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Archive 2012 · The wave, a picture story
  
 
ben egbert
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p.2 #1 · The wave, a picture story


I use Topaz. Is color ESF a Nik thing? I started to get Nik when I upgraded to 64 bit but they did not have a 64 bit version at the time so I went with Topaz which did. I think I could get pretty close with my stuff. Just a matter of having a vision.



Sep 08, 2012 at 11:59 PM
ben egbert
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p.2 #2 · The wave, a picture story


AuntiPode wrote:
Actually, where you were put limits on how much you could include, but it in no way forced you to center the subject in the frame. Turning the camera a little to the left and pointing it a bit more up or down and/or crouching to shooting from a lower angle would have changed the composition to a less static centered one. Cropping is after the fact composition. 'Tis safer to visualize the final composition and then include some extra to fine tune.

Good rules of thumb for a landscape or any other image: Put the horizon somewhere other than center-frame.
...Show more

I was as low as I get for this, probably 2 feet off the ground. Left would have meant flare and right would have meant buildings.

But even so, I don't see the improvement you speak of. I am sure its there, everyone says so, I just don't see it.



Sep 09, 2012 at 12:02 AM
RustyBug
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p.2 #3 · The wave, a picture story


Oregon Gal wrote:
most of my skills, which are still a work in progress, have been learned on this forum by other gracious and very talented photographers who are always willing to help out a fellow photographer.


+1, ditto for me as well ... it's mostly Karen's fault ... she started it (at least for me anyway).
Well, that and a book or two along the way, as well as a website here & there, and Bob, and Scott, and Chuck, and well, you get the gist ...

That .. and the graciousness of our fellow members to post new & challenging issues ... allowing us to try & resolve, giving a plethora of learning opportunity for trial & error, refinement or experimentation. It cuts both ways and is a great sandbox.



Sep 09, 2012 at 01:20 AM
AuntiPode
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p.2 #4 · The wave, a picture story


ben egbert wrote:
I was as low as I get for this, probably 2 feet off the ground. Left would have meant flare and right would have meant buildings.


Still leaves pointing the camera up some or down some to at least move the horizon off the center.



... I don't see the improvement you speak of. I am sure its there, everyone says so, I just don't see it.


A few weeks back, on another thread:

ben egbert wrote:
I posted this yesterday in landscape but later decided it was not up to the quality for that forum so I deleted it. I decided I need to get some critique and improvement before I attempt to post stuff there. So I hope to be welcomed here as a technically inclined but compostionally challenged photographer.


As you've noted, your technique is good. Your post processing is good. The principle problem is composition. Composition is a question of aesthetics. We can make suggestions to improve composition and offer examples and guidelines and rules of thumb to help. I don't know any other way to help you see them. For example, if you can't see or intuit why dead center is deadly, what more can we say? Nothing to be gained by repeating advice that doesn't help.



Sep 09, 2012 at 02:12 AM
ben egbert
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p.2 #5 · The wave, a picture story


I understand, the center deal is like I before E in spelling. It makes no sense to me so I have to do it by rote. There is no intuition, no understanding here.

I take my images mostly with primes which has some limitations. I do think about off center if I can even figure out what others will call the center. I am willing to point up maybe 2-3 degrees if it won't cause leaners. This one would not obviously.

But in this case, there was no point in including any more foreground, and I wanted all I did include. So the option was to crop later.

Here is a more complete essay on how I do see stuff.

http://ben-egbert-photo.com/?page_id=248

I do want to learn, but this image was taken 2 years ago. A level lens shoots a centered horizon very often. I use my TSE lenses to adjust that when possible. This was a TSE lens, and I think I adjusted it down to get more of the tide pool.

As I have said, left and right was not an option. Another focal length might have been the option.

I will learn this by the feedback I get here and by repetition. I get I and E right (usually) only because I have a spell checker. Maybe I need a center checker on my camera.

Here is my proposal. I will show an uncropped SOOC for you to crop and hope I get the feel for what it is that is wanted. I will try to apply that on new images and for cropping purposes when I show finished images. But I may still take centered images for personal use.













Sep 09, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Oregon Gal
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p.2 #6 · The wave, a picture story


Ben,

Yes, ColorEfex 4 is part of Nik's software suite. I own Topaz as well and I use it in my post processing. For me I think that Nik filters can give better results and both have have a place in my processing.



Sep 09, 2012 at 11:31 AM
RustyBug
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p.2 #7 · The wave, a picture story


Ben,

Uisng a really "out there" analogy @ composition.

A boxing match would be really boring, if we simply watched the boxers enter the ring from their respective corners ... walk straight to the center of the ring ... and then we watch them stand there and show us "all their power" in one punch ... or even just watching them trade punches incessantly in the same location.

Part of the composition is the "dance" ... a place for us to move our eyes "to & fro". Watching boxers move about the ring generates a degree of movement that keeps it wondering and fresh. Of course, if all they did was "run around the ring" without ever stopping for a display of power ... that we would get very tiresome of the "busy-ness" without anyplace to engage for a few.

Having comps "off center" ... is kinda like when a boxer moves away from the center of the ring. He now has the ability to "use the ropes" to "maneuver" his opponent around a bit. Maneuvering your viewers eye is a combination of many different elements ... focus/blur, color, tonal value, scale, space, etc.

In another "out there" analogy ... one of the fascinating toys that us "youngins" might remember was Ideal's Battling Tops. As the tops would move about the "arena" ... we could watch them zig & zag, up and down, colliding with other tops, or moving far away from them ... only to return to re-engage.

Contrast this with taking a single top and giving it a masterful spin that was so balanced it could sit right in the middle of the ring and seemingly be motionless (i.e. static) despite the precision and movement that it was hiding.

Part of what makes a good comp (imo) is one that has the viewer moving his eyes, yet isn't allowed to "exit" the frame. Alternatively, when we have a very specific point that we want to draw the viewer to ... we can draw the viewer to our point in such a way that they "can't escape" ... by way of "bouncing back" off the ropes. Myriads of variation involved, but I guess the point a "dead center is deadly" is that like watching that top sit there and spin "dead center", it can have a way of putting the viewer into a "catatonic" state.

Moving things "off center" (physical, tonal, color, etc.) can help imbalance things such that movement continues, rather coming to a "halt" once arriving at the focal point ... while using the weighting of elements within the ropes to push things around so your viewer "returns" ... never allowing it to become "static", nor allowing them to "leave".

Easier said than done sometimes ... but worthy of consideration to keep in the back (or front) of your mind. Of course, this all comes in context with "What's your point?" and "What is the message that you want to convey to your viewer?"

Deadly, static, catatonic ... choose your word of choice, but they all suggest lack of movement or being "stuck" in one place. It isn't that dead center is to always be avoided ... but it is the easiest place for your viewer to "get stuck".



Sep 09, 2012 at 02:20 PM
ben egbert
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p.2 #8 · The wave, a picture story


Hi Rusty. I have been aware of off center since my first camera club in 1980. Just like my school teacher tried to make me understand spelling in 1945. Neither concept took.

When I get ready to take a picture, I first decide what I want in the picture and what I don't want. Then I find a lens that is appropriate for this if I have one. With a prime you usually need to include more than you want.

I look for centered horizons, and if I have a shift lens, I will decide if I want to have more sky or grass. I put it off center, usually 1/3 is such a huge stretch I don't even attempt it, so I just get a little off center. In some cases I want everything so I leave it centered. By 17mm I usually have too much of both and plan for a pano crop. But my wheat field was almost perfectly centered and there was absolutely nothing I wanted to leave out. How would you have done that one?

As far as left right, I usually don't have anything specific, because often the entire sweep is subject to me. I do put the sun off center usually, or if I have a specific subject and room to move it without losing something eles. I do like leading lines however and will use them when found.

In this case, the breaking wave was the subject and I got low to get the angle I wanted that would maximize it. I wanted the tide pool so I shifted to get all of it. Probably worried about getting the tripod legs.

I could have tilted up, but then I would have lost some of the tidepool.

The splash was the center of attraction, it was where I was looking. I always think the camera should be like being there in person and showing the view the way you looked at it.

I am pretty sure I am not going to win this one, so I promise not to attempt to use my idea for composition in critique here, if you note, I usually don't say much about compostion. I do note that civilians like my prints, they have not been taught what to like. I guess that goes for me too.






Sep 09, 2012 at 02:43 PM
RustyBug
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p.2 #9 · The wave, a picture story


Ben,

Nothing to win or lose ... just giving space to consideration of the concept. Like all concepts ... available to "use or lose" at one's personal discretion. It isn't a formulaic "right or wrong" thing ... it's just a conceptual understanding or how it is but ONE PIECE of the puzzle for consideration @ how to integrate with the others.

As to "rules of composition" ... no re-hash, but like everything else ... NOT BINDING. Your vision, your message ... your call. My vision / message is to present things as they could be, have been, will be or actually are (even if too subtle to notice in person). Certainly this means that yours & mine have some areas of overlap and some areas of disjunction ... but that doesn't make anyone more right or wrong, nor win or lose.

I was thinking earlier at some of the early color films ... and how much they differed from the current evolution of color films and the corresponding expansion of gamut in the digital realm. Then I was looking at some pottery with my wife and we were noticing how much the color varied (green became blue) as we turned toward or away from the window. I've got a shirt that does the same thing going from green to brown as lighting changes throughout the day ... I still don't know what color it really is if someone were to ask me.

That's a digression from composition ... but it still is in the realm of we decide what to present to our viewer ... in the way that we want to present it to convey the message that we want to convey. If I wanted to show someone that the pottery "looked blue" to us ... I'd use lighting or WB to make the pottery "look blue". If I wanted to show someone that the pottery was "actually green", I'd adjust the lighting or WB to do that.

Either way ... it's always "my call" @ what I present. Whether I show the pottery as "green" or "blue" ... my showing it as either is faithful to what I (and my wife) saw. In that regard, what we decide to show / present is based on the assessment of the message we desire to send. At blue, the message is "see how it looks in different light" (not that ambient ever changes ), while @ green, it is "see it normalized".

Our compositions are no different. They are our decisions @ how we want to present, relative to our message. My take on your message intent is that you aspire to weight it a bit more toward "information" ... and that drives your composition decisions, as it should. For those of us who aspire for more "dynamic" messages ... we tend to espouse things toward the same. Again, neither right, nor wrong ... but maybe issues of harmonizing vs. contradictory perspectives.

But whether you are striving for information vs. dynamic vs. subtle vs. interpretive ... understanding how various elements and treatments of those elements come together, is not unlike writing these posts vs. waxing poetic. The intent of the message drives the decisions @ our choices of words, tones, compositions, flavors, notes, textures, scents, volumes, pace, variation, complexity, harmony, contrast, etc.

In that, no matter the medium (photos, words, food, sounds, sculpture, perfume, etc.) ... it's our message that we are crafting, and we have the elements of the medium at our disposal to decide how to incorporate them for delivering our intended message. It's your message ... its your audience ... its your call (infinitely subjective, infinitely variable).


In an effort to strike a chord @ engineer:

Do you use aluminum, steel, titanium or magnesium ... or create an alloy ... to build a widget?

Kinda depends on the widget and who it's for. Those decisions are rooted in both knowing the end application (intended message) and end user (viewing audience) and understanding the properties of the elements at your disposal (visual elements of the medium). In that regard, it can be very formulaic, but there is no "singularly correct" formula. Ask ten different engineers, and well ... it's their project, their design and their call (fundamental or experimental) ... if that helps any.




Edited on Sep 09, 2012 at 04:04 PM · View previous versions



Sep 09, 2012 at 03:41 PM
 

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ben egbert
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p.2 #10 · The wave, a picture story


Hi Rusty, its not like I have not thought about this. I have 9 articles at my webpage describing how I see the world and what I want my photo message to be. Its all under philosophy so that visitors will know it's not gospel truth, just an opinion. But for me, it is what I believe today and what I have evolved to in 30 years of photography.

My webpage is actually intended to be practical tips about where to go and when to be there and how to build filter holders for a 17TSE and what happens when you attach a polarizer to a UWA lens and other empirical stuff. But I included my rant on current composition dogma under philosophy so I could unload.

I use selective focus for birds and flowers, and also do better making them off center. In those cases there is a distinct single subject, with landscapes the scape is the subject. If I did not want something in the image, I would either use a longer lens or crop.








Sep 09, 2012 at 04:01 PM
RustyBug
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p.2 #11 · The wave, a picture story


Gotcha.


Sep 09, 2012 at 04:05 PM
AuntiPode
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p.2 #12 · The wave, a picture story


Ben, you leave me scratching my head. From your first thread or so on this forum when you wrote that you needed critique and where compositionally challenged, I understood you wanted composition critique to help you improve. However, from your comments it seems you've gotten composition critique for a long time and it doesn't work for you. When I offered composition critique for you, it wasn't mostly to address post-processing, it was aimed at envisioning the scene and to provide notions that would help produce compositions generally perceived as aesthetically pleasing and harmonious. I rarely find a good subject for which I can't find a good composition in camera. Sometimes I must shoot with the expectation that a later crop will be needed for the optimal aspect ratio. Occasionally I'll discover a stronger or better image hiding within and reveal with a crop.

I suppose my point is that you've been doing this a long time. You can't "see" why some compositions are better than others and from your comments I'd conclude you like centering the horizon and the principle subject. That's ok. It's not immoral or evil. It's your vision and style. However, I don't see how I can usefully critique to help you improve improve your composition. You want to do what you want to do.



Sep 09, 2012 at 07:01 PM
ben egbert
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p.2 #13 · The wave, a picture story


Hi Aunti. I guess you are probably correct. I came here for critique, and that's fine so long as I don't have to change very fast.

How can I show stuff if it is already done and violates one of the rules? I am very interested in post processing and cropping. I do crop because it is often difficult to get the framing I want with a prime. I even decenter slightly if it does not mess up other things.

By the way, I have learned a lot of new post processing things since I started here.

I do have a zoom on order, first zoom below 70mm that might be good enough in the corners for landscape. But it is not shipping yet.

If I used my 17-40, I would need to shoot much wider so I could crop out the corners and edges anyway.





Sep 09, 2012 at 07:58 PM
AuntiPode
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p.2 #14 · The wave, a picture story


The critique forum isn't just about the folks who post and respond. Many lurk. I presume they find the dialog helpful. It could also be a problem. If I limit my critiques to nitpicking other aspects and ignore the 600 pound gorilla of composition problems, I suspect it may confuse and mislead new lurking folks just starting out. If I critique frequent posts for the same composition problems, I sound like a broken record and who wants to listen to a broken record?


Sep 09, 2012 at 08:26 PM
ben egbert
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p.2 #15 · The wave, a picture story


I have no problem with composition critique, just as long as I am not expected to follow it. I might even fool you. At this stage, changes come slow, but I am always changing.

I won't even argue so long as I am allowed to just ignore most of it with respect to reading left to right and non centered and static. Like I said. I am always open to cropping ideas. And when I return to a place, I will try stuff I have heard here.

I am still waiting for a good day to redo the waterfall and mountain shots I showed a couple weeks back. I will be doing stuff I heard here, although with my spin.





Sep 09, 2012 at 08:34 PM
RustyBug
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p.2 #16 · The wave, a picture story


"violates the rules" ... no such thing
"expected to follow" ... no such thing
+1 @ Karen, i.e. writing for lurkers.

It is ALWAYS a choice to use your tools as you see fit in the creation of your work. Understanding how those tools aid you in achieving your design/vision ... well, most engineering circles advocate the "right tool for the job". But even in that regard, their exists latitude for preference. Personally, I prefer a six-point socket when given the option between it and a twelve-point socket. Using the right sized socket is the prescribed "right tool". BUT, there are sometimes that you really want to use a "cutting torch" instead.

I had a chemistry teacher that said the class HAD to use a scientific calculator and that it was a requirement for the class. Well ... can you say "slide rule" and still always finished in the top three fastest and most accurate.

The point of the "calculator" rule was to help the students achieve accuracy & speed for the exams. I mean if you really think about it ... the 73,000 "rules of composition" require that not all of them can be simultaneously congruous ... and therefore some of them ... of gee, must be ... violated, broken, not followed. As a person of logic, it therefore presents that there is "no blood, no foul" for not following a rule that has been provided as a tool.

Whether it is a "slide rule", a yardstick or the ROT ... it isn't an inviolable LAW of physics and chemistry that is presented for matters of life & death ... such as "don't mix ammonia & bleach in a confined space" ... that is a potentially DEADLY rule that is one should considered inviolable. Centering, ROT, geometric mean, etc. ... they are merely guides or tools to consider.

Here's one that I TRIED to make "dead center" ... does that mean I violated anything?

BTW ... Bumblebee's & helicopters shouldn't be able to fly according to certain engineering rules, and Columbus should have fallen off the edge of the earth according to yet another rule.

As always, S&P to taste ... your vision, your spin, your call.

I think the thing that gets "LOST" along the way regarding critique's is this:

Many people think it is a matter of indicating what is right vs. wrong or what "should be". But rather, it is a sharing of ideas for consideration that are intended to assist someone in achieving their goals. If the shared idea isn't of assistance to helping achieve that which you are striving for ... put it in your back pocket for a time when it might be helpful later, or kick it to the curb as "not you" ... either way, its yours to choose to "use or lose".

One thing we have seen many times around here is that it is often a collective and iterative effort @ multiple components / issues ... more so than a "single thought" being correct. Yet, those "single thoughts" can often generate additional consideration ... the proverbial "brainstorming" or "think tank" if you will. Sometimes it is mostly consensus ... other times it is a collection of dichotomies.

Rules ... we don't need no stinkin' rules.









Sep 09, 2012 at 09:57 PM
AuntiPode
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p.2 #17 · The wave, a picture story


When a composition is weak or doesn't, the rules are useful to explain why. Unfortunately, they are too pedantic to replace aesthetic appreciation. However, until you develop aesthetic appreciation, they offer useful guidelines and ideas to help you develop an aesthetic sense. Thinking back many years ago to an attempt to help a friend with a photography course, my experience suggests at least some folks can't develop a good aesthetic sense, as most folks would understand it.


Sep 10, 2012 at 02:01 AM
HiredGoon
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p.2 #18 · The wave, a picture story


I've seen the printed version hanging in Ben's house and the images shown here don't do it justice. That said, I'm sure a crop and some tweaking as suggested above may work to produce an even better print.

I constantly marvel at the difference between the SOOC image and the final processed image, not just in this series but in others as well. I just don't have the photoshop fu to bring out such colour and detail. I'm wondering how many of my own shots I've passed over that could have turned out to be keepers ...



Sep 10, 2012 at 11:08 PM
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