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Saturday, 28 November 2009

Comments

Dear Mr. Johnston,
This is quite despicable. As I'm sure you are well aware, you have copied a posting from a long time ago which I have seen several times already. The OP was copyrighted and if he does not consider it, someone should suggest that he sue you for copying his Idea. This is the last time I will visit your site as I do not approve.

Sincerely,

Maynard Fillibuster

Another classic entry in you Classic among Classics Great Photographers in the Internet series!

Priceless. ;-)

Like many of the stories in The Onion, this is a little too close to the truth.

"Nice capture!"

Absolutely perfect.

"this is a little too close to the truth"

And actually, the joke in that last one is that there *IS* an action for that. [g]

Mike

A little more over the top with the comments this time, isn't it? That said, I still love it and the Philippe Halsman shot comment is so spot on. I can't remember the number of times I've posted a picture, obviously posed: hair, makeup, lighting, the whole shebang and a "nice capture" comment. Like I just stumbled into the room as this was happening.

Dear Mr. Johnson,
I'm pleased to see someone has finally taken some of these "web exhibitors" or should it be "exhibitionists" to task. I mean, that blue photo by the Turner guy --- so film like, how very 60s. All this brings to mind a beef I have always had with "artistes" like that Italian guy Vinci and his portrait of that woman ... Mona something I think. What's with the silly smirk? Did Mr. Vinci forget to zip up something? I one had a girlfriend named Mona (that's why I remember the name), blond, built ... now there was a babe! Mr. Vinci should have painted her.
Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving
Jean (aka Frenchie)

So Thanksgiving has given you photographic dyspepsia and your posts are coming up again.

Why couldn't you pick good photos to critique.

A valiant effort, but it's hard to improve upon a classic... ;)

Aaaaah... Bob didn't use a tripod?! What a shame.... And I could find a use of that Tarkovsky's action as well. Love that Polaroid filling...

Mike, I wish someone would explain to me why the commonly accepted great photographs are considered to be great photographs. I think I could muster some satirical sarcasm of my own, but as far as explaining why these photographs are great, I wouldn't know where to begin.

Sincerely,

Ray Charles

The predilection to crop the bejesus out of images (exampled by your HCB above) is the most insidious.

TOP at its best!

Q: How many photographers does it take a change a light bulb?

A: One to change the bulb, and an entire industry plus the whole internet to describe how much better they could have changed it.

Nice one, Mike - I had to chortle, having seen many of the these archetypes enacted, sometimes in comments on my own snaps and (on occasion) been guilty myself (I'm thinking #3 - sometimes it's better to really say nothing than say nothing in words…)

"it's hard to improve upon a classic..."

Yeah, it's never as good the second time around, you can't go home again, lightning never strikes twice, etc. But for better or worse, that first post was the most popular one I ever wrote--it drew something like 8X my then-nornal traffic, got linked far and wide, and it still draws hits to this day--so I thought I'd reprise it as a way of marking TOP's fourth b'day.

At the time, I thought, well, this is easy, all I have to do is write more a bunch more posts like this!

On that score, still trying....

Mike

Mr. Halsman, i agree with the first comment but u DO know that you can use the clone tool to 'shop out those wires and your friends' hand on the far left side of the frame, right? There are a TON of photoshop tutorials on the web, they can help u make your images look way more professional and less like an amateur luser.

PUT 'EM ON THE GLASS!

Trouble is, I find myself agreeing somewhat about the HCB. Especially since the kids are mostly unsharp. (Not so much about the crop, though.)

And the Capa really would be better if it were sharper and less grainy (I suspect it may be heavily cropped). It's a great photo as it is, don't get me wrong; and I don't think I would have tried to use a tripod under those circumstances either!

Oh God.

Help me out. There's an old story about someone asking how long it took to get a picture, and the answer was "1/125th and 20 years..." or some such.

Maybe there's an analogous story for appreciating great photography. It does seem to take longer than people look at a photo online before they start writing.

(Then again, maybe someone can explain the HCB picture to me. I don't get this one.)

Stunning!

Care to share what equipment you used in writing this?

Bookmarked.

Great tongue-in-cheek look at photography on the internet! The one that rolled me out of my chair was:

"please see my photostream"

In addition to the reality check of "internet critique" is the idea behind printing your work. Ansel Adams, while cliche as an example, wrote texts on

The negative
The camera
The print

I do not recall a text on "the online image"...wonder why! :)

I don't know if I should laugh or cry. This satire is so true-to-life that it's barely satire.

Example: I posted a grainy night shot of a guy on a bicycle -- within the context of my "clandestine street photography" blog -- and one of the comments was:

"If only it were sharper! I love the idea of this image, the movement of light and bike. :) maybe try taking the pic in daylight and then process it so it's not so grainy."

What, like I'm going to go back to that spot and stand there all day hoping someone rides by the same way, just so it won't be so grainy?

(Here's the "too grainy" night shot.)

"Help me out...[snip]"

Marshall,
In all seriousness, your point is a good one. One of the properties of visual representations like photographs is that we have the impression we understand them completely at a glance. (The problem is further demonstrated in magazine publishing, where everybody thinks they're an expert on covers.)

I used to have several teaching slides in various lecture slideshows I gave that were all designed to demonstrate to students that they didn't actually even see large and important elements of photographs they had just looked at. The best example I had was a picture called "Man Behind Creosote Bush" by the Western landscapist Mark Klett. The picture showed a large bush front and center with only sparse foliage so that you could see through it. I'd show the slide, then move on to the next one, then say something like, "Oh, I forgot. Did you notice what the man in the previous slide was wearing?" And all the students would respond--usually incredulously, as if to say, are you high?--"Man? What man? It was a picture of a bush!" And I'd say, "No, there was a man behind the bush." That would get responses like "No there wasn't." And "The man must have been really tiny" or "way in the distance" or whatever. Sometimes one or two students would have noticed the man. So by that time I'd return to the earlier slide, and there he'd be, the man large enough to practically fill the frame and impossible to miss once you saw him.

My point was perhaps made in trivial or trifling fashion, but the deeper point is an important one. The elements of a photograph are not immediately evident, although we tend to think they are. And the *meaning* of a photograph is certainly not immediately evident, even though we tend to think that, too. Finally, one's own response to a photograph isn't set in stone from the instant you first see the picture. Sometimes pictures take a long time to "get" even for ourselves or to our own satisfaction. Years, even.

Mike

P.S. Funny you should say you don't like that HCB. That would be on my list of the ten best pictures ever taken, probably. Certainly of the ten best HCBs.

@ed
Never mind the grain, what about that dreadful empty foreground - and don't you think it's setting a bad example showing a cyclist at night without proper lights on his bike? :-)

Cheers, Robin

p.s HAPPY ENDING
The making of the Philippe Halsman photo was recently explained in Amateur Photographer and the bit I remember most about the story is that at the end of the day the cat models were treated to an expensive tin of fish!

Wow, clearly you have been reading the comments on my flickr stream... You forgot the one about photoshopping out the power outlets in the wall - that's my "Niagara Falls"... slowly I turned...


P.S. That's probably my favorite HCB too.

Mike,
I was never a big fan of that HCB photo, though he is my joint favorite photographer along with Werner Bischof. When I think of HCB I think of the one of the family on the bank of the river. And the border policeman sweeping the road.

No accounting for taste.

Apropos your post, I think the problem is inherent in the internet. One little movement of my finger and I can change the scene in front of me - and so I think everything gets less attention than it would in print - and that applies to a photograph in a book or on a wall, or print in a book. Or an ad in a magazine.

Can I recommend David Noton Dispatches for December for some good scenic photos that might slow the eye down?

Talking about comments for HCB pictures: I guess you all know the story of "Mario's bike" posted in a flickr group for public criticism. Most commentators voted for deletion:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrerabelo/70458366/

Look for yourself, the comments are hilarious!

Your computer sure writes good blog posts.

The HCB brings to mind the amazing Helen Levitt street scene with kids everywhere, a picture frame within the frame, a strange lady wandering through the middle distance like HCB's Sidney Greenstreet figure...everything works and you can study it for an hour and still discover new things. (it's reprinted on p. 63 of the "Crosstown" retrospective.) What would your braying critic be able to do with that scene?

scott


Crosstown p. 63v

The Halsman one made me laugh out loud.

I've lost count of the number of times that I've seen advice on the web to the effect that only the subject should be in the frame and that the most important thing to do is to eliminate extraneous detail. The HCB picture shown, like so many of my favorites, puts the most wondrous things at the edges of the frame. Indeed, in many of my favorite pictures, those wonderful things are shown only partially because they're truncated by the frame's edge. This is of course one way in which great photographs (and paintings) remind the viewer that a picture is at most a sliver of the wider world, and at the same time hint at that wider world's character and scope.

What the idiot commenters who are always telling us to crop, crop, crop just don't realize is how much better their own photographs would be if they only owned a 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor and only used it at the widest setting.

Too short, Mike. You need to add more pics.

I must say, I was laughing so hard I nearly choked when I read Player's signature line, "Sincerely, Ray Charles".

Don't tell me life doesn't imitate art. This is part of the "comment" on the HCB shot above:

>>>...Then perhaps you should of considered formal portraiture, at least gotten him to stop, if you ask for permission to take his picture you will be surprised how many people will stop and help you out.<<<

And here's a comment I got on a shot of a prostitute followed by a potential john in my recent TOP article on the Ricoh GRD III at ISO 1600:

>>>BTW, the girl in that second shot (and the man behind her) look about 5 seconds from attacking the photographer. Maybe saying hello or something before taking the shot might have been a good idea."<<<

—Mitch/Chiang Mai

I'd love to hear why you think the HCB picture is so great. I find myself mostly agreeing with the "internet commenter", but it's entirely possible that I'm missing something.

Excellent commentary on todays lack of the art. Now excuse me it's time for some leftover turducken.

The nice thing about art is it is perceived differently from one person to the next. If all those comments (funny as they may be) say anything it is that photography is a true art form.
As for the HCB I am in the group (perhaps small) of people who dont get it. This Image does break all the rules, some images get away with it this one dosent in my mind. It also frustrates me as I want to know what the kids are doing especially the boy on the left reaching out, but then maybe thats what the photographer wanted. I have seen many HCB's that I like more.

MIke and Marshall: to me, this particular HCB is the equivalent of a Fellini movie. I'd say Amarcord, probably.
It has:
- a dialogue between two very random-like assemblages: people and windows; both have a lot of internal variation, and of course one is more geometric, and in a single plane (in the background), while the other is organic, and not only 3-dimensional, but in the foreground.
- human activity and human expressions, including 2 persons looking straight at the camera, but not the closest person (kid), who is interested in an action we really can't see, which adds a lot of interest to the photo.
- one person (kid?) right in the middle, his back to us, holding something that could be perhaps threatening?
- and, if the above weren't enough, the unexpected, incongruous, surrealistic element of the Hitchcockian men with the hat, going in an opposite direction to anyone else.
As I see it, this photo is a synthesis of much of what is magical about the world - and about outstanding image making.
Mike Cytrynowicz

You're almost worryingly good at this. I'm beginning to suspect you of concealing from us a secret online identity.

There's good and bad images, but there's individual taste too. All wonderful images to me - except this Frederick Sommer one. It just gives me no lasting impression. There's quite possibly some back-story to it that could change how I view the image, but as a straight-on portrait shot of an unknown young girl it just leaves me cold.

Janne,
That one you have to see in the original. The print is freakin' gorgeous.

Mike

Alternative critique for Sally M:

Dear Sally, I hope you realise that your picture violates the terms and conditions of this site and will be removed. You will also be reported to the authorities.

---------------------------------
Sincerely,
Peabrain P. Seudomorality, III,
Site Owner and Creator
PhotoMediocrity.com

Canon 1Ds Mark III, <4 computers, listed down to their most minute components>

(For aesthetically bankrupt internet heros, it just has to be the biggest Canon available, nothing else will do)

Mike
Long-time lurker, first time poster, as they say.

I am pretty sure all of these shots would be improved by a high-pass filter on a new layer set to overlay mode. That way, your edits are non-destructive. Then, after you resize these for web, use a USM at 150, .8, 0, to really give them that 3-D ness, or "Leica look". [:)]

One of the subtexts of this post is the idea that the internet allows everyone to be an expert, which of course is not true. But, it does get hard to separate wheat from chaff.

My question is whether you have any particular recommendations for photo discussion sites. I am thinking a web version of "Looking at Photographs" - something to discuss the significant works, and why they are significant.

Thanks very much for your work on this site, it is always enlightening.

Re: the 5:28PM MJ post---

"Years, even"

The superficial criticism of flickr et al is valid and hardly contradictory when we consider the times in which we live. Where the zeitgeist of modern popular culture disconnects with "classics" is not in the criticism, but rather the sheer number of ill-informed critics who now have voice.

Photography is a personal thing, as such, the shallowness we see in some of the comments is a necessary adjunct to the personal growth of the person uttering them. I bet at least one or two people featured here have seen these posts and thought to themselves... "Okay, I'm an ass", and endeavored to better their understanding of what a "culture" would consider seminal works.

We all struggle with culture/art at some point (if you don't believe me, just have kids)... having taken a few criticism classes in college I can tell you first hand that human beings, in general, find it easier to quantify things they can understand. It is only natural to reject the sublime imperfection of the photos we see here as negatives simply because humans fear the unknown quantity the most. What makes great art is the fact that these people commenting are struggling to come to terms with what the photographer thought was so great in the first place... they are compelled to have an opinion, if only to defend what they already know.

I rejoice in the critiques featured here because it proves photos are still very powerful things. It is a regrettable part of human nature that we sometimes hate what we are jealous of, in art and in life. The necessity for these commenters to offer up disapproval for the work we see here for the whole world to see, means that there is also an antithetical "upside", where, if you "get it", you discover the humanity in yourself and others.

That's what art/photos are for, nay?

Great satire but...

... no real internet critique would contain more than 10 words without at least one, and more likely two or three, being misspelled.

Happy Birthday!

Dwig,
Yeah, you're probably right. I got carried away with "Dennis," who I wanted to show really trying--I mean, his "comment" is thoughtful and he's honestly trying to help--his only problem is that he's wrong, is all. Following that, the Pete Turner and Sally Mann comments should have been much shorter, two or at most three sentences.

Oh well, maybe I'll do better on our eighth anniversary. [g]

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Mike. I'll seek out "Man Behind Creosote Bush", and I will try to spend a little more time with a better version of the HCB. (Thanks also to Mike C. for sharing what you get out of the shot.)

I will say that I find the interweb commenter's rework/crop of the image to be almost dizzyingly worse. It's a start, right?

meh,

DELETEME1

Same as it ever was. Artists in other media are just as subject to ill-informed opinions of their work. But as absurd as some of their comments may seem, I feel some sympathy for the people who make them. As Taran suggests, they are trying to establish a frame of reference; a basis for judgment and criticism. The problem is that their frame of reference is so much smaller than they realize and that so many possibilities sit outside it. This is the challenge that the masters rise to: They expand the boundaries. They see things in a new way, and by doing so, invite us to do so too. Some of us accept the invitation eagerly. Some of of us can't or won't, and for understandable reasons. After all, the familar is a lot more comforting than the mysterious.

Besides being hilarious, this post is a great way to stimulate thought and discussion.

Concerning the HCB photo, I feel this a case where the viewer can and should perceive the essential elements of the photograph immediately. For me, it's appeal is holistic; the subject is the scene itself. Imagine the photo reduced to two tones only: black and white. It's compositional strengths should become quite evident.

Your original piece is legend worthy. This new version made me smile from ear to ear.

Well i saw part first so it was delightful and fresh (and i liked part 1 as well) thanks for a good laugh. Oh and HCB and Fellini… nice!

A few days ago when the theme was that generally nobody cares how hard it was to take a photograph, I was thinking of both the "Dali Atomicus" and the Capa D-day photos as counter examples.

Capa probably at the time wished that the lab tech had a little less coffee that day and didn't ruin almost all the film.
The thing is that photo looks so "real" that for years I thought that there was a snowstorm or hurricane that June 6th in France. I mean I grew up in California so what did I know about late spring in France?

I think that for a long time "real" and "beset by technical difficulties" were more or less synonymous in photography and film and maybe that D-Day photo is part of the reason.

As for the Halsman cat photo's backstory, just google Dali, ducks and dynamite. I can imagine that the studio assistants were thankful they were just throwing cats and water, cleaning up, and repeating 26 times.

As for the HCB, I think that any art where there is a single obvious meaning is a failure except in advertising and propaganda. Henri Cartier Bresson's best photos have conflicting narratives or at least multiple meanings.

The perfect photograph should hurt to look at, but be compelling enough that you can't look away.

@robin, regarding my grainy bicycle shot, the crank of the bicycle is at precisely the intersection of the top horizontal and right vertical of a Rule of Thirds grid, so therefore it is a perfect composition. :-)

The remark about Black & White vs. Colour is a bit too true as well.

I do know a few people who do not understand why anybody would want to shoot black and white, much less why *I* shoot black and white.

At the same time, most people do tell me they like my B&W stuff better than my colour stuff, not quite sure what to make of this I admit.

Anyway, I had a few chuckles and also got a bit sad, mainly because I have seen these kinds of comments / received similar pointless ones.

Re: Pete Turners photo

If you photograph a snowfall, especially at dusk, the ambient light can turn as blue and saturated as shown in his photo.
I have similar shots...no filters or photoshopping required to produce this intense result.

This was at the Flickr comment stream for the photo "Mario's bike": "Had Cartier-Bresson had the technology we do now he would have probably taken a completely different shot, especially knowing the audience he was shooting for."

Yes, what if he had shot for the internet crowd, indeed.

Do we all have to like the same things ?
Personally, I don't see the point of the HCB image here. Does that make me a bad person ?
How many of the good people here would recognize these images as great, if they hadn't been labeled with the names of famous photographers ?
And, just to be (even more) argumentative, the comment to Sally Mann's picture is very evocative of you own dislike of overly saturated colour images ('this is not what the world looks like').

But isn't it true that a photograph is evaluated differently when the viewer knows it was done by a "famous" photographer? A post from way back poked fun at the criticism that HCB's photo, "Hyeres, France 1932", received by people who didn't know it was an HCB photo. While I often find the petty criticisms of internet art "experts" humorous, the attitude of "How dare you criticize HCB!"(or anyone else famous) strikes me the same way. Is there any doubt that Diane Keaton's photos have been made into books only because she was first a famous actress? The hypocrisy runs both ways.

I remember a while ago I posted a black and white film image somewhere and received the comment 'great capture, excellent black and white conversion'

Groan

True story

I took a shot of my brother and his family dressed up for Halloween. My brother and his son were in the foreground, his wife and his daughter were in the background. He told me the other day that he didn't like it that much. Why? I asked. "It's the lighting" He said. The lighting? what's wrong with it?. "Sam's(his wife) not pulling a scary face". I told him that she most likely saves them for certain times of night when the lights are out

Mike,

Thank you for having the courage to reproduce these valid critiques of what are obviously vastly overrated 'photographers'. I'm sure that the herd will be too craven to stray from the slavish praise that passes for informed opinion, but I'd like to add my two cents worth and ask what the hell did that Bill Brandt think he was doing all those years, bothering girls with his low-resolution macro lens and imagining that the gruesome results were art? I hope their fathers gave him a jolly hard time.

So you've obviously read the comments on my Flickr stream...

If only my pics were a 1/100th as good, but then I don't have a good enough camera :-)

Mike

I really appreshiate your humour and really when you consider its amazin how good these captures are cos some of them were obviously captured with film. You can see that even in these small web jpegs. But, you no, in todays context they really are lacking something. Since I got my Phase P65+ and Gitzo 78502 with Really Right Stuff XCT ball head I've found my photography has really taken off. The level of detail and resolution I can get - of course you would need to learn how to use the equipment properly, my workshops are highly thought of - has really transformed my photography.

The advantages of modern high resolution capture and the power of Lightroom, photoshop and my plugins (see my website) means that it is possible for today's photographer to express his vision at a level of quality never before achieved. Even for my walkaround camera now I have sold my Nikon D3x to by the Leica S system which offers me close to the same quality as my main kit.

Yes, its expensiv but if your serious about this you have to keep up. Its a dog eat dog world and you have to adpat or die.

All of which means that now those criticisms are valid. I mean a blue picture - you can by a Whibal card you know.

With my very best regards

Jim
(CEO Smalltown Sports Supplements Inc)

To Ed Hawko

That's not grainy! Just a little texture.

Mike

Well, I think the OP missed it on Bob's photo. The photographer should have put down his camera and helped that guy who fell down in the surf!

Some photographers are just so insensitive to the troubles of others.

More examples of life just about besting satire (courtesy of Alec Soth):
http://alecsothblog.wordpress.com/2006/10/13/on-the-forums/

The HCB photo represents life and death, and the process of life, and spiritual enlightenment. The kids in the foreground are full of life and joy, living in-the-moment, and pretty much oblivious to everything else. The man with the hat, in the middle of the image's depth-of-field, is middle-aged, going through the motions of living, somewhat dazed by the rigors of living, and he represents one of the destinations the children are inevitably destined for. The man furthest away, with his back to the viewer, is introspective, pondering death, maybe his own death, and the meaning of life (if there is any).

The white wall is death itself; the white light leading into death. There is no logical order to the afterlife, so the haphazard windows are where the ghosts of the afterlife souls are able to view, and sometimes haunt, the living. The children, near the wall of death, are not long for this world: they will die young.

The sliver of sky transcends all of it. It just is. The chimney is the passageway to total enlightenment.

Re: the Gertrude Kasebier piccy, I assume, Mike, that you have all the necessary details to effect an introduction between the model and a mostly decent, often-washed and previously indictment-free devotee of your site? As to the relative merits of the said shot, it is, without doubt, one of the finest internet-dating snaps I have yet encountered. And I've seen a few.

I hope you are considering the idea of a whole book of reviewed photographs. Perhaps you could add comments to all the images in Szarkowski's "The Phographer's Eye". I pre-order my copy right now.

Excellant comments!

Bravo, TOP readers and MJ!

Being "ungettable", unexplainable, is the point. Otherwise it's merely illustration, I say with salt. :-)

Mike, I don't understand why you let idiots like these comment on pictures on your blog. Don't they know that these are famous photographs by famous photographers? And that they were taken in days when technology was not so advanced? And that one can be a good artist even if one is not very intelligent or educated and don't know about color balance or how to level a horizon. They should have some respect, and forgive errors of the past.

I may be the only one who feels this way but the thing that always gets me about that HCB picture is the insanity of the building behind the action. And in a way I think my view is supported by the angle of the camera. I feel like he's saying: here is this crazy Babble of a building, but I need to put it in context, so here it is with people, KIDS even, living in the shadow (ok...not the shadow) of it. And here's an old man. A whole community lives near this building.

The thought that pops into my head the second I see this picture is: how did the windows get to be like that? It has elements of something totally organic (like the sort of organized randomness of the branches in a beaver dam) with a the severity of a modern structure (the flatness of a skyscraper).

Anyway, that's why I think it's an amazing photo. Because it takes this crazy story of a structure and puts it into context. But in my viewing, the building is the story. The kids and the man are not insignificant, but they are supporting actors.

Player:

The amazing thing is that in the split second that the scene occurred, HCB was able to see and think through all of that symbolism, frame a composition that properly contained it, and still capture the "decisive moment". Incredible!

This post was your best ever.

Heh. I got the "I'm not a dog, I see in colour" one almost verbatim the other day.

People are funny :)

Mike,
Your "man behind the bush" example remined me of Taryn Simon's presentation on TED Talks:
http://tinyurl.com/yb8jcnm

Mike I am still lookin' for that creosote bush. It is not readily available with creosote bush man and klett as the google terms. Any hint where. Like to see it.
NL

Dear Mr. Turner,

A cardinal rule of street photography is that it must always be done using grainy black and white. Using color the way you do here in so casual a manner, along with your ignoring the rule of thirds and placing the horizon line squarely in the middle of your frame betrays your lack of knowledge of the rules of great photography and betrays a certain sense of laziness in your approach. If you insist on using color please learn how to post process rather than just accepting what your camera produces. Please pay more attention in class next week and stop playing that horrible jazz music,

Signed,

your teachers at the Famous Artists School of Photography.

I don't know nuthin' 'bout photography, but I do know snark!

It wouldn't be so funny if it weren't so true....

Ed: What, like I'm going to go back to that spot and stand there all day hoping someone rides by the same way, just so it won't be so grainy?

As with the Capa image, the exigencies of the situation sometimes make the picture less technically good than one would prefer. I work in low light a lot (though not in water with people shooting at me); I accept that all sorts of photography have limitations that make technical perfection even harder. The picture can still be very powerful, very important, even if they're technically imperfect. (All photos are technically imperfect; and "perfect" even in technical areas is a matter of opinion.)

So, are you accepting that you yourself would prefer your night bicyclist shot to be technically different ("better"; but it's a matter of taste)?

There's an important difference between "This is what I could get under the circumstances, and it has enough virtues to overcome the flaws" and "These things some people say are flaws, I see as actual virtues".

I've seen photographs that don't use sharpness in the ways I like, and yet still work even to my eye; I'm not hopelessly stuck on that issue, I merely have fairly strong preferences.

(What actually catches my eye about your night cyclist is the areas of light on the street; the cyclist for me functions more as a way to avoid that area of the frame being blank in an essentially abstract composition.)

Hey Henry! Thanks for 'fav'ing my HDR sunrise picture. Thought I'd drop by and check out your photostream. You know, you have some pretty good shots here, I think you could have some potential.

This shot of yours really caught my eye - we've all been there haven't we?! The number of times I've been at some landmark or monument and people just seem to get in the way of the camera!! I can see why you wanted to take the shot, it's a really interesting building. I find that if I want to end up with really good travel shots (see my 'Travel' set of pictures for an idea of what can be achieved) then you have to put in a bit more work. For starters, you really need to get there early - before the crowds of tourists arrive. That should avoid the dreaded 'people in the shot' problem. Secondly, try to think about the best angle or place to take the photo from - the building is a bit skewed here. I think if you had moved a bit to the left maybe you could have squared off the roofline to make a much more pleasing composition. Maybe also think about getting a tilt-shift lens to help correct perspective. Lastly, you need to stop down the lens a lot more to make sure the whole photo is in focus - otherwise it just looks amateurish. Hope this helps!! :-)

Cheers, Steve

I wouldn’t want to over analyse Bresson’s shot. You can dissect a frog to see how it works, but you end up killing it in the process. There’s nothing that I could say that would be as clever or as insightful as Bresson’s choice of where he stood and when he pressed the shutter.

Mike
I am intrigued by the photo "Man Behind Creosote Bush". Do you have a copy you could put up on the blog please?
Best regards
Tim Key

Tim and Nature Lover,
I uploaded a bad snap of the Klett picture at the end of the post.

I need to do something about a proper copy stand...no idea where I'd put it. TOP World HQ, despite its sprawling and extensive physical plant, is out of room.

Mike

Another interesting thing about the Klett picture--I found that if I primed the audience by saying "This is just a picture of a bush" before I showed the slide, fewer people would see the man. Having been primed to see the man, on the other hand, you probably don't have any problem picking him up in the picture--even from this less than ideal representation.

I have seldom laughed so heartily at a birthday - thanks a llllllllot, and here's to many more TOP years!

While Damon Schreiber makes a good case about the democratizing of photo-exhibition and criticism, I'd be hard pressed to find anything good about the democratizing of anything. Democracy is mediocrity. Less is more as the saying goes. You can actually have enough of a good thing, and photography isn't that great now that everybody is doing it and have an opinion about it. But most people like mediocrity, so I really shouldn't bother. TOP is breath of fresh air and a sprinkle of rain in the photography desert of the WWW. And this parody is funny, mostly because it's true!

Svein-Frode typed: "I'd be hard pressed to find anything good about the democratizing of anything. Democracy is mediocrity."

Svein-Frode is correct. That, of course, is why nothing of lasting value came out of ancient Athens.

It should be "would've", not "would of". Learn to write.

In response to your request for a critique (which I assume you wanted because I have found your photo uploaded on the internet)

Best line of the post.

Mike:
The HCB photo is one of my favorites, but it always reminds me of Salvador Dali so it is interesting (to me anyway) that Halsman’s photo is just above.
The Pete Turner shot you posted is also one of my favorites. Interestingly, as many times as I’ve seen this photo, it is the first time I wondered why all of the lights of the stoplight are on. I can only assume a long exposure as the light changed from green through yellow and then red; I suspect that it wasn’t by accident.

Tom

I love this post! I know that the HCB pix would not win the International Aperture Photo competition running at the moment (....all last years winning pix were heavily photoshopped....) according to the the tips on their website:

HOW TO WIN PHOTO COMPETITIONS |
What Are Judges Judging?

When judging photographs, I have some basic expectations. The photograph should be sharp (focused) in the right places; they should be correctly exposed (not too light or too dark); and they should be appropriately framed. There’s nothing worse than a fantastic subject being overcrowded by unnecessary information or a busy background. Deciding to what to leave out of your photographs is just as important as what to leave in.

Last years top picture was of Jamie Oliver hanging upside down among some caracsses in a butcher's shop.

Ann

Re creosote
As always the preknowledge of the photo colored my perception of it. The small version really camouflaged him. And what would have been of this image in color with that added information to perceive?
Thank you.
By the way I was disappointed to find that someone is already using preknowledge vs foreknowledge.
Nature Lover

Well, I had a fellow download one of my shots from my club's web gallery, Photoshop it, and email it to me with detailed instructions for how he improved it. My best reply was "My, that does look pretty." What else is there to say?

I think all of the above simply shines a light on the introspective nature of art itself. We may all be in this together but on a higher level we drink alone. The real trick is to avoid slicing an ear off for your girl friend.

Hilarious. For a second I thought I was back on photo.net.

To Spiny Norman: Lasting value might not be a good thing, just a mediocre thing. It's just sad to see what a mockery has been made out of all the great Greek inventions, but as with anything founded on ideals, one finds out sooner or later that they all belong in Utopia...

I can't add anything more that hasn't already been said, so I'll just give the ol':

"I agree with all the other posters"

Hilarious - thanks for the humour and the great photos. The thing I loved right away about the HCB is the, best as I can describe it, false perspective. The windows seem to continue on into infinity. The outlines in the Kasebier are really interesting and harmonious with the mood.
Overall the post is a good reminder for us Flickr-ites not to go comment-whoring.

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