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DPChallenge Forums >> Individual Photograph Discussion >> My first entry - Perspective. Please critique.
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11/29/2006 10:10:15 AM · #1
This was my first challenge photo and I was hoping for more comments / critiques. Anyone care to offer advice on how this photo could have been better? My self critique goes like this...

The candle lamp holder is cropped out creating an imbalance. I tried to get the whole thing in the picture, but could never make it look right. The gifts in the background seems to be resting on the bible and too horizontal with it, I think it would have looked better with a different arrangement. The text is not readable at this resolution and would have been much more interesting if it was. I thought about using a magnifying glass, but didn't have one. The composition is to centralized.

What are your thoughts?

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11/29/2006 10:36:38 AM · #2
Firstly congrats on submitting your first entry, it's a step I haven't taken yet.

I think your self critique is spot on, if you had done this critique and then a re-shoot you would have a far more powerful image.

I didn't realise the book was a bible until I read it in your notes. I guess after studying the image a bit longer I would have recognised it, but at a glance, no.
The composition IS too centralised as you say, and I also think too cluttered. Having a Bible and say ONE present you may have created a simpler image. The little model thing is probably not necessary as the Bible alone would have given the relegeous angle alone. The lamp, nice touch, maybe a bit disjointed from the image, I mean, it doesn't really add anything to the impact. I would not include it, but if you did then yes perhaps the whole thing in the frame.
The present on the left side is brightly lit, perhaps enhanced by a more reflective wrapping, but the other two items are in the shadow which doesn't create a very exciting composition.
My thoughts, is all.!
11/29/2006 10:47:02 AM · #3
Great critique thephotodude! It is funny that you mention it is too cluttered. When I first started "building" this picture I had all kinds of things in it. I had Christmas lights in the background, a hymnal, etc, etc...I took the shot and looked at it on the computer and was like ughhh that is terrible. I started taking stuff out and simplifying and it started looking better and better...I think you are correct that I stopped too soon taking stuff out! You are right about the lamp I thought it added interest, but I just could never get it positioned to where it added anything to the composition.

And now that you mentioned the gift on the left I see exactly what you mean amazing how I missed that. Move that present to the right and perhaps a bit behind would have helped greatly I think.

Thanks again for your great comments and take that step!
11/29/2006 10:56:55 AM · #4
Added a comment on your photo. I mostly agree with thephotodude.
11/29/2006 11:06:08 AM · #5
Very good critiques. I can't say much more except something about DPC: Images relying on symbolism may get overlooked by many voters since often time constraints trump really in-depth analysis. The improvements suggested by these guys might enable a 640 pixel image to communicate the idea to a wider audience.
I really like the idea of this photo and it is extremely important - I often get upset at how distorted my society appears to be when "celebrating" holidays. Keep putting lots of thought into your shots - I'm impressed.

Originally posted by mkalandros:

Added a comment on your photo. I mostly agree with thephotodude.
11/29/2006 11:26:45 AM · #6
Thank you mkalandros, all excellent points. In regards to your suggestion about including actual perspective into the photo, that was my intention the whole time. When I set this up I had the Bible in the foreground, next was a hymnal, then manger, then presents. I had them stacked in portrait orientation to create the diminishing perspective both in reality and abstraction. I took the picture and like I said, it was way too busy. I very carefully selected the apeture so that each item was less focused than the next. I just couldn't ever get the composition to work. I will revisit this still and with all your comments I think I'll do a better job.

In regards to being able to read the actual text I just have to get used to composing for 640...Here is a tighter crop, but not 100%. This is in color as you suggested.
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11/29/2006 11:30:32 AM · #7
Thank you metatate for your kind words. Indeed these are some wonderful critiques.
11/29/2006 12:25:36 PM · #8
I really like the simplicity of the black and white in the first shot which reinforces with message, and I think the lamp is interesting.

I think you chose a subject which is very difficult -- in both versions, I'm presented with a vast field of text and my eye just wanders around without knowing exactly what I'm supposed to focus in on -- even worse in the color version since there's nothing else to look at. Rather than zoom in, I'd be tempted to pull further out in the shot, so the bible is less "text", more "book".

Compositionally, I think the orientation of the bible being squared in the shot makes for a bland shot. Look to create strong diagonals (as in our current challenge!) that lead the eye into the subject...rotating the bible would really help make the image more dynamic, in my opinion.

You're off to a great start -- keep it up!

11/29/2006 12:35:43 PM · #9
One of the best tips I have found in these forums comes from Dr. Achoo - I think (unfortunately I can't remember where I found the tip). Anyway, the tip was to view taking a photo like a painting, and not to include any details you wouldn't include if you were painting the image instead of shooting it. This has helped me pay close attention to everything in my frame - and also to crop closer at times. Hope this helps you as much as it has helped me!
11/29/2006 01:32:25 PM · #10
Originally posted by jasonlprice:

What are your thoughts?

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Black and white is a good choice for your religious theme. Your unique lighting is interesting and VERY well done. Your use of metaphor is to be commended. Composition is good.

On the technical side it appears to be slightly oversharpened as evidenced by some haloing along the edges of the lamp and book. Not bad, but noticeable.

It is difficult for the viewer to discern your message for three primary reasons. 1-The text is unreadable though the viewer can see it is LUKE if they look real hard. Viewers should rarely be made to look hard for something important in the image. 2-The metaphor of the background is lost on most viewers because... welll... it is background and not that noiticeable. 3-The main attraction is the lamp which really has no message at all but is visually appealing.

The Challenge:
You chose a subtle way to meet the perspective challenge. That is usually the kiss of death at DPC. It probably fell deaf on viewers. That is because basic challenges are normally technical challenges meaning that the type of perspective people were looking for is photographic perspective, not metaphorical perspective... like in the blue ribbon winner.
11/29/2006 02:19:50 PM · #11
Speaking of perspective, and especially in the sense of the word that you use with your picture, any judgement of a picture being good or bad or better or worse needs to address the matter of its (the author's) intentions.

Unfortunately, those who vote here on dpc (let's be generous and say that everyone tries) have little access to your personal motivation. Asking for feedback on the forum was a good idea, as that does provide access.

To be brutally honest, I find the use of religious symbols a turn-off. I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time looking at your picture to find out why you used them.

Anyway, while success here is not the only criterion by which your pictures may be adjudge 'good' or 'better', here's some things that may help here:

You have one second to persuade the voter to use
Ten seconds to peruse your picture.

Philosophical interpretations take too long.
First-time and obvious visual cues make it.

The comparison between paintings and photographs is interesting.
The end result is virtually the same.
Getting there is a lot different.

It's very hard to take good pictures (especially consistently).

That doesn't mean you won't ever be able to do it.

As I've painted a black picture for you, it may help to know that a lot of people devote a lot of time and energy to being helpful and to seek understanding of what others are trying to do, as well as offer them suggestions.

Good luck.
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