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Archive 2013 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india
  
 
NandanWarrier
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


Hey Guys,
This click below is a small snake temple ad-mist a vegetable farm. It kind of gives me a feel that the snake gods of the farmer is keeping guard of his farm, which made me make this snap.

I wish to know how intriguing is this photograph? Is it a bad shot, average shot , good or an excellent one? Feel free to critique on every aspect of this photograph. I want to know if you guys are able to feel what i thought of this place through this click.

Please suggest..





The Guardian




Jan 22, 2013 at 06:37 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


First of all ... Welcome to FM and the PC forum.

This one is kinda tough to comment on the emotive aspect of viewer response because it has an element of cultural frame of reference. Having little actual personal exposure to Indian culture (intellectual awareness only), there isn't a strong emotional connection to the concept of a snake temple in a field.

Without the knowledge that this is a snake temple (which I understand intellectually), I see nothing (limited cultural experience) that tells me what it is. I'd have errantly mistaken it for something else or simply been lacking in what it was. I mention these things, because sometimes the frame of reference of our viewers is critical to the perception of the image. This I think is one such (cultural) instance.

That being said ... I'm kinda diggin' the fogginess, but the shadows seem a bit blocked up to me at first glance and the vegetable farm doesn't come across well (possible cultural issue).



Jan 22, 2013 at 08:25 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


It is not a photo that stands alone and delivers the message that it is a temple or related to snakes or is India. If it were not for the subject line caption I wouldn't have a clue what I was looking at.

For a message to be effective in a photo on its own without a caption to explain it the viewer must be able to recognize they are looking at. Would it resonate with and Indian audience? Perhaps. But absent any visible snakes or farmers anyone like myself not familar with the location or the culture it looks very much like an old ruin in the middle of a field anywhere in Asia with a pile of dirt in it.

As for the composition there is strongly contrasting focal point (the building) facing left which gives the viewer a clue which way to go in the photo. But huge expanse of brighter sky above and the space to the right of the shrine act to pull attention off your main focal point and the what I'm assuming is the secondary one, the pile of dirt snake condo under the roof.

What does all that extra background context add to the story here? Nothing I'd miss if it were cropped out. Cropping just above the trees on top and closer in on the right will stop the viewer's eye on the shire for the simple reason there's nowhere else for it to go. The focal points, relative to the overall size of the photo, will be larger.

It is the type of shot that would work well in slide show after a wide shot establishing the location as India (signs in local language, people seen in local garb) with close-ups of the pile of dirt and snake after seeing this one. Wide > medium > close-up.




Jan 22, 2013 at 10:23 PM
NandanWarrier
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


Thank you Rusty & Gardner for your feedback. Your suggestions really triggered me few thoughts about how to go about photographing a culture specific subject.

Although there is an element of cultural frame of reference as Rusty suggested, There are few things which i could've improved, like the vegetable farm, is not really conveying its one. [bad luck, the farmers harvested it an hour before i clicked it]. But i doubt it would've worked even if i'd clicked it before harvest.

As for gardner's suggestion, i clearly understand why this photograph doesn't stand on its own rather it works better in a series.

And i tried cropping out the sky and recomposed to give a bit of breathing room to the left and brought the structure to the middle of the right side 1/3rd and the middle 1/3rd and felt a little better, but i still found that the picture dint work on its own. Which concluded one thing to me, This belongs in a series.

Once gain, you guys have given me enough to think about for a start and am very thankful for that. I still haven't found my niche. Hopefully a better understanding of photography will help me. You can catch me around Photo Critique thread adding a bit of Indian spice around FM. Cheers and Thanks
Nandan Warrier



Jan 23, 2013 at 12:22 PM
NandanWarrier
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


if you guys wish, i can post the re-cropped version too..


Jan 23, 2013 at 12:23 PM
beavens
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


I'd like to see the recropped version!

How does it look when you bring the shadows up a touch?



Jan 23, 2013 at 02:03 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


One of the more challenging things to pull off well in a still photo is telling a complex story with context and focal point in a single shot.

How I approach PJ style storytelling in stills is to first identify the main focal point and shoot tight close-ups of it, both from my "external observer" point-of-view (POV) and "over the shoulder views" of what the focal point is seeing. In this case it would be close-ups of the snake and tightly cropped photos of the people worshiping it taken from behind the snake looking up (the snake's POV).

Then I back up with the camera and try to find medium shots where the action is seen relating to the context but the focal point is still dominant in the frame. When seen in reverse order wide>medium>close-up this "medium" shot is what introduces the viewer to the focal point and how they relate to the context. Here it might be the shrine with worshipers heading down the path with an offering cropped horizontally as I suggested with less sky and space past the focal point.

Finally I pull back wide to show the overall context of the location. That's where you can include signs if the location isn't obvious from landmarks and use clues like the direction of light relative to your shooting position (over your shoulder or cross light ) to convey the time of day via shadows and their length. With sun over your shoulder few shadows are seen and it looks like high noon in the photo. Sun to the side or behind at mid-day create 45 degree shadows the the viewer will interpret as mid-day lighting. Cross lighting late in the day creates long shadows which clue the view it's that time of day.

In the wide establishing shot I'll locate focal point of the med and close-up shots on the right side of the frame a horizontal cropped scenic, or near the background of something like street scene. The goal in doing that is to guess where the viewer is likely to enter the photo and from there pull them over the context of they need to understand to appreciate the shots to follow when seen in wide > med >close-up order.

When first looking at a photo the brain looks for contrast and gets drawn to it. In the medium and close-up shots you want the focal point to contrast the most with the background so the viewer will be instinctively drawn to it and then stay there. The are all about the focal point not the context.

In the wide establishing shot the way you can control entry point eye movement from context > focal point is put it off center on the right (for cultures who read left > right) and make it the SECOND MOST CONTRASTING THING in the frame. Find some naturally contrasting detail in the foreground (tone, color, size, shape) and make it contrast more that the focal point as a diversion to pull attention there first, then to the focal point.

DOF can also be used this way by putting the focal point directly behind the foreground and sharp with the foreground out of focus sending a subliminal clue to the viewer that closer stuff, while bigger, isn't as important. The caveat here is don't blur the context to point it can't be recognized.

Combined the wide > medium >close-up external > close-up actor's view create a cinematic story like watching a scene in a move. As the crop tightens the external viewer is pulled closer to the action and it will create progressively stronger emotional reaction to the content. "Holy reptiles! There's a Cobra in than pile of dirt!" is the reaction when they finally see the snake and "get" what the story is really about. The wide and med shots are the "bait" and the close-ups are where you hook the fish and reel it into the boat.

Forced to choose one for a competition or display on the wall the close-up you start with will stand on it's own as an action shot without the need for context and have the most emotional impact because it "pulls" the viewer closer to the action. Portraits work like that: all about the face with the background so unimportant plain ones are used to eliminate distractions off the face, and close-ups have more impact than H&S or full-length (on a normally dressed subject).

The next best "one shot only" choice would be a med. shot where the focal point / action is dominant but some background / foreground context is seen but does not pull attention off the focal point (why I suggested cropping your "medium" shot). Where the "cinematic" approach will help you with your medium shots is to spot for yourself when they have too much unnecessary context that distracts. You'll find yourself "editing the story" in the camera better with your SOOC wide>med>close crops.




Jan 23, 2013 at 02:35 PM
NandanWarrier
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


Gardner, That's quite a lesson you gave me here. Thank you very much! I knew the eyes are drawn to contrast. But using levels of contrast to guide the eyes of the viewer... a gem of a trick. Am gonna try that for sure.

The story "Snake gods of the farmer keeping guard of his fields" is what actually captured my imagination. But i guess, that picture was not there in first place. May be if i go back, talk to the local farmers, find out the time of year in which they do the rituals (usually in India, most shrines and temples do have a time of the year in which they do the special rituals associated to that particular god/goddess/temple. Its different for each temple/shrine) and be there during that time, I guess i can get my story to light. That too in full color

Beavens : Here's the cropped version.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nandanwarrier/8407817505



Jan 23, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Eyeball
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


I like the new crop much better. Your first version emphasized the "graphic" elements of the white vs. black and the general structure of the temple. It was much more "in your face" and simple and it put a lot of responsibility on the temple, which due to its simple nature could be considered to be a bit of a let-down.

The new version makes it much easier to enjoy the details and it conveys a more subtle, richer mood IMO. Moving the temple off-center with the path/row leading to it is also more compositionally pleasing for me.

Both treatments are interesting and each sends its own message. Given the scene though, I think your second version plays more to its strengths.

If you have the tones in the original, I would just suggest two things:
- Work the tones in the trees and fog to bring out the trees a tiny bit more.
- See if you could bring out a little more detail in those dark shadows in the foreground and in the temple itself. The foreground may not be a bed of roses due to the recent harvest but I do think there is some interesting detail there - particularly as it contrasts with the plants to the right of the temple.



Jan 23, 2013 at 04:26 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


NandanWarrier wrote:
Gardner, That's quite a lesson you gave me here. Thank you very much! I knew the eyes are drawn to contrast. But using levels of contrast to guide the eyes of the viewer... a gem of a trick. Am gonna try that for sure.

Most of the time you'll need to create the gradients in post processing. Keep the "breadcrumbs" on the eye path you want the viewer to stop and savor light by dodging a bit lighter than SOOC, then darken the areas around them to send the subliminal message not to waste time looking there.

I always try to record a full range of detail as by baseline starting point but when shooting anticipate how I'll change the capture in post processing:
SOOC





How I visualized the final result when taking the shot:






I don't have the SOOC file for this one on-line but it was similar to the gear shot, uniform detail everywhere:






Here's a PJ sequence of vacation snap shots...






Note the context of the location and fish food dispensers on the dock which help explain what she's doing, perhaps not immediately but the "dots get connected" when the second shot is seen.

In the second I intentionally included parts of the dock as context, tying into the first, but just to frame the action in the middle. I blurred the dock on the edges a bit in PP to subliminally tell the viewer they were less important that the sharper stuff in the middle. Because the fish in the middle are dark I kept the dock light as a contrasting frame, and dodged the fish lighter than they were SOOC.

The ducks are not really noticed in the second shot because they are hidden in the glare off the water and viewer is busy thinking, "Oh she's feeding fish" and focusing attention on them. That diversion of attention makes the ducks a surprise "Easter Egg Hunt" focal point of the story. Seeing them walking on the fish trying to steal the food is the added "punchline" that hopefully takes it to the next level of making the viewer react emotionally with a smile... Just a shot of the fish wouldn't be as interesting because the viewer already knew they were there from the second shot.

At least that was the plan when I visualized the story standing on the dock


Edited on Jan 23, 2013 at 07:02 PM · View previous versions



Jan 23, 2013 at 05:23 PM
 

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NandanWarrier
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


Hey Gardner

I really love the way you processed the gear shot and the PJ sequence. Just as you said like a movie sequence.. But you got a twist in your story too, just like a movie. And the last shot will stand by itself as a single shot. Ducks walking on Fish... That's a shot in itself.

Hey Eyeball

Here's a quick edit of your suggestion.

- It was real foggy, and that's the best i could bring the background up-to. Not much detail in there.

- About the foreground lightening.. i tried that and did my best..
But i guess the image lost its contrast...Take a look..

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nandanwarrier/8409186468



Jan 23, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Eyeball
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


I think you lost a little too much contrast in your last version and it looks like its over-sharpened. Here is an example, using your original post. I used Curves in Photoshop to try to bring the background trees out of the fog just a little bit more. I set one curve point on a relatively bright part of the fog and another point on one of the darker areas of the trees. I then pulled the dark point down on the curve. I then applied a mask so that adjustment affected only the background.

I also tried to brighten very slightly and lower the contrast of the temple to try to make it look like it was slightly in the fog. I darkened the foreground.

I would have liked to have brought a little more detail out of the foreground shadows but this version has a lot of solid black areas. If you shot raw, you could probably recover some of those deep shadows.









Jan 24, 2013 at 01:15 AM
beavens
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


Eyeball - I like what you've done with it, but I definitely think that the "path" needs to be brought up at least. Totally draws my eyes to the subject in question.

And definitely keep the new crop!



Jan 24, 2013 at 01:31 PM
NandanWarrier
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


Hey guys,

here is the version with your suggestions. But again, Am just not able to bring up any details from the background.. way too foggy and my crop is not exactly as of Eyeballs.

But i've brought up the path and worked on the contrast from the previous version with a few details in the foreground.

And, i've tried gardner's trick of reducing contrast to lead. What do you guys feel about this version?








Jan 24, 2013 at 04:34 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


Like the latest effort but if the pile of dirt in the building is where the snakes live or the shrine to them I'd make it the lightest tone in the entire foreground to make it contrast the most and pull the eye there with contrast alone. Even though it is not particularly interesting in the shot the fact it contrast sends the subliminal message it is most important, like putting the lead actor in the spotlight on a dark stage.

To keep the viewer focused on the building and contest more darken the sky or just crop more of it out above the building near the top of the tree on the right. The sky is not important to the message you are trying to tell here and if seeing the tighter crop first a view wouldn't miss it and say "Hey where's the sky" because they will be focusing all their mental energy trying to figure out why there is a pile of dirt in the building and why it's so important

Put yourself in the mind of the viewer standing there in person by remembering what caught your eye and why. The pile of dirt because you understood it's significance. It is the PSYCHOLOGICAL FOCAL POINT of the story. Then ask, how you can make it contrast and also make it the VISUAL / PERCEPTUAL FOCAL POINT so a clueless stranger viewing the photo also gets attracted to and "walks" towards it with their eyes for a closer look. Next time walk closer in the same way and take that next closer POV shot of the focal point to complete the story.



Jan 24, 2013 at 05:57 PM
NandanWarrier
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


Hey Gardner,

Thanks again for that valuable suggestion and i completely agree with you on leading the audience eyes to the pile of dirt. I tried it. but for 2 reasons, i drew myself back and was happy leading my audience to the shrine.

1. Brightening the dirt looked a bit unnatural coz of the lighting of the scene. I mean, the dirt is naturally dark, but if lighten it, it loses that. Am not really a master at processing. May be someone can do it better. Am sure you can do it better.

2. Well, Am feeling a bit guilty . Am taking their interest by leading them to the dirt, but what am i showing them? There's no cobra i felt like i ditched them at the dirt

So instead, i diverted them to the shrine itself, not much there as well. But yeh, its a snake temple...

What do you say? Should i leave the viewer at the dirt or just as it is? A bit confused here...The cobra would've solved the problem..

Am gonna find a snake charmer and make his cobra do some modelling

By the way, am reading your tutorial blog now. Might take a few weeks to finish it..but so far..Amazing...



Jan 24, 2013 at 06:16 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


I like the foggy sky, but not the noise. The noise adds a grittiness that undos the mood of the fog. Perhaps a lesser crop to retain the mood of the original with a bit better visual balance, plus noise reduction:







Jan 24, 2013 at 09:50 PM
NandanWarrier
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


Interesting... bringing the mood was the original idea. But the tighter crop seemed to make some sense to the story. Again, as Gardner explained, i guess its more of fitting into a series kind of snap..


Jan 25, 2013 at 07:58 PM
NandanWarrier
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


By the way, if you don't mind, how did you reduce the noise?


Jan 25, 2013 at 08:00 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Observation on my click of a small snake god temple in india


I used a Topaz DeNoise plug-in in Photoshop, but there are built-in noise reduction tools in many image processors and several good or perhaps better noise reduction add-ons.


Jan 25, 2013 at 09:29 PM





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