Shoot-In Water: Commentary by Al

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Al Denelsbeck, Sep 24, 2003.

  1. Okay, abuse fans, I'm taking a little time to sit down and put my
    scattered thoughts to, uh, binary charges I guess, and give my honest,
    forthright, and exceptionally uneducated opinions about this week's
    offerings. If you like my comments, obviously I am a man of great insight
    and observation. And if you don't, I'm some schmuck on an ego trip.
    Whatever works.

    A small word in advance: I consider the water mandate vague enough
    that I'm placing only small emphasis on it. I'm more concerned with the
    value as a photograph, but I do think water should at least be a key factor
    in some way.

    Mike Benveniste: Immediately striking because of the colors, and the
    composition ain't bad at all. Not sure if I like the tiny bit of horizon
    peeking through - mixed feelings on that. The monochrome landscape broken
    by the complementary color of the water makes this very direct, even though
    it isn't much more than a 'landscape' pic. The tree is a good touch, but
    I'm not sure what the yellow under the waterfall is.

    Peter Boorman (Bandicoot): A confusing image, in a way. Why the
    spring? Seems like a small clash between the industrial or geometrical
    aspect of the metal versus the water drops, bright light, and green
    background, which gives it all a feel of being outdoors in bright sun (and
    great effect on lighting if it isn't!). Stark and direct, and the limited
    depth prevents the viewer from following the path of the spring - instead,
    it's presented in pieces. I'm mixed on this one, not only from the water
    standpoint, but as a geometric presentation.

    Bowser: At first glance, I said "Just lily pads". Granted, the
    biggest single expanse I've ever seen, but just pads. However, even with
    the monotonous pattern, there are compositional elements at work - the
    color from the skyline which does not directly show at all in the pic, the
    placement of the grasses in the frame, and the depth which takes the
    speckling at the top of the picture and renders it into detailed pads at
    the bottom. Interesting! Actually draws more attention than it seems like
    it should. For those learning how to compose, notice the arc of the skyline
    centered, the grasses which aren't, and how the grasses do not break the
    lines. Also, a distinct avoidance of the Rule of Thirds which nevertheless
    works - a good example of following guidelines only up to a point.

    Alan Browne: An interesting and monochromatic still-life, where the
    steam just barely makes an appearance. Well done lighting, and two subtle
    pointers to bottom right of the frame - the kettlespout, and the lip of the
    glass. Emphasis on curves and lines. I would rather not see the lip of the
    glass cut off at top, but this is minor. There is some unknown line up
    there going in the opposite direction from the 'pointers', and this catches
    my attention too (but I tend to lock onto those things for some reason).
    Nice simple geometry in an 'everyday' setting, with a compelling single
    color to boot.

    George (AKA Carbuff): I like the lighting, I like the colors. But I'm
    left with what I'm supposed to be looking at, Focus draws attention smack
    to the center, as do the lines of the leaves, but then what? I want
    something to be there. It might work better as an abstract from a lower
    angle that gives greater depth and avoids that direction towards center.
    Smooth bokeh from that lens, though.

    Ken Cashion: Okay, first thought was "That ain't water!" And it's a
    stretch, counting the ice cube. But there's no getting over the fact that
    it's an evocative image, very very emotional, with everything in frame
    working together to produce the effect and nothing detracting. The
    attention goes clearly to the glass from great use of DOF, and from the
    subtle position of the guy's head, and from the even-more-subtle strongest
    light hitting the glass. Shows just a hair too much evidence of
    underexposure. So some points lost on the 'water' part, but very high marks
    simply as a good photo. Nice job!

    Matt Clara: Ah, somebody had to do it - ironically dealing with the
    subject by enhancing the complete lack of it! This wouldn't work if the
    subject was "giraffe", but it works here. A nice shot of textures and
    patterns. But, unfortunately, I've seen a lot of these, and this one lacks
    some kind of 'oomph'. As such, it loses a little for being 'gimmicky' and
    not quite standing up on its own. Even just catching a point that the
    cracks seemed to emphasize, one way or another, would have strengthened
    this one.

    Dallas Dahms: A good, simple, but curiously compelling image. From
    the distinct detail of the water edge and clinging droplets, to the
    specular highlights so far out of focus. And again, another monochromatic
    shot in color - lot of them this time. I can't pin down why this works so
    well. And often, the hexagonal rendering of the highlights could be
    distracting, but here they're part of the composition and the geometry
    seems to counterpoint the randomness of the natural water, with that red
    light thrown in for emphasis. Hard to say why, but it works for me.

    Mine: I wanted the colors, I wanted the light. The one I was trying
    for didn't come out acceptably. That's all I'm going to say. But am I the
    only one that sees the "jh" in there? Anyone with those initials wanna buy

    Bret Douglas: Water is in there, obviously, but only as an
    undistracting background, when the subject very clearly is the heron. And
    right away, the odd expression of the bird grabs attention. Good light,
    good placement in the frame, simply done with just a few elements. But the
    eye goes only to the heron, which is in an unattractive pose with an odd
    emotional response, hard to relate to. While not a bad shot
    compositionally, it pretty much says "Ack!" to me (Bill the Heron?). A

    Martin Djernaes: A nice mountain vista with lovely skies. But the
    lighting on the water minimizes its affect and instead draws attention up
    away from it. I like the lines of the valley and the trees, so good work at
    leading the eye in a particular direction and keeping the photo nicely
    balanced - but just not quite towards the chosen subject. The color seems a
    bit unreal too, a tad too much cyan, but not so much that it seems altered.
    Needs a stronger focal point, but still grabs the eye.

    Martin Francis: Everyone needs to try this at least once, it's not
    hard to do. In your case, you captured a bizarre shape that seems out of
    place with the tiny droplets suspended above. It shows some pretty
    significant contortions of the water's surface, and the lighting brings out
    the shapes quite well without anything else drawing attention (like
    reflections from surroundings). It's not quite compelling enough to make it
    a strong showcase photo, but it does give a tangible and atypical 3D shape
    and feel. And it does seem to be questing upwards a bit. Interesting!

    Rudy Garcia: I just read some comments about 'chiaroscuro' ("Bright
    darkness") and this one seems to fit the bill quite well. The contrast
    gives an almost twilight feel to it, way out of line with the height of the
    sun - faintly reminiscent of an eclipse. Interesting interpretation of the
    mandate two ways, and compelling color and contrast. But it's a scenic
    without an attention-getter - nice accent, but lacking a focal point. With
    the lines of the clouds and the water, I get the impression this would be
    stronger shot horizontally with a lot more space to the left, leading away
    into the distance.

    David Griffiths: I've seen a million of these. So why does this work
    so well? This is the first time I've seen one in B&W, and it really adds a
    lot to the feel, and the water is completely surrounded by sharp edges, in
    more ways that one. Contrasting directions too - the water flows opposite
    of the way the lines lead. Good levels throughout. Now, this may just be a
    monitor difference, but I seem to see just the faintest hint of coloration,
    a brownish/maroon cast, and in this case it works quite well. Something to
    experiment with. Good job!

    Bob Hickey: Similar to Matt's, this one seems to eschew water
    entirely, until you look closely - funny because we know exactly where it
    should be, but it's *still* extremely subtle. This is more texture and
    emotion than anything else - nice untouched feel to it, and interesting
    framing. A good accent, with some more feeling provided by the color cast.
    Makes me wonder what the other experiments with color looked like. But
    water hardly fits the bill as the subject, despite the setting, so it
    misses a little bit in that regard. Good photo, not the best

    Lisa Horton: It wook me a few moments to determine where the
    cockatiel was, exactly - the tile edge gives more of a clue than the water
    does. And like Bret's, the subject is too clearly the bird. Colorful and
    compelling in the implied action, it still lacks oomph from an artistic
    standpoint. It's also slightly confusing emotionally - I'm not sure whether
    the bird is having fun in the water or desperate to get out, since it
    doesn't communicate either one very strongly. [And now, a slight aside -
    I'm trying not to be biased on a personal level, because the clipped wings
    hit me immediately. I don't have anything against wing clipping itself in
    any way, and my own birds almost always had theirs done, but the wildlife
    part of me says this isn't right, and indeed, it becomes very noticeable
    with the stray flight feathers poking out. So I bracketed this because,
    while it affects the photo to me, it shouldn't, and doesn't count].

    Amber Hutcherson: Less of the depth than Bowser's, but still quite
    evident. The color is nice and the light on the pads works well, especially
    with the highlights indicating this is a shady cool area. The lack of
    sharpness bothers me a little, and it would seem to need a little more
    contrast - both potentially just scanning issues. The flower seems just a
    bit too centered, though, which is unfortunate because it's a strong focal
    point. almost adrift in the channels between the pad clumps. A near miss,
    but one that could potentially become much stronger with minor editing.

    Carl Hutcherson: Same place? Unfortunately I'm immediately struck by
    the non-level horizon - I do this all the time and I hate myself for it. It
    works only occasionally, and not in this kind of composition. Contrast in
    this one is a bit too high, making it harsher than it should be for the
    subject. Maintains just enough emphasis on the water to fit the mandate.
    but it still strikes me more of a landscape. There's foreground detail and
    the water leads deeper into the image, but it lacks a little. Could be the
    grassline in the foreground 'bars' me from getting into the pic, and most
    of the rest of it lacks a grabbing detail. Also, maybe my monitor, but just
    a tad too magenta?

    Nick James: I see the face immediately, the gaping mouth, but it
    isn't quite positioned to gulp the boaters. Good or bad? I don't know, but
    with it, it would gain a humorous side to it. The inclusion of the boaters
    gives an immediate feeling of grand scale, and again, is this good or bad?
    Would it have been more interesting trying to get the viewer guessing? I
    don't know. The contrast and the texture work very well, foreground and
    background, and the depth is readily apparent, enhanced by the boat. Good
    interpretation of an atypical scenic opportunity. The dirt in the snow
    (glacier?) gives a grittier mood over the frequent pristine crisp whites
    that often attract the winter photographer.

    Jim Kramer: Having read the circumstances of this photo, I know that
    the lack of critical sharpness comes from handholding the camera during the
    longer exposure. So while a good effort, it doesn't carry through to the
    image. I said before that there are tons of waterfall shots, but this one
    is composed in such a way that the viewer actually feels the spray - nice
    effect! The textures in the water work well, better than an overall milky
    feel would have. Without the leaf, the scale might be really hard to
    determine, and I don't know if this is good or bad, but the spot of color
    attracts attention without a good reason. Mixed emotions overall.

    Simon Lee: Easily my favorite - this is just too cool! A completely
    different angle on an oft-photographed subject. Without the tap, it would
    be a curious abstract, but with it it becomes captivating - "Is that what
    it really looks like?" Moreover, very direct - the only other thing in the
    photo is the distant evidence of the tap arm, and this is in a line that
    complements anyway. And exceptionally sharp. Excellent! Great photo
    overall, great interpretation of the mandate.

    Lionel: An interesting mood, with just a hint of danger from the deep
    hole almost hidden by the innocuous-looking plants. Nice attempt at the
    dual levels of water and subject plane. But the fact that nothing is sharp
    in the lower half of the frame pushed my eye upwards where it doesn't quite
    belong. The pipe aims down, the hole is there, but nothing to focus on, so
    I go instead for the sharp flower and water drops, which are clearly not
    the primary subject for the framing. I like the idea, but not quite
    executed for that goal.

    Vic Mason: Interesting use of lines and direction. Even the horizon
    doesn't break the photo, since the direction had turned away from it to go
    parallel. The shady chair and the curving sidewalk give a very strong
    impression of an inviting pause on the path - literal and metaphorical at
    the same time. The post adds a interesting texture, a counterpoint that, to
    me, doesn't detract. Nice color, could be a bit more vibrant. Water,
    however, only serves to enhance the sidewalk unnecessarily, so while a nice
    scenic with hidden meaning, not exactly an interpretation of the mandate.

    We're still in the 'M's? Gosh, I wish this went faster...

    Gordon Moat: Turbulence, soft and harsh at the same time, bright and
    dark together and enhancing the clash. Very textured surface, good shaping,
    deep color. But the focal point doesn't have the required sharpness - this
    instead goes to the water at upper left, even though the slight indication
    of the splash/spray at center almost locks me in. A near-miss of an
    evocative subject.

    Dennis O'Conner: The lights and the implied road (not exactly
    visible) draw attention to the center, but without a firm reason. The water
    is subtle, taking a moment to impinge on the viewer - the wiper-path on the
    windshield almost escapes attention, even though it's almost instinctive to
    assume this was taken from a car. Not a bad mood, but slightly confusing.

    I read about the circumstances of this photo, and rated it anyway
    from strictly a standpoint of the photo itself. My condolences and
    sympathy, and we appreciate the effort to take part despite the events.
    Knowing the background, I suspect this may be representative of the overall
    mood anyway.

    Doug Payne: I'm confused! What is it, how far away, why? It's a
    compelling texture, I think mostly just because I look at it and try to
    impose some reality on it, somewhere, but it remains completely elusive. I
    like the subtle gradient, but can't feel there is any kind of strong
    subject in there. Water? If you say so, but I think someone would only
    guess at it because we find water to be one of the few things in the world
    that creates smooth expanses, especially in that color.

    Pete: Ahhh, c'mon Pete, try harder! Yes, it's clearly water, and the
    clarity of it with the streambed tells me it's cool and refreshing. The
    color's not bad, and a little texture. But no subject, and that distraction
    of the pipe, or at least something uncomfortably uniform at bottom. I can't
    help but think of what else might have been tried in the same

    Rich Pos: I think Rich knows what I like. Just a hair away from
    abstract, the gradients provided by the sky and water are beautiful, and
    the lines simple and inviting. Slightly disconcerted by being stopped at
    the horizon, or the twin horizon as it were, but not unduly so. The unreal
    tranquility is fantastic, and a good demonstration of a prime trait of
    water, that of achieving perfect smoothness if undisturbed. Alas, the
    little things in the foreground attract a lot of attention because of the
    overall simplicity of the composition. If just a lone feather, the
    emotional aspect would be useful, but not with several little doodads.

    Relics: I like the colors and the capture of the sun peeking in
    there, but other things take away from this. Most noticeable is that
    contrail (more than one, perhaps) and it goes counter to the natural
    cloudline as well. The reflective water in foreground also has too little
    detail - it's abstract in a way, but I think it's immediately obvious it's
    water, just not what or why. The horizon. given emphasis by the sky, is
    just a little too plain. Needs just a little more, somewhere.

    John Riegle: I've read your comments on the shot already, so I know
    how you view it. To me, there's a bit of emphasis on the foreground simply
    because of the detail therein, as opposed to the water which has virtually
    none. The flat light and dull sky doesn't help the mood. The lines aren't
    bad, matching in some ways (the downward curve of three treelines, the
    sailboat masts, and the lakeshore), but a bit too subtle to be compelling.
    The sailboats don't quite attract attention and are slightly monotonous.
    It's too bad, I like the coloration of the gulls, even though many people's
    association with them is less-than-positive. Better light and a little bit
    different framing might have made a world of difference. And yes, water is
    there, but as just a little more than a framing element. The gulls look
    every which way, but the two alone at the edge get attention and look
    outside the frame - I suspect giving them, or that direction, more emphasis
    would be stronger too.

    Duncan Ross: Oops, haven't seen this one yet, must have popped in
    recently. Ahhh, I won't belabor the point that this is a snapshot, and it
    loses any cuteness value because, while I like many rodents, guinea pigs
    are simply annoying to me ;-). One of them is even looking away, detracting
    from any emotion that eye-contact has. C'mon, try again ;-)

    Brent Schneeman: An interesting shot! Just real enough to indicate a
    photograph, rather than an impressionistic rendering in one of a hundred
    different mediums. The softnes and the muted colors are emotive in their
    own way. Loses just a little by making the viewer wonder just how it was
    done - what was the reflective, or transmittive, material? I first got the
    impression of frosted glass, even though I knew water was involved, so it
    seems to lose a bit from being *too* vague, at least as far as the mandate
    goes, but potentially in an overall manner too. The windmill does work
    pretty well though - one of those subjects, like lighthouses, that don't
    quite get 'done to death' despite the number of photos.

    Simon Stanmore: A masterful use of lighting and framing, with some
    subtle elements lending themselves to the pic, such as the wet hair
    indicating the water being more than simply spilling down the chin, but
    also providing more emphasis for femininity in this tight portrait. Nicely
    framed, with no distractions - except for the specks in front of her mouth.
    Not clear enough if this is gargle spray or simply dust - I suspect dust
    because of the motion apparent below the chin. I wonder what's happening
    here, but I also know that's part of the mystique. Nice portrait that still
    carries the mandate well.

    Glenn Travis: The near-identical uniformity from left to right, the
    perspective, and the complementary colors make this pretty strong. But then
    again, am I being unkind when I put this as much to the architect as the
    photographer? The right side is slightly more cut off than the left, too.
    Nevertheless I like the milky blue and the tunnel of lines leading deep
    into the center. A little vague on the mandate, though. I'd be playing
    around with numerous different angles on those fountains, myself.

    Annnnndddd that's all of them. I'm hungry, and I'm going now. I
    caught countless typos in the above, so any I missed should be considered
    skilled survivors and given due praise...

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Sep 24, 2003
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  2. Al Denelsbeck

    Dallas Guest

    Hey, Al...can I buy you a beer? :)

    Thanks for the comments.

    Dallas, Sep 24, 2003
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  3. Al Denelsbeck

    Matt Clara Guest

    I had a hell of a time scanning that slide. That's my only excuse.
    Matt Clara, Sep 24, 2003
  4. Al Denelsbeck

    Doug Payne Guest

    :) See my previous post. It's all water, half frozen, half not, taken
    from maybe 3,000-4,000 feet out the window of a floatplane over a lake
    in the Canadian Arctic. I just liked the abstractness of it. I guess it
    wasn't obvious enough that it was actually water. It's a lot easier for
    me to see the water since I was actually there. And maybe you have to be
    a Northerner to see the frozen part for what it is.

    Here's another one I was gonna submit; it's a bit less subtle:
    Doug Payne, Sep 24, 2003
  5. Al Denelsbeck

    Ken Cashion Guest

    Finally! A critic who knows what he is talking about! :eek:)
    Thanks, Al. I enjoyed reading them all. I think you done
    good. On mine, especially. ;o)

    Ken Cashion, Sep 24, 2003
  6. Al Denelsbeck

    Alan Browne Guest

    Thanks Al,

    Hi Al,

    You make my comments/critics look like shards of broken glass.

    Despite the careful lighting this shot was one of the last few taken at
    odd angles. I had to crop on the left and a little on the top. When
    taking these shots, I recklessly abandon keeping the objects in
    frame...before croppoing, the rim of the glass is barely cropped by the
    shot, and here as presented I cropped annother sliver. The lines at top
    left are the table edge (a wood and glass breakfast table) which I
    confess I didn't see when I was shooting. The color is "mono" of sorts
    on the original, but the glass a bit greener. Here I shoved it a bit in
    PS to get the steam to sho a little more.

    Alan Browne, Sep 24, 2003
  7. Al Denelsbeck

    Alan Browne Guest it!
    Alan Browne, Sep 24, 2003

  8. Al - This and *all* your other comments are excellent - insightful. A
    superb critique job. It's great to see that some people recognise the
    intentional 'ambiguity' in my submission. But dust ... DUST!!! Those specks
    are pure mandate material sir!

    : )

    Simon Stanmore, Sep 24, 2003
  9. Hi Al,

    I realize that if you were to discuss every single picture you would not
    be able to do anything else, so if you don't answer I know it's just
    because your time is limited and not because youre not helpfull :)

    I'm a bit currious to your color comment. I have taked quite a few of
    these wather/river/canyon pictures (and like doing so), but I always
    feel that they are missing something when I get the film back.

    First: the picture is taken just after noon above the Illilouette Falls
    in Yosemite NP. I used a tripod, f/32 and 80mm with my Canon kit-lense.
    The film was Kodak 100ASA.

    Second: I didn't do any color manipulation, but the jpeg is scanned from
    the photo (not the negative) with my rather old flatbed scanner.

    When I look at the photo (4x6 blank) and compare it to the one at the
    monitor I feel that the "shine" or yellow cast have disappeared from the
    jpeg. Especially looking at the sun spot in the bottom of the image I
    feel that the life/colors are gone. I wonder if this is what you think
    about when you say that there is "a tad too much cyan".

    I guess I need to learn how to produce a better scanned image :)

    You also talk about a missing focal point. I think I agree with you, but
    I'm not sure if I would know what to do :) In the picture, do you see
    anything which could have been used as a focal point? I kind of wanted
    the stones in the center as the "heavy" part, but I don't think I really


    P.S. The more I compare the real picture and the jpeg the more I feel
    that my picture (the jpeg) is really dull.
    Martin Djernæs, Sep 24, 2003
  10. Al Denelsbeck

    Ken Cashion Guest

    On Wed, 24 Sep 2003 18:32:28 GMT, =?ISO-8859-1?Q?Martin_Djern=E6s?=

    You, too? I don't know how much we may learn about
    photography but I bet a bunch of us learn a lot about scanning and
    jpgs. :eek:)

    Cheers -- Ken
    Ken Cashion, Sep 24, 2003
  11. And thanks back to you, both for the critiques and for the effort
    you're putting into this.

    I'm not going to agree with this. We have different approaches,
    that's all. I think I tend to be more loquacious, though not as much as Ken
    (Hi Ken!), and this can be good and bad. One particular aspect where my
    approach discourages people, and yours encourages them, is the brevity and
    the time involved in giving input. Nobody has to spend as much time at it,
    and even brief comments are better than none at all. I might scare people
    into thinking they have to write as freaking much as I do :).

    I, myself, tend to be sensitive towards lines in a photo, and shapes
    and such, so I fixate on them. Doesn't mean I'm right. If the approach or
    cropping is intentional, then it's not 'wrong' in any way, and perhaps
    might be done to indicate that the scene is not enclosed by the image
    boundaries, but that the image is only a small fragment (just speculation).

    Also, the 'mono' comment isn't intended in any negative way, just an
    observation. My eye tells me it's full-spectrum, but there is still a
    dominant color, and this is an art or approach in its own. And it's a
    muted, pleasing color. I need to attempt more shots like this, really.


    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Sep 24, 2003

  12. Well, I'm a transplanted northerner, though I can say I saw much
    freezing in progress during my flights, so it didn't jump out at me. I
    think many of the details that reveal something as 'ice' to us are missing.
    Just my take on it.

    But I like the other shot, above, much better. Great demo of
    extremely simple but effective composition, and my eye goes straight to the
    water droplets on the needles that are 'revealed' by the dark background.
    The rock is necessary, but not too dominant. Much stronger, IMHO.

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Sep 24, 2003
  13. Al Denelsbeck

    Peter Chant Guest

    Hang on, is this

    Well, to be frank I was not happy with it either. I picked from a fair
    number of shots. I chucked out one as too 'postcardy', its subjects
    were a bridge and willow tree with the house in the background.
    Some seemed ok, not brilliant, but they just did not seem to be
    'watery' enough. I wanted this picture to show the ripples of the
    surface of the water. Unfortunatly the rather ugly pipe was
    necessary to produce them. As for the no subject comment, the ripples
    were the subject. I should have had a longer lens and maybe extension
    tubes to get the effect. Unfortunately I did not.

    As for the try harder, well I got into photography for several reasons.
    My compact camera always seemed to either have too short or long a lens,
    the pictures were not as sharp as I would like. I did not like
    having washed out skys on my photographs. My mum's slides from the
    60's still looked fantastic. Furthermore I was tasking photographers
    at work (technical photography) and I thought that a grasp of the
    subject would not go amiss.

    Composition is something I am working on. I think that I have improved
    over the years but it is hard be an objective critic of myself.
    Peter Chant, Sep 24, 2003
  14. Al Denelsbeck

    Peter Chant Guest

    BTW, thanks for the comments.
    Peter Chant, Sep 24, 2003
  15. Al Denelsbeck

    Doug Payne Guest

    Dang! I *knew* that'd happen. I refrained from submitting that one
    because it was shot with a digital P&S, and not the revered "35mm". Of
    course I suspect nobody would have known had I not said anything. And I
    didn't like the smoke across the lake. Thanks for the comments. Again.
    Doug Payne, Sep 24, 2003
  16. My time goes back and forth. You caught me at a good time ;-)

    Besides the fact that film increases contrast, which affects the
    colors, some films are better able to capture the colors you like than
    others, so first I would experiment a bit, and try out a few different
    films, especially in a variety of situations. Also, printing is largely up
    to the lab - line enlargers have color corrections that they do
    automatically to counteract the orange cast of the negative, and these
    corrections can vary not only between labs, but between days as well. A
    good lab produces the color you like.

    You might also want to shoot slides for a while. Contrast tends to be
    higher, but the color is unbeatable, and cannot be messed with by the lab.
    Kinda rules out using a flatbed scanner though ;-(.

    Don't take color comments too seriously until *everyone* is saying
    much the same thing - all monitors are different. But it can't hurt to add
    a touch of red (opposite of cyan), or yellow, and see where that leads.
    It's sometimes amazing what a tiny tweak will do to color, vibrancy, and

    It's even possible that the mineral content of the water is what's
    producing the 'cyan' I see, since the sky doesn't show it to any serious
    extent and the rocks look fine. Never been to Yosemite, but if I remember
    right, some of the pools and sinkholes show some pretty rich colors, don't

    Scanners are a serious factor in producing what we want to see, and
    I've spent ridiculous amounts of time trying to get images to look 'right'
    after scanning. Many have lesser sensitivities to certain colors (so do
    many digital cameras). After a while, you might find that some faint
    corrections can be done to all scans, and adjust your scanner accordingly
    or create a set of actions to routinely do in your photo editing program.

    Flatbeds, to me, always seem to increase contrast, too. When they
    were all I used, I started scanning too light, lowering the contrast and
    saturation and bringing out more shadow detail, then bringing the image
    back into control afterwards in an editing program. Seemed to work much
    much better.

    Now that I use a film scanner, this is different. Negatives are very
    hard to scan correctly - the scanner always wants to automatically adjust
    exposure and color, and this cannot be shut off in the software! It does
    slides ten times better, but unfortunately, slides are too expensive and
    time-consuming for the shoot-in (I have to send them out to get proper

    In some cases, there isn't a focal point that's particularly strong
    in a scenic, and you have to decide whether to take the image anyway and
    recognize that it doesn't have as much impact, or bypass it in favor of
    something stronger.

    In this particular case, the lines seem to lead down to the pool, but
    the pool is a bit darker than most of the photo and in shade. If you'd
    adjusted exposure for the pool, then the sky would probably have gone too
    bright and not looked good. So, perhaps, wait for a little while for the
    light to change? Return again at a different time? There's a small
    turbulent ripple visible at left, can you have gotten closer and used this
    as a foreground element? I realize not all options are available at any
    time, such as waiting for different light or getting wet, so these are only

    Many photographers use a graduated neutral density filter to darken
    only the sky while allowing the foreground to remain unaffected, and this
    can help with the different light levels between the ground and the sky.
    But it's often very noticeable to my eye, and I don't ever use them. Also
    hard to do witht he shape of the horizon here. I prefer to wait for more
    balanced light.

    Another scenic trick, sometimes used too much, is putting a person in
    the scene. It provies a focal point, a splash of color, a sense of scale,
    and often some emotional response. There's a lot that can be done with
    someone else in there. Of course, it means traveling with someone who has
    the patience for that ;-).

    And midday is a tough time to shoot, especially on sunny days, and
    many photographers just avoid it entirely. Contrast jumps beyond the reach
    of the film, people squint, colors get washed out. Your shot was pretty
    good to be able to use this, most especially to get the color from the sky,
    but the contrast is noticeable.

    While I don't know how it compares to the print, it's not dull. This
    isn't to say that a color tweak won't change things, though.

    Ah, but where does it cross the line between 'getting the correct
    color' and 'digital altering'? Who knows? The best you can try for is using
    a white-balance tool from your photo editor, or a neutral gray spot. But
    it's a matter of opinion, and not worth worrying about.

    Good luck!

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Sep 24, 2003
  17. Al Denelsbeck

    Bandicoot Guest


    I wanted to reply to a question implicit in Al's comments on my picture, and
    then found myself shamelessly piggy-backing on some (a lot... most...) of
    his other comments where I wanted to say something about some of the other
    pictures. I'm not managing a 'full critique' this time round, so I've just
    added my comments to Al's on 'a few' of the pictures.
    I second the 'not sure about the bit of sky'. I like the picture, and the
    fabulous light is captured beautifully, but that little sliver of sky I feel
    might have been better left out: it is too small to contribute, so it
    distracts instead.
    (Me) Thanks - I am always interested in reactions, and the fact it is
    confusing is fine with me! The spring came about because I was looking
    round for something that I could get water drops to 'stick' to and it came
    to hand, then I thought "Spring - Water" so there is a visual pun as well:
    it doesn't matter if you 'get' the pun or not, but I like it as a little
    tease for those who do.

    The contrast of wet/soft and dry/hard was what I wanted to get, hence hard
    light but soft background. I thought about one with enough DoF to keep the
    whole of the spring sharp, but decided I didn't like it as much - for me the
    eye became _too_ prone to follow the spring at the expense of the overall

    For all that, while I'm quite pleased with it, and am happy with the
    slightly 'uncomfortable' feeling it conveys, I do think I could have done
    better if I'd spent more time on it - I wasn't getting paid for it, couldn't
    see any likely 'other' use for the shot, and wanted to get out into that
    nice sunshine you can see!

    It was done indoors, but using daylight - both direct and reflected. The
    little upside-down world half seen through the two larger water droplets is
    my front garden.
    I really liked this one too - this sort of picture is much harder to do well
    than at first appears, and this one succeeds.

    Another I like - the slight underexposure works for me, as the increased
    grain and blocked up shadows seem to work with the atmosphere of the image.
    The choice of focus point and the amount of DoF are just right.

    Yes, the geometry is very powerful - I like pictures that are not wholly
    non-representational, in that we do know at least part of what it is a
    pictore 'of' - but that primarily work as abstracts nonetheless. Looks like
    the sort of picture beloved of company annual reports...
    I see the JH - now let's see you do other sets of initials to order!...
    Good picture of the Heron, but I find the rocks he is standing on detract -
    the pale one bottom right is distracting, and overall the piece of rock
    seems too small for the image as a whole, unbalancing the composition. Of
    course, this may be all there was, but that's the luck of the draw.

    Yeah, what Al said. One sees this so often that it can become very hard for
    such a shot to stand out, and this does succeed in being attention grabbing.
    The B&W IR effect suits the subject, and while I agree with others' comments
    about the branches, the overall effect is strong enough to live with that.
    If you found another waterfall with an even better viewpoint available it
    would be well worth trying this again - it works.
    I really like this one. The framing is tighter, and the angle of view
    narrower than the stereotypical approach to such a subject and this makes it
    all the more striking. The toning suits it well too.
    I agree with Al that one can't really tell whether the bird is having fun or
    not - but to be unrealistically anthropomorphic about it, he really does
    look as if he is smiling, which makes it seem a very cheerful picture.
    Ideally I could wish his feet weren't cut off, and that his tail was all in
    rather than disappearing into the blurred shape (Lisa's hand?) bottom
    right - but with this sort of shot, capturing the moment takes precedence
    over the sort of framing considerations that can apply in a more static
    (read 'less interesting') picture. It just makes me smile.

    [Makes me smile too, Damson.] <= For Lisa's benefit, I should add that
    while my cat Damson likes watching birds, she never actually chases them:
    far too lazy, and they know it.
    Yes - experimenting with cropping this a little differently would be well
    worthwhile: the pattern of lily pads, open water, and the flower is very
    pleasing, and just getting it into the right relationship with the frame of
    the picture itself could make a much stronger picture.
    If it is Al's monitor, it is mine too - but such a cast is correctable. The
    tilted horizon also bothers me, and this is always most apparent whenever
    there is water in a shot, but cropping could correct this, and by losing
    some of the foreground at the same time the picture could easily lead the
    eye in a little more.
    I didn't see the face till Al mentioned it, but of course now it jumps out
    at me. I liked it better before I saw the face! But like it I do - the
    balance of glacier to open space is not conventional, and the grittiness
    adds to the extent to which this is different from the shot one might
    'expect' to see of such a subject. And that makes it interesting. It
    helps, of course, that it is a difficult exposure, made exactly right.

    Everyone likes this - me included. I like the inclusion of the spout of the
    tap and the shape of it arcing away in the background. Without these it
    would be a beautiful abstract, but with them we know what it is, and have
    the extra pleasure we get from 'seeing' the beauty that was previously
    hidden inside something we are all familiar with. This is the same
    sensation that some electron microscope images provide: revealing the hidden
    beauty of the everyday.

    Not immediately obvious what it is, but a pleasing composition. Now that we
    all know what it is, and how it was taken, the picture gains 'meaning' and
    gives us the interest of asking ourselves such questions as "why is the ice
    so dirty?" Given the circumstances, getting such a pleasing composition and
    framing was an achievement.

    Wonderful sense of tranquility. I now what Al means about the objects in
    the foreground, but I can live with them. The gradation of colour in the
    foreground stretch of water gives this image a lot of its power.

    Those two looking out of the frame are strong together, it really would help
    to have some space for them to be 'looking into'.
    Snapshot yes, but a cute one and within its terms of reference it can't
    really be faulted: the lighting - bounced around in the basin - is perfect.

    Hey, Al, don't be annoyed - Guinea Pigs are delicious...
    I had thought this was taken through a rain streaked window till Brent
    posted to say it was a reflection. Either way I like it: it sums up a
    feeling about weather and is 'impressionistic' in the correct sense of the
    Very classy execution. Perhaps a little dust spotting is needed, and if
    this were a commercial shot the teeth would be artificially whitened in
    PhotoShop - but as it is in part a portrait, and not an advert for mineral
    water, this is not necessary or even desirable here. Truly excellent
    lighting, and the length of exposure gives a pleasing amount of
    blur/sharpness to the water drops. Some of the drops appear doubled though,
    which is just a _tiny_ bit disconcerting.
    As Al says, perhaps for a shot emphasising the symmetry it needs to be
    _exactly_ centred, or else clearly off-centre - but the off-centredness of
    this is not going to be noticed at all by 99% of viewers. What is strong
    here is the perfect exposure. A little earlier in the evening so there was
    a hint of colour in the sky might have been attractive - but the coloured
    lighting of the ountains might have looked less strong if this were done, so
    you pays yer money and takes yer choice. If the architect had commissioned
    it, s/he would certainly have been pleased.
    Me too. I set out to comment on only a few and ended up with a little to
    say about most of them. If I skipped yours, don't think it is because I
    wasn't interested, it is just because Al or others had already said all that
    I might have had to say on that particular shot.

    Now, time to put the kettle on...

    Bandicoot, Sep 25, 2003
  18. Al Denelsbeck

    Rich Pos Guest

    Hello Al,

    Once again, your comments are educational and inspiring.

    Rich Pos, Sep 25, 2003
  19. Hi,

    Let's hope that someone feel pity with us and give us their secret
    recipe ;-)

    Martin Djernæs, Sep 25, 2003
  20. Hi Al,

    I must have caught you at a really convenient time. Thanks for all your
    comments. I have read them, played a bit with colors in PS and compared
    to the original again, but I will try to take more time to review the
    picture in the light of your comments. They have already, and will
    still, help me understand the aspects of the photo.
    I think so. This one is probably not the most colorfull of them all, but
    I do think the wather have a clear, but almost metallic color.
    I could have waited a bit, but I knew that I had to get down again ;-)
    Comming again later was at least not possible (that day) as it took me
    almost 3 hours to get there and as long to get down again.

    My wife do have plenty of patience with me, and I did take some pictures
    with her, but I really don't like nature pictures with people (and yes
    it was meant as a nature picture ... with wather).

    Thanks again Al .. I really appreciate the help. I'm not sure that I
    have digested it all yet, but at least I can keep it for later and try
    again ;-)

    Martin Djernæs, Sep 25, 2003
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