CRITIQUE #8

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deaner1971
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Re: CRITIQUE #8

Post: # 14885Post deaner1971
Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:10 am

Shooting on the vertical and shooting from the other side of the fence are two things that I also thought might be viable options.

I also see Al's point in using a large aperture but not so much to diminish the background but to compensate for the lack of an interesting terminus. Call it the "Sopranos solution" (when there is nothing left to see, just fade to black) :D . If the foreground trees and fence sections are in focus and they gradually are less so as you move through the picture, I think that would be possibly helpful given that you cannot have a nice ending point to the diagonal.

Great discussion. If this was a lane where there were two rows of fences and trees bisected by a gorgeous little gravel lane, the shot would be nailed on easy. This is the kind of picture where you have to see the options and that has created a great learning opportunity because you can either get it through a lot of frustrating trial and error, education or discussion and nice to get to go the discussion route.


Andy
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Re: CRITIQUE #8

Post: # 14886Post Andy
Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:56 am

CT: Long ago, I took the NYIP course, and one of the things that they really emphasized early on was “subject.” According to their dogma, every compelling image must have a subject. I think that is a pretty good approach in most instances. What is it that we are trying to show our audience? What is it about the scene that draws us?

Once we have identified that, the challenge then becomes how do we – photographically – make our subject stand out to the viewer in an effective way. That is where the various “tools” available to the photographer come in. There are numerous ways to do it. The most obvious (and usually least effective and least dynamic) is to put the subject in the “bulls-eye” center of the image. Sometimes that is very effective (e.g., in portraiture – be it human or animal). But most of the time, it yields a very boring and static composition. Other ways include making the subject very large in the frame in comparison to other elements, placing colors and contrast in such a way that the subject stands out, or by using a technique called "selective focus." Selective focus means (usually) that the subject is in sharp focus and other elements of the image (often the background) is out of focus -- purposely.

Sometimes in an image, we have different possible “subjects” competing for attention. That gives the photo a vaguely unsettled feeling for me. In this case, it is hard to tell whether the fence or the trees are supposed to be the subject. The other “elements” of the image should then be complimentary – but not overpowering. They are often used to give the image perspective and balance. Here, (both images), the trees in the top center really detract, in my view from the overall image.

To Al’s point: IF the subject is the fence, I would try to do something to make sure the viewer knows that. But I would go even further. Is the subject the fence line, or an extreme closeup of the fence, showing its texture. Is it the line or is it maybe just one of the criss/crosses? I like the diagonal in the image and I think it gives it some dynamics. To me it is that zig-zagging fence line that draws my interest. So, I would borrow a page from Dean and try to make the “distance” fade and show the fence as my subject. Something like this:

Image

This was a "quick and dirty" edit. I think you could spend some time using layers and some of PS's tools to do a pretty nice job of this -- I did it in about 5 minutes to illustrate my point and it is pretty crude. But notice how the approximately to 25% of the image blurs? That is the idea that I think Dean was expressing in his "fade to black" comment. Since the fence is going "nowhere" fade the distance to keep the viewer's eye on the subject, but the suggestion that it goes on into the distance is still there.

More importantly, I have made the fence take up most of the frame, making it clear (I think) that the fence is indeed the subject. Again, I think that is along the line of what Al is getting at.

Don't get me wrong, CT: I am not saying this is a "better" interpretation of the scene you saw. I am only saying it is one in which the subject may be more clear. It may well be that the "subject" of the image is the "nice scene" overall. In that case, I think the photographer has to think about all the elements and issues raised, including placement of the elements, and what they depict to the viewer.

Every time I do this, I learn something myself -- so thanks for being willing to put these up for critique (for those who are not familiar with the foliage forum, CT is the leading enthusiast here and her continued presence and contribution is invaluable as far as I am concerned). Thanks, CT.
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

ctyanky
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Re: CRITIQUE #8

Post: # 14888Post ctyanky
Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:16 am

Andy: I know you have a lot on your plate but have you ever thought of teaching a photography class? Everything you say is so detailed and for a beginner such as I, understandable. I really get the "subject" concept through your latest explanation.

In your "quick and dirty" edit, I "get it". The photo is great! I like the fade away effect because now it really seems like the fence is indeed going somewhere where in fact it ends with no fanfare.

Al: Thanks for the explanation of "vertical" and your honest opinions as always!

Thanks to everyone for all the responses. Andy, I think your summation and the other's comments brought about a lot of nice discussion here. This critique thing is fun and informative. I hope to get back up there soon once the snows begin, and look at this scene again with a lot of great information behind me.

Finally, Andy, thank you for your kind words at the end. You made my day! :wink:

Andy
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Re: CRITIQUE #8

Post: # 14889Post Andy
Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:32 pm

Just a bit more to the "vertical" thing:

A Vertical shot is often referred to as "portrait" mode because that the most common format for a portrait

A Horizontal shot is often referred to as "landscape" mode, again, presumably because landscape images are more often made that way.
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

deaner1971
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Re: CRITIQUE #8

Post: # 14903Post deaner1971
Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:45 am

Andy,

I have been trying to use a brush to do the effect we are discussing. Do you do yours in LR or PS? Do you just drop sharpness to 0 and paint away?

Thanks.

Dean


Andy
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Re: CRITIQUE #8

Post: # 14904Post Andy
Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:27 pm

Dean: Yes. That is one way. Create a duplicate layer and a mask and then brush with a medium or low opacity, soft-edged brush. Remember that the brush strokes are cumulative.

In my "quick and dirty" version, I simply selected an area, used the "refine edge" function in CS5, and then applied a gaussian blur to the selected area. For "real" I would do it on a layer so I could mask and also so I can use the opacity slider. I would probably think about multiple layers, to try to make the decrease in sharpness graduated, more like the true DOF might do.
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .


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