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Author Topic: No Hand of Man  (Read 6062 times)
luxborealis
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« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2011, 02:42:29 PM »
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This last iteration is the best. Now, the highlighted moss patch on the river doesn't overpower the rim lighting of the tree moss as it did previously. This allows the moss to take a visual centre stage.

I think, though, we must agree to disagree about cropping. While I agree with you that the highest image quality is derived from compositions that make best use of the whole frame without cropping (and I, too prefer not to crop when possible), I believe that cropping must always be considered as an option if it is in the best interests of what the artist is trying to convey and what the scene/subject demands.

Most of the time I don't crop at all or I crop just a few rows of pixels here and there. But, I am also open to the necessity of more "radical" cropping such as changing a 4:3 or 2:3 ratio into a 1:1 square or even a 16:9 letterbox (or a 7:9 rectangle or ...). In other words, I believe the cropping is dictated by the scene and it's inherent composition of visual design elements, not the frame imposed on me by a camera manufacturer.

I understand that this will have been discussed to death previously in this forum - it is a topic that photographers will debate forever. I'm simply offering a more free-minded perspective that some may find liberating; no doubt others find it an anathema. This is the beauty of free thinking and appropriate in a "User Critique" forum.
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« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2011, 06:09:10 PM »
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In my opinion you have now nailed it, Russ. The glow of the algae doesn't overpower the moss.
This is the best version by far.

Eric

Thanks, Eric. I'm glad I could save it. I kind of liked it, even though I know it'd have been better with the HOM in there somewhere.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2011, 06:30:29 PM »
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Well, Russ, since you did make an excellent save on this one, I'll try to tone down some of my ad-HOM-inem attacks in the future.  Grin

Eric
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« Reply #23 on: December 27, 2011, 06:38:57 PM »
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Terry, a lot of people disagree with me about cropping.

Usually, when I start a lecture on the history of photography I begin by asking how many people in the audience know who Ansel Adams was. All the hands go up. Then I ask how many know who Henri Cartier-Bresson was. Sometimes a hand or two will go up, sometimes none. Then I point out that Cartier-Bresson was the most influential photographer of the twentieth century and that compared with him, Ansel was a footnote.

Here's what Henri had to say about composition on the camera:

"If you start cutting or cropping a good photograph, it means death to the geometrically correct interplay of proportions. Besides, it very rarely happens that a photograph which was feebly composed can be saved by reconstruction of its composition under the darkroom’s enlarger; the integrity of vision is no longer there."

When you talk about avoiding a crop to derive "the highest image quality" I think what you mean is that by not cropping you can keep as many pixels as possible. But that's not my beef with cropping. My concern is preserving the geometry of the original capture. Cropping most emphatically isn't "dictated by the scene." The scene is dictated by the aspect ratio of the camera you're working with -- or at least it should be -- and the "visual design elements" either are within that frame or they aren't.

Once HCB got away from the idea of following Eugene Atget and adopted the Leica in lieu of the view camera he worked with a 2 by 3 aspect ratio the rest of his photographic career. Take a look at the geometry of his compositions and then tell me the world won't fit into a 2 x 3 aspect ratio. When it comes to the geometry of composition the last thing in the world you want is a "free minded perspective." To be "liberated" is to escape the discipline you need to make art.
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luxborealis
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« Reply #24 on: December 27, 2011, 08:18:37 PM »
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I'm sorry, Russ, but I simply cannot let claims such as the one you make stand without comment. You can quote whomever you wish, but to force something as dynamic as composition, especially in the often non-geometric world of nature, into a 2x3 rectangle is absurd. Just because HC-B chose not to vary from the 2x3 ratio for his composition, doesn't mean we all must do the same. That's like saying just because Ansel Adams used a 4x5 and the Zone system we all must. No - photography is an art and each artist must be free to make their own decisions without being told they must conform to those of previous generations.

But let's make this discussion more realistic: If you were to line up 6 photographers with 6 different formats: 1x1, 2x3, 4x3, 4x5, 6x7 and 9x16 (all legitimate and often-used aspect ratios) you will get 6 different compositions based on those formats. How can you then tell me that cropping at 1x1 or a 9x16 out of a 4x5 is not possible. If I'm walking around with a 4x5 and I see a composition that fits perfectly into a 1x1 format I'm not going to pass it up because I'm using a 4x5. No, I'm going to photograph it and crop it to that format because it fits the design of the scene - not because it fits some format that a camera manufacturer chose!

Now take this thought one step further by ignoring aspect ratios entirely and you have the freedom to crop to the elements in the scene as you arrange them irrespective of the format you are using. If a 1x1.1 aspect ratio works then use it. Just because a camera manufacturer doesn't make a camera in that format shouldn't limit us as artists.

We cannot and should not be constrained by aspect ratio decisions made decades ago by camera manufacturers.

Respectfully,

--Terry
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« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2011, 03:27:06 AM »
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Terry

I'm not defending Russ here: he's capable of flying a fighter-bomber at you, literally, so take care; what I am doing is saying that in my view, you seem to have misunderstood what he means. In fact, you have proved his point with your example of different cameras shooting the same shot successfully on different formats, his point being that you compose within your camera's native format and that should be that.

I've shot literally thousands of professionally driven picures on 135, 6x6, 6x7 and also, for an unhappy while on 4x5. In all cases I composed within the boundaries of what I had. However, the formats were usually dictated by need. There is indeed a dynamic, a geometry, whose interplay exists within the eye, brain and format in every case of deliberate shooting.

Cropping of any format isn't much of a sin, clearly not a cardinal one; it can be used as a correction device after the event, certainly, but I think it is then just that: correction of earlier error. But it can also be a positive, on rare occasions. I have a transparency that I shot for a calendar which didn't work in its original Kodachrome state. So, it lay in a sleeve for decades. Then, one day, as I was finally working on the creation of my website (thanks again, Fred!) I came across it and wondering how it would work in b/w, I scanned it. I got my cover shot from it as well as two other crops that were all better, in my view, than the whole.  An original which fails can also be a little goldmine of surprises. But, that doesn't disguise the fact that my original vision was a failure, and neither do I take a downer from that either, as the original was part of a build-up to another, whole-frame shot that did work!

But as a rule, and also because of the need to maximize the tiny acreage of 135, I believe in filling the format.

Rob C

P.S. Exception to this was stock, where additional space was always required for cropping, copy etc.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 03:30:34 AM by Rob C » Logged

Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #26 on: December 28, 2011, 07:59:31 AM »
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Rob,

I think I pick on Russ at least as much as anybody else here, but I think that deep down, you, Russ, Terry and I all really pretty much agree about cropping.

1.   Do your darndest to fill the image, corner to corner, with the best camera you have with you.

2.   If you see at the time of shooting that some cropping is really necessary, then you plan to do it (and this is pretty rare).

3.   Later on, if you see from your proofs that you made a mistake which can be fixed by additional cropping, go ahead and crop (and this should be extremely rare).

Of course we can go on arguing over the meaning of "pretty rare" and "extremely rare" if we really want to.

Eric
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« Reply #27 on: December 28, 2011, 08:40:00 AM »
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Thanks Eric. I think you stated the case exactly.

HCB was a fanatic about on-camera composition, and since he insisted his pictures be printed with the black borders showing, sometimes including sprocket holes, I'd be willing to bet bags of money that he sometimes missed, or dumped, shots that could have been made good with a bit of cropping.

But I also believe that by thinking and seeing in a 2 x 3 aspect ratio he mastered a kind of instant recognition and composition that photographers with Terry's "free minded perspective" never will achieve, or even approach. Photographic composition is the art of confining a piece of reality to a small window. I think Terry's "liberation" tends more toward chaos than toward art.

Thanks, Rob. It's very interesting to hear a pro say that. I also know that my good friend down the hall in my old Colorado Springs office who did weddings felt the same way. He'd crop, but only if there was no other way.

Terry, would your hand have gone up on question number two?
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luxborealis
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« Reply #28 on: December 28, 2011, 09:02:43 AM »
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Russ - I know who HC-B is - you don't need to go down the slippery slope of personal slights to make your point.

Rob & Eric, I couldn't agree with you more, about working to fill the format first. I do the same for about most of my work. But I think the difference between my outlook and that of Russ is that he sees aspect ratio for the format you are using as an absolute, I don't. Nor do I see cropping from the original aspect ratio as "correction device". It is not a "failure of [the] original vision" if you choose to crop a scene differently from the camera's aspect ratio. That's absurd.

The moment we create absolutes is the moment we close our mind to other possibilities.

The whole point about the different formats all capturing a well-composed image should tell you that just because you have one format, does't mean you have to be restricted by that format! If I'm shooting with a 6x7 and I see the scene in front of me as a square or 16:9 (or 16:10 or 16:Cool then I shoot it knowing I need to crop later because I can't crop in the camera. The format I'm shooting is very helpful for composition most of the time, but not always.

Do you follow the rule of thirds as an absolute? No, you use it as a guide to composition. It's not a failure if you choose to deviate from it! How often are we reminded that there are times to "break the rules of composition"? Perhaps not often enough!

Do you accept all images directly out of the camera as "finished" or do you post-process your images as a "corrective device" for your "failure of your original vision". No, you don't do either. You realise a camera is only a machine and that you must then work to bring that machine image (the negative or raw file) back to what you, as an artist, visualized in the field. You might "burn and dodge", add some exposure, change the contrast, etc. Some people view these as "corrective devices" but they're not. They are an integral part of the art of photography. Cropping is part of that art - not necessarily for every image, but certainly for some.

Cropping is not a "failure", it's thinking outside the rectangle.

For most of the images I choose to crop, I do so because that's the way I saw it in the field. I made the exposure knowing that the scene before me doesn't fit the format I'm using. As I said previously, I'm not going to ignore a scene I visualise as a square format just because I'm carrying a rectangle! I shoot it with my rectangle and crop to what I originally saw - a square.

We have spent too many decades living with the legacy of small formats and grainy film - that's where this notion of not cropping arose - to preserve image quality in a time when grainy 35mm was still competing with medium and large format. No artist should be hemmed in by the limitations of technological design. It's a rather anthropocentric view that a narrow selection of human-made rectangles should command the way the world is seen. We can certainly use those rectangles to assist our visualizing process, but they need not be absolutes. I understand the concept behind the golden ratio, but even Oskar Barnack got it wrong with a 3:2 format - the golden ratio is 1:1.618...

We've been imposing human constructs on nature for far too long. Isn't it time to liberate ourselves from this myth that humans can control nature? The pursuit of artistic expression is far too free an endeavour to be restricted by rectangles designed by engineers. The bottom line here is that composition need not be limited by specific aspect ratios.

I know you will disagree, but as I said in the beginning, we should agree to disagree. While I don't agree with your point-of-view I understand the thinking behind it. Even if you don't agree with my point-of-view, I hope you understand where I'm coming from.
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« Reply #29 on: December 28, 2011, 09:57:46 AM »
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All this obsession with cropping or not cropping misses the point. The only thing that matters is the final image. You do what you have to do in order get it right. I personally don't care if a photographer crops the frame so it's hexagonal or shaped like a bunny rabbit, as long as it benefits the shot.
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Rob C
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« Reply #30 on: December 28, 2011, 10:10:44 AM »
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Rob & Eric, I couldn't agree with you more, about working to fill the format first. I do the same for about most of my work. But I think the difference between my outlook and that of Russ is that he sees aspect ratio for the format you are using as an absolute, I don't. Nor do I see cropping from the original aspect ratio as "correction device". It is not a "failure of [the] original vision" if you choose to crop a scene differently from the camera's aspect ratio. That's absurd.

I know you will disagree, but as I said in the beginning, we should agree to disagree. While I don't agree with your point-of-view I understand the thinking behind it. Even if you don't agree with my point-of-view, I hope you understand where I'm coming from.



Well, I'm sorry, but in the instance that I quoted - my own triple-crop from a failed whole - it failed because of the concept itself, not the model or anything much else other than it being a poor idea, hence, a failure. It's problem was that on the right of frame, the girl's arm was propped up on an outboard motor which simply overpowered her (no pun intended) and threw everything off balance. So yep, it was failure - abject at that!

Of course I agree to differ - I think we all do here - that's why we keep coming back!

;-)

Rob C
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Chairman Bill
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« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2011, 10:21:21 AM »
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I can't help but think that it would be much improved if there was something else. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but something that showed the involvement of humanity in this environment. Whaddya think?
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John R Smith
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« Reply #32 on: December 28, 2011, 10:39:40 AM »
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I can't help but think that it would be much improved if there was something else. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but something that showed the involvement of humanity in this environment. Whaddya think?

I think that you taketh the piss . . .

 Wink John
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Rob C
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« Reply #33 on: December 28, 2011, 12:59:20 PM »
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I think that you taketh the piss . . .

 Wink John


At this time of year, so near to Christmas if you're looking backwards and not forwards, that activity could be seen as tempting Fate, at the very least!

Rob C
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« Reply #34 on: December 28, 2011, 07:20:09 PM »
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Terry, I'm sorry you felt insulted by my question, and I apologize. But from the tenor of your statementsI wasn't sure you'd ever seen any of his work.
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michael ellis
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« Reply #35 on: December 28, 2011, 08:35:19 PM »
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Hi Russ-

I like what you have done with your photograph and the highlight area. I have enjoyed the interaction on this thread regarding the photo and the different thoughts about it.

Sincerely,

Michael
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kikashi
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« Reply #36 on: December 29, 2011, 01:32:15 PM »
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In my opinion you have now nailed it, Russ. The glow of the algae doesn't overpower the moss.
This is the best version by far.
I agree. I was drawn to the algae-less version for a while, and I think it was an improvement over the original, but this is much better balanced. Lovely shot.

Jeremy
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« Reply #37 on: December 29, 2011, 02:43:08 PM »
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Thanks all. This time I liked the shot well enough to spend a lot of time in Photoshop trying to salvage it. Normally I'd rather get a life and go shoot some new pictures.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #38 on: December 29, 2011, 06:25:13 PM »
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... Here's a final version...

Damn it!

Why do I always have to disagree with the majority? And when I do, why can't I keep my mouth shut? Genes, I guess Wink

The final version, IMHO, is the worst of all three. There is only one thing worse than burnt highlights, and that would be gray highlights.

Yes, it was me who first complained about it, but you might have noticed that I also said it is "not terribly distracting". Why? Because of the assumed specular nature of the thing, as Russ rightly noted. Also, there is a huge black presence in the image, and thanks to an almost abstract character of the whole image, that blob of specular highlights acts as a nice counter-balance to all the blackness. In other words, both Bruce and Russ were onto something when they opposed my initial comments.

Ultimately, I think that your second version is the right one, or very close.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #39 on: December 29, 2011, 08:24:40 PM »
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I just wish I could come up with an image to post that would generate as much discussion as this one has.

Eric
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