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Thread: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

  1. #1
    rob marshall

    Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    I keep being drawn to this shot that i took some time ago. There seems to be something elemental about the setting which I tried to capture. It did actually look pretty much like this. Late in the evening light, and a very heavy storm coming over. It's the Breacon Beacons in South Wales.

    I really do like the heavy contrast in B&W (any shot, not just this one) but I know it's not to everyone's taste.

    See it on black

    Too extreme? Or too bleak?

  2. #2

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    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    I'm sure if Turner had taken photographs he'd have been pleased with this one.
    A magical and fleeting moment caught in pixels forever.

    A wonderful picture Rob.

  3. #3
    jiro's Avatar
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    I like how you framed the shot, Rob. You really captured the play of light superbly on this one. On a personal taste, I still want to open up the exposure on the dark areas on the foreground just a little bit. I like this shot.

  4. #4
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    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    I'd be interested in seeing how it looks with Jiro's suggestion applied, but I like it very much as is. Love it, even. The light is amazing.

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    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    I don't think I would change anything...oh, maybe a little more light on the top of the fore ridge...but that's just a uhmmm, maybe.

  6. #6

    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    This is very interesting! There's really nothing in it but the storm sweeping across the hill. (I've made this comment before but...) I can hear the rain - even feel it - chilly! (It could be that I just came in from a cool evening walk, though.) It has lots of emotion, so, does that mean....it's 'good'???

  7. #7
    rob marshall

    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    Quote Originally Posted by jiro View Post
    I like how you framed the shot, Rob. You really captured the play of light superbly on this one. On a personal taste, I still want to open up the exposure on the dark areas on the foreground just a little bit. I like this shot.
    I keep thinking I ought to do that with a lot of shots. But I often feel the need to show things (especially in BW) with large blocks of extreme contrast. I've been impressed for a long time by the work of the British photographer Bill Brandt, who used to deliberately blacken large areas of his shot in the darkoom. Like this one... http://cs.nga.gov.au/Detail-LRG.cfm?IRN=112991&View=LRG

    Perhaps one of the bad things about digital is that it's made us a little too concerned about detail and image quality?

  8. #8
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    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    Really nice shot, Rob. I will actually be interested in seeing even more contrast. I think it will bring out the shapes in the hiills even more. Sort of like a lit bowl, or something. As soon as I saw your photo, it made me think of http://ronbigelow.com/articles/shadows/shadows-4.jpg, by Ron Bigelow.

  9. #9
    rob marshall

    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    Quote Originally Posted by abhi View Post
    As soon as I saw your photo, it made me think of http://ronbigelow.com/articles/shadows/shadows-4.jpg, by Ron Bigelow.
    Yes, exactly what I meant. Letting large areas of bold, almost reckless contrast dictate the shape of the shot.

  10. #10
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    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    I agree with you on the high contrast and details. As you might have seen in my work before I appreciate heavy contrast, though I like to apply some detail to the brighter more important areas, just like Bill Brandt's shot you showed above. Fine structure and shadow/highlight detail are good use in photographs, but quite often I see people who have creating as much detail in highlights and shadow areas as a rule to get a good shot, which doesn't simply work for me. I believe that that's what you meant (?).

  11. #11
    rob marshall

    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    Quote Originally Posted by JK6065 View Post
    I agree with you on the high contrast and details. As you might have seen in my work before I appreciate heavy contrast, though I like to apply some detail to the brighter more important areas, just like Bill Brandt's shot you showed above. Fine structure and shadow/highlight detail are good use in photographs, but quite often I see people who have creating as much detail in highlights and shadow areas as a rule to get a good shot, which doesn't simply work for me. I believe that that's what you meant (?).
    Yes. That's right. I think the dark areas should give the structure and the lighter areas should give the detail. That helps to give emphasis to the lighter areas as well as giving the detail a structured setting. This is one of my fave shots - by Valerie Cochran http://www.yourwaitress.com/ It's very simple, but the high contrast just adds so much. This just wouldn't have worked with all the detail in.

    Too extreme? Or too bleak?

  12. #12

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    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    I really like the shot,Rob. That's just what you get in the Brecons and living there (abouts) you'll have plenty of opportunities to experiment.

  13. #13
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    Quote Originally Posted by rob marshall View Post
    I keep thinking I ought to do that with a lot of shots. But I often feel the need to show things (especially in BW) with large blocks of extreme contrast. I've been impressed for a long time by the work of the British photographer Bill Brandt, who used to deliberately blacken large areas of his shot in the darkoom. Like this one... http://cs.nga.gov.au/Detail-LRG.cfm?IRN=112991&View=LRG

    Perhaps one of the bad things about digital is that it's made us a little too concerned about detail and image quality?
    When I saw the image on the link I did agree. However, my point is... the high contrast black area is horizontally placed right in the front of the shot and not beside the frame to give the impression of allowing the viewers to further explore the whole scene. On this one, it made me have this subconscious impression that I am not being allowed to see much further because of its commanding presence in the front of the frame. Just a thought and not a rule, Rob.

  14. #14

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    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    I have to get into my teacher mode in responding to a student's query as to why a shot "works."

    So much of what we think of in the digital realm is very much decided by what we see in the viewfinder and that image is in color. Ron Bigelow's work, works because of the interplay between the lights and darks, but also in as much because of the complimentary colors of orange and blue working the eye into a flowing, to-fro action. In his case, color is the dynamic.

    While Rob's original view was in color, I think I am pretty safe in surmising his intent from the getgo was this secene as a B&W image. In thinking this way, Rob has to think more in terms of leading lines (in this case, strong diagonals in a beautiful zig-zag juxtaposition) blocks of strong color contradicted by a larger but more dimunitive block of a good, middle gray value (in an opposing diagonal) that leads to the final diagonal of mixed values.

    The rain, which is almost the lightest value, nicely pushed forward by the middle gray, is an opposing diagonal onto itself which subtlely, but strongly counterbalances the zig-zag effect created by the line and value of each block of "color." Your eye cannot not go to the rain. Every single element in the composition of the shot places your vision at the same place Rob originally saw it in the viewfinder.

    This piece "works" because there was intent (as in Jiro's sunflower), and there was intense attention to "western" compositional thinking (we read left to right, top to bottom - very symphonic in many ways). Look at Yan's work and ask yourself what is the difference in how he sees compositionally, and why?

    I liked Rob's work from the beginning of my time on this forum because of his understanding of the three main elements of photographic composition: light, value and line. Rob teaches great lessons through his examples and this shot is a super lesson in the strength of allowing the eye to relax, see the scene, let the brain compute and gently push down that shutter release....and as I would tell my students, "okay, enough lollygagging, get your eyes back to those viewfinders."

  15. #15

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    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    I like it, it has a bit of a sense of mystery

  16. #16

    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    Too extreme
    Are you pulling my dangler?

    Too bleak
    This is Wales we are talking about.

    It certainly brings back just about every memory I have of walking in the Welsh mountains It's bold, it's brooding....its great. I noticed some discussion about the foreground showing more detail. No no no - blank or imperceptible areas of an image make the brain work harder, this in turn stimulates the senses. When the brain detects a blank area our primal instincts take over. The brain goes into a subconscious routine of questioning - is it a threat? - Can I eat it? - can I have sex with it? All these things stimulate our base senses and give us a buzz. The bold random geometry and contrasts, have much the same effect as painting battleships with bold confused geometric patterns. Initially it confuses the brain - once again providing stimulation.

    If everything is well defined and the contrast is muted the brain only has to work at simple recognition through memory. This provides some stimulant but not enough to fill a pipe.

    I liked Rob's work from the beginning of my time on this forum because of his understanding of the three main elements of photographic composition: light, value and line. Rob teaches great lessons through his examples and this shot is a super lesson in the strength of allowing the eye to relax, see the scene, let the brain compute and gently push down that shutter release
    No matter how true it may be you can't say things like that without calling him a Scotch/Welsh g*t at some point - you have to bring him down to earth or he will be roaming the streets of Port Talbot wearing his underpants over Levi's

  17. #17
    rob marshall

    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    Chris

    I'm not just saying this because it's about me, but I thought your comments in post #14 above were excellent. Very well thought out, with some excellent observations. Thank you.

  18. #18
    rob marshall

    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    If everything is well defined and the contrast is muted the brain only has to work at simple recognition through memory. This provides some stimulant but not enough to fill a pipe.
    Will somebody please stick that on the CiC fridge door?

    And this one from Fernando's website http://kaskaisphotos.net23.net/index.php

    Being an artist I am free to enjoy total creative freedom regarding the subject I photograph, and concerning the way I represent that subject. My responsibility is to make sure that my work is Art and not a factual representation of the reality. My images are a symbol of my intellectual experience, that it represents a total commitment to a cerebral interpretation of the world.
    Now... let's get back to the silly stuff...

  19. #19

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    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    Quote Originally Posted by rob marshall View Post
    Chris

    I'm not just saying this because it's about me, but I thought your comments in post #14 above were excellent. Very well thought out, with some excellent observations. Thank you.
    My pleasure, and as long as Steve's demonic thoughts about you wearing your underpants on the outside don't come true, I shall endeavor to continue to say good stuff where appropriate...but should the opposite happen...you're on your own..

  20. #20
    rob marshall

    Re: Too extreme? Or too bleak?

    Quote Originally Posted by MiniChris View Post
    My pleasure, and as long as Steve's demonic thoughts about you wearing your underpants on the outside don't come true, I shall endeavor to continue to say good stuff where appropriate...but should the opposite happen...you're on your own..
    I can only assume he was referring to my momentary lapse of high standards thirty-eight self portraits

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