Request: A Brutally Honest Critique in Exchange for Viewing My Photos

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Keoeeit, Jun 22, 2004.

  1. Keoeeit

    Keoeeit Guest

    Any artists or photographers here with a valid and discerning eye
    that would care to give a genuinely honest critique of some of my
    photography would be much appreciated. I can't get better unless my
    errors are revealed to me.

    Here's a page of what I feel represents some of my better work.

    Nearly all photos were taken with either a Fuji FinePix 2600Z or
    Sony F-717 (the vast majority taken with the Sony).

    Please feel free to leave the feed-back/critiques here in this
    public forum (as I don't care to have my email address spammed).

    Thank-you for any time and effort you have taken.

    I hope any enjoyment you have obtained from the photos will be
    enough repayment for your efforts to help me improve my craft.

    p.s. being new to web-page-design, if you'd like to let me know what
    you think of the style/graphics that I used to present the photos,
    that too would be welcomed.
    Keoeeit, Jun 22, 2004
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  2. Keoeeit

    Joe Guest

    I don't know anything about photography. I just ordered my first
    camera with any features. I am pretty much unqualified to critique the
    pics from a photographic standpoint.

    For the most part I liked the subject matter.

    I change my desktop background on my PC regularly when I see a pic
    that I like. I set ozarkfall as my desktop.

    Joe, Jun 22, 2004
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  3. Keoeeit

    stewy Guest

    I hope I can get the quality and scope of some of these pictures at some
    point in the near future.
    Many thanks for sharing!
    stewy, Jun 22, 2004
  4. Keoeeit

    m II Guest

    Brutally wonderful...

    m II, Jun 22, 2004
  5. Keoeeit

    Keoeeit Guest

    Thanks for the comments so far.

    Perhaps this is too soon to say this (not much time for feedback
    yet) but I'll say it anyway...

    I'm not sure what to make of such conflicting points of view though:
    too many subjects, too little scope of subjects, "awesome",
    "wonderful", "excellent", "none...particularly artistic", "I hope I
    can (do the same) in the near future", etc. Perhaps that's what art
    is all about, each person seeing it will see it their own way -- by
    projecting their own doubts, inabilities, or hopes and feelings into
    it. And when you've reached a certain point in your ability to
    convey an artistic image nobody but the creator of that artwork will
    find where the faults might lie. You must indeed become your own
    worst critic (and your own most appreciative audience too).

    One thing I found extremely curious though -- in the comments here
    as well in some chat rooms where I did some preliminary checking to
    see if these were worth posting more publicly or not -- never did
    any two people ever select the exact same photo as being the one
    they said they had wished they'd taken themselves or wanted to
    display on their wall at home. I'd almost bet that I would have to
    get seventy responses from people to pick out their favorite photo
    from the sixty-nine on that web-site before I'd get two people to
    agree on one photo. And yet nobody particularly disliked any of
    them. Each person viewing them also seemed to find something they
    were able to enjoy without seeing pervasive flaws that were
    distracting them (even when repeatedly asked to please do point out
    those flaws so I can better my abilities).

    I wonder if all that means anything, if anything at all ...

    (In case anyone is wondering -- no, I'm not pursuing this for
    financial reasons, now or at any time in the future. I'm not a
    capitalist. Capitalism is the death-knell to all freedom,
    free-thinking, and democracy. I have no interest in their
    self-enslaving money-myth. Money is just pre-ruined paper to me. I'm
    pursuing this for the sake of being a better photographer -- so I
    can, to the best of my abilities, bring something genuinely
    interesting and worthwhile to others' lives. That is my simple and
    only motive.)
    Keoeeit, Jun 23, 2004
  6. Keoeeit

    Keoeeit Guest

    First off (my turn :), let me whole-heartedly thank-you for this
    critique, this is exactly what I was hoping to find (albeit, more
    extolling than is necessary :)

    I started off with one of the simpler layouts created with Paint
    Shop Pro's Photo Album, but with their limited templates I had to
    edit them all by hand using either notepad or a simple (but very
    good) HTML editor (I heartily recommend SoThink HTML Editor for
    anyone needing a very capable web-page designer/editor). I couldn't
    find a brushed-metal slide-mount image online anywhere, so I made
    that from scratch using a brushed-metal texture and some reflective
    highlighting effects (using ULead's PhotoImpact). I had started to
    put in some small realistic rivets or screws in the corners of each
    frame on the index page, but it became too cluttered looking and
    distracted from the cleanliness and crispness. I also did it this
    way so there would be no overlying color scheme, the photos would
    not be impacted. Grays are just fine for that. I know from my own
    frustration when surfing the web, that there's no better lesson than
    to use the K.I.S.S. principle (keep it simple, stupid). I will even
    purposely leave websites that have something I need to see or learn,
    but are cluttered with gimmicky nonsense. I tried to avoid that on
    my own web-site. I hope I succeeded. Cluttered web-pages only make
    me think, "They can't dazzle me with brilliance so they're just
    trying to baffle me with bullshit." (and waste my limited bandwidth
    and time in the process)

    Thanks for the vote of confidence on this. As I said, being new to
    web-page design, I hoped I did good.
    Some. Most of it is composed in-camera. Many of them are displayed
    just as they were shot. I grew up on film, and in poverty, so every
    frame mattered, and I made sure it mattered before clicking the
    shutter release. Too often I forget that I'm allowed to manipulate
    photos. I think too that by playing with them in the computer that I
    will ruin them, turn them into fakes and frauds, I cringe even when
    I go for a cropping tool. I need to get beyond that apprehension
    though and am trying to do so.

    On a few I did do some extensive post-processing (using Paint Shop
    Pro v8.1) because the automatic modes in digital cameras can only
    compensate just so much. But only insofar as using curves for
    contrast/shadow/highlight adjustments, or saturation enhancement or
    reduction to better match what I had seen with my own eye. (one or
    two I did more, but with much reluctance and apprehension)
    Thanks, good point. I hadn't noticed that and you're right. I will
    claim "old monitor" here as my greatest handicap for some things
    like this. I just redid that one before final posting and didn't
    realize that happened when playing with the curves adjustment. I'll
    try to redo it more like the original. I wasn't happy with the
    cropping, the skipper was too centered and redid it, ruining the
    detail on the skipper in my anxiousness to repair something else.
    Really? I'll try that, you might be right. Sometimes I get
    distracted by the intensity of the subject and think "Yeah, that's
    great, I can't make it better"... but maybe I can? See, this is the
    kind of input I need. This is a good example of a photo right from
    the camera, no adjustment, no crop.
    It was a very very overcast day, and I'll admit, on that one I did
    do more than just play with the contrast and curves. I masked out
    the sky and multiplied it once (trying a trick I read online) to try
    to get any detail at all out of the sky. I didn't want to overdo it
    so as to make it look artificial to the ambient lighting on the
    hills and trees themselves (being lit only by dense overcast light).
    I sometimes do wish it had been a brighter day, or that I would do
    more with it, but ... somehow, the feeling of subdued light works
    for me in that one. The romanticism of the only buffalo left in the
    failing light... a melancholy/hopeful kind of thing. I may have even
    ruined that feeling by trying to enhance the sky. I think your
    comment is valid, but I'm going to leave it that way, for personal
    reasons. I might even revert back to the original. The "artificial"
    sky I created by playing with it made you think it should have even
    been brighter.
    Thanks, that was a one-shot wonder out of a moving vehicle on a
    backwoods dirt & rock road. (As were a few others, that "harrishawk"
    was also taken from a moving vehicle on that road, hand-held,
    max-zoom. When you practice enough you can use your arms muscles
    like an image stabilization system.) "sunrayvally" I'll admit that I
    played with curves extensively on that one, using about 4 points to
    manipulate until I could bring out the detail in the deeply shadowed
    hills in the foreground, enhance the rays of light (that were that
    clear and bright in real life), and not lose the detail in the
    clouds. I'm so glad for a digital darkroom at times.

    Good point. The composition of that one (which I really like)
    distracted me from thinking about the sky and water more.

    By the way, those were not assembled from different birds in
    different stages of flight, it's one shot. I named it
    "pelicanframes" as sort of a joke because of what people might
    suspect from seeing it, most people thinking that everything is done
    in the computer these days. I have another photo of a sunrise where
    a tree's shadow is rear-projected two times on banks of morning fog,
    looking for all the world like I did it in the computer with
    different layers. I hesitate to post it because people don't believe
    me when I tell them the sunlight actually did that that morning
    ("hernandosunrise01", a relative to "henandosunrise02", that I did
    post there).
    Thank-you. No, no flash, I despise flash. I almost wish cameras
    didn't come with them included, wasted space and electronics (for

    Yes, and it was too late to go back before I realized that had
    happened. That's one of my most favorite photos, even with the tip
    missing. (The shadow on the leaf looking exactly like a robed-hand
    holding a staff.) Could be my monitor here where I have problems
    with the brightness or darkness of some photos. I adjusted the
    high-voltage cage in back to give my PC monitor a gamma space of
    about 2.10 to 2.20, halfway between PC's and MAC's, hoping I could
    strike a happy medium when editing these for those that would be
    viewing them online. I might touch that one up and brighten it a bit
    to see how it still feels/looks from here (on your suggestion).

    Again, thanks again, _VERY_ much for this kind of review. This is
    the kind of thing I really needed.

    I hope your enjoyment of the photos was enough payment for such
    excellent input for me.

    Keoeeit, Jun 23, 2004
  7. Keoeeit

    Keoeeit Guest

    Per your suggestions, I uploaded 3 new versions of some photos that
    you commented on. (I'm starting to really see the limitations of
    this ancient 15" monitor that I'm working with).

    I think I brought out enough detail back into the
    "longtailedskipper" photo. And I cropped out some of the black
    silhouette around "sunfire", but not all. I think it looks a little

    I reverted "buffalovista" to the original photo, without that
    drastic multiplier trick to the sky. Now the eye is not fooled into
    expecting more from the scenery and to give it back the original
    melancholic subdued feeling as intended (my take on it anyway). I
    may reconsider this in the future though. It might still be a little
    too dark or low contrast/saturation (it's so difficult to judge that
    on this monitor). The problem that changing the sky caused in this
    one (to the more intense colorful edited version) reinforces my
    belief that just because you *can* do something with digital
    editing, doesn't mean you should. And also reinforced my
    apprehensions to just leave them alone more times than not.

    Will play with the other suggestions you gave, as time permits.

    I'm still not too sure what to do with "pelicanframes", as any of
    the utilities that I've played with to adjust for contrast or color
    balance changes the feeling and mood of the photo drastically. With
    it being a natural duo-tone to begin with (what you see now is what
    it looked like originally), nearly anything can be done with it...
    I'll think on it and play with it 'til I find something I might like
    better.... but you're right, it needs tweaking of some kind, I'm
    just not sure "what" (kind). I can balance for the grays (making the
    sky into richer blue clouds), but then I lose the near-sunset yellow
    highlights in the water, which I feel gives it its realism. Too much
    contrast and I lose the feeling of the cold overcast evening
    weather. It's an odd balancing act. Maybe I should just leave it
    alone? :)

    The others with luminosity (gamma problems) might (or should) wait
    until I get a better monitor perhaps. Which could be years away with
    my financial limits. :)

    Thanks again for your input. Comments like yours have proven to be a
    valuable learning experience for me.
    Keoeeit, Jun 24, 2004
  8. Keoeeit

    Keoeeit Guest

    No, I just checked it, the index page re-loaded fine (I erase my
    cache to double-check things like this). It could be they have some
    bandwidth limits in place that I don't know about. I've no idea how
    much traffic it might be getting after posting it publicly here.
    Someone else this morning in a chat room reported not being able to
    access it too, but it loaded fine from my end at that time too.
    Might be a net-glitch too.
    Keoeeit, Jun 24, 2004
  9. Keoeeit

    Keoeeit Guest

    Good spotting. I didn't want to lose the trunk of that tree because
    it helped to frame and accent the circular pattern of the sun and
    smoke. I just now used a perspective-correction tool (in PSP 8) to
    make that tree-trunk vertical, instead of having to lose it
    altogether. (Which inadvertently exaggerated (elongated) the
    rayed-light/shadows in the smoke, causing even more lead-in to the
    sun. A surprising unexpected plus.)

    I kept the left side cropped to the center of the large vertical
    tree trunk because I liked the way it seamlessly allowed the photo
    to go from image and natural patterns to solid-black edge/border (as
    well as those branches again mirroring/framing the circular smoke

    I argued with myself on where to crop the top, and almost cut off
    the bit of smoke that bled off the top (just above the bright puff
    near the top left-center), to make the image more self-contained and
    more circularly symmetric -- but then reconsidered and wanted to
    leave that slight superfluous bit, to suggest what was really there,
    much more smoke and haze above it in the sky. To lead the viewer off
    the image to let the mind's-eye visualize the "much more". Giving
    the mind even more to subconsciously process.

    (Isn't it strange -- how when doing these things, how much goes on
    over such minor changes being made? I usually do this in the camera
    in a split-second, never considering nor realizing all the
    multitudes of thought-processes taking place in the blink of an eye.
    Re-editing some of these has been an interesting slowed-down
    investigation of that process.)
    Keoeeit, Jun 24, 2004
  10. Keoeeit

    Keoeeit Guest

    Thanks, but wouldn't have thought to reconsider any of that had I
    not had your feed-back.

    (So many other photos I had to weed through in the last couple
    months, 5500+ photos from a 9-month, 23-state, kayaking/camping
    trek, some of which are in that art-gallery collection now. (Putting
    up this collection for a critique was an after-thought from doing
    those.) Spending this much time on any single one of them was not in
    the cards, but is paying off handsomely in learning. If you are
    curious or bored, I have the trek-gallery up online at that I haphazardly threw
    together, for all the people I met along the way that wanted to see
    the adventure. Please don't critique those though, as most were
    posted as-is right from the camera. I have my hands full just from
    the suggestions you made so far. :) Considering the intended
    audience I chose more travelogue/post-card type photos for that
    gallery than what I considered as more creative use of film (urgh...
    I mean photography, not film, I switched to digital for that trek).
    But there's still a few goodies there that you might enjoy that I
    didn't port over to the "for critiquing" art-gallery page. I had fun
    assembling some panoramas for that trek collection too, another side
    of the digital coin that's fun to explore and play with. I'm only
    just beginning...)
    A pleasant and safe travels to you! I hope you get to enjoy as much
    in this process as I have and have been doing. It's never too late
    to learn and try new things, as I'm doing that all the time. I think
    you'll get much more out of just playing with a good
    digital-darkroom collection of software than any old book though.
    (It might be good advice however, I've never read it.) Your comments
    already show me that you know what needs to be done. You just have
    to play with the software now to see how to do it. Sometimes the
    best ways are the ways you discover on your own -- surpassing
    anything that anyone's ever done or thought of before.

    (...reflected in one of my more favorite quotes, "Innovators and
    creative geniuses cannot be reared in schools. They are precisely
    the men who defy what the school has taught them." - Ludwig von

    Thanks again, very much, for all your input and time. It has been
    most helpful, and appreciated.
    Keoeeit, Jun 24, 2004
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