the landscape photographer little or no time to contemplate anything before he has to release the shutter. Ansel Adams had only enough time to set up his view camera and take one picture before the foreground light disappeared for his famous "Moonrise, Hernandez, NM" landscape. He was driving by one evening, saw the shot and knew he had to act fast. It was very spur of the moment and he had no time to reflect on the scene before he shot it.

It was worse than that, Pop. He got himself and his camera up onto the platform on top of his truck and then realized he'd left his light meter below and didn't have time to go back down to get it. So he guessed at the exposure. Which proves that Ansel was a very good guesser.

Quote
As for the second part of your sentence, I think we can all take that with a huge grain of salt, being that it comes from someone who doesn't particularly care for landscape photography in the first place.

Actually, I had a poster of Moonlight Over Hernandez hanging over my computer desk for many years. It's my #2 favorite Ansel. My favorite is Woman Behind Screen Door. Most people aren't aware that Ansel did anything other than landscapes, which is warning not to let yourself become typecast. But I don't consider Moonlight to be what I'd call "landscape." It's not about rocks and trees. It's about that little New Mexican village and the people in it having their last tequila before bed. It's probably the most touching human interest picture Ansel ever did. And you're right. It certainly wasn't contemplative. Ansel wasn't thinking. He was connecting with what life was offering him. It was the decisive moment.
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« Reply #35 on: January 18, 2011, 11:04:42 AM »
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It was worse than that, Pop. He got himself and his camera up onto the platform on top of his truck and then realized he'd left his light meter below and didn't have time to go back down to get it. So he guessed at the exposure. Which proves that Ansel was a very good guesser.

Actually, I had a poster of Moonlight Over Hernandez hanging over my computer desk for many years. It's my #2 favorite Ansel. My favorite is Woman Behind Screen Door. Most people aren't aware that Ansel did anything other than landscapes, which is warning not to let yourself become typecast. But I don't consider Moonlight to be what I'd call "landscape." It's not about rocks and trees. It's about that little New Mexican village and the people in it having their last tequila before bed. It's probably the most touching human interest picture Ansel ever did. And you're right. It certainly wasn't contemplative. Ansel wasn't thinking. He was connecting with what life was offering him. It was the decisive moment.

Russ, I think you may be a closet landscape photography lover. There's no shame in that.   Wink
« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 11:07:09 AM by popnfresh » Logged
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« Reply #36 on: January 18, 2011, 02:42:46 PM »
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It was worse than that, Pop. He got himself and his camera up onto the platform on top of his truck and then realized he'd left his light meter below and didn't have time to go back down to get it. So he guessed at the exposure. Which proves that Ansel was a very good guesser.
Russ,
That prompts me to tell again the anecdote I heard from Minor White about a time he, Ansel, and Edward Weston were photographing together. At Ansel's insistence, Edward was carrying and using a light meter (Weston Master V, no relation). But the way he "used" it was rather unique. He'd wave it around, then look at it, and then mutter to himself "It's wrong!" and proceed to set the exposure he would have without the meter.

A good eye is a useful accessory in any type of photography.

Eric
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« Reply #37 on: January 18, 2011, 02:56:30 PM »
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Eric, That's right, and practice makes perfect. For a long time I did my street shooting almost exclusively with a Leica M4 and Summicron f/2 lens, either Tri X or Ilford HP 4. After a while I got so I could guess my exposure, even inside under incandescent lighting, within about a stop. Can't do it any more, but nowadays, who needs to?
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« Reply #38 on: January 23, 2011, 02:27:06 PM »
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sorry to interrupt. i have been away for a while. The flipped version has no "tension" for me. Maybe violating the "rules" of composition helped the image. i think it made me focus on the clouds and light first rather than the path.

regards,
Frank
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