Critique #1
Old 08-01-2006   #1
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Critique #1

Welcome to this critique thread. Please read the purpose statement and the guidelines regarding participation.

Purpose
The primary purpose of this thread is to provide a forum where photographers can give and receive constructive criticism on one another's photographs. By setting up some basice guidelines we hope that this thread will provide a forum where the give and take of honest constructive criticism can help us become better photographers.

Additionally, we asked RFF members to provide their methodology for viewing images. If you'd like to participate in a critique thread and need some ideas about how to proceed with viewing images critically, you may find this thread helpful:

Critiquing Photos Reference Thread

Note: This is our first critique thread, so we've purposefully put some limitations in place. If you are not an actual participant in this thread you are of course welcomed to view. We'll ask members to provide their input and thoughts on how the critique worked in a separate thread—once this thread closes. If the thread is deemed to be successful or worthwhile, the intent is to have several "Critique" threads open an waiting for participants.

Guidelines/Ground Rules
The thread has very specific rules regarding participation. The one basic rule is that you cannot provide criticism on an image or comment in a critique thread unless you also have an image posted. To post an image to this thread you must be a participant. Participation in this thread is limited. Here are the guidelines and ground rules for participation:

Participation in this thread is limited to 5 photographers
Participants join the thread by posting their intention. You can simply reply with your intent to join by posting something like: "I'm joining," "I'm in," or just state your name
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Photographers attach photos as thumbnails (no inline images or links)
Photographers post their images supplying titles (if any) and other pertinent information (the amount of information should be minimal)
Photographers can only comment on their own images and reply to comments only when everyone else in the thread has posted their comments on the image
Every participant must comment on every photo (except their own—initially)
Every participant must make at least two comments, one positive comment, and one constructive criticism (which is actually two positive comments)
Once every photographer has commented then a free flowing discussion begins. It is at this point that every photographer can comment on their own work and reply to comments, ask questions, etc.
The participants decide when the thread closes.

Remember: Please do not provide criticism on an image or comment in a critique thread unless you also have an image posted.

This thread is now active, please follow the guidelines if you'd like to participate! Have Fun!



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Old 08-01-2006   #2
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I'm in....
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Old 08-01-2006   #3
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Ya know, Ray, this is going to keep me up late .
I'd certainly welcome the criticism.
I'm in.
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Old 08-01-2006   #4
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Old 08-01-2006   #5
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I'm in for sure.
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Old 08-01-2006   #6
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Old 08-01-2006   #7
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I think Ampguy makes 5. Gents, shall we post photos?
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Old 08-01-2006   #8
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looks like five to me...

So here goes. Untitled.
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Old 08-01-2006   #9
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OK, second attempt.
"Wet Corner"
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my submission
Old 08-01-2006   #10
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my submission

title: healthy choices
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Last edited by ampguy : 08-01-2006 at 22:40.
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Old 08-01-2006   #11
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Here is mine

title. . . um. . . ."alley colors"
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Old 08-01-2006   #12
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Sorry for the delay, but I'm scanning as fast as I can!
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Old 08-01-2006   #13
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I'll be back in the morning, folks. Well rested and ready to give the photos my full attention.
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Old 08-01-2006   #14
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off to bed as well - will return tomorrow to ad comments
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Old 08-01-2006   #15
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Title: "Dog Fantasy"
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Old 08-01-2006   #16
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Look forward to commenting and further discussion tomorrow.
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Old 08-02-2006   #17
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Gentlemen, you first, I insist!
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Old 08-02-2006   #18
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Looks like I will get this started.

Wet Corner - rbiemer.

I like the tone and mood on this shot. The composition i feel is strong as well. There seems to a a sort of disjointed (I mean this positively) correlation between diagonal lines., the sidewalk and the shadow veer off to the right and intersect with the road in the background making a sort of seven shape that pulls the viewer through the image. The octagonal flare seems to fall in a good spot on the image as well.

I feel that the lack of sharpness, in the foreground, specifically is working against this photo. There is a bit a of softness in the pipe- rainfall area that can add to the mood, but in the foreground the sidewalk, being prominent and a little brighter than the rest of the picture, seems to distract from the picture due to the sharpness.
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Last edited by Chaser : 08-02-2006 at 10:37.
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Old 08-02-2006   #19
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OK, here goes.

Chaser -
- The image of the man is very strong. All shadow, with slivers of light. Very mysterious. I think the composition holds together very well.
- I think the photo could be strengthened even further by cropping the right side right up to the edge of the man. The curb interferes with the strong diagonal of the pavement.

rbiemer "Wet Corner" -
- This is the type of photograph I am always looking for (some may interpret that as a harsh criticism ). An abstract play of light and dark, textured surfaces and flat planes. The rain adds movement. Very atmospheric.
- I am not sure what the focal point is. If I had my choice, I would like to see the edge of the drain pipe as a sharp edge.

ampguy "healthy choices" -
- We have all been at this place. It feels very familiar. You have captured the light and mood very well. Well composed.
- As much as I like all of the elements in the photo, I wish there was tension present. Maybe it is the pose of the child that is not quite right. Maybe if he was reaching for the bleach on the right

shutterfly "alley colors" -
- The blurred cyclist against a sharply focused backgroud works well for me. The tones and color palette look just right. It reminds me of a Mark Rothko painting.
- Usually mis-aligned perspective does not bother me. Often it adds tension that helps. In this case, I would like to see the horizontal and vertical lines be, well, horizontal and vertical. The photo to me has a geometric precision that would be strengthened by having the lines perfectly straight - offset with the blurred, nebulous figure in the corner.

I look forward to reading the other comments and having further discussion.

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Old 08-02-2006   #20
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healthy choices - Ampguy

First off the child is adorable. The central composition is strong and has a sort of quick movement that pulls the eye straight to the child. Once there the viewer is drawn into the facial expressions and then the eye is free to wander through the shelves and see all of the products that surround the child, and the products that the child is looking at.

I feel that the image could be cropped in a little bit to make it a little stronger, perhaps about 5% off of the top and the left and right sides. This could work to make it so the the child is a little more prominent in the picture. Also have you tried this in B&W? The texture of the grain could provide a nice look to a black and white photo, it does to color as well.
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Old 08-02-2006   #21
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Well, here goes:
I looked at these in the order they were posted so I'll comment on them in that order.
Chaser--
I really like the colors of this photo. Color infra-red? And the geometry of the trees on the left "pointing" to the guy in the hat.
If I were to do anything differently it might be to crop the bottom slightly--just below the kerb.

Ampguy--
I like that there is a lot of visual "stuff" going on in this one because, I think, it speaks to what the child is seeing/experiencing. I imagine the child running/walking along the aisle taking in all the different colors/shapes/smells and finding something familiar--the pears or apples(not sure exactly which he's looking at). And stopping to point them out to you.
It may well be my monitor but, I might have adjusted the color balance to minimize the color of the store's lights.

Shutterflower--
This photo proves that "rules" like having moving objects/people move into the frame should some times be ignored. And I like the juxtaposition of the clarity and detail of the static background with the mtion blur of the rider.
The top of the scene seems to be monochromatic and I can't decide whether the photo would be stronger with out it or as you have shown us.
The three windows form(to my eyes) an arrow pointing the way for the rider to go. I could see making two photos from this; dividing them at the level of the blue paint on the wall.

Honus--
I like the contrast of this and the narrow depth of focus that seperates the hydrant from the back ground. The strong directional light helps this also.
This is so well realized, I really don't have much constructive to add except that I might've come in a little tighter on the right edge.

This was not easy, and I will be looking at these photos some more.
Excellent work all!
Rob
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Old 08-02-2006   #22
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shutterflower - "alley colors"

The color in this shot is great. The sort of graphical nature of the building with windows, ladders, and shapes in the blue and white paint, interact with the bike rider in this shot, to create a really strong picture that I envy. The mental contrast of the animate and inanimate in this photo is really strong.

Because of the strength of this interaction i feel that the lines of the building and sidewalk could stand to be a little straighter, but i think in many ways that the perspective on the building could vary for the viewer if different styles of presentation were used...this is to say that while on the monitor the perspective seems to detract a little, in print if the picture was say a medium size that pulled the viewer to it, in a gallery setting per say, the curvature would be far less noticeable, than if the viewer is farther away. Also if you were working in a strange pseudo panoramic format you could crop this photo just to the left of the ladder and have a really cool vertical shot, it would then lose a lot of the feeling of motion that is gained by the extra space on the left, but I just wanted to mention that because it is great when a photo can hold its own in two different crops.
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Old 08-02-2006   #23
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Honus - "Dog Fantasy"

The tonality of this, as well as many of your photos that I have seen, is simply spectacular. It is dramatic and eye catching without being garish. You really seem to have a handle on the tonal representation in photos. The interplay of intersecting lines really works in this photo, the two shadows coming off of the hydrant intersect with it and really give it a feeling of three dimensions. Since those two shadows are so obviously on a flat plane it makes it seem that the hydrant is jutting out of the ground at the viewer, and this is helped also by the dof.

I would like to see this pulled back just enough to see the shape in the bottom left hydrant shadow.
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Chaser - Untitled
Old 08-02-2006   #24
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Chaser - Untitled

This vertical image immediately strikes me as an "art photo" and I immediately gravitated towards the bright unnatural colors of the trees and patches of lawn. This is a very cool effect, I am not sure if you did it with film, filters, IR, or photoshop, but it is attention getting in how you changed the green, yet left the blues intact and slightly altered the blacks and whites. The trees have good highlight detail, even with the radical non-natural coloring. The purple patches of lawn and trees seem to lend itself to a psychadelic induced or dream sequence situation. To add interest to the picture, the man walking across the street in the funky hat is mysterious. He seems dressed up, but not really dressed up for business. Is he dangerous? Is he the devil? What kind of stride is he making? Is he holding a cigarette? Is he up to no good? It makes one wonder and imagine, which is good. I also like that the photo has few or no digital artifacts. Often things like telephone lines get pixellated, but in your image, they retain sharpness.

So how could this photo be improved?

-- Well, the framing on the right is not clean. There is the front of a white car on the other side of the street, and there is a corner of a sidewalk, but it is not clear if it is a driveway, or an alley or street in the foreground. I would consider cropping out the car and sidewalk corner leaving the walking man at the edge of the frame.

Overall it's a great photo and makes good use of artificial colors mixed with natural colors.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaser
looks like five to me...

So here goes. Untitled.
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rbiemer - Wet Corner
Old 08-02-2006   #25
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rbiemer - Wet Corner

This b&w vertical took me a minute to get oriented as to what it was. By adjusting my monitor, I realized the octagon light was not the moon but some other reflection, and the building has a brick style texture to it. I like how it captures the contrast of sidewalk blocks that are dry because convex vs the concave squares that hold water and reflect. It makes one wonder if it is raining now, or was ever raining, and just wet from a leaking pipe or gutter from the top water falling in the center.

So how could this photo be improved?

-- I think the flared octagon is kind of weird, I think the photo could stand on it's own without that artifact, and possibly give the viewer the correct interpretation of a sidewalk at the side of a building with a street in the background a little sooner. The angle at which it is taken, and the contrast of the reflected wet stones and their texture is very very good.


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Originally Posted by rbiemer
OK, second attempt.
"Wet Corner"
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Shutterflower - alley colors
Old 08-02-2006   #26
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Shutterflower - alley colors

I like the colors and shades of the building, the whited out graffiti, and the windows a lot. It was obviously taken with a very wide angle lens, showing quite a bit of distortion, but this may add to the photo's allure. The main focus of this photo seems to be the moving cyclist. Is he riding a bike that is too small for him?

So how could this photo be made better?

-- the cyclist in motion should maybe have been frozen more so that he looked like he had a normal balding. I would have gone with a little more detail on the cyclist, it almost appears that his bicycle is a shadow. I like the motion, but combined with him out of focus, and the wide angle distortion, it might be excessive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shutterflower
Here is mine

title. . . um. . . ."alley colors"
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Honus - Dog Fantasy
Old 08-02-2006   #27
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Honus - Dog Fantasy

Very nice horizontal shot of an old non symmetrical fire hydrant. There are several interesting aspects of this photo -- the diagonal pedestrian white line with wear down to the street, and what initially looked like shadows, but may be a water leak or maybe multiple light sources. Very high contrast and sharp image of the hydrant.

So how could this photo be made better?

-- The crossing line is almost the same white hue as the hydrant, so this poto might have been better in color, or maybe from a different angle that just captured the hydrant. The shadows are confusing, and there is also what appears to be a removed white street line in the mid right of the frame that is just a shade darker than the shadows adding possibly unneeded complexity to this otherwise simply elegant water hydrant photo. Great job!


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Title: "Dog Fantasy"
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Old 08-02-2006   #28
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Chaser :

Yours is difficult to criticize because it obvious stretches things a bit. I think the picture really owes its impact to the man’s hat. Without the hat, you wouldn’t have anything. I might be tempted to PS some of the branches on the right side of the frame out of the image. Maybe crop in closer to the man – only slightly. Really, I might have preferred a more centered focus on the man – but then I don’t know your intent. Perhaps his marginal presence at first glance is the idea. The image quality is low, but that is not really a point of any weight – and maybe you used very expired film?

Bottom line : crop a little closer to the guy. Maybe.

What I do like about it is the colors and the hat/trees thing. It has a very unusual feel to it. Really, at first glance, what came to mind was a very dim memory from childhood. I was only 1 or 2 and visiting grandparents in rural Maryland. It was hot.
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Old 08-02-2006   #29
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Rbiemer :

I like this shot. I think it may have benefited from a more decisive blurriness (or sharpness) – one way or the other. It looks as though it may have been taken from a moving vehicle or while walking – it doesn’t look posed/tripod. You chose the DOF well, and the shutterspeed does manage to hang on with the detail in the water drops which is a good thing.

I might have taken two shots of this scene if possible. This one. And then one cropped in closer to where the watter is hitting the ground with a wider aperture. But that is irrelevant.

There are some spots of highlight blowout – this may be a scanning issue or only thanks to the film. It is a tricky and very high range shot, so we can’t ask you to get everything perfect!

It does have a quiet, wet night feel. Like a shot from a taxi through some silent London street.
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Old 08-02-2006   #30
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ampguy :

A potential avalanche of produce!

I think in this shot I would much like to have seen the little boy's face. The expression was probably a good one. Maybe if you'd been at the other end of the aisle instead. It is strange to compare this with images of places where there is rarely enough to feed everyone - this little kid is in danger of being burried by an apple avalanche. I would probably have tried a lower angle of view - really try to accent the size relationships. But, that is because I see this image as trying to convey something that you may not have even considered. So who knows.
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Old 08-02-2006   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampguy
I like the colors and shades of the building, the whited out graffiti, and the windows a lot. It was obviously taken with a very wide angle lens, showing quite a bit of distortion, but this may add to the photo's allure. The main focus of this photo seems to be the moving cyclist. Is he riding a bike that is too small for him?

So how could this photo be made better?

-- the cyclist in motion should maybe have been frozen more so that he looked like he had a normal balding. I would have gone with a little more detail on the cyclist, it almost appears that his bicycle is a shadow. I like the motion, but combined with him out of focus, and the wide angle distortion, it might be excessive.

yeah - this is a shot from the Canon SD700IS - not my beloved RF645. I was taking a picture of the wall (on my way to work from the bus). I was hiding in a recessed doorway so this guy didn't even see me when he came riding down the alley. I was about to take the pic of the wall when he popped into frame, so I snapped as quickly as I could. I do wish that I had fired the shutter more promptly - only to get the entire bike in the shot, and that I had been using a more quality piece of glass. Oh well. The SD700 is my pocket camera. Medium format rangefinders don't quite fit.
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Old 08-02-2006   #32
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honus :

The lighting is unusual in this shot. ALmost looks like a macro of a miniature hydrant in some model of a street scene. It's a good hydrant. I can imagine why the dogs would want to be with it.

I might have left a bit more on the bottom of the frame when composing - just because it feels a tad to short on space down there. A vertical orientation might have been better - but I don't know about the environment, perhaps you had no other choice. Perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about.

DOF was well chosen, just deep enough to get the hydrant in focus, but shallow enough to give that nice effect.

Maybe you should do more hydrant shots. Do a series and sell it to Petco.
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Old 08-02-2006   #33
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The one basic rule is that you cannot provide criticism on an image or comment in a critique thread unless you also have an image posted.
Why?******
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Old 08-02-2006   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honus
shutterfly
ShutterFLOWER. . . .

Of course, I should really get a screen name that matches my sex. I can think of another play on words. . .
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Old 08-03-2006   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlw
Why?******
Because of this discussion:
Critique Discussion Thread
Rob
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Old 08-03-2006   #36
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I am curious what the other participants thought of this process. Looking back at my own comments, I'm not sure how helpful or valid they really are. I suggested a crop on Chaser's image that I would like to take back. I suggested a tightening of perspective on George's image, so I did so myself, and it only made the photo lifeless.

I think the comments made reveal more about how each of us approach photography than they provide helpful critique. I would be glad to participate in further discussion if anyone is interested.

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Old 08-03-2006   #37
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I enjoyed it a lot, and feel I've learned not only from others constructive comments on my photo, but by carefully thinking about what I was writing about others.

BTW, my photo was not a staged one, I had my hexar with when I saw the kid at the end of the aisle and just clicked. Although I could have have cropped and adjusted in photoshop, I generally don't do those manipulations, but they are fine for other folks.
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Old 08-03-2006   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honus
I am curious what the other participants thought of this process. Looking back at my own comments, I'm not sure how helpful or valid they really are. I suggested a crop on Chaser's image that I would like to take back. I suggested a tightening of perspective on George's image, so I did so myself, and it only made the photo lifeless.

I think the comments made reveal more about how each of us approach photography than they provide helpful critique. I would be glad to participate in further discussion if anyone is interested.

- Robert

This is true - hence my methods in making comments. Most of mine are given with a disclaimer for the very reasons you listed.

Criticizing photography is difficult because there are no real rules. There are generally accepted guidelines for things like exposure (don't blow highlights, don't leave ugly shift in one direction or another). Don't shoot portraits with harsh lighting and Vevlia. . . .but then these mean nothing if the photographer creates the image they wanted to create.

Mine was totally accidental - I was shooting the wall itself when this guy road into the frame and I fired as quickly as my reflexes would allow. This is a digicam image. If I had been shooting with the Bronica and had seen him coming, things would have been more polished.
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Old 08-03-2006   #39
sf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaser
shutterflower - "alley colors"

The color in this shot is great. The sort of graphical nature of the building with windows, ladders, and shapes in the blue and white paint, interact with the bike rider in this shot, to create a really strong picture that I envy. The mental contrast of the animate and inanimate in this photo is really strong.

Because of the strength of this interaction i feel that the lines of the building and sidewalk could stand to be a little straighter, but i think in many ways that the perspective on the building could vary for the viewer if different styles of presentation were used...this is to say that while on the monitor the perspective seems to detract a little, in print if the picture was say a medium size that pulled the viewer to it, in a gallery setting per say, the curvature would be far less noticeable, than if the viewer is farther away. Also if you were working in a strange pseudo panoramic format you could crop this photo just to the left of the ladder and have a really cool vertical shot, it would then lose a lot of the feeling of motion that is gained by the extra space on the left, but I just wanted to mention that because it is great when a photo can hold its own in two different crops.
I really wish I had taken this shot with my RF645 and had fired the shutter ever so slightly sooner, but oh well. This was taken in an alley and I was smashed up against the other wall, so I had to fire at the widest angle of view the SD700 would allow, and that opens the door to horrid distortion. With the Bronica, this would have been a real poster-print. Lesson : carry the RF645 with me every day instead of the SD700. . . lesson part B : don't carry the RF645 with me everyday because that would be logistically unpleasant.

Thanks for the comments.
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Old 08-07-2006   #40
rbiemer
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Sorry, I'm a bit late with some responses to everyone's remarks about "Wet Corner".
Some general remarks: it's been said here in this thread and elsewhere that these critiques end up being more about how we each approach our own photography than about the other people's work. I think thta's probably true but it is, I think, an important benefit of these critiques. If I can clarify my thinking about my work by looking at and commenting about your work, I can't see how that could be any thing other than useful.
And thanks to you four for making the time and effort to offer your thoughts about my photo. Based on some of those remarks, I have been trying some things in The GIMP and while I'm slow at it, I will have a more final version of the shot in my galley. And, because of where that corner is(just outside the backdoor where I work) I will be able to re-visit the scene and try some other ideas with it.
It was rainy and I didn't want to get the camera wet so I was hurry-ing. And it shows in that I didn't get the focus quite where I wanted it--on the edge of the drain pipe, in fact.
The shiny sidewalk and the aperture ghost are a function of the rain and of where I was standing. There is a street light just out of the frame and above and in front of me.
I'm still learning how to dodge and burn effectively on the computer so the corrections I would've done under an enlarger fairly quickly are taking me a while to get right.
This process has been/is fun and helpful, I think.
What am I taking away from this? First, even though I tend to frame fairly loosely, I need to minimize that as I can and then to isolate what I'm shooting more in the "print". My more successful images are of one thing/idea and I should play to that strength. I also need to keep in mind that even though I see what I intended in my shots, with out the tighter framing, not everyone else can or will.
Thank you all.
Rob
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