Please Critique This Photo

Discussion in 'Seeking Critique' started by Ricochetrider, Nov 28, 2020.

  1. Thinking a lot lately about Hiroshi Sugimoto and a couple different photo series he did, one of them being his "Seascapes" series.
    Hiroshi Sugimoto - Seascapes

    Inspired by these photos to some extent, I've been going back through my photos to find any shots from any time spent near land's edges or out on open water, and this turned up. Originally shot (digitally) so probably at a 4:3 ratio, I cropped it to square and aligned it just so, up & down. I played with it in B&W but I believe it's most impactful in color; with its monochromatic color palette.
    I am pretty happy about it, but I'd love to know what everyone else thinks of it.
    Thanks, as always.

    luigiferrari likes this.
  2. This is a tough one! Definitely a color shot rather than B\W. The different blues demand it. Placement of the gull (guessing it's a gull) dead center just below that cloud bank is also right-on. The fainter and thinner clouds to the right and below add to the feeling of this image as does the open water below. It's as if one is actually there.

    Too bad there's so much space between those thinner clouds and the water, but fixing that would (I think) require some fancy editing and I'm not at all sure how well that would work.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  3. Hiroshi Sugimoto was new to me so thanks for the link! With his seascapes at the back of mind, I like this photo - especially the cloud formations and the way the gull's wings spread across a cloud bank. The composition for me consists of three parts: the sea, the middle-sky up to the gull's wings and the higher sky from the cloud bank upwards.

    Sugoto's seascapes are symmetric with the horizon splitting the photo in two. So one suggestion for you to try out is to crop a bit off the top and equal strips left and right to leave you with a 'higher sky' that is equal in height to the sea. That would give you a square photo with vertical symmetry in addition to horizontal symmetry (the gull)

    This is optional too but I think that - for the photo as a whole - the color and tonal range of the sea could perhaps be 'blended' better (in PP) with the sky. It would of course be less true to reality but add more 'harmony' to the photo. So two things to try out are:
    - add a color layer (sampled from the sky) to the sea in 'color' blend mode
    - lighten up the sea (curves) slightly to reduce the tonal contrast between the sea and the sky

    Both of these might help 'blend' the blues between the sea and sky.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  4. If I were trying to emulate Sugimoto, I'd leave out the gull and crop it with the horizon in the middle and add contrast to the sky, so the clouds are slightly more defined. I'd keep it in color. The gull really distracts for me, partly because it's right in the middle of the frame and partly because it's not a great picture of a gull, but it's too prominent to ignore.

    Why is there so much luminescence noise? Even before I look at it full-size, it looks grainy. There was plenty of light here, so it could have been shot at base ISO for the body you used. If you used film, then I think that you chose the wrong film.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  5. I assume when you say "inspired by" you don't mean you're trying to imitate him. With that in mind, I think it's an effectively-composed photo in that it conveys calm to me. The location of the gull, centered as it is and in a direct line at the base of the cloud line, gives a sense of still and quiet. There are Japanese elements at play there. I like all the negative space as it gives the eyes and mind room to wander. The vertical orientation works in lifting my eyes from the sea and horizon to the flight of the gull, still as he appears.

    One of the keys I find in Sugimoto's seascapes is a sense of mysticism/wonder. That's an evocation I think might add a layer to this kind of photo which, though it has many favorable aspects, seems to me wanting of that little something extra
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  6. HI everyone thanks for your comments. Admittedly this wasn't the best shot but I did some cropping and "enhancing" of it and ended up being reasonably pleased, enough soo that I posted it here. I was kind of fired up about it after spending a weekend along the Atlantic coastline in New Jersey, so I came home and had a spare minute to look thru al my photos to see if I had anything at all resembling a Sugimoto "Seascapes" image. I would never directly "copy" anyone's work, I happen to have a few shots I've taken over the ears tho, of seascapes and horizon shots similar to his work- mine having been shot long before I ever knew of his works. I guess I find some fascination in seemingly infinite views such as one may experience whilst looking out across open seas. Living inland, I don't often get to see "forever" type distances.

    At any rate, thanks to all of y'all, I sincerely appreciate you indulging me.
  7. I wouldn't rule it out. Early on, a mentor of mine suggested I do just that and it taught me so much. I It forced me to look extremely carefully, pay attention to the most minute details. and learn skills I didn't already have in order to accomplish the task. There is a long and solid history of one artist directly copying another, for all sorts of reasons, but learning is a great one. That doesn't mean you'll necessarily share it with anyone or put it in your first book of published photos, but you'd be surprised what an eye-opening experience it can be. It didn't lead me to go on copying, but it helped me to see better which eventually helped me develop my own vision, supported by a sense of history and connection.

    Gus Van Zant did it with Hitchcock's Psycho.

    Degas did a pretty verbatim copy of Poussin's The Rape of Sabine.

    And Sergio Leone got sued for A Fistful of Dollars because he copied so directly from Kurosawa's Yojimbo. Nevertheless, film critics consider them both masterpieces, though I don't recommend you try to sell your copies without getting legal advice. :)
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  8. "good artists borrow, great artists steal" it is a tired quote. but thinking about it and doing it never grows old. When I saw this image I saw Sugimoto and something different. I 'hijacked' the image for a bit play in post. Borrowing Sugimoto's predilection for long exposures I imitated it
    In post. . while leaving the bird untouched. it struck a chord for me. Different from Sugimoto but not transformative enough to call it original. Even so it opened a provacative door.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  9. Not bad! I'm not a technician. I just like photos that I like.This one I like! I can't explain it better than that unfortunately, but it's good!
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  10. As an individual photograph it's attractive enough but it might convey a lot more it it was part of a series.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  11. Well wow, thanks everyone.

    @samstevens thanks for your words on copying. It puts it in a whole new light, I would never have. considered it but I just bet it's tough to re-create my favorite artist's photos!
    @inoneeye, cool, I'd love to see your work on this, if you want to post it here, I'm 100% cool with that. If, not, I'm 100% cool with that too.

    To everyone, else, I appreciate your thoughts and commentary.

    @dcstep nailed it, this was a shitty photo that I winged out when I saw the gull. I could have shot it over my shoulder or under my leg for all I remember. Until I cropped it and enhanced it somewhat, it was total crap. For me this shot is all about the bird. As fuzzy and noisy as the photo is, somehow the gull is crystal clear. These are strange times, and my life has ben seriously impacted by this goddam virus. Up until recently it's been all fun & games, but now with winter coming on hard, it's beginning to wear on me. I soar vicariously through this floating bird on the wing.

    Meanwhile back at the proverbial ranch, I was down at the (Atlantic) ocean back in early November and shot this while thinking about Mr Sugimoto. It's a sunset, not a sun rise.


    Just for the fun of it, I converted it to B&W. I think I like both versions equally well.

  12. I quess I can break one of my self imposed rules....

    frankmercer and Ricochetrider like this.
  13. Hey, rules are made to be broken!
    I like it! Thanks for posting. May I keep it?
  14. It's yours ... As a long time fanboy of Sugimoto I will file the idea your photo gave me for future use. Have you had an oppurtunity to see his amazing prints?!
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  15. I've not seen anything up close, in person, no. I really appreciate his work. It seems each project stretches out for years, it's pretty impressive that he can get this idea then work on it for so long. I love his theaters photos; his seascapes are so ethereal. Now he's been working with pure color as seen through a prism, as you may know. I've gotten a lot of joy just out of watching his stuff in various places around the web, I would LOVE to see his prints in person.

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