Discussion in 'Seeking Critique' started by dcstep, Jan 9, 2020.
Searching? by David Stephens, on Flickr
Nice use of selective focus afforded by the thin DOF at 1200mm! The person at the far left middleground draws my eye too much and because of the way she's facing leads it out of the image. Same, to a much lesser extent with the person on the far right. Also wish there was no overlap between the foreground person and the man behind him.
Lastly, the horizon is tilted severely.
I like for reasons I find difficult to articulate.
Here is a quick and dirty fix for Dieter's problems:
but I'm not sure it isn't somehow less interesting than your original.
Thanks Dieter. LOL, in that I knew about the horizon, but wanted to preserve the woman on the left and the person on the right! I think that the person on the right is entirely neutral, but I like the thought that the woman on the left may be choosing to search elsewhere. Maybe I should create a false, level horizon... My eyes go out and then come back.
Thanks JDMvW. I think that it loses some mystery in your "corrected" version. Also, you left the horizon crooked. ;-(
See my comments above, in response to our friend Dieter.
The original, uncropped version is more in the moment, more textured, and has more of a story and movement, so I much prefer it. That being said, I find the focus dominating the scene. I'd prefer this photographic expression of selective focus to support the content and, here, I find it dominating instead. I'm too conscious of it. This may have been a scene where no one person needed to be isolated as the "subject." The beach crowd each doing their things yet in a connected way would probably still have allowed the guy with the dog to be featured but in a more stream of consciousness and integrated way.
The bottom line, it seems to me, is that you want to draw attention toward and not away from the man. That's the basis for Dieter's comments, I think. You could do this a bunch of ways. It's not just a matter of whether to include things; it also depends on brightness and contrast.
I straightened the horizon. That forces a crop that pretty much necessitates getting rid of the woman on the left. I would anyway, as there is no way to avoid her drawing the eye away from the man. Then I dodged the subject to make him stand out more (probably should have done this more) and burned the guy on the right to make him stand out less and be less of a draw to the eye.
I see the man and dog as observers. They're the only ones not looking down for something (sea shells actually). Like we, they are observers. Isolating them was intended. I didn't consider putting them slightly OOF and perhaps I should have tried that also. I could have focused just in front or behind them, but I think that would lessen the clarity of my intent, to make them stand out from the others. My method usually includes alternative interpretations and I didn't even think of that. Using a 1200mm rig makes it hard to moderate the OOF vs. in focus. It's BANG, in focus or BANG OOF! The DOF here was probably only a few inches and I was smitten by the "affect" in this kind of unintended usage for that rig.
Still, thanks for looking and sharing your thoughts, as always.
Thanks for your new interpretation. I see your points.
Still, I don't see the man and dog as the subjects. Instead, it's the scene and all the people searching, with the man and dog, in clarity, observing. Taking the woman and the man out of the image weakens my interpretation, I think. Still, a sloping horizon is one of my own cardinal rules, that I would only violate 1 in 10,ooo images. Tonight, when I get to my image computer, I'll play with different crop ratios to see if I can level the horizon and save those other, disturbing to some, elements. I like the dissonance of, "What are they looking for" and "Where are they looking", that I think is missing or weakened when they're cropped out. What's wrong with leading the eye out of the image, away from the man and dog, which are not the "subjects?" Not arguing, just conjecturing.
Tonight, I'll try a 2:1 crop, right over the head of the woman on the left, leaving her in, as well as the man on the right. That obscures what's left of the horizon and I can add some ocean in for further obfuscation.
I don't think Straitening the horizon force a crop.
Nothing at all. Just as there's nothing wrong with the much more dynamic horizon in your original than a level horizon will provide. There's a great diagonally-oriented triangle formed between the horizon line and the coastline which has a lot of good energy. And, even if you considered the man and dog subjects, there's nothing wrong with a narrative that moves the eye out of the frame as well.
However, though you may not think of the man and dog as "subjects," I think I'm experiencing ... and sensing that others are as well ... that by the focusing you've employed most viewers will be led to seeing them as subjects. I don't think you can convince viewers by explaining your intent to them. You would have to consider communicating it visually, perhaps differently than you had originally thought would work or were originally moved more reflexively.
Hey, the guy in front of the dog guy lost his head! That may be even more surreal than a tilted horizon!
Speaking of that now headless guy, he's just where he should be, not set up to be in a more "proper" visual position but rather more spontaneously right where he was, in a more dynamic relationship and connection to the observer.
Not my problems - and not a fix of them even if they were
Having played with the image a little more, I have to agree. Both the person on the right and the person on the left are needed for the image to work. While the woman on the left draws the eye immediately out of the image, it comes back and can do the left-to-right sweep from one anchor point to the other.
Cropped to 16:9 (panoramic suits the image anyway) corrects the crooked horizon and keeps the people left and right.
If I were to do this again, I might move the crop up a litte, eliminating a bit from the foreground and showing a bit more sky. Alternatively, adding canvas on top to go back to 2:3; filling in the missing sky is easy.
I tried flipping the image horizontally - it eliminates my issue with the woman leading the eye out of the image, I have completed my left to right sweep by then anyway. But overall I think the flipped composition is weaker:
LOL. Thanks for that.
Dieter, thanks for these alternatives. I particularly like the first re-crop.
It amazes me how much difference the flip made. I MUCH prefer the original, but can't really explain why that should be the case.
So I'm thinking about Sam's suggestion a lot, but I think that the image is stronger with the man and dog in focus. Yes, they are super sharp, while all the rest are not. Hence, your eye goes to them first, but their proportion to the rest of the image is such that I think that you then explore the whole image. The woman on the left pulls you out and then you come back in and notice that EVERYONE has their heads down, looking for something. I look back and the man and dog and see that they're not looking down, but out at the whole scene. The contrast is HUGE, I admit, but that has me thinking, "Is he different?" Would putting them OOF clarify the story? Maybe I can try that tonight.
I was thinking NOT that the man and dog could also be out of focus but that the rest of the shot could have been more IN focus. Nothing I thought could be accomplished now with the given image. Just what I thought would have hit me more effectively had it been shot differently.
It's not that I don't look around the rest of the picture, it's just that it's mostly just a blur I don't pay detailed attention to because it's so amorphous. The detail that's important to you, that everyone else is looking down, is to a great extent obfuscated by the blurring, which to this viewer is more just an impression of other people on the beach than a contrast of such detail from the guy with the dog. And, even though my eye does look around, there still doesn't feel to me to be integration. The photo leads me to think what matters is the guy with the dog and the rest is surrounding atmosphere (clearly, people, but simply as part of the environment).
Could be one of several reasons.
The first I can think of is that Western civilization mostly reads left to right so our eyes are more used to starting from the left and the guy and dog seem to be the starting point. Of course, lighting and other compositional elements can override this and make our eyes move in all sorts of directions but, to me, there's a strong sense of movement out from the guy and the dog and it feels more strange for that to be from the right. Now, if I were a better reader of Hebrew, I'd probably feel very differently!
The second is that I wonder if our first orientation toward images we take doesn't generally feel more "right" and it's simply hard to switch that orientation at will.
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