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A Brick in the Wall
A Brick in the Wall

Photograph Information Photographer's Comments
Challenge: Selective Desaturation II (Advanced Editing V)
Camera: Canon EOS-20D
Lens: Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM
Location: Side of my house
Date: May 20, 2007
Aperture: f/5.6
ISO: 400
Shutter: 1/250 sec
Galleries: Architecture, Macro
Date Uploaded: May 20, 2007

I just though this made an interesting pattern.

Place: 362 out of 556
Avg (all users): 5.1631
Avg (commenters): 5.6667
Avg (participants): 5.0326
Avg (non-participants): 5.6531
Views since voting: 696
Views during voting: 307
Votes: 233
Comments: 8
Favorites: 0

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05/29/2007 06:18:48 AM
Unique choice for selective desaturation. Interesting that you chose a single brick at the central focus to leave colored. The extended lines in the brickwork converging at the edge of the frame is its best feature.

Nicely composed. Sharpness (where it is) is good and color on the brick is not overdone as the reds were in so many of the other challenge entries.

Generally speaking extremely shallow depth of field does not work well, but in this case it emphasizes the concept that the brickwork extends to infinity. It is a bit to narrow, though. The out of focus masonry lines meeting at the left edge of the frame is a very nice touch.

The edging of the boundary of the colored brick is rough and unnatural looking, especially on the right and bottom edges.

The image is on the flat, low contrast side. It lacks both white and black points.

The Challenge:
Obviously meets the challenge. Conceptually selective desat should be easy, but it is deceptively difficult in practice. This challenge was made futher difficult because of the large number of entries and the appropriateness of desat selection has more meaning than other techniques generaly do.

Some viewers will ask themselves why chose that particular brick to leave colored? What is special about it? What purpose does it serve? How does that relate to the extended lines and the overall composition? For many those questions will remain unanswered. It is likely there is a split verdict on your desat, some thinking it a great idea while others thinking the desaturation choice is meaningless and mearly gratuitous to meet the challenge.

Your score is about .2 lower than the challenge average. That means voters felt it slightly below average but not bad. That is probably because the majority of voters felt the desat choice was weak and the color boundary needed more work.

You might consider a slightly wider DOF for this composition, just enough to encompass the main red brick before it goes soft focused. Viewers like to see the entire main subject, in this case the red brick, in sharp focus.

Getting the boundary between colored and greyscale areas is trickier than it looks and is an artistic skill that needs to be practiced and perfected. You want to look closely at the natural pixel width for other boundaries in the image and select a very narrow brush width with pixel feathering set to match that pixel width of nearby boundaries and use the blur tool to make the boundary look more natural.

There is something you might consider to address the challenge topic but because of the nature of your composition this would be difficult to do. You might have tried adding a few more randomly selected bricks to leave colored. This would give the viewer purpose to your desat selection. It would emphasize the fact that brick walls are aggregates of many bricks and answer the question of why that particular type of deat was selected. More colored bricks would also direct more attention to the masonry lines.

The image is flat. Even a simple "autolevels" adjustment will immediately improve its contrast and visual impact. You need to set the white and black points in this image.

Setting white and black points
Yours, like almost every image, requires some white point/black point adjustment. That is because pixels are rarely recorded by the camera across the full luminosity range from pure black to pure white when you take the picture. That is normal. You can see this in your histogram (luminosity) display in an image editor where the curve does not extend all the way from far left to far right. Your histogram needs adjustment on both sides.

"AutoLevels" makes that adjustment according to how the software thinks it should be done. Instead, you can control it by hand by adding a "Levels" adjustment layer and dragging the black point triangle on the far left to the right to meet the luminosity curve and by dragging the white triangle on the far right back toward the left to meet the luminosity curve. This sets white and black points to your actual luminosity curve. The best part is you can fine tune it to look just 'right'.

The grey triangle in the middle sets your grey point which controls midtone contrast. That is worth playing with as well.
End Setting white and black points

Message edited by author 2007-05-29 06:23:04.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
05/27/2007 11:35:09 PM
OK, this is either a 4 or a 10. Can't decide... Still can't decide... OK, it's not a 10, but it is a good score from me nevertheless.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/25/2007 06:28:11 PM
this actually looks like it wasn't edited. It looks like something you found. . .just a random red brick on a gray wall. The technical side of it is great.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/23/2007 12:37:27 PM
Painful amount of blur.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/23/2007 07:07:11 AM
I find the very narrow DOF distracting. No WOW factor as there is not really anything interesting about it for me.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/22/2007 08:19:35 AM
Interesting photo. Looks like motivational poster for teambiilding. A different title might have helped.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/21/2007 02:18:06 PM
I wish the DOF was larger on this. I'd like to see more bricks in focus.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/21/2007 12:08:51 AM
Great idea that has been executed very well. Simple but effective.
  Photographer found comment helpful.

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