Discussion in 'Seeking Critique' started by dcstep, May 7, 2019.
Any and all critique welcome:
Enjoying The Beach by David Stephens, on Flickr
Superb image, like the composition, pov, colours and light. The dramatic sky adds so much interest and vitality to the scene, it could be the subject, very good. My only niggle is the watermark, I know you perhaps need to use it but could it not be a lot smaller, just tucked away in the very corner, it is quite distracting.
Nice sense of scale. My eye moves with the scene, especially drawn through the maze of clouds to the one strongest lit and most white. It draws you into the scene. The title is a letdown. There are many things going on here and many possible ways to feel this photo. “Enjoyment” seems shallow and to miss deeper connections.
The watermark stays. ;-). I make way too much money suing people that infringe my copyright to water it down. I tried discreet and it was ineffective. It's also in the EXIF and, over at Flickr, there's an additional disclosure. It's funny, but some people think that they can crop it out, but that just adds to the statutory damages. ($2,500 for removing, $2,500 for replacing it, $2,500 for publishing and greater of $2,500 or actual damages, if you sell it).It ays to Register you copyright). With it this big, no whining allowed when my attorney comes calling. Sorry if it distracts, but there are way too many thieves lurking.
Thanks very much. I'd love to hear suggested alternative titles.
I generally don’t title my photos, so my first recommendation would be not to title it. I understand you might want or need to, so my next suggestion would be to not lead the viewer into how he should feel or see the scene. This photo doesn’t say “enjoyment” to me so your title set up an adversarial relationship to me. Some titles appropriately lead the viewer somewhere. Others can be much more neutral. There’s a place for each. This photo strikes me as a place for a neutral title.
Thanks for the great feedback.
I never would have guessed that my title might be viewed as "adversarial." So, one of my favorite things in Florida is to stay on a beach, roll out of bed in the mornings and walk on the beach. I'm carrying my 800mm rig on one body and a wide-angle on the other body. I shoot the birds with one and everything else with the other. Anyway, I find that enjoyable. Interestingly, I originally titled this "Threatening Sky". I moved down to the water's edge to give the perspective that I enjoy for my walks, with my feet getting wet, but not getting too deep. Happily, diagonals convergerged from both sides, adding to the drawing power. Anyway, I decided against "Threatening Sky" because I felt it too limiting. I presume that the walker at the point of the converging lines is enjoying his walk. "Morning Walk" and "Inviting" are a couple of other descriptors that pop into my mind.
Please think hard and suggest something that this image says to you.
Oh, how about "Morning Walk" for a title?
What I mean by adversarial is that I was more conscious of threatening clouds, the isolation of the walker, the wide perspective and sense of space, the contrast of beach, ocean, and sky. Enjoyment would never have occurred to me so it felt like the title was fighting me.
Also, your enjoyment of taking the photo has little to do with what the photo shows. The walker could just as easily be mourning his dead sister as enjoying his walk, so I’d have no desire to project an emotion onto him. I don’t need a specific emotion imparted to the walker to appreciate what the photo has to offer. The emotional response I have is to the character of each element and those relationships. The walker is not close enough for me to get a read on his mood. The mood of the photo as a whole has more impact on me than the mood of the person, which remains unknown to me.
I still say title it the way you want. If the title seems off to me, I can compartmentalize that and shrug it off and still take the photo for what it is.
No title forthcoming from me.
Interesting feed back. Just to clarify, I enjoy walking on the beach as part of a mourning routine, the enjoyment isn't about taking the picture, that's only a part of the enjoyment. I could enjoy walking alone, with no equipment, although I might be bummed by all the missed shots!
Your idea of no title, is intriguing, but I think that's the easy way out. The clouds are such a commanding part of the image that, perhaps, my first title "Threatening Skies" was the wisest choice. I usually set titles by looking at an image and reacting, which is what I did with "Threatening Skies". Maybe I should stick with that. Thinking too much, I might have been tempted to bring in an element, "Enjoyment" which was contrary to the feeling that a person gets when they see those skies. I wasn't worried because there was no lightening and I wasn't far from cover if it did rain, but a viewer can't know that, without a lot of further explanation by me.
Thanks for the feedback. It causing me to think deeper about how I title my images.
Funny. For me it’s just the opposite. Titling tends to wrap a photo up in a bow, sort of neatly and quickly summarize it. Good photos are more complex than that. They suggest an array of responses and emotions and don’t have to zero in on specifics. Titles are often like Cliffs Notes. There are, of course, exceptions. Note how so many great artists title their photos matter-of-factly or with simple bits of info and, often enough it’s publishers and not artists who title things. “Moonrise Over Hernandez” gives me a location but doesn’t suggest a feeling or interpretation. Don’t know who gave it the title, but “Reflections of Clouds on the Water Lily Pond” doesn’t suggest how I should feel about Monet’s painting or how he felt about water lilies. It’s more a matter of a way to reference the painting or a cataloguing mechanism. On the other hand, Magritte’s “The Treachery of Images” or “This is Not a Pipe” is crucial to his painting and advances the surrealist issues at hand. Some of Brassai’s great photographs have titles like “Paris” and “Graffiti.” No emotional clues given.
Rather than taking the easy way out, I see the less obtrusive titles often employed by artists as the artists staying out of the way!
One of the worst things ever perpetrated on the music world was a critic, Ludwig Rellstab, deciding to title Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in C# minor The Moonlight, a few years after Beethoven’s death. Pop lyrics were even given to it at some later point. No longer will a lot of people let their imaginations roam beyond that title, which simplified the piece into cartoonish narrative of the coloring book variety. The only thing Beethoven added to the musical notes themselves, typical for that period of music, was vague instructions on how the first movement should be played, meant for the performer and not the audience, “quasi una Fantasia”, like a fantasy. Now, we can barely experience this great work without the imposition of some picture of the moon on an album cover, sentimentalizing what was a mere stepping stone to romanticism in the first movement leading to a lot of chaos and bombast by the third movement, where any relationship to the thought of moonlight is absurd. As a matter of fact, his one-word performance instruction for the last movement is “agitato,” agitated. Long gone by then is any sense of moonlight the piece was simplistically saddled with.
Wonderful! Thank you for the expanded insight and opinion.
You have me thinking along different lines, like "Clouds Over A Beach" or "Clouds Over Fernandina Beach" or "Lone Walker" or simply "A Beach."
I plan to continue using titles, since they're easy reference tools when others ask me questions about my thousands of images. Also, I think that, when properly considered, they add to the image. Still, I understand the potential conflict about trying to attach an emotion, or get too specific, as it may limit the viewers' interpretations in an unwarranted way.
I don't care about titles so yours doesn't bother me. The beach homes bother me though, it puts a time stamp on the image. The clouds, ocean and beach walker are nice and would make for a good image if the houses were not in the frame and recomposing accordingly. I like images that have a timeless feel to it and this would be with out the houses.
In reference to titles, I notice many photos displayed in museums (e.g. the gallery at Getty) have very generic titles, such as ‘Plate no. 39’. To some, this choice may appear unimaginative, but to me such generic titles often come off as an invitation to open a door. I agree with Sam that great photos are sometimes quite complex than a single viewpoint, and a generic title (or no title) may, in certain circumstances, do more justice to such images than a definitive one.
The web world equivalent of ‘Plate no 39’ is probably ‘Untitled-001’, since that’s how Photoshop names the exported jpeg images, if not specified. As for my own images, sometimes I add a title, sometimes I choose not to. It depends on my mood to some extent as well. To me, a title should be like poetry, with rhetoric, conundrum, sarcasm, humor, intrigue, wonder. One of my favorite titles is ‘The Starry Night’.
About the image, I think the clouds play a big role here, adding perspective, texture, contrast. The clouds also make the sky come closer to ground, like a canopy dipping in the middle. The photo also has an abstract quality due to the clean boundaries formed among the sky, the beach and the ocean, and these three entities, like the holy trinity, converge where the lone figure is. The figure itself is tiny, yet unmistakable. It’s power is in its placement at the confluence of three basic tenets of earthly life, the sky (or air), water and soil (sand).
To me, the picture has a fractal quality to it. Viewed at a distance, it appears simple yet fundamental, while looking closely, it reveals its complexity in the details, like a painting on a grain of rice.
Thank you. I really enjoyed your interpretation.
I'm still rolling title options around in my head, like "Man" or "Mankind". You have me thinking of this beach before mankind, which we actually can see, but then we also see the buildings, sea, sand, sky and a lone man.
Thanks to everyone for the wonderful feedback.
Dave, I'm sorry I'm so late to this party. Many interesting comments so far. I really like Supriyo's take. For me, when I'm using a UWA lens outdoors I try to get very close to my primary subject. In this case I found myself at first being put off by the lack of a close-by subject within the very wide field of view. On further consideration I've come to grips with the wide open nature of the image. For me this is about the sky and clouds more than anything else, and my eyes keep going back to those clouds, so it's good they occupy so much of the frame. Well done.
David, thanks. I think you "get it", at least what I was intending.
I've probably lived in the Mountain Time Zone too long, but I find these clouds anything but threatening. White and puffy with blue sky beyond is code for "a very nice day". As for titles, they can be very simply referential in an organizational way (I try to title my prints for the No Words forum with and approximation of the name of the thread plus the photo's original number), or they can frame the viewer's experience in a powerful way. I generally like AA's approach, but simplified. I rarely use adjectives in my image names, unless in an objectively descriptive way (Blue Chair). The more I look at this one the more I like it.
I Like this image simply because of the complexity of the sky and clouds. There seems to be a tidal line ion the sand that almost converges (but not quite) with the white water of the waves at the point where the lone figure stands and that goes a long way, in my eye, towards anchoring this shot. The rest of the earthly elements almost become irrelevant- I want to soar thru these clouds!
That said, I like the asymmetry of the image with the figure off center, and all the sight lines converging somewhere beyond where the person exists. It could almost become an analogy for an epic journey not yet finished, the end just in sight- attainable? or not.
As for titles, I think this title belies the enormity of this image. A title can easily restrict one from imagining what one will when viewing an image, especially one such as this. A title may be completely appropriate in another setting, say as in "Zabriske Point xxx", or "Portrait of Bob" or whatever but if one wants to title something like this there might well need to be as much of an imaginative effort involved in titling it, as in creating and. producing such an image, to find the right words that can lure a viewer into the shot without setting any expectations? :
Yeah, LOL. "Threatening" clouds in Florida are thunderheads, 50,000-feet tall. These are perfect for a walk on the beach.
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