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Still Photo: Approaching Fine Photography Photography as a visual artform open to any serious picture, where classical photography is the mode of our expression. Open to all! Not curated. For works intended for clients and galleries submit to GALLERY ONE.

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  #1  
Old February 3rd, 2009, 01:14 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default A truly contemplative picture. In addition to the grain, what's your feelings on this

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
Hi David,

Thanks a lot for the tip, I'll look into it. I went to Antwerpen this afternoon to the Calumet store but alas, they had no film any longer. I've then visited another good shop, Grobet, and they had some film rolls which were past their best before dates. So I bought whatever I could find, among others the Fuji Pro 160S. I took some pictures using this film and had it developed at a local store using their 1 hour service. When I came back home, I have given it a try with my Canon FS4000US film scanner, to see how it'd go. Unfortunately, I am disappointed. I cannot get anything but very grainy pictures with a lot of color balance problems, probably due to being past their BB date.

Here is one such example. Canon EOS 3, 70-200mm L IS f2.8, Fuji PRO 160S negative film:

PS: The big red blob down the LHS must be a lens flare, I guess.

Cheers,
I must admit, Cem, that I didn't see this picture. I was careful to respond to your scans of the photographs of the tree branches, but I just missed this one, and it's so much better! Well better late than never!

(BTW, anyone reading this, look at other recent pictures that await your comments. Imants K, for example, has had only 1 reply from me, and that's not good enough for us!)

Well now I have the picture before me in another window and it's as if I was looking out right now and seeing someone by the water waiting for the sun to go down, for his girlfriend or wife to return (not at the same time) with the wine. Or maybe there's already one of them sitting on the ground in front of the first figure. Either that, or his backpack or his thighs are wide apart.

So for the main subject, there's a lack of clarity. We do need to know he/she is alone or with someone so we can then be facilitated to contemplate all the various myriads of thought the person has.

The picture is, I suggest, not meant to be beautiful, but contemplative, but that's just my interpretation. For this, and the promising diagonals falling down from the left and bringing us to the figure, I'd have preferred to have a wide picture. After all this is set up to be restful. The are no crowds, there's no rain or papers blown by rough wind. There is just one figure, the empty stanchion for a boat to tie its mooring ropes perhaps, but none are in sight.

One cannot marvel at the sky. What is marvelous, however, is the thoughts and solitude of this person. Even if there's one more person there, it's still a very personal time and one likely to be remembered.

One should not always look for or try to achieve beauty. It's very thin and easily tired of. So to say this is not beautiful is not meant to be any negative. Rather we can give attention to the humanity. It's as if, at this alignment of a person with the water and sun and mans shadow, there is a connection with something larger than ourselves.

So this is the value of this kind of picture.


I regret not having noticed it before. I hope that this will be returned to as a subject. It never requires startling painted skies. This is just about right in beauty, but I do think the subject/s need to be better defined. Well, that's my take based on the many assumptions I have made, which may or may not fit your ideas of what was going on.

Thanks for sharing,

Asher
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  #2  
Old February 3rd, 2009, 07:34 AM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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Thanks for highlighting this, Asher. I look forward to studying to sometime soon.
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  #3  
Old February 3rd, 2009, 04:36 PM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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Ok, my thoughts are as follows. I love the cobblestone detail, the shadow, and the sun on the water. But I kept coming back again and again to the sky and feeling something was not quite right. As I was scrolling the screen, I caught sight of the image with the bottom part cropped out. It appealed to me a lot.

Please forgive that I took liberties with your image, Cem, but this is what I came up with.

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Old February 4th, 2009, 10:13 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel Foster View Post
Ok, my thoughts are as follows. I love the cobblestone detail, the shadow, and the sun on the water. But I kept coming back again and again to the sky and feeling something was not quite right. As I was scrolling the screen, I caught sight of the image with the bottom part cropped out. It appealed to me a lot.

Please forgive that I took liberties with your image, Cem, but this is what I came up with.
Main compositional component: The structure of Cem's picture is commanded by one column of vertical interest coming from the sun straight above him, continued down in the sun's relflection and glow in the water and then lighting the figure and throwing a long bulky shadow behind him and so claiming the real estate of the cobblestones.

Pale colors: What you might not be used to are the paler unsaturated colors in the sky and the lack of detail in the reflection of the light on the water. In fact, the supersaturated colors we so often see is a fashion after Velvia or Kodachrome film days. We are used to that. I like the very understated expression here as is.

What to crop: There is often a potential picture composition within a photograph. Yes one can find a delightful form in the lower half. If you do crop, then you might need to crop sufficiently to make the residual column of light into a halo effect for the head rather than a cut off bar distracting us.

Asher
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; February 4th, 2009 at 09:42 PM.
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  #5  
Old February 4th, 2009, 10:28 AM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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I love the colors, actually. What I'm stuck on is first my eye goes to the vertical column and then it goes horizontal, and then bounces back again.

It's got a great deal of beauty to it, and that may be what the issue is for me. I don't know what to look at and bounce back and forth.
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  #6  
Old February 4th, 2009, 10:58 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Hi Rachel,

I like the picture as it is, although would have preferred it horizontal with more use of the diagonal lines continuing to the right. Still, as it is, it works. So let's look at some of the elements of the composition. There are more, but for now just the boldest features.




© Cem Usakligil

This vertical region I have outlined contains the most important constituent features of interest, but still acts as a column. It works at the same time as a line of vertical movement for the eye. That's what long features do.

Dots and blobs, however, can act to stop movement. Also one or more, might balance or contrast with other components. Look at the fixed round topped dark stanchion to the left. It's essentially, one such dot, a fixed location. That small detail is an essential point of interest.

There's no vessel tied up there. It reminds us that the foreground is entirely empty of boats and other folk. The stanchion, as a fixed point, anchors the image to the left and even acts as a counterweight to the main vetical comlumn of interest. Yes, "David against Goliath", perhaps). This balance is aided by the powerful diagonal at the edge of the pier. descending from left to right, again bringing us to the column of main interest neatly lined up by Cem's choice of shooting position.

Now if you choose to crop as you have done, you have decapitated this marvelous vertical column of interest and left us with a residuual stub that goes nowhere!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel Foster View Post
Ok, my thoughts are as follows. I love the cobblestone detail, the shadow, and the sun on the water. But I kept coming back again and again to the sky and feeling something was not quite right. As I was scrolling the screen, I caught sight of the image with the bottom part cropped out. It appealed to me a lot.

© Cem Usakligi edits Rachel Foster


Rather than that, a little further crop locates the powerful column demanding interest in what you keep.




© Cem Usakligil Edits ADK


It's a lot more stark but again it works. Now there's only enough bright light to act as a halo to outline the person's head and that works. In a way, one is closer to holiness when one contemplates the sea and sky, so the halo is fine!

But is this a satisfying image to match the power of the original, I don't think so? So what's next? How do we make this cropped image powerful and give it a sense of unity?

Asher
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; February 4th, 2009 at 09:45 PM.
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  #7  
Old February 4th, 2009, 12:10 PM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
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What a mess about this picture!

I liked it as is, so I wished to gave it a bit of personnal taste:
Enhance a bit colors (more gold colors and a tad of blue to enrich the gold)
Denoise with NN
Darken the man and his shadow
unified colors of pavement and BTW suppressed the red round (CA)
Slight midtone contrast…

Yes the whole frame is needed!

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Old February 4th, 2009, 12:22 PM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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Mess? Au contraire, it's been enormously helpful to me. Perhaps I'm the only one, though, and that would be a problem since it's a lot of effort for only one person's benefit. I hope it's been useful to others as well.

And thanks to Cem for allowing me to learn from his work.
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  #9  
Old February 4th, 2009, 12:30 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default The Need to Reassign Relevance to Compositional Components when Cropping? Or Not?

To recapitulate, we are not satisfied so far with anything but Cem's original composition. Cropping is not a casual matter! What I am doing is exploring what might help to make such a picture work to the extent that it does.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post


© Cem Usakligil Edits ADK

..........How do we make this cropped image powerful and give it a sense of unity?
We could continue cutting, this time trimming off the bottom 1/3 or or more the foreground brickwork. Just let's not reduce this to nothing. Rather, notice that large ship/tug boat coming in or leaving the field of view. No, its a point of land! Still it's interesting! So why not use that as a feature? The foreground figure can be contemplating just that!



Photo Cem Usakligil Crop AK

Now since we have removed so much from Cem's composition at the top of the picture, how will we re-establish balance? This calls for reassignment of importance of components. So show stanchion better, bring out that tiny reflection highlight in the right edge and liberate its shadow from the total darkness of the original.



Photo Cem Usakligil Crop AK

Notice the now sharpened the mid and upper sections of the brick work to strengthen the linear patterns in across from the figure to the now more important stanchion. (I was careful not to cause a halo round the figure more than is already present so all sharpening there is masked out.) Also can you now see a hint of white smoke from the buildings against the horizon.

We respect that any cropping departs from Cem's original cascade of artistic choices. That applies to all photography! So, even in our own pictures, we must be alert to make other complementary and creative edits besides merely cropping off real estate! Always re-establish balance and harmony or the tension at least as effective as the original or why crop? The picture must seem as one real thing, complete and not missing anything and able to live its life in the world without us.

See how much work it really takes. So this is why the Photographer's choice is likely to be hard to improve!

Asher
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  #10  
Old February 4th, 2009, 12:32 PM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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I really love this latest crop. Perhaps this is where personal preferences/styles enter in. Both original and crop are lovely, but the greater simplicity in the latter appeals to me enormously.
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Old February 4th, 2009, 04:27 PM
Ron Morse Ron Morse is offline
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I think Nicolas's treatment made a nice photo much better.
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  #12  
Old February 4th, 2009, 10:09 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolas Claris View Post
What a mess about this picture!
Nicolas,

Did you mean, what a fuss about this picture? Well for me, I like this picture because it does not try to be postcard beautiful with super dazzling sunset colors. Maybe because of that and it's mysterious person(s) watching the sunset, I think it has a human quality that is special.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolas Claris View Post
I liked it as is, so I wished to gave it a bit of personnal taste:
You and I think alike here. We both mean to say "I like it as it is, nevertheless, here's my personal taste...

I think it's worthwhile to look at the original and your nicely edited version.

[/QUOTE]

Photo Cem Usakligi Orignal on Left, Edited by Nicolas Claris on Right

Since the camera does not make a photograph but a person does, the work of photography is almost always only part way done once light as entered the camera even after much thought, meditation and inspiration. There is no easy way to simply crop a picture or remove a piece of flying debris to make a picture as one would imagine it.

So I am particularly delighted to see the considerable effort in applying background, experience, judgement and artistic skill to maturing what already is recorded. A lot of folk get mad at someone thinking they can "fiddle" with a posted image. Good for us that Cem is very much concerned with the creative process. Some folk are stubborn and closed to new ideas. Again, Cem is generous in helping so many others day-in, day-out, that it's good to see time devoted to his work.

What I like about Nicolas' edits is that they are parsimonious and do not take us away from the photographer's original intent. The picture now has more impact and is more "open" and a little richer. Getting rid of noise is a bonus, I'm glad for it but would never have thought it was needed.

There is one little concern I have and that is on the question of distribution of zones of importance away from the main subject. One of the overheads of editing is that parts of the picture which were dull and less interesting now are shown with verve and are more significant. So in this case, the clarity and relevance of the foreground brick work is now obvious. So I'd mask this new version and claim back some lack of definition and unimportance to this area and do the same around the stanchion on the left.

Kudos on the image and the edits,

Asher
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; February 4th, 2009 at 11:48 PM.
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  #13  
Old February 5th, 2009, 11:36 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Hi All,

I am overwhelmed and also humbled by the attention given to this picture of mine. Thanks a lot for all your comments, rest assured I am taking all of it very seriously. I try to compose all my pictures in the viewfinder before I take them. It does not work out well always and sometimes I slack and shoot too wide/tight, but this particular composition was exactly the way I intended it to be. I am very glad to hear that you appreciate this particular crop/composition too. I did not do much post processing on the image since I was originally interested in showing the scanning results from film and how to improve on that. But I like Nicolas' PP and will work on the original along those lines. Thanks again.

Cheers,
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Old February 5th, 2009, 11:59 AM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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Cem, this may sound stupid, but how does composing an image in the viewfinder differ from any other way of shooting? I try to shoot just that which interests me (and I wonder if that's what you mean) although, due to Asher's advice, have been shooting wider than I would naturally do.
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Old February 5th, 2009, 12:55 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default Snapshot versus creating a fine photograph; what to look for in the viewfinder?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel Foster View Post
Cem, this may sound stupid, but how does composing an image in the viewfinder differ from any other way of shooting? I try to shoot just that which interests me (and I wonder if that's what you mean) although, due to Asher's advice, have been shooting wider than I would naturally do.
Rachel,

Allow me to jump in. Cem will have his own description.

Making a Photograph as opposed to getting a snapshot: A snapshot just includes what you see, include that and that's it. It's fun and is memorable to us personally.

A photograph demands much more work.
  1. What's it about? Is there a theme or main subject, a mood or something magnetic. O.K., now, how does one take advantage of this? If one knows what one wants out of a picture, this will tell you what you must build in and exclude and whether to take it in one shot, bracket for exposure or cover the entire scene with overlapping shots so that one can print especially large. All the factors following are dependent on answering this first question. For the sake of argument, we'll imagine this is for a print to be delivered as artwork for a large prestigious home. Obviously, to get paid, the work better be thought out. We only bring home what the camera was positioned to record at that instant only. So here are pointers to check for this fine picture of that amazing scene. What's stunning when we can walk around, breathe the air and watch hawks hovering above on air currents from the mountains has to get into the camera. For what one delivers, the observer cannot look around or up to the sky or tread on dry leaves to get the ambience of the place. We have to use every trick in the book to allow the viewer to experience even what we cannot show. So first we need to get them into our picture and keep them interested.

    In a snap shot, we don't need any of this as we'll tell them about it over hot chocolate or wine over Thanksgiving. A photograph as fine art, does not have this personal narrative and so, with the title, must stand pretty well on its own.

  2. Lines and balance: So here one will want to line things up so that the array and arrangements are balancing, in harmony or else contentious but agreeable. This means noticing where lines go. That's where the eye will travel. A large mass here has to be answered by something somewhere else.

  3. Focus and position of the main subject: We have the entire subject of interest and those that support it? We cannot have a principle tree cut off or a beautiful cloud cut off by the frame if that is going to be missed by the viewer. The main subject should be clearly in focus and placed ideally in one of the corners of a central rectangle created when the frame is divided into three rows and three columns. Of course, central placement will be best sometimes, buy asymmetry is often enhancing.

  4. Layering and segmenting areas of interest: Not everything requires the same detail, contrast or sharpness. soft focus lenses can help here or a tilt shift lens or post processing with selective sharpening or blur.

  5. Light:Is the light hard from the mid day sun or soft from a massive diffuse source like clouds on an overcast day? Is it coming from everywhere or is it highly directional at dusk producing long shadows and building detailed golden structure on your subject? Where do the shadows fall. How do these fit in with the composition? What are the transitions between light and dark? Is it sudden or hard or is it subtle? Which do you want for what you are trying to achieve. If the light does not work, then you may have to add your own, or use some modifier to create shade, diffuse it or bring back light by reflection.

  6. Approach: What is your distance from the subject? That alone, not the lens you choose determines perspective. Do you want that distortion? If not back off! Something is in the way, go around, like a predator stalking its prey.

  7. Get enough of it. Shoot wide! Don't frame close until you really have aced everything else. Film photographers and videographers always take extra footage they call "coverage". Photographers, on the other hand, fail to cover what's needed in their one frame so happy they are with what they see. The problem often is that they are still embedded in that entire wonderful 360 degree universe. It's in their nostrils, ears and brain. So coming home, we may face disappointment. We framed too tightly! While that is admirable and expected for the working Pro earning a living shooting buildings, brides, boats, bracelets or busty glamor girls, it's no such reliable advantage for most other work, especially for artwork. We need more than reliability of the vertical market shooters I mentioned. They've the experience and know what their clients want, instinctively.

    With creative art, however, we might be as skilled; but always it's better to have a choice and chance at refining composition away from the scene. Now, with no ice, rain, harsh sun or wondering if the GPS is really leading us back to the main road before dusk, they'll even be features and creatures to discover that chance put there for us. We can then ask, "How can that extra fine tree or flowered foreground be used or not in the composition?"

    In a wedding, there's no doubt who the couple are! In pictures of trees, mountain streams and wild animals by a pool, we might shift emphasis to one feature lit by light breaking through clouds. So work for art should allow that extra paintand canvas to be more creative.

  8. Timing: When's the peak action? Whether it's the ships going by, a duck taking off from the water or a cloud passing over a harvested field with bales of hay, there's one good time. Ansel Adams was there waiting for hours and often came back to the same place to catch that fleeting moment.
These are just a few ideas of what Cem must have worked on in order to have composed as he did and if he returns 10 times he'll no doubt do 10 times better. It's that easy and that hard!

After doing this week after week, a lot of composition will become second nature and who knows, then we can break the "rules" and get praised for our edgy photography, LOL!

Asher
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; February 5th, 2009 at 05:17 PM.
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  #16  
Old February 5th, 2009, 01:35 PM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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That's what I thought he meant and what I try to do as well.
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Old February 5th, 2009, 03:53 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Hi Rachel,

Asher's answer is so complete that I dare not add anything to what he has written. Suffice it to say that I agree with him completely.

I have been doing this photography thingie for 38 years now (which is nothing compared to the experience of some of our members). Not after a few weeks but many years, one groks it and it becomes more of an automatism much like driving. However, therein also lies the danger of falling into monotony. I have to nudge myself at times to stay awake and try different apporoaches every now and then.


Cheers,
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  #18  
Old February 5th, 2009, 05:02 PM
Mike Shimwell Mike Shimwell is offline
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Asher, what a great explanation just above. And therein lies the reasons for post processing - the need for the print to communicate without the photographer's presence to explain. I appreciate that - it's not so much about immediate impact, but something that is more long lasting.

Cem, I'm sorry I didn't comment on this earlier. I really liked the soft colours and the mood of the image. I also wasn't concerned by the grain (which is not really an issue in this screen version to me), but I find the side be side comparison with Nicolas' edit very instructive. Overall I like the way Nicolas has worked the image, but I do wonder if the horison line of buildings should be allowed to move back to the softer lower contrast rendering in the original picture - not sure, just a qeustion really.

Mike
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Old February 5th, 2009, 06:43 PM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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When I said "just that which interests me" I was referring to what Asher described. I was not meaning snapshots.

Thanks for the clarifications.
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