curious cows

by roberts paul

curious cows seeking critique roberts paul

Gallery: first part

Tags: seeking critique

Category: Landscape

Exif Information:
Model : NIKON D7000
Date Time Original : 2011-06-29 17:50:31
Focal Length : 55/1
Exposure Time : 1/200
F Number : 8.0
Iso Speed Ratings : 250
Flash : 16
Metering Mode : 5
Focal Length In35mm Film : 82
Orientation : 1
X Resolution : 72.0000000
Y Resolution : 72.0000000
Software : Aperture 3.1.2

Published: Friday 1st of July 2011 11:26:05 AM


Alf Bailey
Hi Paul

They really are curious creatures, and their general stance and demeanor is very typical and captured to perfection within this composition.  I like the inclusion of the foreground vegetation and rocks though I think Roger might have "tweaked" it a bit to much, the saturation level looks fine on my monitor, but then mine hasn't been calibrated in over 2 much to do so little time!

Sincere Compliments Paul.

Best Regards


Roger Allum
A Little Tweak ?


I really, really like this image, its incredibly strong and well composed.

However, (and it may just be my monitor) the yellows appear to be dominating and taking some of the emphasis from the grouping

Otherwise this is a winner - fantastic



Patrick Wells

I like your composition. The sky seems a bit light over the cows ,but it actually helps in bringing the cattle to the forefront and brings out the color in the lighter ones.     nice shooting


joao barros

I really like this photo not (only) for the colors or photo technique but for the expression of the animals and the opportunity (moment of the "clik") of it!!Nature is a very good inspiration and a constant surprise!


Walter Strong
Rough look'n crowd!!

I wouldn't want to get crossed up with them!  Its a well composed and powerful image.

Patrick Hudepohl
Response to curious cows by paul roberts

Please note the following:

Tom Harvey
curious cows by paul roberts

What the heck is that guy with the camera doing in our ditch?

Dick Arnold
Response to curious cows by paul roberts I really like that picture. I don't know why. So I will leave my critique at that.

Gup Jeffries
Response to curious cows by paul roberts

Surely she could see we were stopping?

andrew gardiner
Response to curious cows by paul roberts

I rather like this image, the shapes of the cows are visually pleasing and nicely composed. Also you have captured a particular kind of 'cowness' in them looking inquisitive with their raised ears. They also look kind of monumental looming over that edge.
The colours I have mixed feelings about, those beautiful browns standing out against the slightly moody sky definitely add to the image but if this shot were mine I would tweak the saturation down a little.
The grass is a little too zingy ( green is often the first tell tale with over saturation) and beautiful as those browns are they are reacting with the green and are a little too intense themselves. Its a difficult call but given that when the subject of the photograph is nature itself I think it doubly important to keep colours as natural as possible just to make a consistent and coherent image.

Ken Thalheimer
curious cows by paul roberts

It feels a little cramped. But, there is a humorous side to it. I like it

Ifan Morgan
Response to curious cows by paul roberts

I love the subjects and composition - but (and it may be my screen of course) has there been a little too much fiddling with highlights and midtone contrast in photoshop ? Personally I would rather preserve the natural lighting even if it is harsher on the eye, than have the slightly artificial quality I'm seeing here.
LOVE cows though. They give us milk and steaks. If you're ever out walking and you meet one, don't cross the sight line between her and her calf. Walk around.

Anders Hingel
Response to curious cows by paul roberts

You might acclaim this photo or boo it and most often on the ground of the subject matter in view. Cows, looking at us as strangers from another planet.
Taking at this first level, I find the photo mainly of interest because of the viewers position, looking at the cows from below, and not least because of the marvelous details in the foreground. I would never, as mentioned above, crop it. I would however, also, as already mentioned, strongly question the choice of saturation and some over-sharpening. I also find it a pity that the position of the sun casts strong shadows on the eyes of the cows, which, in the scene, play a major function.

However, the interest for me of the scene and the way it is rendered, is to be found on a second level.
Images of cows mean something more than just "cows", just like images of cowboys. In America cowboys would symbolize (if a dare generalizing) good old American values and like self-reliance. The cows here in the POW, can be appreciated in similar way, but in this case, they seem to come from England (Dartmore National Park, on of the many beautiful rural areas in Cornwall, England, if I should draw conclusions from other of the photos in Paul's portfolio).
England, as other European countries experienced during the 19th century, a massive migration of the rural population, towards of the cities, looking for jobs in industry. In many urban homes of these families, one could find, and still finds, reproductions of paintings, hanging over the sofa's, of scenes from their former rural life. These scenes were in England as in France and Germany, mostly scenes of red-cheeked milking girls or of well-fed cows grassing in green fields giving memories of all the good sides of rural life. One can give many examples of such sceneries: such as this one by the French painter Debat-Ponsan.
The POW seen on such a second level, becomes then a pastiche (as also, the mentioned paintings, were, by the way) , and an ironical joke, that for me gives it a quality that I appreciate and that makes me smile.

justin ames
curious cows by paul roberts

Dang, how am I to add to a discussion when all I can think of is tenderloin or porter house?!!


Stephen Penland
curious cows by paul roberts

Some opportunistic grab shots don't turn out so well (re: last week's POW, IMO), while others have a charming nature about them (re: Paul Robert's current POW). The bottom line for me is the not-so-bright but inquisitive nature of a group of cows fortuitously arranged and looking over the edge and down at a photographer and trying to figure out what's going on. The arrangement is very good, the photo has a somewhat humorous quality to it, and those attributes make it appealing.

I find the current levels of saturation to be perfectly fine, certainly within the realm of natural conditions, and I can't tell whether additional saturation has been applied by Paul. I certainly wouldn't suggest tweaking what Paul has provided.

I was a hunter for many years, and I have a very different opinion than a previous poster regarding the intelligence of these animals. They have been semi-domesticated and a part of human culture for so long that many of their natural survival instincts are gone, especially compared to wild animals such as deer and elk. That quality makes them a less than desirable photographic subject for me personally, but then I would have missed out on an overall delightful photograph that Paul has captured.

The overall composition of these very cooperative cows has produced a photograph of what we called "slow elk" that is a great depiction of these animals, especially for cow lovers. It's a good example of a photographer making the most of a set of conditions that he/she stumbled upon, and the composition and light came together to help produce a very nice photograph. I can't and won't go any deeper than that into this photograph. These shots usually don't last more than a few seconds, and Paul is to be congratulated for being ready and able to make the most of a fleeting opportunity.

Dick Arnold
Response to curious cows by paul roberts Going along with Stephen's comments about domestication I would like to ask: how olten do you captrues the attention of five cows at one time?

Steve Wagner
curious cows by paul roberts

It's more interesting than it seems at first, the number of heads, the range of color, the uniformity of stance and angle for each head. It's interesting visually. I think that too much shadow recovery/midtone contrast, and definitely too much highlight recovery, was done to the cows and foreground. The tones are not quite natural. Low end not quite there and highlights pretty far from natural.

Yuri Demianov
curious cows by paul roberts

There are at least 7 of them... As per the photo... An interesting picture indeed, not sure about the framing and the colors DO get in the way of the composition (and MY panel is tip-top). With the right man at the scene this could have been actual "art".

Steve Wagner
curious cows by paul roberts

"With the right man at the scene this could have been actual "art"."
Rather uncalled for.

John Rowsell
curious cows by paul roberts

This photo has been generally well received. I'm wondering whether that has something to do with the overall composition? There is ~1/3 sky, ~1/3 bovine (midground) and ~1/3 foreground. I believe that conforms to one of the photography 'rules of thumb' for landscapes.
The farmer has provided Paul with a mixed bag of genetics which have resulted in the range of colours. The impact would have been less if these were all Black Angus or all Herefords. Cattle are generally curious unless they have been abused or have had very little human contact. Paul’s lucky he didn’t get his lens licked. That’s not to say that they are pets and anyone not familiar with cattle behaviour should keep a good distance between themselves and cattle.
Some comments were made about the 'yellows' and saturation. The weeds in the forground (members of the parsnip family) generally have that colour cast. The ear tags are displaying the typical yellow of ear tags. I don't find the image white balance to be off or the image overly saturated. (175 words)
Regards, John

Keith Pulver
curious cows by paul roberts

The only thing this shot lacks is the boss-cow having a bell around her neck...otherwise Beautiful!

Wanghan Li
curious cows by paul roberts

On the whole, it is very good. The color of the cows and the mood of the cows. The upper-right corner is a bit washed out or my monitor is too bright. Love it.

Yuri Demianov
curious cows by paul roberts

An unpleasant thing to hear indeed, I know, but such are the facts of life. There are just so many things that could have been done at the time of the shooting to turn this "cute snap" into an incredible "masterpiece" that would still be hanging in museums 200 years from now. The potential was there, there's no doubt about it. A great photographer (one with a name) would have had his masterpiece. Could I have done a better job? Not likely. My 2 cents though: This picture pretty much has to be in color but given the circumstances I think it could be made to look better in BW with a lot of local tonal adjustments. I'm not an advocate of such an approach but would probably say a few good words even if it were heavily retouched.

Bobby Karimipoor
curious cows by paul roberts This is a good shot according to the tones,vew and light but it is not a prominent shot or outstanding shot.This shot is very well equipped with technical points but this is not a great POW.Sometimes we want to feel the meaning inside or find a hidden meaning from the shot.Best regards(Bobby).

curious cows by paul roberts

Wrong use of the light. Interesting composition. A Shade falls over their faces.

Alex S.
Response to curious cows by paul roberts

I'll begin with the title. "Curious Cows" is perfectly appropriate. These cows cannot be anything else but curious. As such, the image is a revelation for someone like myself who knows nothing about cows.

The image does something remarkable: it visually captures animal psychology.

Beyond that, the structure of the photograph is excellent, placing the cows at slightly above our eye level. The curious cows are looking down upon us and we are looking up to them. Cows seem to rule in this world.

I do not agree that the use of light is wrong. I do, however, feel that the cows are a bit too dark. This is a problem that can be easily corrected.

There is a nagging substance to the cows that I prefer not to qualify as a problem but as a question. There seems a painterly quality to the image. I mean a paint-by-number painterly quality. This could only be my imagination. Or it could be the result of flatbed scanner ICE, or the overuse of Photoshop. Or it could be the natural outcome of an unmanipulated digital image. I just don't know. This might not be a problem at all.

My own aesthetic judgement has to be tentative. I am not excited about this image because I am not excited about cows. This is not the artist's problem. The image makes me think of images one finds on walls of steak houses.

But I do not believe one would find an image this sympathetic to cows in a steak house.

The positive thing about this image is its sympathy to the cows. Humans tend to personify animals, projecting their own emotions and thoughts upon them. What is important here is that the cows are not human curious but cow curious. They are curious as a herd. They stand in the same way and look the same way, their heads turned at the same angle. The youngest cow acts the same as the biggest cow. What cowish thoughts pass through their brains we shall never know.

One thing strikes me as significant. The cows are shorn of their horns. One senses out of this that the cows are completely used to the close presence of people. They do not seem to fear the presence of the photographer. Are any of these creatures in fact male?

To conclude. This is an interesting photograph. I honestly cannot say if it is a great photograph. It is at the least fine enough to be called a good photograph.

Pnina Evental
curious cows by paul roberts

Paul, everything was said already. I liked reading Anders Hingel's comment, as I see it as well as a good smile. Nice point of camera. I still smile looking at them. A great group, somehow reminds me J Vermeer era of paintings( even though not the same subjects ...;-)) Good timing, well composed, and a nice fresh air in of the POW. Congratulations.

paul roberts
curious cows by paul roberts

Dear All
I have been overwhelmed by the thought time and help you have all given to my picture. It was a total surprise to be included as a POW.... I took up photography 2 years ago and love every minute. I agree the picture was a little over processed in Aperture... but not by a lot.... hardly any sharpening at all, small amount of highlight/lowlight adjustment and colour correction. A short history of the photograph. It was taken on the beautiful North Western Cornwall coastal footpath. My wife and my dog were with me. I must confess I wondered why I had bothered with a heavy camera and lens instead of a stick as the path touched your nose on the way up and threatened to send you flying on the way down. I had a polarising filter on the camera for the landscape/sea/clouds when up ahead I saw several bullocks take a keen interest in my dog "Del". I ran forward and managed to capture about four shots before the centre cow became a little too keen. (dogs and bullocks really don't get on!) So there it is.... Once again, I have found all your comments rewarding, helpful in the extreme,kind,funny and thought provoking! Power to you all Paul

Landrum Kelly
curious cows by paul roberts

Paul, whatever you did with the post-processing, it really works for me. There is a gentle sense of a painting here, but it is clearly a candid shot. I like everything about it.


Timothy Minich
curious cows by paul roberts

I especially like the angle, the composition, and the enhanced details. Great pic.

Derek Isaacs
curious cows by paul roberts

a very excellent capture - and (if I may be permitted a brief pun) - that these noble beasts - like the photographer - are "outstanding in their field!" haha
Derek Isaacs

Donn Dobkin
curious cows by paul roberts

@ Jim Adams: You da man.
@ Paul, great work, a famous gentleman once said "f8 and be there". You were there, and forever will know the tradeoff when trying to decide between gear and a walking stick. The walking stick certainly makes for a relaxing stroll, so I don't mean to denigrate it. But, well, now you know =)

paul roberts
curious cows Your thoughts are much appreciated Paul

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