Old Trick

by Chong Steve

old trick seeking critique chong steve

Gallery: Conceptual

Tags: seeking critique

Category: Uncategorized

Published: Tuesday 5th of November 2002 02:50:55 PM


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Real passion real photography. AMAZING

Scott Bulger
Thanks for the complete description. It's an invaluable learning tool. The image is fantastic. Graphically strong yet simple. Well thought out and set up. Top notch work.

Marc Frant
You spent time ... You spent time to take the photo, you spent time to explain, thus you deserve that we spend a little bit of our time to comment ... and concgratualte !!!!!

Craig Winsor
Wonderful! The only improvement I can suggest is that I would have liked to see her hands with out the cracked paint. Not sure if that is possible, but maybe experiment with different paints or body latex. That is if you can get your sister to do it again. :-) Great job!

steve champagne
Nice work!

Sara Bilge
Boring cliche.

Marc G.
Bravo !! Fabulous image...

7+7 I like the way you photographing. My respect to the painted hands of your sister and ,of course, the 50 bucks:-)

Jay Dixon
Its alright. 7's

Steve Patterson
Great idea and execution...the color are wonderful. And thanks for the detailed info on how you took the shot.

Theresa Robertson
Amazing Steve, I have just looked at your folder am thrilled to see someone that tells his tricks. I am hoping to take a photography class soon but in the mean time I can use some of your tips to get me started. Thanks for taking the time to tell us step by step. Great eye and great colors!

Marco Carbone
Nice. You have a creative mind. I do not know why someone says boring! At least they could have the manners to explain why. :-(((

Chuck Christiansen
once again, fabulous! Steve, you're work is consistently my favorite on photo.net, and your explanations of technique are very valuable. Keep it up! I look forward to seeing a lot more from you!

Maybe you could call it "equilibrium" :)

Nejat Talas
I have this image printed out on my wall... enough said? :)

Marc G.
Your best, I think. Regards.

Baldur Birgis

Helmut Schadt
kreatif sekali! excellent work......... Steve,glad to meet you here too, I just started here, so still have to adjust. kind regards, Helmut

Ghinita Leontin

I remember I saw this photo for the first time in PHOTOmagazine Romania and it was number 16 from july-august 2006. Your works caught my eye. Mr. Chong, you are doing an excellent work. Best wishes, Leontin. 

Junilo Ugo
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong great photo and photo's thank you much for adding so much technical details on this picture and the rest of your folders, i wish sometimes more photographers would spend more time explaining their methods in technical details..........lovely job :-)

Bobby Hasty
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong This is excellent, being in the construction feild for years ive used these plumb's on many occasions. This is a very original and an artistic image no dought, great work Steve and love your portfolio. robert...............

Dennis Dixson
Plumb crazy. Little Jack Horner Sat in a corner, Eating a Christmas pie; He put in his thumb, And pulled out a plum (bob), And cried What a good boy am I. All my plumbs are brass and every time I have used them there has been a substantial wind blowing causing the thing to swing like a monkey in a tree. I really like the red plumb bob (I am jealous) and the white painted hands. What ever made you think of that, other than wanting to torment your sister? I agree with everyone in their praise of including technical details, that is a refreshing change. You can also measure angles quite nicely by combining the plumb bob with a protractor (sight along the bottom of the inverted protractor with the string anchored to the center point and resting lightly against the scale). For me this photo falls into the category of a photo illustration, where I would imagine it being used in a newspaper or magazine to accompany an article. An apple on a string (or a plum) would have worked as well. These type of photos are not my cup of tea but I do admire the thought and effort that went into making it. I think red fingernail polish might have been an interesting variation on this theme. Dave Nitsche (id=418398) comes to mind as the local photo.net master of these type of shots. It sounds like the purpose of this shot is to satisfy the photographers fascination with this particular object by applying his own personal vision to the subject at hand. That sounds like the innocent beginnings of pure photographic worship to me but I prefer the mystery of random found objects in their natural environment for the real spiritual essence of photography. Thank goodness everyone here is tolerant of each others passions.

Phil Ackley
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Hi Steve, You and I hve talked about this photo in depth before, so I don't have anything new to contibute to this discussion, but I did want to take a moment to congratulate you on having the POW. It's weel earned.

Dennis Dixson
The straight and narrow way. After pondering the mysteries that motivate photography a bit more, I have concluded that my previous ramblings were pretty much on target. There really does appear to be a religious connotation to this photograph. The hands appear to be in a posture that would suggest worship and the red plumb bob appears to be magically suspended from the heavens. I think the plumb bob represents a heart and in that sense the essence of life. I suppose other groups such as the Masons have other connotations for these symbols but I am thinking the perfectly vertical line goes straight up to an invisible heaven and perhaps the red plumb bob is pointing to the other destination.

Juan David Martinez
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Steve, Great photograph. I love the symmetry as the plumb cuts the photo in half and the hands follow suit. Great colors, razor sharp. Keep it up!

Landrum Kelly
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong This is the second PoW with a plumb bob in it, I think. Dave Nitsche had one, but in this one the weight is hanging vertically. This photo is well done, even though it is a setup, and the symmetry somehow avoids being boring.

Landrum Kelly
Dave Nitsche's PoW photo_id=1915342

Matt Kime
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Clearly, the mime cannot protect itself from the mighty angry red Plumb Bob. Go Plumb Bob!

Dennis Dixson
Walk (perfectly) upright before the mighty angry red plumb bob (MARPB). Someone should superimpose an angry face on the mighty red plumb bob for those of us with no real imagination.

Cody Jorgensen
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong I have never seen a piece of art such as this. There is so much symbolism I cannot determine exactly what it is trying to convey, and that is not a bad thing! The color red is amazing in contrast to the off-white hands. I see an embrace, a hand "holding up" something, the thin red-line that holds the object, symmetry is beautiful. This is an interesting and abstract piece of work that strikes emotion, I don't know what to exactly think of it. Good job!

Will Chapman
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong This is a very naughty picture indeed. Well done.

Mike Barnhart
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Technically great, but it doesn't really speak to me.

Brandon Hamilton
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Focus and exposure are great... but the overall result doesn't seem all that great.

William Nicholls
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong The point of saying the photo isn't manipulated. Why is that worth noting? Is a surreal (contrived) image more impressive because it uses the physicality of a cloud backdrop and painted hands in a single shot? This is an illustration with props rather than Photoshop layers. Hands without obvious heavily-caked white paint would better maintain the surreal "suspension of belief" and that could be done better with "manipulation" (as if painting skin wasn't manipulation). I can respect the craft of the single shot setup, but not as much as I'd respect an image with more impact. To me this is an image in search of a context. On its own, there's not enough visual or literary (the title) punch for the image to stand on its own. It might work as an illustration for another work, but that requires an alignment of planets nobody can predict. Perhaps I'm missing something in this image, but lots of surreal images with intentionally obtuse titles are nothing more than what you see. I see a pretty shot, competently shot, with aspirations...

M.M. Meehan
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Congratulations on Your POW Steve. To me this photo represents hours of set up to get the light perfect, Steve's sister's hands held up in just the right position and held very very still until the triangles were in the perfect proportion to be visually the most appealing. I think a bit off the top might be good to make the amount of blue comparable to the amount of white and red. As red is a dominant color I think the amount of red is what the rest of the colors should play to. This kind of set up appeals to me as an unusual wall hanger for a modern decor in a home. Somehow a landscape or sunset just would not be the same with modern furniture and other wall coverings. When looking at this I first thought of Faucault's pendulum in the Pantheon in Paris. pendulum

M.M. Meehan
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong ooops forgot to hit the HTML button: pendulum

Azizul Ameir
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Hi Steve. The photo can easily manipulate to produce the same result but you choose the hard and long way. For that, I admire your passion.

Jeffrey Rodgers
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Although simple, there is something about the image that provokes thought. I see many things, but at first this came to mind: The "plumb bob" and line are nearly perfect... symetrical, while the hands (much like humans in general) are imperfect, "reaching" for perfection, but not quite attaining it. The hands are very interesting... each looking different in many subtle ways, including the way the light hits them. I agree the paint could have shown less "wrinkles", but it doesn't distract too much from the overall experience. By the way, congrats on using available natural light! Next I began to see other things: the shape formed in the space between the hands and the plumb, the rigidness of the line/plumb, the resemblence of the hands to other natural things like flowers, a woman's "embrace" (how's that for dancing around the subject?), the line/plumb forming an arrow... a spear (OK, by now my mind is stuck on the sexual representations, so I'll have to take a break and look again later... no doubt seeing other things/ideas)

Mad wand
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong I like images of this sort -- they make you wonder -- now, what might that mean, what did the artist intend, what might it mean to me? And then, with the right image and concept, there's a reward -- of the beauty of the elements & the image, and the concept that it represents. Though of course it's easy to juxtapose arbitrary visually complementary or uncomplementary objects and proportions and to associate opaque ides with them, only images that have some worthwhile conceptual content work for me. I can inject some meaning into this image. Steve's title and commentary on his web site provide some propellant. The rest will have to be from the viewers' minds, and if the ideas are shared by the artist, then it's pleasant communication. I can't quite figure out the point of the painted hands though. What's not good enough about unpainted hands? The "lily" concept I suppose, but the price for that stronger association, I think, was too high in what it cost in distance from humanity. Not to mention the 50 bucks..

Michael Seewald
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Overall I find this weeks pick interesting. But interesting like a firework that goes bang and gets ones attention but fades fast. The image did not hold my attention for long though, and as I came back to see how our peanut gallery comments were adding up, I realized it needed a dash of improving, crop wise, as most do. Congrats Steve on making people think. Crop suggestion follows. Notice how you study the image much longer, making it more successful because of it, like a firework that you think is over but then explodes lots of little ones, grabbing even more attention. Blessings, Michael Seewald

Steve Chong
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Thanks everyone for taking your time looking and commenting on little creation of mine. I feel really honor for this photo to be chosen as POW.

Like I have mentioned in my comment (goosh that was close to 2 years ago), I was at awe and inspired to see such simple and effective apparatus being devised, which lead to the creation of this image.

Michael: Technically speaking, the idea of having the red string extending from the top was that I want the viewers to travel, to move their eyes, to "force" a movement from top to the center. One of the hardest things to achieve in creating a concept like this was to hold the viewer?s interest and to keep them exploring the image, to keep them busy so to speak. By cropping the top imho, would reduce such an effect quite dramatically. I appreciate your thoughtful attempt and effort nevertheless.

- steve -

Michael Seewald
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Steve, your forcing them into your scene with so much space is a nice idea but does not quite work. I see your portfolio, and as nice as most of the images are, have quite a few 'loose' in this manner- basically '35mm rectangular locked'. I too had this, basically, 'non-cropping mode' mentality until I purchased a medium format 2 1/4 square (there are some that won't break the bank). Now I'm not locked into any one cropping 'formula'. I crop for a more successful image, and whatever has to go does and whatever the dimension ends up being is not important. A person that gives too much space to an area without something to bring the eye back around (to the 'interesting area'- that of the bob and hands) is doomed to get rid of the viewer quickly instead of keep them. This is because when the eye goes to an area to view it, which it does readily when you give it so much prominence and there is nothing to see, as this image does, it gets bored and leaves. Sorry, it's something you can't stop from happening, it just does. With my cropping, you are not, as the viewer, allowed to 'escape' out the top. To check if this is not the case, count how long you look at your crop before you are 'done', then do the same with mine. You will notice if you are honest, that you will stay in longer with the tighter crop as now you are not allowed to escape out the top and are 'forced' to study the beauty in the hands a lot longer, actually seeing detail there that you did not study before. Besides, the balance is much nicer and you end up with a 'circular composition'. (Notice how if you draw a line around the main points of interest you create a circle with the top of the bob completing it. This is stronger and nice for the eye to move around and not be able to leave. The center of interest is now not locked dead center either, making it stronger still. Bottom line, you want people saying of your art "You go in and you don't come out". To make great art continually is not luck- its skill from much thought and practice. Some things are subjective, but some are objective. This is one of the objective ones. I hope this helps you. Blessings, Michael

Mark Berkson
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong r.e. Crop CROP: I love and share your passion for "working" on a photo. Although I enjoy taking many photos of nature and non-set-up events I get the most joy out of creating a scene and using photography as a medium of art and expression. Great idea, great execution, and great description of your technique. As for constructive suggestions: I agree with Michael Seewald's comments about cropping. Cropping is a very effective and simple way to enhance the artistic expression of a photo. In the old days this could only be done by those with access to their own printing. Now, with digital processing, it so easy, so quick, and you can try it many ways until you get what you like. For this photo I like Michael's crop, but that's just my opinion and its your photo... again great job and keep on paying your sister. mark

Dennis Dixson
If only the poor fool had thought to crop it... I always love this part of the discussion if you can call it that. I can see some merit in the cropped version but that does not mean it is the superior treatment or that it conveys what the photographer had in mind when creating the photograph. The black border in the cropped version was as much of a compositional element as the photograph itself. Some things are objective? Get a clue. Forget the POW anyway, I want to know more about Michael and how he sells his photographs sight unseen to people to finance his world wide trips. That sounds like a great scam. Are all those quotes on your website real or do you just prefer constantly referring to yourself in the third person? I feel like posting testimonials to yourself and your workshops on photo.net is a bit of an over-sell. Also in my experience, hanging your photographs for free in a cafe does not constitue a gallery show.

Michael Seewald
Thanks Mark and Dennis for seeing the difference. And yes Dennis, I have a series of my work in a very nice, large cafe in Carmel. I had my first showing (in that area) at the Josephus Daniels Photography Gallery back in 1989, (their first color show) and one recently about a year ago in a painting gallery in Carmel Valley. They took my art out after a few months as their 'regular sales' of paintings had fallen flat... she said everyone preferred the photos but did not want to pay the same amount as a painting, and then they did not want the paintings anymore! Oh well. But my collectors around that area appreciate the chance to see some new work. Thanks for visiting the site. Blessings, Michael

Marc G.
Malaysia boleh ! :-) Well done it is, Steve. Nothing much to improve imo. And I side with the photographer to say, that the vertical movement along the string keeps the eyes traveling. It also seems, that this verticality is what this image is all about. The exact meaning of this picture is in my opinion unclear, but there is quite obviously something coming from the sky, and a receiving man trying to either capture it, or to control it. Man looking for the right balance in life maybe...? Some may even see sexual symbols in this image... Interesting, anyway... To answer the elves questions, I'd add that this kind of imagery reminds me pretty much of the photo-illustrations available in various stock catalogs. The kind of image that works well with a strong headline for an ad - although I'm perhaps left with too many question marks on my mind to imagine right now a good application for this one. Interesting but quite enigmatic to me... Some may see it as a weakness, some as a strong point...

Rajesh Krishnamohan
What is Special in this pic? Steve/All the others, I am an amateur photographer and so my views/opinions/comments may sound a little offending, while my intentions are not really that. May be I have to be tamed to look at things, like a pro. So please do not mistake me and do forgive me, if you feel that my opinion is rude. This photograph looks very simple to me. I do understand that Steve has taken lot of pains to take this picture (like painting the hands, aligned the camera's cross wires exactly vertical etc). From a Pro's view, what is so amazing about this picture? Can you list few points? Regards

Kjartan Haavik
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong As a fellow amateur photographer, Rajesh Krishnamohan read my mind. I was thinking the same. I've seen this picture on the front page a few times during the last week and still can't seem to "get" it. Now I can appreciate the work that's behind the making of such an image, but as for conveying any message or meaning, it fails miserably with me. No offense to other people, their opinions and Steve Chong himself, but this is my honest feeling and I felt a need to express it. Cheers!

Michael Chang
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong I see this image more along the lines of commercial or advertising photography that can't stand on its own without context - at least in its current incarnation. To succeed as a purely artistic image, I think we need to strip the colors, tweak the tones, and remove the Tech Details Steve so generously shared with us so we're kept guessing.

Michael Chang
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Well, I tried posting an inline image without success. This is a second try.

Kjartan Haavik
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Michael Chang nails it. In black and white an emphasis is on form and shape, the fake looking blue background disappears and I suddenly like this picture a lot more. Still not a Picture of the Week for me but a lot better. Realising POW's can't possibly satisfy all tastes, this picture has at least sparked a debate which is in itself a good thing.

Carl Root
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Back to the crop. Obviously being subjective here, but I got the feeling from Michael's short string version, that someone was holding the string just above the frame. The movement is now across rather than vertical, similar to the typical crystal ball picture we're all familiar with. But I don't think that's what Steve intended at all. The long string clearly reinforces the upward extension as does the intentional compositional imbalance resulting from all that sky. I also like the alternating side light and shadows on both hands and arms. . . . clearly intentional and very well thought out.

Jeffrey Rodgers
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong I believe this has been mentioned before... the purpose of Photograph of the Week is to promote discussion, thought, and not specifically about which photos are best. If the image had been cropped, we would have that much less to talk about. I agree that the cropped version is more asthetically(sp?) pleasing, but the original version is different, and in a way that the photographer had hoped for. If not for the line, the plumb would take on a different meaning, and shortening the line takes away from this. Why have the line at all? Perhaps a line that fades towards the top would work better? It's hard to say now that I've already experienced the original (and this might have to be done by "digital manipulation" which is not along the goal of the photogrpaher) I'd like to point out that experiencing a photo depends very much on the method of presentation (computer screen, print, ect.) and also the size. This photo, printed at "life size" (according to the actual size of the sister's hands) might be profound, especially the origianl version, but it doesn't work so well on computer screen... that may be part of the reason for the cropping suggetsions. Honestly, I've considered making my own frames because I'd like to break away from the traditional aspect ratios, and I often hate to crop my 35mm format photos to make them work in 8 by 10. Heck, who says they even need to be based on "right angles"? How about ovals and other curved shapes. Anyway, I'm getting off topic, but my point is that a computer screen isn't a good way to judge how a photo will look hanging on a wall (and this depends very much on the wall...) By the way, a very tall vertical of this image, with the line extending almost to the ceiling, would be really cool.

Michael Seewald
I'm starting to get this P.O.W. thing-a-ma-jiggy! Being new to this site, and maybe I'm just slow, but I'm starting to believe the P.O.W. is not supposed to be the best image in the world, nor a persons personal best, but one that can be discussed in varying ways as to how it moves us and if so, why, etc.! I, like many of you, have been a little off course on this on the last few picks (except the one of the lady at the dresser I did not see a lot of merit in the choices). This image does look nice with Michael Chang's version, I must admit. And Dennis points out that my heavy border added to my cropped version changes the image to some extent in it's own way. He is correct. And if I had to change my crop (I know -for those non-perfectionists- like WHO CARES- well some of us do and you'll just have to put up with us) it would include a dash more of the line now. (Again, who cares but a perfectionist). The original does not have to please us in such a manner that 'we would hang it in our home', but that is not the criterion to look at it in the first place, nor any other art. It's more of 'do I get drawn into it, do I stay in, does it keep my interest, etc.'. A lot of you questioning 'why this one' have no images like this at all in your portfolios, and that's ok- I don't either. But I also create a lot of art that would look good on a museums walls, but not in a home (according to some critics). Lots of us do that. The question again is, do you like the final product for what it is visually? A lot of very 'dark' art moves me, but I would never want to own it, do you know what I mean? That does not make it bad. I think that's why lots of people, myself included, get lower ratings on some of our pieces. They judge it on how they compare it to their art, likes and dislikes, not on how well the image was made!!? Personally I like the simplicity of this image, the contrast of warmth against cold, the nuetral white hands, the balance of it all and the nice side light. It is not like most of the art submitted which is, should I whisper it- boring snap shots of friends, relatives and pets! Blessings, Michael

Marc G.
To Jacques Henry You wrote: "there are many other and far more interesting pictures in the portfolio of Steve to be chosen for discussion IMHO..." I do not agree or disagree with you, Jacques, but your post made me curious - mostly because I have followed Steve's work for quite some time -, which picture(s) you thought were more appropriate and why? An opportunity perhaps to discuss a bit Steve's portfolio rather than just a picture - assuming this still fits the POW regulations. You wrote: "the background looks fake and flat, so are the hands" I agree about the background, but then again, a sky as a background for a symbolic image is really nothing new, and it can either have no meaning or serve as an indication that we are facing a symbolical image, or refer to an etheral (intellectual or spiritual) world. Therefore, the sky is not a problem for me, but rather a necessary environment to be understood with regards to a symbolical approach and to the possible meaning of these symbols. You wrote: "and the red color chosen for the pendulum, which set up just in the mid, doesnt fit much the rest of this virtual image". Again, I can't agree. I would rather ask: "why is this pendulum red?" and look for what red may symbolize in this case - flesh, passion, life, humanity, etc. All I'm trying to say is that an image like this can't be judged purely based on aesthetics: it is, like Magritte's works, a symbolical image, and therefore has a meaning, which is supposed to command all decisions the photographer made.

Dave Nitsche
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Brilliant comment on the need to strive to find balance in our lives. That's how I see it at least. Conceptual art is just wonderful and you really do it so well Steve. You are a true artist... Congrats

Beck M
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong As an amateur, I'd like to just add my 2 cents. I was immediately reminded of the blade and the chalise, so if that was the intention of the shapes and their positions - it works very well. Strangely enough, what throws me off is the color scheme - red, white and blue. I prefer the black and white rendition for it's spirituality and provocativeness, but the color image (original) keeps drawing me back. Makes me delve into the possible political symbolism. I prefer it as done - no cropping and no black border. Very nice - thought provoking for sure.

Jeffrey Abelson
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong "Michael Chang nails it. In black and white an emphasis is on form and shape..." The line and plum disappear into the BG - it ruins the image to desaturate...

Philip Coggan
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong First, congrats to Steve. Second, regrets that I left it so very late to put my oar in. And finally, awe-struck admiration to Mike Seeward! Wow, what a business scheme! For all those who haven't visited Mike's site, put simply, he asks people to sponser his travel - they pay up-front, he goes off and takes photos in exotic places, and when he comes back they get to chose a photo. Lord, why didn't I think of that!

Curiosity Factor
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Congratulations for being POW !! Great image indeed. To my friends here at the discussion, I would like you to remind you te LOGO og UNICEF.....it's similar. I like this image cuz. at the fist instinct only, I could uderstand what it is trying to symbolise. Something coming right from the sky above nad hence the background of sky. Though, the hands are trying to catch an unusual 'object', but I don't think it matters as long as the symbolism is emphatic. And it is this symbolism, what I like of this PHOTOGRAPH. Colors are contrasty and attractive. It will be surely one photograph which can be taken to a fine arts museum to depict the inteect of a human being. I can see the parallel between human mind which thousands year back got the idea of making a straight line using this technique and Steve's idea of doing the same at his home. It's a very innocent and at the same time very motivating work !!! Congrats again Steve

E. Haque
Response to Old Trick by Steve Chong Maybe the apparatus is new to you, but this is the only tool used for vertical alingment in all third world countries (also in advanced countries where a level is impossible to use or isn't that accurate or no suitable for the tall structure). Seeing this thing all my life it has little original value to me and this picture doesn't really mean much to me unfortunately.

Steve Chong
Old Trick I value your constructive input.

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