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Archive 2012 · How I saw an image
  
 
ben egbert
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p.1 #1 · How I saw an image


This is inspired by recent diagramming I have seen by Rusty and AuntiPode. I attempted to use it to compose this image taken Wednesday in the Unitas mountains in Utah.

I arrived here about 2:30 and stayed until about 7:30 when I realized that no sunset was possible and I was chilled to the bone. This is 9000 feet, and the temperature about 40 degrees. 75 miles away at my home the high had been 91.

I understand this does not conform to normal visual guidance because as you will see, the entire image is the subject. But I hope to explain why that is so in my way of looking at landscapes.

This is not a wow, knock um dead image. Instead it is a serene beautiful place and thatís what I want to convey.

The first image taken as a test shot when I arrived is at 14mm and shows the larger scene. I determined from this that my next longer lens, a 17mm was the correct focal length. It captures the pond without cutting off the left edge and the mountain without cutting off the right edge.

In my diagramed image, I will show the areas as I defined them. Every single zone is important to me. Like all shots, the hope is that it will be printed at least 24 inches wide and viewed up close. I want the viewer to feel free to roam the image and find what they like. I want all areas to be sharp and clear and to contain something that they may like.

I waited for the wind and rain to lift to allow a reflection. I also waited for some cloud interest and a faint bit of light when the clouds blocking the sun thinned out a bit.

Blast away.





Scene at 14mm

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    1/30s    100 ISO    +0.7 EV  






Scene at 17mm

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E17mm f/4L lens    17mm    f/8.0    1/20s    100 ISO    +0.7 EV  






Marked version

  Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III    TS-E17mm f/4L lens    17mm    f/8.0    1/20s    100 ISO    +0.7 EV  




Aug 25, 2012 at 03:37 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #2 · How I saw an image


Totally diggin' the diagramming ... being able to see the various components of your capture allows you to make decisions @ each element / area to decide how you want to process them. This of course, is in conjunction with "What's your point?" and "What is the message that you want to convey to your viewer?"

We speak a lot @ drawing the eye to a focal point, etc. But if your "point" is to present a "message" that there is a lot to look at here or its expansiveness, etc., then the processing can be more about how do I transition from one area / element to another ... and how do I "harmonize" them ... moreover than the "how do I contrast them" to take you to a focal point.

It all boils down to what you're trying to say to your viewer ... kinda like choosing how to structure and deliver your words when writing or speaking to someone ... be that with a soft tone & mood for calming effect, or high energy to instill enthusiasm, etc. We just speak with non-verbal components, while they listen with their eyes ...

Knowing your message and the components you have to work from can let you deliver your message however you desire.



Aug 25, 2012 at 04:09 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #3 · How I saw an image


Thanks Rusty, you get it. My point that is. Not everyone digs the style of all inclusive versus focused, but I do and this is the message about myself in general that I hope to convey.


Aug 25, 2012 at 04:16 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #4 · How I saw an image


Here's an "all inclusive" focus from my archives.

I can appreciate both, i.e. most anything as long as I get a sense that the originator took control to create it how he wanted it ... be that via pre-production, in camera or post-production ... to convey his message rather than simply using the camera as a "recording device".

It took me a long time, with great angst, to convert & expand from my former puristic perspectives. But even then, I was still about control (just limited @ slides having no PP) and message.







Aug 25, 2012 at 06:19 PM
sadja
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p.1 #5 · How I saw an image


Ben, Thanks for taking the time to explain your methodology. It helps me understand why some of your images lack impact and why you think scenes like the one in this thread might be interesting. Before saying anything else, I should like to say that I prefer the scene as captured by the 14 (more breathing room around the mountain & additional layer provided by the stand of trees at the R). The sky in the 17 is definitely more interesting.

I think it's fair to say that most people experience a scene in 2 parts: 1) the overall and 2) the up close -- in that order. It has to do with our need to approach the scene before grazing on its details. Your approach assumes that if the details are tastey, the overall scene will automatically be delicious as well. I don't see things like that, nor do I think the general public does either. I think there is a primary need to invest an image with the 'wow' factor and then hope the details hold up to closer inspection.



Aug 25, 2012 at 06:24 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #6 · How I saw an image


I think that sadja makes a valid point @ "general public" ... i.e. they are typically lazy, with a short attention span and put little effort into discernment (imo). "Give me some 'eye candy' ... next, can I have another one please."

To that point, every good speech writer knows that it is important to match the delivery style of your message to the audience it is being present to ... or it risks not being understood / appreciated. That doesn't mean the message has to pander to the audience, but there is a relationship between the sender and the receiver of any message ... verbal or visual ... that warrants how it is communicated. Whether one needs to use "Big Crayons" or refined subtlety ... music, wine, speech ... or photographs ... becomes a match or mismatch depending on the degree of refinement that is both delivered and perceivable by the receiver.

Some people can't tell the difference between a Bordeaux and Boone's Farm, while others can taste the difference from one year's vintage to another. But for many (i.e. general public) they do require more help than you might otherwise think would be necessary. Of course, for the discriminating person ... such additional "help" can come across as "overcooked". So, we have to take things with a "grain of salt" sometimes that where we may have "missed the mark" with one audience ... it could be "perfect" for another ... especially when it is for an audience of "one".




Aug 25, 2012 at 06:38 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #7 · How I saw an image


sadja wrote:
Ben, Thanks for taking the time to explain your methodology. It helps me understand why some of your images lack impact and why you think scenes like the one in this thread might be interesting. Before saying anything else, I should like to say that I prefer the scene as captured by the 14 (more breathing room around the mountain & additional layer provided by the stand of trees at the R). The sky in the 17 is definitely more interesting.

I think it's fair to say that most people experience a scene in 2 parts: 1) the overall and 2)
...Show more


Hi Sadja. I actually understand this pretty well with respect to most people. That is exactly why I tried to show how I took this for myself. The problem with shooting for others is that subjective judgement is just that, subjective. But I will add to this thought in my reply to Rusty.




Aug 25, 2012 at 08:13 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #8 · How I saw an image


RustyBug wrote:
I think that sadja makes a valid point @ "general public" ... i.e. they are typically lazy, with a short attention span and put little effort into discernment (imo). "Give me some 'eye candy' ... next, can I have another one please."

To that point, every good speech writer knows that it is important to match the delivery style of your message to the audience it is being present to ... or it risks not being understood / appreciated. That doesn't mean the message has to pander to the audience, but there is a relationship between the sender and the
...Show more

I know just what you mean here, so maybe I should speak a bit about my audience.

My intention is usually a print, but of course less than 1% actually make that cut. No matter, the intended audience is people who enter my front door and see the images hanging in the hallway. Not many people visit this old hermit and some people don't notice anything at all. But most people are very impressed. Either to be polite, or perhaps because they are non photographers.

My son in law is the only photographer who enters this area. He is my best and most honest critic.

So with that situation the best thing for me is to simply satisfy my own taste.

On the other hand, I show a lot of stuff on the web, and they never come off as well small. I get a much more critical audience and the qualities of a large print are largely lost here. But then I don't really shoot for this audience. I show them because this is a primary source of human interaction for an old hermit.





Aug 25, 2012 at 08:22 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #9 · How I saw an image


RustyBug wrote:
Here's an "all inclusive" focus from my archives.

I can appreciate both, i.e. most anything as long as I get a sense that the originator took control to create it how he wanted it ... be that via pre-production, in camera or post-production ... to convey his message rather than simply using the camera as a "recording device".

It took me a long time, with great angst, to convert & expand from my former puristic perspectives. But even then, I was still about control (just limited @ slides having no PP) and message.



I commented on this elsewhere, but in regards to the topic here, it deserves another.

This is a good example of what I like to do in an image. Absolute clarity, like viewing through a clear glass window.

Not everyone will like all the content, but wherever they look, it should be clear. I like to control content by focal length and where I stand.

Not to say this is the way it ought to be done. The operative word here is like. A very subjective thing.



Aug 25, 2012 at 11:44 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #10 · How I saw an image


I'll see your "like" with my "point, message & control" ... and raise you two rolls of Kodachrome and a dusty Beseler.

Actually, I dig the clarity ... like looking out a window thing. I had a run a couple years back with striving for some trompe l'oeil / 3D-ishness effect with that very thing in mind, i.e. max realism / "take you there". Lately I've been going a slightly different route with my "plausible realism".

I think we go through phases as life strikes us. After my recent exploration of AA's classic works up close (really, really close), I am embracing the fact that AA's work was never reality ... yet, we perceive it as though it was, thus generating a shift in my perspective from max to plausible ... to varying degrees.



Aug 26, 2012 at 12:03 AM
 

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sbeme
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p.1 #11 · How I saw an image


Interesting and thoughtful discussion.
Nice to read this kind of intelligent dialogue.
Scott



Aug 26, 2012 at 12:22 AM
ben egbert
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p.1 #12 · How I saw an image


Rusty, I am still trying to figure out what I like. I like it when I see it, but not sure why. I also find that what I liked last year is not good enough:-)

Scott, glad you found this thoughtful and intelligent dialogue.



Aug 26, 2012 at 12:42 AM
_Rob_S_
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p.1 #13 · How I saw an image


Very interesting thought processes and nice photo too! Thanks for taking the time to share.

Rob



Aug 26, 2012 at 12:43 AM
ben egbert
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p.1 #14 · How I saw an image


Thanks Rob. It always helps me to hear what somebody else had in mind. I suppose a photo ought to work on its own without explanation. But this is a critique forum, not an admiration forum. Analytics is part of what we do.


Aug 26, 2012 at 02:47 AM
sbeme
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p.1 #15 · How I saw an image


I very much agree that a "photo ought to work on its own without explanation".
But, its a complex idea. Music appreciation classes, art history, understanding the historical background, technical challenges in architecture, scientific discovery to name a few, can enrich appreciation and widen the enjoyment.
Your explanation of your goals help to understand "the artist's vision" and to potentially appreciate your work though a different lens, so to speak. It also aids critique dramatically, since we can now comment on how well your goal seems to be achieved, your vision realized. But, the bottom line is what you are happy with, what works for you. Not all creations should strive for mass market appeal, thankfully!
Looking at your diagram of your image reminds me of some of the critical analysis I am used to seeing from Craig Tanner who I took a workshop with. This kind of approach lends itself to understanding balance, depth, interplay of compositional elements, flow through, across, around an image and, as Kent pointed out, guides focal processing work.
The idea of a global effect, less of a specific area of focus and more of a capture of the impression and impact of a full scene of course makes sense. Some minimalist images I have done, some abstracts also make global impressions (ideally). However, its also nice to return to parts of an image and find more detail, more areas of interest. So, it depends once again on the goal, the interaction between artist and viewer.
Scott



Aug 26, 2012 at 11:36 AM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #16 · How I saw an image


sbeme wrote:
Interesting and thoughtful discussion.
Nice to read this kind of intelligent dialogue.
Scott

Agreed.

I think Ben has demonstrated that one of a landscape photographer's biggest tools is patience. Compare the test image to his final image. The clouds and reflection really add to the outcome.

I was brought up using slightly different terms. We discussed "first read" and "second read". A lot of my courses at Art Center were for commercial photography, where the photos were intended to end up on the printed page. For that kind of work, you need to have an image that will stop someone flipping through the pages of a magazine. Your next goal is to provide information in the photograph. Usually there's a strong graphic element used as the hook.

Other types of photographs don't necessarily need such devices. I think that's why I like quiet, subtle images as well. It's a nice respite.

For me most of the analyzing happens post capture. I'm not often that deliberate, although when I shot a lot of 4x5 the medium required it. I don't so much "think" an image at capture as "feel" it. A while back I bought Paint to play with. I selected a photo of my grandson taken at the beach that I thought would be a good test. While reading up on Paint, I found it had various overlays to help study the image. One was the golden spiral. I decided to play around and overlaid it on the selected image. Every important element of the image fell on the spiral and it terminated directly over his eye!



Aug 26, 2012 at 12:30 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #17 · How I saw an image


Scott, thanks for developing this thought process further. I was sort of experimenting with this post and it seems that the idea itself was worth the effort.

dmacmillan. Do they call you Mac? I appreciate your comments, and am in total agreement that I took this image by feel once I knew what I wanted to include and exclude. The real analyses does come later.

I was patient to an extent. I read several chapters of a novel and spent part of the time fly fishing this pond and even cooked my dinner between the first and last image.



Aug 26, 2012 at 02:32 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #18 · How I saw an image


ben egbert wrote:
dmacmillan. Do they call you Mac?

Ben, call me Doug.



Aug 26, 2012 at 07:45 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #19 · How I saw an image


Or, you could go for a little snappier version with USM at 16, 60, 0 to bump the mid-tones, burning and dodging and selective sharpening and pulling back the vibrance on the result:







Aug 26, 2012 at 08:27 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #20 · How I saw an image


Hi Aunti, since you were half the inspiration for this I was hoping to see your reply.

Adding sizzle is one approach when drama is lacking.

Am I to assume that you are going hands off with respect to my composition methodology? That is ok as well. I only wanted to explain my approach not challenge anything.






Aug 26, 2012 at 08:52 PM
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