Muscle Man

by Crosley John

muscle man crosley street portraits seeking critique john

Gallery: Faces in Time

Tags: crosley street-portraits seeking critique

Category: Street

Exif Information:
Model : NIKON D200
Date Time Original : 2007-03-04 12:34:34
Focal Length : 12/1
Shutter Speed Value : 1/159
Exposure Time : 1/160
Aperture Value : 4.0
F Number : 4.0
Iso Speed Ratings : 400
Metering Mode : 5
Focal Length In35mm Film : 18
Orientation : 1
X Resolution : 72.0000000
Y Resolution : 72.0000000
Copyright : Copyright 2007, All Rights Reserved, John Crosley, Professional Photography Corp. (C)(R)(SM)
Software : Adobe Photoshop CS4 Windows

Published: Friday 19th of December 2008 12:05:26 PM


John Crosley
'Intelligent Comment' -- as far as it goes The comment quoted for ease of review: 'There are at least four kinds of street photos (I guess all photos). The ones that have nothing; the ones that have something interesting but are non-aesthetic; the ones that are aesthetic but have nothing of interest and the ones that have something interesting and are aesthetic. Isn't this something like you just wrote John?' Well, I frankly did NOT write that, but that does not mean the analysis does not have validity as an analytical tool. In fact, like many descriptors that describe a whole 'field' -- it may have great value, and for that I thank you. I heretofore had no such paradigm to refer to for evaluation of photos -- at least in words -- though invariably that paradigm describes something that almost continually passes through my mind when I'm evaluating photos. Certainly many photos have 'nothing'. I once started a furor, when I had the temerity to tell a member (which I had never done before) why I thought his capture absolutely lacked any merit at all. I still stick by that judgment. It provoked great discussion on with a huge string of commenters, AND that photographer has kept that photo in his portfolio, he has written me, just to preserve the great string it engendered. We, on (on the 'home page) are told that the critique forum is for our 'best' work -- and if some photographers (me included) were to be judged by all that we post, we are not such good photographers at all. I certainly do not always post -- or even post for critique 'just my best'. In fact, as I remarked in comments under another photo tonight, just for fun because it told a 'good story (in my view)' I posted a fairly fuzzy story, that was both 'sexual' and 'humorous'. It languished for a long time, with only 7 ratings with a 4.0 for Aesthetics and a 5.5 or 5.6 for originality, but lately it's been getting 500 clicks (not views, but 'clicks,' a day, and has been for several months, and currently has about 116,000 views (old system) and 'clicks' (new system) and frankly the vast majority of those are 'actual clicks' - which would make it my 'most clicked on photo' in my entire portfolio. Technically it was totally deficient. I posted it 'for fun'; it had lots of humor in it. Apparently others have 'discovered it' and it's 'linked' somewhere on the web -- I know not where. In actual numbers, it is my second most 'viewed' single photo in my portfolio (as a single photo. 'Anti-War Then' of the soldier and the Bayonet) has top honors for total viewership. 'Man and Billboard' -- Bangkok in color AND black and white is my most viewed 'image' and long has been, if one combines black and white and color views. There are very few photos on posted for critique that have absolutely nothing, but many that have 'very little'. I try to be kind to those who post - they're often new to posting, and need gentle encouragement and not derisiveness. The photographer whose photo I gently tried to dissect and ask the question of 'why he had taken it' (not actual quotes), later found a praising critique of mine under another of his posts, about a year later. He indeed had applied most of the lessons I had told him about that help comprise a good photo. (I did not remember him or the discussion and had to be reminded, all to his glee.) Yes, some photos have 'nothing' and some just don't have too much. There may be some very 'interesting' photos that may be non-aesthetic. But that is a little more challenging point -- If one is to view a photo and to linger over it, maybe one ought to consider what causes the viewer's eye to linger over it and engage it as a point of 'aesthetics'. Hurn and Jay (or Jay and Hurn) in their book 'On Looking at Photographs' which I just read this morning, suggest -- indeed insist, that one needn't 'like' a photo to appreciate that it has aesthetics. One of the authors points out the work of Gary Winogrand as a photographer who produces very 'aesthetic' photos, but which that author simply does not like. He knows they are 'aesthetic' even if he does not enjoy them. Thus, enjoyment is not part of 'aesthetics'. Sometimes I feel 'shock' also is part of 'aesthetics' though those authors would seem to say 'no' it isn't. See my highly commented photo of a squashed cat on a road;s centerline, eyeball bulging, with traffic oncoming. They both point to the compelling photo taken by Nick Ut of the napalmed girl in Viet Nam, which is an icon of all war, as generally an unaesthetic photo, but I think it may be highly aesthetic just for its emotive power and its power of 'shock'. Aesthetics doesn't have to be carefully choreographed arrangement of all the subjects and objects within a frame, or perfect lighting if the subject is compelling enough, I suggest. So, I am a little hung up on the 'second' criterion, as they explain it. I have two photos posted that are not very aesthetic, but there is something very interesting happening in those photos -- perhaps those would better fit the second category of yours. In one, a person is lying supine on a concrete fountain sculpture up high, while way down below, over a railing, a person seems to be falling into the basin of a pool, fully clothed and obviously unintentionally and probably to the possibility of great harm. In another, a foreground is seen, a concrete wall, and far in the background a bicyclist is seen going out of control and over an extension of that concrete wall -- obviously not in full focus and obviously not in the center of the photo -- he's literally crashing. Both of those are not very aesthetic photos, but they are 'interesting' for what they contain -- almost hidden surprises. If one photographed long enough, one could make an entire book or booklet or such photos. Perhaps they best fit your second criterion. The third category also causes me some pause. Many of the photos of Henri Cartier-Bresson are 'aesthetic' but show very little 'of interest' and their entire 'interest' is in the sudden 'geometry (to use Cartier-Bresson's terms for which we usually use the term 'composition' which often was evanescent) that was depicted. Several boys stand on the shadow of a tall building as they play where the shadow delineates into bright sunlight. Is that interesting? Maybe and maybe not. It may depend on 'what lights your fire'. It obviously lit Cartier-Bresson's fire, as he published it several times as well as numerous other such photos, based primarily on his finding 'arrangements' or sudden occurrences which he found appealing but which for many of us lacked interest. I have a photo of people walking down a path into a park. That photo (in B&W) set in Ukraine, is totally dependent on composition (Cartier-Bresson's 'geometry). The people with their backs to us are not of interest, nor is the garden-like park of particular interest and the only real interest seems to be the composition. So, yes, and no, as relates to such photos -- they may be aesthetic and 'lack interest' in the sense that any subject inside the frame is not in itself interesting, but together the composition itself may be greatly interesting. Cartier-Bresson devoted a substantial part of his photography into illustrating just that point, I feel. I do that occasionally myself. And of course, Cartier-Bresson excelled at producing the fourth category -- where there was both 'something of interest' and it was 'aesthetic'. In fact, he was not interested in producing 'unaesthetic photos' at all. Though 'styled' a photojournalist, he also demanded of his work highly formal composition (again, what he himself called 'geometry' after his art professor, Lohte). And, of course, one prizes most of all the last category -- those are the photos that endure AND please. And as Hurn and Jay (or Jay and Hurn) note, even photos we presume are unaesthetic but have become iconic or symbolic (my phraseology) might indeed in some circumstances become more so, if they had been composed more aesthetically . . . . . I do recall, into the category of the 'unaesthetic' but 'interesting' the photo of a mother who threw her baby from a burning building and the photographer took a photo of the child falling to its death (and won a Pulitzer Prize for the capture -- New York Daily News, I believe). There was little 'aesthetic' about that photo except the shock of seeing a baby falling down besides the walls of a NYC tenement. I guess the whole question then is "is the shock value of the depiction of a falling baby somehow 'aesthetic' in and of itself" and thus elevating that particular photo beyond the category of the unaesthetic by its sheer emotive force? You can decide that question for yourself. I do not endorse your categories, but may use them again as any paradigm is useful when it seeks to occupy the field with descriptors. And I'll think about it, no doubt. As to this photo, its aesthetics could have been improved it my camera had made a better exposure -- as I have stretched the bounds of Photoshop (and my abilities with it) and because his face was recorded as 'dark' and to lighten the face, one had to lighten the body in bringing out the 'raw' capture, and in the resulting .psd file to be worked on in Photoshop image editor, there just wasn't enough 'range' to bring out all detail in both the face and body, without horrible artifacting. That's just the name of the game. It's therefore, somewhat 'deficient' and at the same time, pretty interesting. If somehow the lighting had been better (or if I were a master Photoshopper), this might have been a very, very good photo, I think, as it is 'interesting' (in my view, but not extraordinarily so . . . just more than average). Thanks for adding to this colloquy. John (Crosley) (comment (c) 2008, John Crosley, all ri

John Crosley
Pierre Dumas I found this during a review of older shots, taken with a camera that had a sensor with a smaller dynamic range than the best today, which I use. The result was a range of darks to lights that I long ago decided I would not post, and I just passed this over -- there were excellent captures on the same download, so I passed this by. Also, this man did not quite fill the frame, and I had to creatively crop the left side out . . . the aspect ratio was just wrong for this subject. I did that, worked on this capture with a 'raw' file, then in Photoshop image editor, and still it has problems of lack of sufficient contrast -- his face/head had been extremely dark in the original -- he was somewhat backlighted, and his skin washed out a little, and it shows even here. But the expression and the situation are very, very good, so I decided to share this. I'm slowly going through past downloads and being surprised by how much interesting stuff I took and passed over in part because my Photoshop skills were not good enough, or because I took some really good shots that I wanted to post, then went out and took more and more. I didn't need to 'mine' my material. I always figured some day when I was really, really old, I might do that, but it's very, very cold outside, and I'm stuck inside. . . . so. Thanks for weighing in . . . . I'm glad this pleased you. John (Crosley)

Meir Samel
Not endearing to me at all. Girls are endearing to me. A score of 4 on this one at best. It is all one same grey tone, without contrast. A gray photo on a gray day. You did tilt do get the head arm diagonal that is a good thought. I am impressed that he is topless in cold weather. I will be interested to come back and see what others have to say. Outstandig they will probalbly say, great capture etc.

Asher Lev
There are at least four kinds of street photos (I guess all photos). The ones that have nothing; the ones that have something interesting but are non-aesthetic; the ones that are aesthetic but have nothing of interest and the ones that have something interesting and are aesthetic. Isn't this something like you just wrote John?

Wieslaw Mamon
John, Interesting and original photo. I don't mind the contrast much here as this is one of those photos in which flat contrast may do more good than harm (at least to me:)). Why? Simply because I immediately start to concentrate on the topic (not the aesthetics) and here, there are a lot of interesting things to discover. What attracts my attention most in this photo is the the clever point of view and the expressive, nearly grotesque feel thanks to the face, the tattoo, the big muscle of the rather slim man and, what strikes me every time I look at this shot, the fact that the shapes of his head and his naked torso are very much alike:). As there is a bit of unexpected humour, which I appreciate a lot in photography, I like this shot a lot. This doesn't of course mean I'm right, but this doesn't also mean that I'm wrong. 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' (as the saying goes) and in my eye your photo works well. It's great we can share our opinions and sometimes different views on the same photos here, on this forum. Thank you for sharing, wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, regards, -wm

Pierre Dumas
Great street photo! PDE

John Crosley
Wieslaw Mamon You make a number of very valid points, and many of them are exactly why I chose to post this less than perfect photo; it simply is 'interesting' and 'original'. If not a 'world class' photo, it's fun and humorous, and that's why I took the considerable trouble to work on it, and then made the decision to post it. I process very few photos I don't post. If it's good enough to post-process, it's usually good enough to post -- at least somewhere, as I have a large portfolio and LOTS of folders, some major and some minor. I see this site not as a 'show-off' site for only the best of the best, but as a proving ground where I can 'road-test' everything, which is great for a multi-talented and very curious guy like me who shoots a great deal of very different stuff. I sit with people sometimes who peruse my portfolio and watch what photos they open and listen to their reasons for 'liking' one photo or another, and often am astonished by the sheer variation in what many feel is 'good' or even 'exceptional' compared to what I feel is so. I have learned to accept that my portfolio is something like what Russians call 'Swedish Table' -- a little something of this, a lot of that, more of the other and some of that pickled herring -- maybe some sour cream on top (they refer to Smorgasbord, of course). Some people head for the sauerkraut and others head directly for the deep-fried fish. But, hidden in this smorgasbord, in my view (and that of a few critics) are some real treasures -- literally the smorgasbord equivalent to ancient and closely guarded family recipes that are 'worth a trip' just for the meal. I am referring for a select few photos, hidden inside my portfolio and folders. The ignominy, is that while some are pretty agreed that certain photos meet that criterion, many disagree quite widely over which other ones meet that criterion, and there is quite substantial disagreement among viewers over some of what they would term my 'best' photographs -- many choices surprise the heck out of me, and I'm the guy who should know what is 'good' but frequently, not so, at least in the eyes of others. This site serves a great function, in helping me determine 'taste' among its members, and in general among photography aficionados and neophytes. I also get criticism from a few heavyweights in the field. An infrequent critic is the former chief photographer for Ladies Home Journal who also was chief photographer for one other cultural and fashion magazine run by the same publisher that was an arbiter of taste (I cannot for sure state the name, though it is/was a household name). His entire life's work was destroyed when his negatives and prints burned in a fire while in storage -- what a huge loss for a guy who photographed Jackie before she was Jackie O', of numerous famous movie stars who are cultural icons, fashion beauties too numerous to mention as well as tons of famous personages. I see him infrequently, but he LOVES my work. I don't think I've mentioned him before . . . and we're not close friends or even correspondents. He talks of the late Richard Avedon, as Dick or is it 'Dickie' -- I forget. They were friends. I don't just get feedback from, but I value it highly. I'm possibly aimed higher -- we'll see. If not, it's a lot of fun. And I'll never knowingly denigrate an intelligent insight like you have provided me, when offered in good faith. I started here, less than five years ago, just to post some old photos, and somehow suckered myself into shooting once again, and am amazed at the results. That anybody would look, is a treat to me; that people like you look AND LIKE enough to say so, and also offer critiques to help me improve, is a fantastic bonus I never in my life thought I'd see. And now millions -- even tens of millions -- worldwide see my photos. I met a man this weekend -- an aficionado who does not post on this site, and he looked at a disk of some of my photos. 'I know that photo of XXXXX' very well' he said. 'I've seen it many, many times. I love it', He referred to a street photo I took about four years ago and posted in the 'early days' when no one knew who I was at all and was not listed in (and had only been shooting maybe five months.) It's all been a wonder to me; who could have predicted? Thank you for taking the time to stop by and offer your analysis/comment. It's greatly appreciated here. And it helps make my otherwise very dreary holiday a bit happier. John (Crosley)

Meir Samel
your point ..somewhere in these monologs you must have interesting pointd but I do not think anyone is going to read it all. Could yo not make or thereafter summarize your point in a few words/lines so I can know what youi are trlyng to say? It would be very helpful. Thank you.

John Crosley
'Muscle Man' 'Muscle Man' is one of a large variety of photos from a while ago I overlooked for posting because of one or more issues, but nevertheless I find endearing or otherwise interesting . . . and thought you might too. Your comments and critiques are invited and most welcome. If you rate harshly or very critically, please submit a helpful and constructive comment; please share your superior photographic knowledge to help improve my photography. Thanks! Enjoy! John

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