Photo of the Week - #1 - 9/20/21

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by samstevens, Sep 20, 2021.

    • Photo of the Week is a member-run feature.
    • The photo is randomly chosen from a pool of submitted photos.
    • It is posted anonymously. If photographers wish, they may identify themselves in a comment.
    • This is not my photo.
    • Comment on and discuss the photo or any aspect of it in whatever way you choose.
    • If you wish to submit a photo, please PM me with either an embedded photo or a link to one. Include a title if you want one to appear. It will go into the pool and eventually be posted anonymously as a Photo of the Week.
    * * *
    This is a photo of the remains of an old wheat farm in southeast Idaho. Smoke in the air is from far off western wildfires.
  1. Strong angular shapes in the barn and on the ground contrast with the strong and more fluid shapes in the sky. In colour, I feel it's very much a picture of two halves and I'd like to see a monochrome version that might have more 'coherence'. Perhaps with the tones of the barn lifted slightly to reveal the planking more clearly.
    mikemorrell and Glenn McCreery like this.
  2. WJT

    WJT Moderator

    The crepuscular rays are a nice touch and I like putting the horizon low to give that big sky feel. I agree with the previous comment about increasing the tones of the foreground. I realize this is a strongly backlit scene but having the values of the foreground so low makes it, to me, recede a little too much.
    Glenn McCreery likes this.
  3. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Not commenting in any way about the technical aspects, something which I generally do do: one interesting element that struck me was the image is sucking my Viewer's Eye into the large mass of sky in the background.

    This made me ask - "what's the story here?"

    My response was, 'this not so much the story of "an old wheat farm in southeast Idaho" but rather raising questions about what is beyond "the remains" .'

    I wonder if that is anywhere near what the Photographer had in mind for this story, or if there was any story at all?

    It made me think about rural areas I know and how many are simply "remains" and there is not much beyond that.

    mikemorrell and Glenn McCreery like this.
  4. Where is everybody?
    Most of us probably have been drawn to similar seens somewhere in our collection of an often encountered scene that draws us in, when road tripping. The ones that stand out for me require a unique voice & touch... an individuals interpretation. The encounter of a place like this has power to touch us in special ways. Mystic, awe, euphoria, curiosity ... whatever. The difficulty is imbuing the chosen emotional or intellectual experience if you want others, viewers to also share that experience or be captivated or invested. Here I see a document that lays on the surface & sucks me into the sky and I wonder if that was the intent... as a scrapbook memory.
    It could be...
    Reminds me of what motivated me to get my 1st camera. I was shown a travel scrapbook of a travel diary with photos. The images were mesmerizing to me. It wasn't until i tried to create my own that i understood that the scrapbook i had seen was more than a question of locations, timing and opportunity.
    Glenn McCreery likes this.
  5. I agree. See this week's "Wednesday Landscapes" in the Landscape forum for a monochrome version.

    This was a composite image, combining one exposure for the sky and one for the foreground.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
  6. I have a 'thing' for pictures of dilapidation and decay - usually with an emphasis on nature reclaiming it's realm. However, this picture doesn't tell that story. More one of desertion. As if the people involved have simply walked away, gone into hibernation or just given up.
  7. Thank you for your thought provoking comments, Michael and Rodeo Joe.

    I was mostly attracted to the graphic elements of this scene rather than trying to tell one of several possible stories. One background story is that the remnants of the old wheat farm are in the middle of a very large modern operating wheat farm. I would like to think that the old equipment and cabin are kept as a tribute to the way farming was done many decades ago. This would be quite different than Rodeo Joe's comment that (the photo appears) "As if the people involved have simply walked away, gone into hibernation or just given up." I have never run into anyone around the site to ask them. Either no one is in sight or the fields are full of working wheat combines and hauling trucks, and I do not want to be on the miles long one lane dirt access road with a combine heading my way! I would like to ask if this is a family run farm and the old cabin is where the present owner's forbearers lived. I think that a series of photos would tell this story better than a single image, although a photo of the old farm remnants with a wheat combine working in the background might be good one. I probably will not have an opportunity to take such a photo because of the stated access problem.

    Another more subtle story is the lingering wildfire smoke in the air. The smoke is what defines the crepuscular rays and fills the background canyons. A week earlier and the smoke would have been so pervasive that it would have completely obscured the background mountains.
  8. Thank you for your comments, WJT.

    One problem that I have with posting photos on is that what looks good in Photoshop often looks too dark in, especially shadows. I often need to go back and forth a couple of times between Photoshop and to get an image to look good when posted on Using a light gray background in Photoshop, rather than the bright white background in, explains much of the perceived difference. Brightness and contrast of my monitor may also be part of the problem. I actually increased shadow brightness in this photo from what looked appropriate in Photoshop for what I posted in I recall that samstevens has talked about this problem in the past.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
  9. This hits upon a theme of photography itself. The photographer, as much as and sometimes more than the facts, determines what a photo shows/says. Put another way, facts and photographer, together, help determine a photo.

    I can understand the attraction to the graphic elements of the scene and I think not trying to tell one of the possible stories suggests a more abstract approach here. It helps me to think of this as a vision of the scene and for the photo more than wanting a narrative.

    The comments so far have helped me see why I felt caught in the middle of something. There are dramatic elements which lead me to what appeared like a narrative, one I was unsure about because of the graphic elements more hidden in the shadow of the land.

    Whether anyone's narrative suits the photo or the photographer or the facts of the situation is less important to me than that's what the photo stimulated. So here is an opportunity to more carefully consider what the photographer wanted/intended and the steps that might be taken to realize that. I find some of the above comments very helpful in already starting to lay out an approach that could highlight the graphic elements of the scene.
    mikemorrell and Glenn McCreery like this.
  10. Rodeo Joe, to me the image should be in monochrome. taking the position that the image should be monochrome. My intuitions tell me that the subject matter lends itself more to abandoned structure, a tire leaning against it, and farming tools that seem to be in disrepair. I see the full color original as allowing a viewer to be distracted by the landscape in the BG.
    mickeysimpson and Glenn McCreery like this.
  11. To repeat from the landscape forum. old farm antelope road composite 2 BW -s.jpg
  12. I have two questions that lean toward the more technical side …

    Is there lens distortion in the cabin? I feel like there may be as my eye travels to the right side of the cabin.

    Above the main dark cloud, the sky itself echoes that darkness but feels extreme. Sometimes it surprises me how lighting can appear so strange and even unnatural. Did this area of sky get exaggerated somewhere along the way or was it this strong to start out?
    Glenn McCreery likes this.
  13. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I am looking forward to Glenn's answer/comments on this point. And whether it annoys others.

    My view is the front wall of the cabin is skewed, however, the EF24 to 105/4L IS at the 24mm end, requires exact levelling of the lens's axis to the ground line to avoid sloping (inverted keystone distortion) exacerbating barrelling, at vertical lines near the edge of the image.

    Pertaining to my comment, my EF 24 to 105/4L IS is my favourite take everywhere lens, even with its limitations.

    mickeysimpson and Glenn McCreery like this.
  14. Images like this simply demand to be b&w, color is a distraction to me at least. This one does nicely without color and while the tonal range is good and could be better, the distortion in the building strikes me as simply what happens to old structures.

    Rick H.
    michaellinder and Glenn McCreery like this.
  15. I see what you mean. I may have overdone the contrast in the black and white version. I think that I used a red filter in Photoshop to accentuate the clouds. The color version is more accurate in this respect. I always tend to make clouds more dramatic in black and white photos - my Ansel Adams influence.

    I took this photo at 24mm focal length with my Canon 24 - 105mm L lens. Although hand held, the camera was reasonably level side-to-side, but pointed upwards a bit to include more clouds. The image was processed in Canon Digital Photo Professional software using Digital Lens Optimization before transferring to Photoshop. No cropping or image rotation were used.

    Looking at other photos taken from the same vantage point but with the cabin more centered, the cabin wall still looks tilted, so I conclude that it really is tilted, although perhaps not as much as shown in the photo due to the keystone effect that William refers to. This is something that I never noticed while just standing there looking at the scene. If I adjust vertical perspective in Photoshop, I can "correct" the tilt.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2021
  16. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks. On that technical point, I appreciate the detail, I thought that was the situation and usually I am pedantic about these matters, especially more critical of my own endeavours knowing that particular lens as well as I do.

    However, this doesn't create any issue whatsoever with my Viewer's Eye when I am looking at your image.

    Glenn McCreery likes this.
  17. I like the B&W version better, for the reason earlier stated; it has greater cohesion between foreground and sky. However, I still think the sky dominates, and tears the viewer's attention away from those geometrical elements. Is it 'a picture of a stunning sky with an incidental foreground' or 'an interesting arrangement of objects with sky as backdrop'. For me it's the former, and I feel it could be more.

    Maybe I've got used to wide-angle 'distortion', but the lean in the barn doesn't worry me. A painter would have automatically rendered the RH side of the barn near vertical, and it's things like that that set a photograph apart from painting and drawing. Perspective is generally rendered, technically, more accurately by the lens/camera, but when translated into two dimensions our brains seem to deny that distance perspective (diminishing toward a vanishing point) operates equally in both the vertical and horizontal axes.

    Obviously our forebears thought the effect irritating enough to invent the rising-front and shift lens, but maybe we need to re-educate our vision instead?

    Off topic? It's amazing where a simple discussion of one picture can lead!
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2021
  18. I prefer the color version, although the monochrome version is fine too. I appreciate the golden edges to the clouds and the blue of the distant hills - things that are lost in a B&W version. The barn is a little dark, and perhaps lifting the shadows there might improve it somewhat, but too much and it will look manipulated.
  19. old farm sky antelope road composite 3 s.jpg

    Here is a color photo of just the sky and mountains taken within a minute or two of the original.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2021

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