I have just one question.

Discussion in 'Seeking Critique' started by michaellinder, Jul 19, 2021.

  1. Should I crop this image starting with the right edge and, if so, to what extent? My own inclination is not to crop at all. Thanks in advance. - - - michael

    lesser blue.jpg
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  2. IF THE BIRD WERE SHARP, I'd crop square, with the bird just left of center, looking into the image; however, the bird is Out Of Focus, so this should be thrown away, except if you want to document the siting.

    Wildlife and bird photography is my specialty. Unless you're going for specifically abstract, we go for tack-sharp images. In your image, it looks like the camera focused on the wooden screen behind the heron. Take control of your autofocus. Generally, we'll use something like an "expanded single spot" AF point and steer it over the bird's head. When deciding where to crop, we tend to favor the subject moving into the frame, so here, I'd crop with the subject to the left of the frame, as we look at it.

    In focus, moving into the frame, show environment, but it doesn't need to be a lot (usually):

    [​IMG]Heron Touches Water With Wing by David Stephens, on Flickr
  3. Concur with Dave's assessment.
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  4. I don't know what your intent was with this photo, Michael, but it doesn't seem to me like it has the makings of a typical nature bird photo. Seems like the potential, given the way you shot and the elements you included, would have been in other directions. The lighting, strong shadow, iron gate, and even the fence suggest possibilities more along the lines of Alfred Hitchcock, film noir, or Fukase's ravens, were the mood and atmosphere worked with in any number of different directions.

    Were some more moody or abstracted direction chosen and played out, I'd let the cropping fall into place after that.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
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  5. The bird is nicely highlighted against the dark partition behind it, it's a pity it's out of focus. Is it a rare bird, is it nearly extinct ?, out-of-focus wouldn't matter then. I'd love to have some blurry photos of a nearly extinct bird called the Regent Honeyeater, any photo at all would prove those birds are still in a certain location where they used to be sighted years ago around here.

    My taste for cropping your pic wouldn't be on the right side, but top and bottom. This eliminates some unwanted highlighted wooden structure at the bottom ... and a little of the trees and vegetation at the top of the image .... focusing more attention on the bird. The bird is gazing to the right, shortening the right side would lessen the effect of what it is gazing at, so to my mind, I think the right side is best left as it is.

    Bird on wooden rail.jpg
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  6. Not a rare heron.
  7. Not moving around either by the looks of things, which means of course that adequate time was probably available for focusing before taking the shot.

    Birds are not my specialty, I'm leaving that up to my wildlife camera at the moment, however I do have intentions of putting my longs lenses to good use, I've let them sit around doing nothing for too long. Covid is ensuring I can't do much, but from my window, maybe, there's a good variety of wild birds I can snap away at.

    "Currawong" (wildlife camera)

    Currawong copy.jpg
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  8. Huh?

    This is a critique Forum.
  9. Thanks, everyone. A much closer look led me to agree that the bird is oof. So I've concluded that the image is crap. OP is pretty much moot. However, picking up on Sam's last sentence, I've decided to crop it and to apply different treatment. Please don't feel obligated to comment on it unless you think that doing so is warranted.

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  10. I see some people do some really artistic things with nature photography, but this looks like applying a filter and moving some sliders. I don't know what to tell you to do, but this is not what grabs me. The abstract things that I see that I like, seem to take a lot of work, including painting over some parts, etc., but I'm not at all an expert in how to do that. This just looks like "distortion" to me.
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  11. David and Sam, this simply was an attempt to create an abstract image that included several realistic elements. After cropping from the right, using an impressionist brush, I tried to darken several areas that I felt would be constructive - below most of the fence, on the side of the fence, and the upper right corner, I used levels to add some highlighting on top of the fence and on the metal bars. Then I used the sharpening tool on a selective basis - mostly a bit on the bars and even less on the bird.

    Quite honestly, I'd be happy if either or both would give me credit for an old-fashioned college try. If you don't or won't, that's not going to ruin my day.
  12. Criticism of a result shouldn't be taken to mean that you weren't already given credit for trying. :)

    Speaking of college tries, when I was in college, I did a project for a film (as in motion pictures) class that the professor really liked. But, he had a significant criticism that stayed with me. He told me that, while the content of what I did and the ideas behind it were really impressive, the way I chose and used materials had more of a construction paper and Elmer's glue sensibility, more elementary school than college. He gave me an A, but said that the execution really undermined my efforts. I immediately recognized what he was talking about. It stung a little but ultimately didn't bother me, because I felt he was so genuine in both sides of his criticism. I didn't realize then that it would lead me to go forward, paying much more attention to how my projects looked and the degree of sophistication with which I approached creative execution. As he showed more and more films (mostly experimental, abstract films, not Hollywood fair), and I paid careful attention to how creativity was both allowed to fly free while at the same time being harnessed by taste, I was able not to mimic others so much as to learn from them.

    All I can advise is that you look carefully at what you produced and see if the construction paper and Elmer's glue sensibility my professor talked about rings a bell. If it doesn't, and you want to stand by your result, go for it. I sense David will agree with me when I say that my professor's description seems apt here.

    I do think the new composition, with a more sophisticated approach to post processing, has potential. It takes it more away from nature bird shot, which it never really could be, and more into the personal realm.
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  13. As Sam so often does, he says exactly the right thing to sum up my reaction.

    I'm not into abstract for my own work at all, but I admire some others that are. Here's one, that's also a painter and does mixed media:

    Everything Prairie

    Here's a shot from one of my friends, where she's taking a sharp image of a hawk and applying what's basically a "filter". I don't know her whole process, but I know that she shoot RAW, then converts to JPEG in DxO PhotoLab, working with Contrast and other levels and then she uses some sort of filter program. She's still in the early stages of developing her style:

    Angry Hawk

    I'd suggest that you find a few photography artists that you really like, figure out what media (programs) they're using and start trying to learn to use those tools. Photo.net is a great place to start looking for what you like. Also, Flickr and Instagram have a huge range of styles.
  14. "[H]e had a significant criticism that stayed with me. He told me that, while the content of what I did and the ideas behind it were really impressive, the way I chose and used materials had more of a construction paper and Elmer's glue sensibility, more elementary school than college. He gave me an A, but said that the execution really undermined my efforts. I immediately recognized what he was talking about. It stung a little but ultimately didn't bother me, because I felt he was so genuine in both sides of his criticism." Sam, this reminds me of an interaction with a philosophy professor during the time I was trying to earn a doctorate. I don't know what prompted him to utter the following. "That's either trivially true or interestingly false." I told him that I preferred the latter. Constructive criticism does not bother me; it never has. It never will.

    Here's my next version I fabricated it after thinking that it needed a better tonal spread and more color.

    bird composite.jpg
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  15. That re-work is much more satisfying to me. The problem with the bird being OOF melts away, while the added texture and color pleases the eye. The reds give it a real energy.
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  16. David, I'm grateful for the time you took to examine this image. This entire episode reminded me of the adage that one cannot transform a sow's ear into a silk purse. I have learned a valuable lesson from you and Sam.

    My best always, michael
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  17. If a professor of mine had said this to me, and I imagine I heard things similar to this, I'd have taken it as a suggestion to dig deeper, take my thinking or argument to the next level, and then the next after that.
    The story of the professor was more about the substance of his criticism than my acceptance of it.
    So, a comment on the two reworkings (and thanks for sharing them) ...

    The first, IMO, has more personal and creative potential and pushes the photo in a direction I think can work. But, it needs refinement of post processing and a step back and thought about where you want to take it. It seems to have the potential of a Japanese screen approach, and the color and feel of the right side shrubbery seems to lend itself to that sort of vertical landscape fantasy look. The more tightly-cropped composition involves me more, gives the vertical lines of the gate their due, and feels more intentional than haphazard, more like it's zeroing in on something.

    The second is more refined and much more "passable," though it's still an obviously filter-generated result, which often does not do much for me. But, looking past the filtering, I see the same original image, which doesn't seem very committed to me, letting the filtered stylization do most of the work rather than the image itself. Compare that to your first reworking, where you cropped it to a place where it stands much more on its own, though still wanting a conceptualized post processing treatment to support it (and not to do all the work).

    In the first reworking, I get more of a digitized feel. I think it went awry and needs refining, but I don't think it's a bad way to go if you find the right digitized look and go with your impulses but reign them in when they start crossing the line. So, while the second reworking is currently at a more palatable and "acceptable" level, I find it disappointing compared to the potential of the first reworking, which is a golden opportunity to let fly but also harness and refine your approach to post processing work.
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