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Author Topic: I'd like a critique  (Read 10153 times)
boku
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« on: September 19, 2005, 07:34:43 PM »
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I am really torn about this picture. I'll tell you right now, the original 3:2 in-camera crop was not to my liking because it failed to isolate offensive stuff. Some of this can still be seen creeping into the left side of this crop.

I know this is a very drastic crop, but I found it at least made the image conveying a mood to me that made me take the picture in the first place.

Any and all criticism welcome: camera technique, art, post processing, crop, filters, sharpening, whatever.

I need to understand if this is too far off the beaten path to be interesting to a general audience. Would anyone ever buy anything like this?

Thanks in advance. I will only respond if asked. Promise.

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Bob Kulon

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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2005, 08:05:57 PM »
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The image definitely has potential; if you cloned out that one out-of-place-looking stick on the left and cropped the bottom to just below the visible water to get about a 1:2 aspect ratio, I think you'd have a real winner. I don't see anything I'd change regarding color/tonality, and the web image doesn't have enpough resolution to intelligently critique the sharpening, so I have no real suggestions for improvement there. All in all, I'd say it's definitely worth the effort required to polish it.

And you have my permission to participate in the discussion if you like.
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jule
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2005, 09:17:07 PM »
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The image creates intrigue because of the direction of the timber structure - leading to where??? and also leading the eye to the central tree merging into the whispy clouds. A real sense of connection is created by the directional aspect of the components.

The colouring is pleasant and the saturation of the flowers gives the image life. The lightness and exposure gives that feeling of tranquility.

I would remove the dead vertical stick in the sky on the left hand side because it is distracting.

I would crop off just a little of the green foliage just below the lowest yellow flower, because the bottom green foliage seems to lack interest. Putting the yellow closer to the bottom of the image seems to attract me into the image immediately. Cropping higher near the waterline as Jonathan suggested seems to make me higher and feel like I am standing, rather than exploring - which is much more interesting !  Keeping more of the foreground in makes me feel as if I am really in the grass and wildflowers.

Don't think I would purchase it Boku, but I really enjoyed my experience of viewing it.

Julie
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jdemott
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2005, 10:01:28 PM »
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Bob, I really like: the shape of the large tree and the fact that it has only partial foliage, the feeling of depth in the photo, the dock leading in to the frame, and the lighting on the foreground flowers ( but I am concerned about the difference between the lowest flowers which are in shadow and some of those in the brightest light which seem to lose detail). As others have noted, the branches coming in from the left are distracting, as are the con-trails. I like the non-standard aspect ratio. but I would be interested to see what a little perspective adjustment might do for it. I think you have captured what was appealing in the scene--nice light with proper exposure has given good color and contrast. Overall, the mood of the photo is one of a very pleasant, comfortable scene. For me, the distractions interfere with that comfortable mood--in a photo that depicted a subject of intense drama, the same distractions might be overlooked.
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John DeMott
Sheldon N
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« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2005, 01:26:17 AM »
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I like it, it fundamentally appeals to me but is just a little too "busy". I don't know what the location is like, but if you can reshoot it to include just the flowers, water and central tree, it would be a lot more powerful of a photo. I also agree with the recommendations of others regarding cropping the lower portion of the photo a little higher towards the water line.

The reaching fingers of the primary tree are what really hold my interest.

Hope this helps!
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mikeseb
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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2005, 07:24:21 AM »
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I couldn't finger the "problem" until Sheldon said it; it is just somehow too busy for my taste also. I have no complaint about its technical execution--sharpness, color, etc.
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michael sebastian
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larryg
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« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2005, 08:37:13 AM »
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The first question we should ask ourselves in self critiqueing

Why did I take this image, What is the interest of the image,

What is your central focus?

Is it the dead tree, the flowers in the foreground?

Also check for edges and corners of things coming into the frame that detract, i.e. the stick in the left hand side etc.

There is some potential elements (in my humble opinion) but not sure everything works as is?

You might trying to simplify this image.  The dock lends itself to a nice leading line.   I just don't see the dead tree adding anything and that is where my eyes end up
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2005, 10:38:48 AM »
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Two comments -

First, the bottom portion of the image seems to be "dead space" to me, with a darkness that doesn't go well with the rest of the sunny picture.  I'd crop it off just a little below the two brightest yellow flowers.  The best flowers are still there that way.

Second, I'm not sure I like it by itself (I'm not sure exactly what you're "trying to say" with this image), but if you were to take two more pictures of complementary subjects in complementary colors (not quite identical colors, but colors that would go well with this one) and crop them to the same size and shape and matte them side by side, it would make a lovely triptych.  Maybe something like a comment on the variety of different ecosystems in your neighborhood?

Lisa
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2005, 04:59:38 PM »
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A last comment -
The colors are wonderful.  The mix of bright clear blue, green and yellow is very attractive.  I'm not particularly excited by the composition, but if you can get a better composition there with those same colors it would be worth trying...

Lisa
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boku
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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2005, 06:21:54 PM »
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The image definitely has potential; if you cloned out that one out-of-place-looking stick on the left and cropped the bottom to just below the visible water to get about a 1:2 aspect ratio, I think you'd have a real winner. I don't see anything I'd change regarding color/tonality, and the web image doesn't have enpough resolution to intelligently critique the sharpening, so I have no real suggestions for improvement there. All in all, I'd say it's definitely worth the effort required to polish it.

And you have my permission to participate in the discussion if you like.
I did this - worked it two ways, one color the other sepia. My original intent at the moment of capture was to give my 10-22 zoom a workout, capturing a classic foreground, middleground, and background. This was semi-soft semi-mottled 9 AM lighting. The boardwalk into the marsh gave me a peaceful, restful emotion at the time - I was attracted to the dapples of golden light on the neutral grey wood. The composition compromised my ability to do anything artisitic, but I feel the emotion.

I struggle with trite, quaint landscapes in NE Ohio. I am trying to produce "killer" images but I am far from it. I hate to admit that sometimes the local environs just don't click for me. I can't travel much due to family issues, so I want to try to master my "small" world. I have seen the work of local notable landscape photographers and find myself underwhelmed. I want to make the most of this and find myself working smaller and smaller scenes to get anything stimulating.

Anyhow, here's both versions of the new crops/edits...

and
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Bob Kulon

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jule
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2005, 07:12:18 PM »
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Bob, I like the crop and the removal of the stick on the left. The yellow flower on the lower left grabs me and draws me in to the scene. Contrary to what some others have said about there being 'too much' in the image to convey peacefullness, I actually find that all those scattered lines and angles in the sky and the dead branches makes me want to retreat into the calmer part of the image - the boardwalk - which I suspect is  where you felt that tranquility. Although texturally interesting, I just don't feel that same sense of calmness with the sepia colouring.

Julie
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jdemott
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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2005, 07:24:22 PM »
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My original intent at the moment of capture was to give my 10-22 zoom a workout, capturing a classic foreground, middleground, and background. This was semi-soft semi-mottled 9 AM lighting. The boardwalk into the marsh gave me a peaceful, restful emotion at the time - I was attracted to the dapples of golden light on the neutral grey wood. The composition compromised my ability to do anything artisitic, but I feel the emotion
Bob, I think you accomplished much of what you set out to do. The foreground, middleground, background works well, particularly with the shadowed part of the foreground cropped. The composition is nice and the boardwalk works well in the composition. The lighting is as you describe and I think you have captured it well--I particularly like the lighting on the reeds and on the boardwalk. The fact that the mood is peaceful and restful rather than dramatic isn't a fault in my opinion.

But what is missing?--I gather you're not satisfied, which is why you posted the photo. Part of the problem is the presence of some distracting elements as mentioned above. But also I think the photo needs some kind of emotional "hook" to draw the viewer in--a bird in the sky, a cloud with some interesting lighting, a child's toy left on the boardwalk, etc. As it is, the photo seems a little empty.

If this is near your home, why not go back several times and see what happens? Fill up your Compact Flash card; electrons are cheap. Lisa mentioned the possibility of a triptych. Perhaps you could do a triptych of shots of the same scene, with different lighting or in different seasons. To me that would definitely add some emotional content and interest.

Having participated in a few of these "critiques" in the past couple weeks, both as photographer and as reviewer, I have to say that I think the exercise is very valuable. I am learning just as much by commenting on your photo and reading the other comments as I have in seeing comments on my own shots. In fact, the process of thinking about your photo has also made me think more about some of the comments I received and reinforces some of what I learned. It is good to be looking at shots that are troublesome, not just the ones that worked, because that's how we learn. I hope you'll keep posting your work.
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John DeMott
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2005, 07:28:36 PM »
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Boku, I think you've implemented Jonathan's suggestion in a way that improves the composition considerably. The fact that you made the sepia version is a stroke of genius, because it looks very good in its own right, and it brings out one of the main issues with the colour image: just so much green and blue, and alot within the green that isn't all that distinguishable. What the sepia has done is to suppress that problem by shifting the focus from colour to line and form, where the cropped image is more successful. The sepia generates greater emphasis on the compositional lines created by the dock and the tree, and it also emphasizes the form of the trees by suppressing colour and relying on contrast. Hence it now has a clearer center of interest.

I would suggest trying on for size two further tweaks: (1) another crop, bottoming the picture just below the upper set of flowers in the foreground, which would lower the horizon line a bit more and further emphasize the play between the dock and the trees, and (2) in the sepia version, wrack-up the contrast a few points to better still separate the trees from the sky, adding strength.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2005, 08:17:44 PM »
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I think the new crop is a definite improvement; though I'd take just a bit more off the bottom along the lines of whar Mark suggested. The sepia treatment is definitely a good idea and worth further exploration increasing the contrast, at least in the sky. I'd recommend local contrast rather than global, set fairly aggressively at the top of the image, and fading to what you've got near the horizon; something like this:



And the original for reference:

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boku
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« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2005, 08:22:01 PM »
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The sepia treatment is definitely a good idea and worth further exploration increasing the contrast, at least in the sky. I'd recommend local contrast rather than global, set fairly aggressively at the top of the image, and fading to what you've got near the horizon
You know what - I've never done local contrast! Let me guess - Curves Layer with a mask?
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Bob Kulon

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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2005, 09:40:28 PM »
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Yep, curves with a layer mask and painting is one approach; another is curves with a layer mask and a gradiant - the gradiant replacing the need to paint. The tricky part here is getting the "fade" of the gradiant right.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Jay Kaplan
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« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2005, 09:56:19 PM »
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Nice job and I like them both. The sepia is really nice, just needs a little more umph. It reminds me of what was called the "brown section" of The Sunday Sun magazine back in the fifties. Everything was sepia in color and the primary photographer was A Audrey Bodine.

Brings back memories of a simplier time. Well done.
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2005, 10:57:53 PM »
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I like your new crop, color-version.  The sepia version is quite different, and, I think, loses the peace and prettiness of the color version, which is what I most liked about it.

I also agree with jdemott's comment that a little something additional in the picture would really add a "hook" - a bird would do, but maybe a small child on the boardwalk peering down into the water would be even better?  Have you access to a small child?  Cheesy

Lisa
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2005, 11:04:14 PM »
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Bob, and while you're at it, give the child a red hat. Just something to contrast the blue-yellow-green a bit!  Cheesy
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2005, 12:23:20 AM »
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You know what - I've never done local contrast! Let me guess - Curves Layer with a mask?
Close, but no cigar. I made a new layer and ran an action that creates a mask for the layer that makes the shadow and highlight areas transparent, and the midtones opaque. Then I did a USM on the new layer radius 120, amount 60%. Then I did a gradient in darken mode to make everything below the horizon transparent, and fade in the effect of the local contrast boos on the sky. Then I flattened and saved.
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