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Old December 30th, 2008, 04:56 PM
Ken Tanaka Ken Tanaka is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 1,300

Mike; All photography is the product of decisions. More specifically photography is all about exclusion. Unlike painting or drawing which begin as blank canvases/pages, the photographic frame is always full of stuff wherever the lens is pointed. Deciding what to exclude from a photograph can often be painful, as sometimes it may lead to a decision not to take the picture at all at that time.

That's what I think I might have decided, at least from that vantage point. You have two strong general elements that, by themselves or in a different scene, might combine to create a compelling image. But in this case they don't work well together at all in my opinion.

Th masts and rigging, photographed from that vantage point and with an (apparently) longer focal length lens are all about geometry. We struggle to find the geometric relationships that you're trying to show. But meanwhile, like an impish child in the background, the surging clouds are suggesting that there's bigger stuff to see in the scene. We want to see a wider view because of those damn clouds. Making the photo b&w doesn't help. In fact, it hurts because now it's hard to distinguish clouds from smoke. Making it darker also makes your problem worse.

Whenever you have a majestic background like billowing clouds you have to select your foreground subjects and framing very, very carefully such that they work together to create something interesting. A photo -ANY photo- of the Grand Canyon, for example, is cliche and instantly forgettable. But a photo of something interesting with the Grand Canyon in the background has a chance to be very intriguing.

So, on this image, I would have made one of three choices. (1) Frame wider, showing the entire ship against those clouds to help invoke the viewer's imagination of a day when that little ship was in the enormous sea with only the wind for locomotion. (2) Frame much tighter to create a geometric study of the masts and/or rigging with just enough clouds to lend some tonal variety to the image. (3) Forget this shot altogether. Not having been on the scene I can't really speculate which would have been the best selection (contrary to what I suggested above).
- Ken Tanaka -
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