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Thread: Trees & Negative Space

  1. #1

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    Trees & Negative Space

    Would love to get your reactions and C&C on this image.

    Trees & Negative Space

    I am currently trying to learn a new camera (the D7000 is much different than my old D40X) and taking a photo class where I am working to refine my vision. As a result I am a bit creatively and technically perplexed at the moment and even wondered if I wasted my money on the new camera on Saturday

    In an effort to move my photography forward I took a step back and decided that I was putting far to much pressure on myself. So, I will share some thoughts (and my initials steps forward) in case others find themselves in a similar situation.

    • The instructor of my class said that I was on the dart board with my imagery but surrounding the bulls-eye (a bit of a win as at least I am on the dart board ).
    • When I asked how to move forward he told me to just keep shooting and to emulate some photographers who I admire (I was looking for more insightful guidance but that is another story).
    • After Saturday I decided that I needed to take a look at all my images to see if I could find any similarities.
    • I also looked to see if there was a common denominator in the images that I felt were on the dart board.
    • Now I can say that I tend to like natural objects taken at mid range without a lot of distracting items in the frame and often with limited depth of field.
    • Next I surfed the web to find good images with similar characteristics to see if I could determine how I was missing the bulls-eye.
    • I found a great minimalist series by Robert Adams titled "Questions for an Overcast Day" that inspired me and gave me some focus along with the above.
    • So off I went on a neighborhood walk on Sunday - the image above is the result...


    So, am I any closer to the bulls-eye? All thoughts and constructive criticism welcome.

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    Quote Originally Posted by ShaneS View Post
    • Now I can say that I tend to like natural objects taken at mid range without a lot of distracting items in the frame and often with limited depth of field.
    Of all the statements in the list above, I'd say this was the most important.

    Why?

    Not because you like, "natural objects taken at mid range without a lot of distracting items in the frame and often with limited depth of field", but because you have started to develop your own vision. You have started to identify what it is that excites you.

    In the past, in relation to this topic, I have referred to a series of articles I read on another website. These were by US-based French photographer, Alain Briot and published on the Nature Photographer's website. If you click HERE and then scroll down to the April 2009 list you will find the first of these. Then follow the trail up through May, June and July 2009. These 4 papers made a huge contribution to my thinking and development. They may also do so for you.
    Last edited by Donald; 9th October 2013 at 09:18 AM. Reason: Typo

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    Firstly, I like your image. There is a single texture from the leaves with different densities giving form to the picture and then the sharp outline.

    I am still finding my way into photography. I tend to be very subjective in the evaluation of my own stuff and my judgement is confused with my other associations of the subject which other viewers do not have. What I like best are the ones that I like to sit and stare at. I like to see some originality. Even the most technically perfect of pictures are often boring to me.

    Predicting others' reaction is quite different and perhaps the hardest.

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    A couple general comments...

    I admire your approach to understanding yourself as a photographer. So few people take the time to think the issues through that you're contemplating and you're doing it in such a rigorous manner.

    I don't know the criteria for determining whether your photos are on the bull's eye but I do know that only you can determine that. In that regard, it seems to me that the instructor's comment about that is unhelpful unless he or she gave you the specific criteria used to determine what the bull's eye actually is.

    While I always like the idea of emulating other photographers' work that we admire, I think it can also be just as helpful to take into account what others do that we don't like and make sure that we avoid doing whatever that is.

    As for the photo, it works really well for me. I like its patterns created by the dead space and the clarity of the leaves. This is the sort of image that works better for me as part of a series than as a stand-alone image but that's just me. Depending on your values regarding digital manipulation, you might consider moving the tree on the left to other parts of the image to determine if you like a different position better than the current one.

    Most important, does your photo hit your bulls eye?

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    We are rowing the same boat here, Shane.

    When you looked up at that tree, what was the very first object to catch your eye? Camera to Manual Focus, focus on the object your eye was drawn to and capture a sharp image of that object within a greater composition.

    Look at your subject on your computer screen at 100% to see if it is sharp, then crop to suit and post.

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    Along the same lines...I met this guy at a local art show and really liked some of his work http://jddennison.com/photography
    Haven't gotten around to trying his methods yet.

  7. #7

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    Thank you all for your comments. Donald, I have read some of Briot's essays on Luminous Landscapes and will definitely take a read through those that you suggest - thank you for the link.

    Mike, I must admit that at this point I'm not even sure where the dart board is Your point about this image as part of a series is something that I too have considered. I think that I may make a print of this and frame it to see how it looks on it's own.

    Andre, this image is sharp at 100% on my computer (with the exception of the expected effects of a shallow-ish depth of field) so I'm not sure if it softened upon upload here.

    Thanks for the link Chancey. Dennison does some nice work and I will be interested to see your efforts to emulate the technique.

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    Lots of good advice already in the prior posts. I'll just add a couple of thoughts.

    When you see images that appeal to you, whether yours or others', study them and figure out what it is that you like. Is it the position of the subject in the frame? Subject isolated? BG detail or lack thereof? Lighting/color? Then when a subject catches your eye in the field, do the same thing. What is it about the scene that caught your attention? OK, now how do you capture it in an image?

    I would also recommend picking a subject and trying to stick with it until you reach a level of proficiency that you are comfortable with. Start on landscapes, flowers, portraiture, or whatever floats your boat and resist the rest of the "dart board". The reason I say this is because each different subject has its own nuances that don't necessarily work with other subjects. So if you try to apply the same techniques to different subjects you can be very confused/frustrated why thing seem to randomly work or not. You can understand many of the differences also by reading books on technique for various subjects.

  9. #9

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    I didn't get the impression that Andre was suggesting that this image isn't sharp. It would be really easy to overly sharpen it, in which case the leaves would lose the delicacy that you have preserved very nicely here.

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    I would also recommend picking a subject and trying to stick with it until you reach a level of proficiency that you are comfortable with
    Totally concur!

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    Thank you for your insight Dan - it is appreciated. I must admit that I have been guilty of casting my net too wide in the past. Having only been at this seriously for a year or so, I found that every shoot (of every subject) taught me something at first but I realize that I have come to a point where I really need to focus my energies a bit better and prioritize the various areas that I want to explore in order to take my images to the next level.

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    Hi Shane,

    I think Mike understands what I am trying to say to you. No reflection on your image at all. Just trying to make you see something.

    In this image I looked up at the plant and the first thing that caught my eye was the sun shining on the leaves on the far side. Manual focus on the leaves that caught my eye and click. I donít care about the little bit of vignetting as I had to use a rather wide aperture to get DOF control.

    I shot this early this morning to illustrate to you what I am trying to say to you.

    Trees & Negative Space

  13. #13

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    Here is another one:

    Trees & Negative Space

    As Mike alluded to these types of shots tend to work well as a series. The above shot is different in that it is a much closer look at a different subject. Do they work together? What do you think about the processing and overall impact of this shot?

    Andre, thanks for taking a moment to clarify your intent and I am sorry that I misunderstood your first post. You picked a difficult subject to frame will but I like the graphic nature of the plant and can see what you were attracted to when you took the shot.

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    The two shots work together for me but only if there are at least three shots in the set and if the third one is different from these first two. I like the post-processing.

    The only thing that is a question for me -- and it's still a question because I don't yet have an answer -- is whether the leaves on the end of the top branch should be included in the depth of field. They are the only leaves that can be seen unobstructed that aren't sharp and I haven't yet decided whether that's good or bad.

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    That's a nice one. Composition, light, exposure and B&W conversion.
    I like it.

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    Re: Trees & Negative Space

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    whether the leaves on the end of the top branch should be included in the depth of field.
    I've given that some more thought. The photo has never settled in for me because those leaves are out of focus. My solution would be to apply a gradient gaussian blur to the end of the bottom branch so there are two sets of unobstructed leaves that are not sharp. However, it's not my photo so none of that matters.

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