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© © 2014 John Crosley, All rights reserved, No reproduction or other use without express prior written permission from copyright holder

'The Squatters' [B&W Ed.]


Software: Adobe Photoshop CC (Windows)


© © 2014 John Crosley, All rights reserved, No reproduction or other use without express prior written permission from copyright holder

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Besides the banks of the very, very wide Dnipro River as it runs almost

the entire length of Ukraine, bisecting it, is the former aircraft and missile

city of Dnipropetrovs'k, and during Soviet times a 'closed city' to

outsiders. Now open, Ukraine's fourth largest city with over 1 million

inhabitants, and here, during a time of transition, from dilapidation to

renewal a while ago, squatters had taken over and were living in the

basement of a building under renovation (see new vinyl doorways and

windows) near a major shopping mall in downtown Dnipropetrovs'k's

center. Your ratings, critiques and observations are invited and most

welcome. If you rate harshly, very critically or wish to make a remark,

please submit a helpful and constructive comment; please share your

photographic knowledge to help improve my photography. Thanks!

Enjoy! john

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Classic picture, John, the postures of the various individuals in the picture are very expressive and revealing: the woman hurriedly on her way somewhere; the two men with nowhere to go.. I do wish that second window weren't quite so large and close to her head but that's life in the world of the street photographer.
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I came across this the other day from quite some time ago after being archived shortly after I posted the color version.


When I came across it in my first photos, I decided it had been overlooked as a B&W classic, just as you said.


One thing it's 'threes', a 'classic' compositional device I had been touting at the time.  The 'two men are actually a man and a woman (woman in basement), and the 'window' you complain about, actually is a door, with no stoop due to remodeling, at least I think so, though I never saw this scene again.


Some scenes grow and are seen better with age and experience - you take scenes by the thousands and experience shows as a photographer you cannot do better, and that's the case here, basically.


I would love to 'see' a scene like this which I staked out from an opposite door stoop, causing the squatting couple to look at me askance - which is shown here.


Best to you, and thanks for the kind remark and evaluation.




John (Crosley)



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Good thing I expanded this one,  or I would not have noticed the two gentlemen in the background. Great street shot.

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I think you have hit precisely on the reason it is low-rated.  Too subtle.  


I'm loathe to hit viewers over the head with a hammer. however.  It's now one of my least appreciated 'classics'.  ;~))


Thanks for the compliment.





John (Crosley)

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very good timing and "object" location - maybe I would move camera more tothe right side.

a BW classic.



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Thanks for the compliment.


I'm not sure I can envision, 'camera to the right' -- I'll think about it.


Thanks for the suggestion.


Best wishes.




John (Crosley)

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Evocative image. Contrasts between the people brings out your vision of the scene.  The only suggestion I could make would be to lighten the faces of the squatters just a smidge. Good eye to see & capture this one.


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What a kind evaluation, and I like your suggestion.


In fact I tried to lighten the faces but ran into a problem with pixellation and noise that I could not overcome, since this was taken with a very small megapixel camera that would not stand the face lightening process. Its sensor just had too little dynamic range which makes me very pleased with today's more modern cameras.  This was taken with a 'first generation' digital camera and on a high ISO, but as you can see, you don't need 'third generation' or later cameras to make an evocative and mysterious capture.


I note that raters don't seem to share the opinion of you and other three commenters above, who seem to hold this in high regard -- a rare divergence for a system that otherwise seems to work pretty well.


Best to you, Rick, and thanks.




John (Crosley)



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I seldom rate as you know but on this one I did and gave it a 3. Any photo which if my own I'd not print because of its low aesthetic properties (as you yourself point out) because of the camera is not worthy of posting. From my own experience in the "real world" the photo is way over rated.

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This was taken with an older camera with less dyanamic sensor range which I noted, but in no way did I denigrate it as a less than worthy photo.


Three of the above very enthusiastic commentaters have called it a street 'classic', and I happen to agree.


I'd be proud to have taken this with any camera, and only note that a very modern digital camera with increased sensor dynamics would have allowed for face lightening, but I am not sure that was called for; it may be better to keep those faces more dark.  Many film captures of great value and worth have substantially more grain than this has digital 'noise', too.


It works against browsers clicking on it, and some photos we note are not clickable because they are not apparent in thumbnail, but that is the way this format works; wonderful photos may be overlooked because they depend on details that can't be fathomed on thumbnail view and thus are overlooked.  It's a fault of the 'thumbnail first' viewing system.


It wouldn't be that way in a gallery or museum.


If you're of the f64 and everything must be technically perfect school, which from comments and correspondence, I think you are, then this may be a failure, but I'm not from that school.  I look to 'story' and 'composition', then to see if the photo is viewable.


My most viewed photo with over 1/4 million clicked views is mostly blurry, and two of my other two wonderful (my opinion) photos have blurs and substantial color pixellation issues which seem to enhance the photos rather than denigrate them.  They've been well received, and I count them among my successes.


There are no standards for ratings, so you may rate as you wish, but here you may be swimming against the stream, and your very low rate may be what's holding down the average here, together with the fact that it is not printed to show well in thumbnail, which is my personal choice and a function of the capture and the site.



John (Crosley)

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I have reviewed your entire portfolio.

I note that your style of 'street' and my style of 'street' seem very much different, as do the people that inhabit the photos.


I am not surprised that you do not appreciate this photo, and say nothing more.




John (Crosley)

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And I think that the photo should not be dependent on the quality of the camera - the story or is there, or it is not . There is a story - it means that there is a photo.

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Things in Dnipropetrovsk, particularly a decade ago, were not so rosy as Kyiv, and maybe the same for the rest of more rural Ukraine, but the good news is Dnipropetrovsk has a huge shopping center and the center of the city has been mostly renewed and is very habitable; scenes like this were transitory.

It is gloomy, but one cannot ignore life's underbelly when one takes 'street' photos; for that's when life's 'contrasts' are most apparent.


Fortunately one no longer can take this scene, to my best knowledge in Dnipropetrovsk, but I wonder about other, smaller towns in Ukraine, for this was taken before the great prosperity, then came the big bust which has not ended and is getting worse because of civil war and the local currency's 50% deflation.


However, life goes on, and except in the East of Ukraine, you'd not know a war was going on, at least in Kyiv now.


I agree with your second statement; the quality of the camera has far less to do with the making of a photo than the story -- a point I tried to make with the naysayers above.  Thank you for your support.


For those who have not been to Ukraine, let me say this is a very rare scene, perhaps no longer possible to capture -- at least in the city where taken.


Thanks Svetlana




John (Crosley)

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I appreciate your response to my comment.


Above our comments Hans-Peter commented and my comment on quality, if you go to his biography page, is explained better than I can explain.


An image may look passable on a computer monitor but falls apart in the enlarged print. 


In my own experience quality nearly always overrides subject content


If one cannot get the print past the gallery curator, sell it as stock, get it into a contest even hang the print on the wall in your home, etc. then what good is the photo beyond posting on photo.net.


Best of both worlds is the best.

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I do not fault the camera per se as I think I said above.


I have made a few large format prints (330 mm x 480 mm) 12"  x 18", of photos taken a decade ago with a Gateway DC-T50 6 mega pixel point and shoot.  A great little camera. Easy to carry in the pocket.


And so, I do not attribute the flaws in this photo to the price of the camera.


See attachment taken with this point and shoot.

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First generation digital cameras that you allude to were/are excellent cameras. I attended a Cannon Promotional show in about 2000 and was amazed with the results with the Canon Digital SLR. 


However their cost was about $15,000.  Was several years before the price of a digital SLR came down to "affordable" to the nonprofessional.



Your high ISO I surmise comes about from zooming in to maximum (probably 250 mm from across the street which slows the lens down to about 5.6 -hence high ISO needed.


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While I fully understand your discourse on 'first generation' professional vs. 'prosumer' or 'consumer' digital SLR cameras, this D70 was my first digital camera, and I did not fully understand its functions, even for a long time.


I did not have to increase ISO at all because shooting at a telephoto distance.  I was shooting a f2.8, I think and could have 'opened up' quite a bit, slowed the shutter speed considerably, and still had a well exposed capture, while still keeping my shutter speed fast enough to prevent blurs, and then some.


What I find in reviewing my early captures that in many, I preset the ISO at 1600 and did not readjust -- just a 'stupid' or 'not smart' thing to do, when seeking highest quality.


I knew better, too, because I had decades of using film or exposure (If you will) to film captures and well knew their properties, including ISO/ASA/DIN properties, and when to use high-speed film, and when not too, both transparency and black and white and the hybrid -- color film that yields black and white captures because it's processed through color chemicals, and yielded pretty good results, (but then why not shoot transparencies and just desaturate, which now I have been doing for almost a decade.)


No, Meir, this is NOT a defect or a shortcoming of the D70, but a shortcoming or lack of foresight of me, the photographer, in failing to set, then keep resetting the ISO.


Aother thing:  I simply did not discover that the D70 had 'easy exposure' controls through pushing a button then rotating a knob, to override the meter setting, and assumed one had to use 'manual' to adjust controls.  


Although frankly I didn't lose a lot of overexposed or underexposed shots because of that, in part because lots of my shots were in daylight and easily read situations, as I acquired many of my vast number (ultimately) of D300s and other cameras, I discovered the control, and then was red-faced I hadn't been more inquisitive and assumed the 'apparent' lack of such a control was a D70 shortcoming.


I felt quite foolish.


But you can't go around feeling foolish for every shortcoming or mistake that you make -- they're learning experiences, unless you're in charge of astronauts and space or moon shots where lives are at stake.


Thanks for the tutorial, but didn't need it.  Still enjoyed it, inapplicable as it was.  It might have been that I was shooting with a simpler, cheaper, slower zoom (I'm too lazy to read the EXIF info attached), but its max aperture even fully extended still would have left me plenty of room for a lower ISO and plenty fast shutter speed.




John (Crosley)

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I think 'flaw' is the wrong word to use to describe this photo, as in my mind it's 'excellent - near the epitome of the craft and art as I seek.


I would describe it as 'not meeting its full reproduction potential, especially at larger sizes, because of the 'digital noise' issue mostly on the two faces, but note two things.


1.  I have from time to time when wealthier employed (not for posting) photoshoppers, who used their own plug-ins who basically would make the 'digital noise' or 'pixellation' disappear.


2.  I am not sure that the 'digital noise' doesn't add to the capture rather than detract.


It may detract if inspecting it close up and need some final finishing before posting in a gallery or museum, just for the faces to make them appear more 'natural' and less 'selected' even without removing the 'digital noise', but I am not sure that the 'digital noise' needs to be removed.


And as stated above, there are plug-ins with 'smoothing' that will take care of that pretty well and not detract.


I don't use them, because their use should be left to the choice of a gallerist or museum curator who has final say on what gets displayed and how about such fine points.  I don't tend to know how use of such 'plug-ins' affects salability and suspect there are varying opinions, so I leave our their use keeping their final use optional.




John (Crosley)

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Nobody remarked so I will.


The caption (title) is 'The Squatters' meaning people who illegally occupy a dwelling.


It also means one who squats.


This man, center, is squatting physically, and is legally a 'squatter' by occupying with his mate the dwelling.




John (Crosley)

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John, I am only trying to explain to Svetlana that I did not mean to say that the quality of the photo is dependent on the "price" of a camera. Inexpensive cameras now days including "point and shoot" are capable of taking good quality photos.


My original remark inferred otherwise.

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When I wrote "first generation" I referred to the Nikon D1 class coming out in 1999 which preceded your D70 by 7 years (2006). Cannon too came out in the late 90's with digital.  The cost of these was around $15,000. 


I went digital in 2006 but continued to shoot film also until I finally stopped shooting altogether. 

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