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Thread: :ast Post ~ Best Guide to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

  1. #1

    :ast Post ~ Best Guide Ever to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

    1) this is the question for this thread:

    ==


    what was done to the photo below to make it so amazingly great?


    ==

    2) the rest is just background and context in regards to what leads to the question in the first line of this thread.

    what is the common practical problem most people have from the beginning? essentially "what is needed to create a great photo"

    over 15 months ago, after heaps of fluff and low quality people on the Web, the answer was never found. but a related, yet distinct, question "how to create a great photo" seems to be answered by Nickolay Stanev[1]

    [1] http://www.quora.com/Photography/How...iting-pictures

    the most important thing to a great photo is lighting and composition, though like any art, none of this is science and no universal rules exist. for example, one of the composition "rules" is "Do not put your subject in the center, do not put your horizon in the middle of the picture." the rule of thirds "claims that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject would."[2]

    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirds

    it's one of those cliché "rules" in a particular field of study that academics like to classify so we can make sense out of a complex world. you cannot study any forms of art that will lead you to anything universal. instead, you like, dislike, or feel apathetic to various forms of art. there are much quality articles showing fundamental problems of lower fields of studies that really dont merit a "study". so let's go back to the original problem.

    the answer does clears up the first, fundamental problem: "what is needed to create a great photo" though it does not clear up "how to create a great photo" even though it seemed like it did, initially at least. while quora is one of those few sites that has high quality content, it always does come down to the topic, and a topic like photography just adds little on a comparative level, and even that answer on quora falls short

    now that you know what is needed and helpful to solving the problem, you know what is not -- "learning about everything else that is not needed in taking good photos" -- which is a topic i havent touch since over 15 long months ago..[3] well maybe i did ask one thing on photo.stackexchange.com but it was about editing a photo, especially when it's so difficult to find what you need even on decent sites[4]

    [3] ~ Cambridge in Colour Tutorials Clarifications ~
    [4] http://www.geofflawrence.com/photogr...s.html#editing

    so we know what is needed. now we have to go to the next logical question, "how to create a great photo" and that is where you come in. the best way to answer this question is for an experienced photographer to analysis a photo.

    like many people, i keep a large collections of photo i like (remember the thing we talked about earlier about liking and disliking art?). this is one of the pretty amazingly great photo recently discovered

    :ast Post ~ Best Guide to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

    there seems to be a lot of digital editing done to it so.. what editing techniques or photo setups do you think was done to create this?

    i know that there are flickr groups on critiquing photos, though the comments are brief like one-line tweets and mostly unhelpful (haven't check how it is currently), and there are likely better sites with passionate people than flickr for the analytics of photos by now. and i would ask on quora though i feel that more focused sites may have more quality answers, so i wanted to give this a try, and even though posts on forums/boards typically have a short lifecycle, analysis is always fun!

    recently, someone did an entire wedding with instragram filters -- http://kimathomasblog.squarespace.com -- and while im unsure if this is the first ever, this is likely the route ill take in future photo missions

    this thread is for answering the problem "how to create a great photo" and one way to do this is via finding out how a great photo was created. if you have other good solutions that may help with the problem, please propose
    Last edited by laptopcamera; 20th November 2012 at 08:22 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: :ast Post ~ Best Guide Ever to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

    The question is leading, rhetorical, and I am unable to give a straight answer. I don't find the image particularly great, neither as a photoghraph, nor as an image per se. IMHO, all is in the eye of the beholder. I also have some images that I classify to various criteria, ranging from bad, dull, purely descriptive, and so on to good, amazing and great or even excellent, and in the upper range of those, all of them are reasonably well exposed and most can be analysed for composition. But then there is also the odd ones, that break a few rules, where there is a hint of diagonal composition broken in half, but the main subject is in dead center, and where the whole thing is chaos and the image isn't even sharp, but I cannot figure out what exactly catches my eye and makes me delve into the picture with awe. And the answer is that I don't know, I only know that the image is in the category of the great ones. The first image of mine that I come to think of is the one of the biding snake by the dam. I think it looks more like a painting than a photo, and maybe the colour is most of what it is about. Of course there is a personal story as well, but others that have seen the picture, not knowing the background have also found it exceptional. And I cannot put my finger upon it. It definitely is not PP skills, and I don't think composition is why. There is something, and I cannot see that any rule applies. So I have to agree with Ansel Adams, that there are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.

    :ast Post ~ Best Guide to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

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    Re: :ast Post ~ Best Guide Ever to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

    Perhaps an additional question could be:

    " what makes people LIKE a photograph? "

    A picture may be technically 99% correct. Like it's following the rule of 3rds, good exposure/lighting, near perfect focus, fantastic editing, state-of-the-art editing softwares, full-frame camera and so on. However, does this automatically make people like it? Do people/audience have to like it because it is 99% technically correct?

    Just me opining.

    Thanks


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    Re: :ast Post ~ Best Guide Ever to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

    Quote Originally Posted by laptopcamera View Post
    1) this is the question for this thread:

    what was done to the photo below to make it so amazingly great?
    In my opinion the answer is "absolutely nothing".

    The biggest problem with that photo is that there's a girl with some balloons standing right in the middle of it.

  5. #5
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    Re: :ast Post ~ Best Guide Ever to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

    Quote Originally Posted by laptopcamera View Post
    what was done to the photo below to make it so amazingly great?
    I'm not sure if anything has been done to make it 'amazingly' great.

    What has made it 'acceptable' or worth a second look to me is that a 'cute' model has been used rather than an 'unappealing' one. I will not enlarge on my definition of unappealing.

    Think 'advertising'.

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    Re: :ast Post ~ Best Guide Ever to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

    I don't particularly like the image either although I appreciate that the model is an absolute fox!

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    Re: :ast Post ~ Best Guide Ever to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

    Okay, I'll bite. I'm with the other posters who don't think the image is particularly amazing; but, judging by the specular highlights on the balloons and on the model's boot, an on-camera flash was used to supply fill light.

    The flash output was nicely balanced and the photo well edited for contrast, as there is good detail retention and tonal differentiation in both the highlights and the shadows; however, the background grays are definitely skewed toward purple, so, the white balance of the flash was given preference over that of the ambient light which, on an overcast day, would have been a thousand degrees Kelvin or two above the color temperature of the flash.

    I wouldn't put it on my wall.

  8. #8

    Re: :ast Post ~ Best Guide Ever to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

    I agree with Urban,
    Firstly I don't agree that the photo is great. I find it bland, sterile and soulless.
    Secondly, understanding what was done to create that photo would only allow you to recreate that photo. It wouldn't allow you to make great photos because many great photos require completely different techniques.

    Other than analyzing an individual shot to find out how that image was created I don't think it is possible to answer the original question at anything other than a very high level. A great image must have sufficient positive elements to outweigh any negative elements. These may include technical elements (focus, exposure, blur etc), creative elements (interesting subject, good composition) and post processing elements (you changed or enhanced something in PP). I certainly don't think that all elements of a great image must be positive. I recently wrote a blog post after attending a exhibition of Annie Leibovitz' work in which I discussed how she includes negative compositional elements without ruining the over all image.

    Lastly I don't agree with the Ansell Adams quote. It is a sound bite; and just like most it is a quick and easy way to make a general point which doesn't stand up to close examination. There are rules and they work. However there are exceptions to almost all rules, which also work. These exceptions are, in effect, rules themselves. The fact that we may not understand why a rule works, or why an exception works, doesn't mean that they aren't rules. It just means there are gaps in our understanding.

    Don't shoot into the sun is one rule (guideline), but many photographers successfully shoot back-lit portraits and sunset shots into the sun. So do these exceptions mean that the rule is invalid and you can always shoot into the sun? - no. If you point your unfiltered/unmodified DSLR straight at the sun your image will be a white out. The exception to the rule has its own specific limitations and in general the rule is good advise.

  9. #9
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    Re: :ast Post ~ Best Guide Ever to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

    It appears that there is no consensus between the viewers at CiC. In fact, it is a bit like many threads posted here about everything from images to equipment to software, some think it is great and some don't. This is not unexpected as we all have our own set of values and priorities that may or may not apply to another individual. What is important is that although some don’t like a particular piece of equipment, or software, or image, others may feel it is the ‘cat’s meow’!

    I like the image and find it has good separation between the subject and background. Normally that is usually accomplished by a difference in color tone, sharpness or contrast. In this case it is accomplished (for me anyway) by a difference in impact. The subject is interesting and technically well-presented while the background with its muted tones, washed out sky, and flat boring appearance is in sharp opposition. Differentiating a subject from its background using interest isn’t something I had considered before and I find it refreshing.

  10. #10

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    Re: :ast Post ~ Best Guide Ever to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

    Hi laptopcamera,

    I will take the bait and make a complete fool of myself by trying to analise this “great photo”.
    I think you have to be experienced in Photoshop to really know what the creator has done.
    My wild guess is working in layers.
    A layer to manipulate sky.
    A layer to manipulate the buildings.
    A layer to manipulate the bridge.
    Green and Red will have to be reduced to create the purple effect.
    Last Layer : paste a model onto (not into) the image.

    I do not work in Photoshop: have no idea how to create an image like that. If I had to judge the image I would find it difficult to think of it as a great photograph. I will judge it as a photographic image.
    As you say, ART: to some it might be a great photo – to me it is a well manipulated photographic image. To some it might be great art – to me it is an image to look at and wonder how it was created. You either like it or you don’t.
    Personally I do not like manipulated photographic images unless it is done for a very specific purpose and the creator is honest enough to not call it a photograph.

    Getting back to the question: what was done to the photo below to make it so amazingly great?
    My answer : Photoshop it.

    “What is needed to create a great photo?” Lots of creativity not to look at a scene like others look at it but to see it. Lots of camera skills to be able to capture what you see rather than what you look at.
    And to some – lots of computer skill to create images they want the viewer to look at.

    PS: I believe you did not mean it to sound bad: We may never ever refer to other individuals as "low quality people". Let us scrap that remark.
    Last edited by AB26; 21st November 2012 at 02:19 PM.

  11. #11

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    Re: :ast Post ~ Best Guide Ever to Being a Great Photographer & Analysis of a Photo ~

    In my humble opinion if there was anything done to that photograph to make it amazingly good then it didn't work. All I see is a washed out uninteresting backdrop with a skinny girl right in the centre who dresses out of a thrift shop. It has little colour to interest me and has too many tones for b&w. But, as I said, that is just my opinion, for what it is worth - 68 years of looking at pictures and art have to have some value.

    No work of art, even a photograph, can ever please everyone so there cannot be definitive formulae for producing great works. I think J M W Turner paints wonderful pictures but Picasso didn't. My wife doesn't like Van Gogh and I will sit gazing at them in raptures for hours. Monet and his waterlillies are spectacular. I am not so bothered about Gauguin. Michaelangelo's David, half sized in the National Gallery is, to me, mesmerising but I don't like the full sized original anywhere near so much. There a smooth lumps of rock with holes in by some modern scultors leave me completely cold and I wouldn't pay Damian Hurst in buttons.

    One of my favourite books is War and Peace, which is nicknamed Bore and Fleece by some. I love most of Tom Clancy's books but my wife wouldn't touch them. Jean Auel wrote three great books then the last two were rubbish, according to me.

    If there were universal and applicable rules for making great works of art then everything would look as it did in Communist USSR, or China, or Nazi Germany. Long live Personal Opinions, Likings and Dislikes. Down with rules, they are for policemen and politians.

    Some of the people posting on this forum are, IMHO, very talented, like Dubaiphil, Donald, Colin Southern, Dave Humphreys to mention a few and all of them have different styles and operate by different rules. And how great it is that they do so. If we analyze too much then we will never have time to find out if we can make great photographs.

    (Sorry for going on about it)

    - Keith

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