Old Court House, St. Louis

by Charity Robert

old court house st louis seeking critique charity robert

Gallery: architecture

Tags: seeking critique

Category: Architecture

Published: Tuesday 18th of January 2011 08:10:51 PM


Gregory Ferdinandsen

The lighting is perfect.  The lamps in the foreground are not over-exposed, which is difficult to achieve.  Great photo.  BTW, the peak of the cupola kind of has an erie aspect to it given it's lighting.  Great work

Marta Eva LLamera

Fantastic angle. Fantastic work. Best Regards.

Khurshid Ahmed
Robert Charity

classic composition by colors+interesting point, wow on color white balance and a nice combination of twin color balance , extra ordinary sharp details  congratulations!!!!!!!!............ regards

Julian Burke

Fabulous composition and colour rendering.

Eduardo Agustin Carrasco

very nice and original

Wendy de Kok

Interesting composiytion with great colors!

Wondering if a small step to the right would be nice for your lamp to fit in the frame ;)

Christopher Schlaf

Excellent work Robert

Pete Gavalis

Wow! I'm surprised at the lack of input on this. Incredible depth, great exposure and colors! Nice work!

Radu Carp

Interesting result of using lens fish,I like the angle you chosen and effect created,splendid colors too,regards.

Marc Morales

The point-of-view, composition, and color saturation are outstanding.

Jef Van den Houte

Strong dynamic composition

Michael Tommerup

Beautiful picture

Jesus Salazar

Love this shot, Robert! Top notch composition and excellent processing!

Congrats and Kind regards!!!


Aykut Turhan

Complex and dynamic composition which is still easily grasped. Additional softness comforts the eyes to deal with sharp corners and hard geometrical shapes. Overall, this is a majestic picture.

Cory Sine

Truly a great shot.  The layout sucks you into the upper regions like a whirlpoor.  However, since the carved architecture of the roof and pillars is so well-honed and scultped, IMO I think a strongly-contrasted black and white might have yielded better results.  The pastels seem to detract from the over-all dynamism of the entire frame.


Nonetheless, a wonderfully constructed and executed photo.

Patrick Hudepohl
Response to Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

Please note the following:

Luis Lopez-Penabad
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

Congratulations for the excellent composition, colors and lighting.

Ken Thalheimer
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

Balanced well with good color. But I think it's much too busy. The sconce at bottom is clipped as well

Bo Østergaard Jepsen
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

Very well done. Apart from the sconce being clipped, as has been mentioned by Ken T above, I have no suggestions for improvement. It is busy, but it all comes together nicely, more like a pattern than random clutter. I like it :-)

John A
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

I realize that we aren't here to judge the choices of the elves, but this week I feel that I actually need to do so. In this image, we probably have the absolute most problematic image this photographer made of this place. There are two other images in the portfolio that do a much better job describing the space and which better reflect the elegance of it. If the goal is to pick the worst and then have us criticize the maker, so be it, but why not once in awhile pick a better image where there can be success to be discussed rather than overt problems.

These two images interpret and describe the space. They have a fine sense of rhythm and movement yet capture that grandeur and elegance of the space while the images are unified by their structure:


Instead, we have been given this version as the POW, one that has overt issues and doesn't seem to represent this photographers best work--even in this same space.

The light fixture and the dome create two distinct subjects here and don't seem related nor connected. The sconce is placed in the center bottom, right between the two vertical columns that should help draw us up but creates a road block and interrupt to these vertical elements. Being so far under the wall, the diagonal line-- that works well in the other photo where it appears--breaks the motion of the curved section at the top of the columns. There just doesn't seem to be anything pulling this image together.

While I do feel the other two are much better, I feel they all suffer a bit from-- what I am assuming-- HDR having been applied. The colors just seem rather thick and the airiness I would expect in a space like this seems to be missing.

gordon b
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

When the image first opened I thought that I must have clicked on the TRP rather than the POTW, apparently not, although any distinction between the two forums grows increasing narrow.

Museeb Jasim
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

Without any doubt, it is an exceptional internal capture. Well balanced and in a very good lighting and perspective. The only drawback might be the overkill in its softness, which made the columns and ceilings look closer to the plastic.

Taz Rahman
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

What an interesting perspective. One noticed slight signs of dilapidation around part of the celing and walls but it feels like a gradual decline. It almost feels like the premise is still being used with the decline in place. The colours are vivid and makes one want to stare at it.

Louis Meluso
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

A beautiful use of leading lines. I'm not a fan of ultra wide angle images but this works. Isn't that the Jefferson Memorial on 4th street down near the Arch?

Wayne Liao
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

I like the composition and excellent HDR work.
I would suggest to step to the left a little bit (Wendy suggested to the right to avoid clipping). This way the three light bulbs won't overlay, the three round bulbs together with the ceiling round will impose a stronger graphic composition.

John Womack
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

The lighting is astonishing, must have had additional lights. Love the composition, with the great "legs" rising from the base, the "arms" lifting out as in acclaim, and the "head" either looking down or up. Warm and cool, balanced together like a Chinese sweet-sour thing.

Anuar Patjane
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

Very interesting lines but the eveness of the light devaluates the image. Regards!

Robert Charity
Response to Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

Boy I got a surprise to see my image as the POTW. Would have thought the system should have notified me before hand. However, it is interesting to get a more diverse sets of options on this image. I am always surprised what a wide range of opinions there are out there. So let me tell you a little more about the image. Louis is correct that this is the Old Court House, part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial on the riverfront in St. Louis. The court house if often overshadowed by it larger neighbor "The Arch". The court house is most famous for the Dred Scott case. Dred Scott sued for his freedom from slavery and lost.

This image in part of series from the Court House as indicate by John. John liked the others better, although I don't have a strong preference. This was the only one with the 15mm fish-eye lens which was necessary to get the light fixture in. I am not entirely happy about the composition. Yes part of the sconce is clipped. There were suggestions of moving to the left or right. I think a little rotation so as move the light fixture to the right and the top of the cupola to the left would help. My only excuse for not getting the composition exactly the way I wanted is that when the camera is on the tripod pointing up, it very hard to get your eye to the viewfinder ( at least it is with mine). As it was, I kneeled on the floor and hoped the tourist around me wouldn't stand on my feet.

Yes the image is a HDR. I took 4 exposures, each separated by 1 stop. In situations like this I don't always combine my exposures in a HDR, something you get some petty ugly results, but this time is worked well. Make some local color-balance adjustments as the light changes from artificial to natural as one goes up the cupola.

The main theme is the columns leading up to the top of the cupola. Is the image too busy? Well the cupola itself is a very busy place so one will always get that in an image of it. Getting rid of the light fixture does simplify it some. I am sure it is a matter of taste.

Looking forward to more comments

John A
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

Robert, playing a bit of the devil's advocate here and maybe stimulating a bit more discussion on the image, I am curious about your statement "...although I don't have a strong preference"--referring to this image and those others shot in this same place-- which is then followed by "I am not entirely happy about the composition."--referring to this image.

First, I would like to ask what you find as the compositional issues with this image. And then, second--due to the ambivalence you expressed between them, if you possibly are not happy with the composition or other issues with the other images from this site.

Landrum Kelly
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

The parts are more interesting than the whole.


Robert Charity
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity


Is a general sense I am quite happy with this image, it captures the place quite well, but I think a few little things would improve it. Of these, getting the missing piece of the sconce is the major one. Secondly I would like it to have a more diagonal aspect to it.
The lamp fixture in one corner, the top of the cupola in the other, the lines of the columns as diagonals going between them. The small rotation needed to do this would also help in getting the entire sconce in.

Of all the three images you mentioned,
has the best composition I think. The columns and the top of the cupola are again strong elements, but now the two curving selves that unite at the top of the column form a nice diagonal element. This image shows more signs of decay, especially in the painted scene in the top-left corner - Not that I think the decay detracts from the image, it adds another interesting aspect. If I had to choose, I would probably pick this one, but it is close.

I like the image
as well, but if I had to choose, it would be third. It gives less of a sense of the height of the cupola and there is less of those beautiful columns.

Stephen Penland
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

I've never really photographed interiors of large buildings, and I've never used a fish-eye lens, so my opinions are relatively uneducated and untested. I'm really impressed at how well the lighting is controlled throughout the photo (I understand that HDR was used, and I think it was very effectively applied). The fact that the sconce was clipped is a relatively minor issue for me, because I am impressed more with the overall image -- the depth, colors, and lighting. I can appreciate how very minor adjustments of camera position can have significant effects in the composition outcome, and I think that would be a welcomed challenge in this type of photography. Overall, I think this is a great example of the challenges of architectural photography, and it's one that can inspire many folks like me to expand their range of subject matter. Nicely done, and I'm glad it was selected at the POW for discussion.

jorge fernandez
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

Robert, details and texture are great, I have look at it since it was posted and I say to myself, I am going to let this one go, however today I had more time and read the comments and your explanation and I felt in love with it, it seems it work its way to my artist/Architectural attraction! Fantastic colors!!!

John A
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

Stephen, I have been shooting with diagonal fisheyes for over 15 years and I would venture a guess here that there has been optical correction applied. I have this lens (may be better than Canon's equivalent) and it isn't this "straight". But shooting it on both the 5dII and the 1dsmkIII, it does not hold sharpness in the corners when corrected in software, but is sharp in normal use. Although knowing how to use it properly will minimize the distortion on the main subject, I would think that a significant amount of correction has been applied to this shot--and thus probably exhibits a great deal of softness in a large image. It is not generally a good lens for traditional architectural work--of which I have done a significant amount. On the other hand, it can be a very expressive lens in certain circumstances.

Robert, I don't know if the missing sconce part is all that important IMO, I just still feel the image is not as unified as the others. I think your third choice is the one with the most unity, but the other one might be a bit more interesting overall. I still find this one as the weak sister, mostly because I think the rhythm is broken and the juxtaposition of the sconce and the dome seem so separated by the middle ground of the image--and there really is not effective link between the two. It isn't hateful, but I don't think it works as well as the others but has the curb appeal of the exotic location. Also, although it doesn't have the artifacts we see so often, it still screams HDR and when it is so noticeable, I do think that creates an issue. To me it is just the lack of clarity I have found in such environments--it is just a bit thick feeling.

John A
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

I would just add that my last comment, regarding the HDR, is more as a photographer rather than a consumer. There are a lot of people who would not see this nor care, it just is a personal preference as to how I like to see images. I think the image would be better not being so thick ( and a bit cartoonish in the colors) but without a comparison, I don't think others would see it.

Robert Charity
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

John, Stephan
Actually I have not corrected for the fish-eye distortion and also have not cropped the image. So the distortions are there but not so noticeable. They are most obvious on the lines on the right column, which are no straight.
Generally we notice the fisheye distortion for edges which are close to and parallel to the top, bottom, left and right sides of the images. On the other hand, radial edges which pass through the center of the image, remain straight. The straight edges that there are in this image are more the latter than the former so the distortion is less obvious . Of course it is more common in architectural settings to have up-down and left-right edges and so one may not always want to choose such a lens. Also if you are using a film or full-frame sensor with this lens, you get a larger field of view in the image, and with this more distortion.

John A
Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

I don't know why I thought you had shot this with a 5dII, but I see it was with a D200--must have been another photo I was looking at?!? Anyway, I have found the diagonal fisheye lenses do a good job when you position the subject in the center area and sometimes, even on full frame, the fisheye can be seen but doesn't jump out and bite you like it can in other circumstances. In fact, it can become a discovery as you try to understand how the image was made. I think that is what you have here, I now see the distortion where you mentioned, however, the crop sensor--combined with the nature of the scene--keeps the feel from being that of a "fisheye" lens, which I think is a good thing.

Andrew Protas
Response to Old Court House, St. Louis by Robert Charity

As soon as I saw the image I knew where you were. The colors are wonderful and as I remember them! I didn't have a fisheye at the time but I did enjoy shooting that courthouse. I think right after I make this post I'm going to revisit my own courthouse images.
Again, excellent job on the colors - those not having seen the courthouse may think the colors may have been "boosted" but I would think not! The light at the very top I had some trouble with as well as there was a "very strong sun light source" that was hard to capture and still be able to capture the wall details outside of the dome on top.

Robert Charity
Old courthouse, St. Louis All comments welcome

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