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Thread: Your Best Photograph from the Previous Month - Critique and Discussion Encouraged

  1. #481
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Your Best Photograph from the Previous Month - Critique and Discussion Encouraged

    An image to contemplate for this discussion - Ansel Adams' "Nevada Fall:"




    Perhaps its the commonality of having the entire sky visible at the top. Another Adams (sorry for poor quality, all I could find):



    Our eastern waterfalls are of course much smaller and less grand than these out west, and so compositions tend to be a bit tighter. While I do like getting an expanse of sky (if the clouds are good especially) it's not often that one can. It's definitely a challenge compositionally when there is nothing up there in that small area, and then trees bracketing the opening that push high up into the sky. I have this problem often! Here's a similar shot from a couple years ago, same problem:

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  2. #482
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Your Best Photograph from the Previous Month - Critique and Discussion Encouraged

    Unless one is just taking a snapshot to say "I was here", one needs to work all the elements into one's visual image. When students would come to me with an image with a very distracting element (such as an upper corner of the print being blank sky), their usual defense was that "It was there." I usually would then talk with them about other options to work (re-photographing or reprinting) with the distracting element -- eliminating it, weaving it into the image, highlighting it...whatever it takes.

    Not totally happy with the falls over the glacier image. It made it into the original portfolio (1987) of 20 prints from NZ, but would not make the cut if the portfolio was reduced to a more solid 12 images today...partly due to the sky. A couple of Yosemite Falls handled very differently from each other, and then one where I mimic the sky with the light pouring into the top of the image.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Yosemite Falls.jpg   Last Valley Light, Yosemite Falls,2007, Hutchins.jpg   FallsMultnomahCr_Carbon.jpg   Falls Over Glacier, NZ_7x20.jpg  
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  3. #483
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Your Best Photograph from the Previous Month - Critique and Discussion Encouraged

    Cropped slightly per your previous post for visual reference:



    A bit awkward to me, crowding the top of the falls. I will have to look at my print tonight to see where I cropped it exactly, but I gave it a bit of sky to breath. I like the idea of the sky being the "entry point" of the waterfall. Another thought would be to try burning in the sky to get it darker, but it doesn't look as natural?



    Just some of my thoughts.
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  4. #484

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    Re: Your Best Photograph from the Previous Month - Critique and Discussion Encouraged


    For your consideration: an interpretation more along the lines of the Hudson River Valley School of painting. Less literal, more... theatrical.

  5. #485

    Re: Your Best Photograph from the Previous Month - Critique and Discussion Encouraged

    Ha, how about a 5x7 horizontal crop right across the bottom of the frame, lopping off another, say, 10% off the top? Burn-in the trees on the right side of the frame, bring up the contrast of the water and it starts to be bit more of an abstract. (Of course, as my mama used to say,“Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.” )

  6. #486
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    Re: Your Best Photograph from the Previous Month - Critique and Discussion Encouraged

    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    ...Just some of my thoughts.
    That is the issue with post filming cropping...Taking the space above the falls into full consideration by the time of the exposure might have presented itself with a different solution that is not possible just cropping with the present negative. A slight shift in position, a different placement of the fall (instead of centered), or who knows what change, might have presented an image that still took the advantage of the wonderful light.

    Darkening the sky seems to me to be unsatisafactory -- it is the source of the waterfall's light, though would pop out the top of the falls some.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  7. #487

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    Re: Your Best Photograph from the Previous Month - Critique and Discussion Encouraged

    Since this is becoming a lengthier discussion, I prefer the versions with some sky showing, and not too burned in either. As Vaughn posted, that is where the illumination comes from, so for me it appropriate to include it. I may not be saying this well, but in scenes that are in some sense “larger,” the inclusion of the sky is logical, while in close-up details, such as a tidal pool (Weston) or just water over rocks, the absence of sky makes sense.

  8. #488
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Your Best Photograph from the Previous Month - Critique and Discussion Encouraged

    I prefer the first version Bryan posted. As long as the sky is a bit darker than the water, then I don't have a problem with it.
    Please stop feeding the trolls.

  9. #489
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Your Best Photograph from the Previous Month - Critique and Discussion Encouraged

    This has been a really interesting discussion and I appreciate all the thoughtful replies!

    If you'll permit me one more aside - as I mentioned, I did make a silver gelatin print of this image a few weeks ago. I took a quick photo of the image for reference, as I may have cropped ever so slightly different while composing on the easel. I also matted it with a bit of a white border. Whether or not it makes anyone see the image differently, I don't know. I apologize for the reflections from the baggie:

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  10. #490
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Your Best Photograph from the Previous Month - Critique and Discussion Encouraged

    Sure would be nice to say "Hold that light right there!" and have time to work. I got spoiled working on light overcast days in the redwoods...like working under a big slow-moving softbox.

    Perhaps just keeping the top of the tree in that is directly above the right half of the waterfall would be sufficient. But this is all fine-tuning an already wonderful image -- I love the shadow of the falling water and how it shows the shape of the cliff face. Also the pooling of the light at the bottom of the falls. Shadows across falling water can be difficult to work with, and Bryan has handled that well. Ken's version brought out those shadows a bit more.

    Edited to add: the silver example -- I like the cropping -- and the little bit more of the bottom of the negative, also. I prefer the tonality of the first image...but that might just be the reproduction. The only thing I might change is to give ever so slightly some space between the tree top and the edge of the image...just to create a little tension and excitement for those whose eyes travel up the pillars of light into the sky. A little space (1/32"?) might help keep their eyes from continuing off the image and instead fall back down the falls.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

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