[SI} Face to Face: Oh no, not again...

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Al Denelsbeck, Nov 8, 2003.

  1. Yes, abuse fans, I haven't disappeared, which proves there is no god.
    Life, surprisingly, hasn't changed a bit...

    So once again, it's time for my take, my skewed angle, my
    demonstration of non-compos-mentos (which may be misspelled and has nothing
    to do with breath mints) on the submissions for this week's Shoot-In. Just
    barely squeaking in under the wire before "Six" goes up, but hey, this
    takes a while anymore. At least the way I do it.

    And while I'm thinking of it, this might be the last one you see from
    me for a while. I'm going out of town for a few weeks, and while I expect
    to contribute regularly to the Shoot-In and occasionally to the newsgroup,
    I don't think I can offer detailed commentary. And after that, we're gonna
    get to see the new participants, making the number of submissions even
    larger, and I'll probably just say "screw it" ;-)

    So enjoy it while you can, or savor the relief when it's over,
    whatever floats your boat.

    Garry Ashton-Coulton - I cannot look at this without thinking it's a still
    from a 1950's movie. If this is intentional, well done! B&W works well for
    the overall effect, fitting right in with the setting, and maintains a wide
    range of tones. The emotional aspect of it is very strong. Skin tones came
    up slightly too bright, but I'm not sure this doesn't emphasize the woman's
    skin a bit. I like how, with extremely sparse surroundings, it's still
    pretty clear this is a train. Ah, but an archive shot. Slap on wrist.

    Bret Douglas - Thankfully, one of the few people who did not feel that it
    had to be human faces in the shot. While depth-of-field is very short,
    focus is exactly where it needs to be, and the proximity of the mantis gets
    the mandate across very well. The eyes seems to provide a translucent
    feeling to the entire insect, making it almost seem like it's carved from
    wax. Mantis eyes have a peculiar effect, where there is always a dark spot
    visible, making many people believe that they have a 'pupil'. In this case,
    it is offset by the catchlights, introducing some slight confusion but, in
    the end, the attention seems to be directly towards the viewer. Nicely

    Jim Kramerk - A simple composition that almost becomes abstract. The stark
    colors work well together, and the little bit of the chimney (?) peeking in
    at the side doesn't distract, like I think it should, but gives it a bit
    more reality. I'm glad that a position directly off the point was not
    chosen, but at an angle to it. Greater shadows might have made this more
    artistic, but lessened the attention of the clock faces, which provide a
    slight incongruity (since they're wrong and thus not working) with the
    pristine building façade. The white brickwork looks *too* clean, as if it's
    plastic. Simple but strong.

    Carbuff - A simple little shot contrasting the two versions of the bill in
    circulation. Clever but clearly staged for the mandate. A couple of things
    stand out, though, the primary one being that the older bill very clearly
    shows stains from age, a nice touch. Another is that the newer bill
    features the portrait offset to one side, requiring a different fold
    (visible) and taking away the symmetry. I think the designers were trying
    to follow the rule of thirds. And finally, the bills are arranged so that
    the dates of issue are hidden, which takes away an obvious indication of
    why there are two versions. Good or bad? I'm undecided…

    Stever Kramer - A cute shot, very compelling, and I think largely because
    of the effect the catchlights had with the eyes. The pose is excellent,
    with contrasting expressions that invite speculation. Great depth-of-field
    (or lack thereof)! And the background subtly mimics the positions of the
    two primates. The one in front reminds of that little guy from 'Benny
    Hill'. Very direct and good color. I like it.

    Joseph Kewfi - Another simple composition that fulfills the mandate well.
    The expression seems 'mugged', but still genuine. Elements about this boy
    make him seem more of a 'bookish' type to me, rather than someone into
    sports, belying the shirt. But then again, he's sitting in a corner,
    apparently separated from any action, and quite proud of it. I may be
    reading too much into the situation, but that's what it says to me. The
    soft light kept the shadows under control, but the grain is slightly too
    noticeable, unfortunately. Interesting shot.

    Richard Cockburn - This is another that works well for B&W, since it has a
    photojournalism feel to it. Good positioning of the boxers, most especially
    with the alignment of the windows and ropes. The flash burn on the closer
    boxer is unfortunate, but at the same time accentuates their 'colors'. The
    flash also helped bring out the sweat sheen on the farther boxer, a good
    touch. The only thing that unsettles me slightly is the extended left glove
    - we seem to have been caught between key points, taking away from the
    fierceness of an action shot, or the tension of both well-guarded and ready
    to strike. This is minor, though. Good shot otherwise.

    Vic Mason - An excellent choice for the mandate. Good crop for the subject,
    great depth and lines. Interesting 'step' in the heights of the recruits.
    The thing I like the most about this is, you're close enough to see the
    faces, and thus the individuality, of the people, which runs counter to the
    typical military approach, and the positioning prevents blocking of as many
    faces as possible. And nobody (with one possible, subtle exception) is
    looking at the camera, making this very observational. Great!

    Parv - Good and bad. I like the intensity of the expression on the forward
    guy's face (god I hope it's a guy), but the background guy is way too
    distracting, actually blending in with the other. The setting is obvious,
    but the net adds a lot, helping with the direction of attention (he's not
    mad at the ref, this is clear). But the lower contrast of the pic and the
    slightly soft look take away a bit too much as well. And an archive, slap
    on the wrist.

    Bowser - We relate immediately to the expressions on the faces, which seems
    like obvious mugging, though the kid appears used to it - no surprise, just
    braced acceptance. Fits in well with the size of 'dad', and the logo on the
    shirt does nothing to detract from this at all. Good angle for harsh
    lighting conditions, and potentially there's a pop of flash in there. The
    background has just a few too many distractions, even though it sets the
    locale very appropriately. My feel is a grab shot, but a halfway decent

    Michael Stevens - Interesting composition. The out-of-focus flute leads
    straight into the girl, and really, all of the photo is concentrated in the
    right third of the image - the rest is simply 'setting'. Just enough angle
    to the face to take away from a complete profile, but not by much. The
    concentration is evident. The soft lighting works well with the girl. And
    also a great shot to demonstrate proper lip placement for a flute (I think,
    anyway). I'm vaguely dissatisfied with the hair, since it seems to say she
    just woke up, but that's also fashion nowadays, so maybe I'm too old.

    Dallas Dahms - Powerful looks on the faces of both subjects, and not
    appearing to be forced in the slightest. The light works extremely well in
    the eyes. Great indication of mom lifting the sprog up to see over the
    fence, coming face to face with the camera. Good tones throughout. Very
    strong, good job! Not sure about that ladder though, but it's easy to

    Charlie Dilks - Okay, points for something quite different, and for
    portraying a moment of action pretty well, even if it's unclear what
    action. Obvious problems with the color, the focus, and the closed eyes,
    and noticeable lean to the background (I know it's the railing, but it's
    the perspective of the framing that applies). While a clever idea and
    interesting results, not quite strong enough to make it on its own. And
    hold out your wrist.

    Glenn Travis - This one is a miss. While it's a sharp and clear portrait of
    the subject, and a decent expression on his face, it's very direct and
    centered, seemingly just a grab shot. The mismatched lighting colors gives
    a bit of magenta cast to the facial highlights. While I'll give a lot of
    points to both the fact that this photographer is known for perhaps the
    most recognizable 'face' shot ever published, and that the follow-up image
    is just visible enough in the background, I find it very difficult to
    accept that a composition with the original famous portrait was not used,
    especially since it's clearly evident to the left. And of course, another
    smack on the wrist for Glenn.

    Alan Browne - This one leaves me a little cold. I like the duplication of
    the poses and purposes, but the focus doesn't seem to cut it - not sure why
    we're looking at the guitar head, even the guy playing it isn't. Too many
    distractions in the background. The mood comes up okay, and the mandate is
    fulfilled, but not a strong photo. And Alan earns his first whack, too. I
    know he can do better.

    Nick James - Discussion is/was going on about this one in another thread,
    including how many faces there really are, but everyone seems to agree on
    the main one, anyway, the face on the mountain face, and it's obvious.
    Moreover, the lighting, contrast, colors, and textures are all powerful and
    work together. The deep shadow at lower right forms a very odd break in the
    photo, impossible to crop out too, but since it fits with the rest of the
    image, it isn't quite as damaging as it could be, and almost able to be
    ignored in favor of the other elements. A crack across the wrist, but a
    gentle one, because this fits the mandate both creatively and in multiple

    Simon Stanmore - One of those portraits done for as much texture as it is
    for personality. The harshness of the lighting has been used to excellent
    effect, and the positioning of it is very well done - note the very vague
    corner of the mouth. Note also the depth-of-field - if this was
    intentional, great balance! The ruddy cast is necessary. And I'll be damned
    if I can tell if this is male or female, but kindly don't tell your model
    that. Excellent work!

    Michael Hoffman - This one seems to say 'grab shot' just a little too much,
    but it has some interesting elements. The curious look on the boy's face at
    least gives some indication of surprise, but the blurring of the jaw
    doesn't seem to fit - there's no apparent reason. Well-balanced fill-flash,
    that's the way it's supposed to look. Something I found interesting:
    There's a splash of unreal primary colors, all on one side of a definite
    dividing line in the photo, and the other side is 'real'. I doubt it was
    planned that way, but interesting anyway.

    Rich Pos - Naturally, someone had to do it, and I expected more, but then
    again, it's one of those things that people might feel are *too* obvious
    and avoid it. In any case, this one is captured well, with good exposure in
    a tricky situation (the faint hint of ambient light on the tops, and the
    glow on the leaves at the bottom, nice!) and positioning to imply a shared
    joke. If you have to do it, do it well, and this one fits. Good stock shot,
    and sellable.

    Peter Boorman (Bandicoot) - Fulfills the mandate very well, if just a
    little color-challenged. Great expression, and the ultra-wide enhances the
    proximity. It also disguises just how old the cat is, by distorting those
    features we look at to determine this, the size of the head and paws (the
    teeth are a dead giveaway, though). The only thing that I don't like about
    it is the vagueness of the eyes, takes away from the impact and threat.
    Offset to put the face centered more in the bars would probably help too.
    And hold out your wrist.

    Gordon Moat - While I like the expressiveness of these two, and the moody
    lighting, I feel it's just a smidgen too dark to carry the 'communication'
    to the viewer, but this is borderline. Definitely, this is one that needs
    to be vertical, with that strong corner in the shot. The curious light
    behind them enhances them, but seems to deepen the shadow, and the
    lighthearted mood of the couple doesn't seem to fit with the shadowy
    aspect. I'm back and forth on this one.

    Simon Lee - Okay, this is one of the reasons to buy quality lenses, because
    the distortion and bad bokeh of this terrible mirror lens is obvious. Okay,
    I kid. While exceptionally simple and easy to stage (even though it
    wasn't), this one at least shows the variety of things we can consider
    'faces'. Just a couple key elements and we're all happy, so to speak. Using
    ambient light was a good choice - flash would likely have changed this
    dramatically, and I doubt for the better. And now I'm hungry…

    Elie Shammas - Something I just noticed now, after having seen this umpteen
    times before: The camera is tilted, giving more of a casual slouch to the
    boy. The horizon went unnoticed by me, rare. Anyway, this is a perfectly
    innocent pic that still has the ability to be interpreted as racial
    commentary (don't take this wrong, this isn't an accusation). The crossed
    chains in front of the boy's face, as well as his slightly unwelcoming
    expression, put up a wall of sorts. I like how the eyes are caught around
    the chains, and the exposure and positioning are great for contrasty
    conditions. I think a tighter crop at bottom to get rid of that half-
    glimpsed yellow thing would be stronger. But you get a smack on the wrist
    for an archive shot.

    John Cuthbertson - Another good portrait in rough conditions (and another
    tilt, too!). Very cute girl with a cute look on her face, focus ever-so-
    slightly soft though. The color seems just a little too muted in the
    shadow, but with the subject this isn't a major issue at all. The framing
    elements of the tree trunks are very strong, mimicked on both sides by the
    subject herself, and the arm going down in the middle works well. Depth-of-
    field is excellent. Strong shot with only minor detractions.

    Martin Francis - AAAAAAAAHHHHH!! All right, I actually find this an amusing
    shot, made more so by the hair and the expression of the eyes - the Blair
    Student Project. Surprisingly good composition, considering the method,
    with great use of white space. Notice how the reflections specifically do
    not enter the pupils? And let's all be thankful that Martin is young enough
    that those goddamn nose hairs haven't started sprouting like kudzu… Oh
    yeah, smack that wrist.

    Al Denelsbeck - I explained this elsewhere, so I'll let it go here. Four
    shot with a 105 macro, two with a 170-500.

    Doug Payne - A nice capture of a 'moai', set off a bit by both the deep
    crevice alongside it and the higher contrast of the scene. The splash of
    green is good, balancing the pic and giving it some vibrancy and scale.
    While an incredibly 'busy' shot, the subject still stands out immediately,
    and having it so far off-center givs the scene a lot more interest than it
    would by centering it and forcing it on the viewer. Simple, but a good pic.
    Archive! Smacko!

    Andrew Colquhoun - A curious shot. There's little to indicate why the photo
    was taken, and the emotional response is scattered a bit. But the crowding
    together of the two girls against the large open space, along with the
    slightly apprehensive look to the younger one, add quite a bit of mood,
    helped a bit by the incomplete desaturation. Not quite enough to make it
    very strong, but much better than a snapshot. The copyright notice is a
    mistake - not green, and with less jpeg compression is my suggestion. And
    what's up with the catchlights in the one girl's eyes? Doesn't look

    Bob Hickey - Either Bob's still clearing out that old film, or he really
    likes low-contrast B&W (or perhaps both). Unfortunately, right alongside
    Matt's, the effect is enhanced and I'm not sure this helps. The lighting is
    good for both the wiry runner's physique and his 'pushing the limits'
    expression, and his isolation seems to add a bit - is he ahead or behind?
    The entry number seems more like a date to me, with a subtle rejection of
    it immediately below. Depth-of-field a little too high to really bring this
    one out. Ultimately, despite the good capture of his effort, I think the
    lower contrast hurt this one, since I think it should have a bit of
    harshness to it.

    Matt Clara - Hmmm, you and Bob switch films, we'll see how this works out
    ;-). Great use of the light, at just enough of an angle to define facial
    features and not shadow the eyes too deeply, and good work in keeping both
    eyes clear - they are easily the subject of the pic, and makes having the
    back of the head disappearing into the background forgiveable. Can't decide
    on the cropping or orientation - not typical portrait approach, no
    background to fill in the space and centered, but it also doesn't seem bad
    for all that. The background is very well out-of-focus. Does she really
    have a widow's peak?

    Lesley Cephas - Okay, I have a background with a humane society, and have
    seen enough cute pet pics to last me a while. So I'll try to be fair ;-).
    The expression of the one dog is what draws all the attention, even of the
    other, but it's not quite an expression that allows the viewer to identify
    with it - potentially a yawn, bark, or begging. I suspect the ears being
    that upright isn't typical, making it more amusing to someone who knows the
    dog. But there's a few things that hurt this a bit - soft focus and the
    noticeably tatty section of grass among them. The framing could use a
    little more attention too, or perhaps a tighter crop could bring more

    David Hardin - Fulfills the mandate to the letter while giving us a glimpse
    of prairie-dog dentistry. The tattered background is slightly more
    forgiveable in this case, since it's representative of their habitat, but
    still a little distracting. I originally thought the softness of Doc was
    due to very short DOF, but now I suspect a mild case of motion blur since
    the plane of the two rodents seems very close to matching. I think this
    hurts it the most. Good for the mandate, not bad as a photo alone, but
    needs that sharpness.

    John Riegle - And now we're treated to a spoonful of… well, I suspect it's
    John. The expression on the subject's face is necessary for the
    frivolousness of this shot - we'd have a hard time buying too much else
    from it. The focus is just bizarre, but there's still enough there for the
    viewer to identify with, I think largely because nothing else is really
    sharp. I suspect that getting this with no camera in the pic, no apparent
    oblique angle, and appropriate lighting was a challenge. An interesting
    concept, not anything to get excited over, but a fun one to put on your
    desk. And still makes it difficult to recognize the subject on the street.
    I sure as hell hope so, anyway…

    Rusty Shackleford - Alright, my guess is it's a camera. What'd I win?
    Unfortunately this one misses on a couple of accounts. I find it hard to
    consider this a 'face' or any sort, and even the direction of attention,
    the lens, is aimed away from us. Depth-of-field is too short to make the
    entire camera the subject, but nothing in focus attracts my attention
    particularly. And with this much detail, the few smudges and bits of dust
    are extremely noticeable, a negative thing to see on a camera like this -
    or *any* camera, but perhaps more acceptable on a well-worn war
    correspondent's model ;-). What could be the only saving grace is if this
    shot was actually taken with that camera, a tricky thing to get the oblique
    angle shown, but not enough to save it, I think.

    Annnndd that would appear to be it. As always, all complaints should
    be forwarded to the moderator of the newsgroup, but cash donations should
    go directly to me. All misspellings are intentional and should be
    considered evidence of a higher intelligence that you can't fathom yet.

    Cheers, everyone, and keep having fun!

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Nov 8, 2003
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  2. Al Denelsbeck

    Leicaddict Guest

    Al, I am not going to comment on the mediocre (both technical and content)
    nonsense you've posted this week. You seem bound and determined to prove
    that my original assessement of your work(?) was (is) correct. You remind me
    of the old adage, those that can't do, teach, and those that can't do or
    teach, criticize. So-o-o-o-o pathetic!
    Leicaddict, Nov 8, 2003
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  3. Al Denelsbeck

    Guest Guest

    Archived from Al Denelsbeck <> on Sat, 08 Nov 2003
    17:57:02 GMT:

    Thank you for your comments. Enjoy your trip. vm

    mailto: clix.at.xeropixdotcom
    Guest, Nov 9, 2003
  4. Al Denelsbeck

    Bowsér Guest

    Good job! Mine was, without question, a quickie grab shot. Used a "bugs
    bunny" camera, too.

    It's an uncle/nephew shot.
    Bowsér, Nov 9, 2003
  5. Once again that picture was shot 5 days prior to hearing about the
    assignment which I
    thought was to late for the SI anyway, hence the copyrighted low res shot
    that was
    grabbed of my web site. (The picture has been cropped and the colour changed
    to sepia, I told Bret in
    my submission)

    The picture was take at our "wine night" and the girls were begging me to do
    a Model shoot with my new camera, so as they were pretending to be models it
    was so easy to direct them. I was directing my Nieces to look at the pool
    table and think of nothing, but as you can see that wasn't the best Idea as
    they were sitting- the pool table to them is was huge and one was looking at
    the far end and the other at foot of the other end.

    I have only been taking pictures for 1 Month now so bear with me I will get
    better :)

    And as for the "catch lights" I assume your meaning the way the light
    reflection looks odd in their eyes:
    There was 2 different light sources and a heap of red eye, that's why its in
    black and white.

    Andrew (Mr Blobby)
    Andrew \(Mr Blobby\), Nov 9, 2003
  6. Al Denelsbeck

    Bandicoot Guest

    I absolutely know what you mean about the colour. For some reason this one
    proved an absolute bugger to scan, though the negative (it was Portra 160NC)
    seems fine. Being a snow leopard, there is naturally a lot less colour in
    the cat's fur than you would, other things being equal, expect.

    The lens was a 17mm fisheye. The eyes aren't truly angry: she was not
    really threatenting, just telling me, who she had been acting all goofy with
    a moment before, that she'd had enough and play-time was over. I expect I'd
    have got the threat if I'd pushed, but at the expense of upsetting her which
    I wasn't going to do. Same with the position of the face - she'd just moved
    to this position after being closer to the bars and waving her paws at me,
    and I grabbed this one as the last I took before backing off, without time
    to re-frame it. There's a big element of luck in a shot like this...

    Wrist duly whacked. I hope to get back to shooting specially soon - but now
    my uncle is ill, so who knows if I won't be rushing round after him. Just
    one thing after another!

    Bandicoot, Nov 9, 2003
  7. Al Denelsbeck

    Deathwalker Guest

    Deathwalker, Nov 9, 2003
  8. Al Denelsbeck

    Deathwalker Guest

    bloody hell i thought this was the troll! ;)
    Deathwalker, Nov 9, 2003
  9. Glad to hear that

    Tony Parkinson, Nov 9, 2003
  10. Al Denelsbeck

    Alan Browne Guest

    Al Denelsbeck wrote:

    Good comments as always, Al.
    Yes, I can... OTOH, I liked the OOF of the back guy, it is still clear
    where he is looking and that is anchored by the front player. Yes, it
    is cluttered. Teenagers rooms that aren't cluttered??

    Whack away, it's just electrons... the wages of dipping into the scanned

    Alan Browne, Nov 9, 2003
  11. Al Denelsbeck

    Leicaddict Guest

    One of my favorite photographer's William Klein put it this way, something
    to the effect, "A photograph should be as chaotic as life." This is a
    perfectly acceptable way of capturing the Decisive Moment as opposed to the
    Deliberate Moment. The thing I really hate about these half-assed
    critiques, is that they are done by those who know nothing about the history
    or styles, of photography. If you wish to explore a "way of seeing," then it
    should be encouraged. I for one, say, Alan, go for it.
    Leicaddict, Nov 10, 2003
  12. Al Denelsbeck

    garryac Guest


    Arh but Al, cut me some slack, mid september is hardly an archive
    *lol*... more of a long time in the camera

    garryac, Nov 10, 2003
  13. http://www.pbase.com/image/22883941
    Well, in this case you must just be old 'cause that's her actual
    hairstyle ... :)

    I really like doing shots like this where a distinct portion of the
    frame is the subject while the rest of it is out of focus.

    Michael Stevens, Nov 10, 2003
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