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Wednesday, 09 August 2023


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Love the photo. Great light!

Seems like you're working on a nice instructional composition here, Mike. Foreground (docks, lily pads). Mid-ground (passers-by in the water). Background (the building). No, the paddle-boarder is not the subject to my eye. She's your mid-ground is your scale / human context, a prop. (My wife sometimes complains that I married her because I just needed a handy prop so often. I respond by telling her to be quiet and stand still.😁)

When I’m shooting outdoors I try to stay open to what nature is offering, rather than sticking to any preconceived idea I might have had. I think of it as Judo rather than Karate. Accept what is offered and bend it to your purpose. Photography outdoors is “Playing ball on running water.”

Mike, I'm around your age and therefore we likely learned the same set of "rules" as far as composing goes. I think the paddle boarder is the stronger shot. But I agree with John Camp and would say that by the old rules it would likely be more pleasing to have her entering the frame rather than exiting it.

I think you should combine the two shots: photoshop out the straggler geese on the left and put the paddleboarder in their place, would that be fiction though?

[That might be a lot of fun, although it would be a composite. --Mike]

Not to double-comment, but this one’s written after you added the photo with the birds. I much prefer the one with the paddle boarder because she stands (no pun intended) in contrast (sorta no pun intended) to the myriad and micro-graduated tones of grey in the rest of the scene. But maybe I’m a little suspicious that the photographer (and occasional pedant) enlisted her so as to deftly illustrate Zones II and VIII.

I really like the paddleboarder photograph. I find it calm and elegant. I love seeing your work, it feels so far from my world.

Use Photoshop to rearrange the geese in a more haphazard way. To make it look like it's not photoshopped. You have to work with (against?) the expectations of the viewer. :-)

"The Girl on the Paddle Board"
Difference between the Entrance or the Exit of the Paddle Boarder could influence a title if one was needed or train of thought in the viewer.
ie, "where is she going" or where has she been"
does the viewer see her 'going onwards' or "coming from"
Thats why I like NO titles, let the photo speak for itself !

"I have another shot that I haven't yet posted on Flickr that has a man walking through the scene. He's quite far away from the camera, and I couldn't see his expression as I was shooting. I took five variants of that one—and there's only one in which he's not looking at my camera!"

If he's walking on water you probably have a winner.

re: comments about whether to wait or take multiple frames … I personally don’t mind missing a shot due to waiting for “The Decisive Moment”. It’s a skill (or maybe also an internal competition) that I enjoy. Yes, I miss a lot (especially as age makes moving harder) but then there are LOTS of decisive moments a world away where I’m not present anyway. Especially in Paris.

I think about things looking photoshopped all the time. You can wait for a perfect moment but then after the fact realize that you could have photoshopped that part of the picture into the frame and who is the wiser except for your self. So especially nowadays that can be a problem I suppose. It depends on how strict you are in your finished product and where it will be displayed, if there are rules for photoshopping, or changing a photo. I have a photo of two ducks on a wall in front of the Red Mill Museum in NJ and a male and female looking at each other in pretty perfect symmetry with the Museum in the background. But I can imagine that someone could photoshop the same thing I suppose. Makes me wonder about the viewer…do you think that they care even if you do?

Oh and if you are interested in the photo, wasn’t sure how to share it here, but here is the flicker address for it : https://www.flickr.com/photos/jcecilian/53106043547/in/dateposted-public/

the long line of geese on the right "bothers me". ha ha! why you may ask. because they lead my eye out of the frame and i loose interest in the pic. And yes i was asked to judge at the local photo club on a regular basis.

the young paddle boarder does not for me have the same issue because she is not so near the edge.

Following on Aaron's comment about serendipity, you might be interested in the photography of Jeremy Paige (aka, Eaten by Flowers). He's a street photographer who takes the idea of serendipitous composition to the extreme. So much so that whenever I see threads or posts about him online, the conversation usually revolves around whether or not they are staged. They couldn't possibly be real! etc. For me, the more interesting idea is whether camping at a spot for hours on end removes the genuine serendipity. If you want a person to stand in a very specific spot in order to complete your composition, is it that much different to wait of hundreds of passers by to randomly walk through rather than just ask them to stand in the right spot? In both cases, you are imposing your vision on the scene rather than letting the scene present itself to you. Dunno, but even Jeremy questions the "staged-ness" of his photos in interviews. Here's a link to a short artist spotlight type video.


If the area to the left also had a backdrop of trees, that might have made a nice photo. Keep the "balcony" of the building and some buffer space to the right and take a photo of the young woman with some more "nature" ahead of her with enough of the man-made building to even out the different background objects.

In the scenario above, the dock may have intruded too much, but it may also have lead the eye to the woman on the paddle board.

(Of course, there may have been all sorts of detritus to the left of your photos.)

You should definitely re-visit that spot this summer! Just tell us that you've "gone fishing". :>)

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