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C&C - Composition Miscellany

Discussion in 'Miscellany' started by PJohnP, Oct 28, 2005.

  1. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    What's "C&C", you ask ? Comment and Critique is what the acronym stands for. It's a very quick way for people in the Cafe to identify where they want to have some constructive criticism. I'm also adding the question mark icon to the post.

    I've been running around recently and had little time to post shots. But I've been shooting as I've run, and I have a few compositional items for which I'd like to get some comments and good critique. These are "foot composed" without cropping, although in one case that meant sprawling on my back while doing a crunch to bring up the camera and lens to just the right spot.

    Firstly, some shots from a provincial park where I went on a shoot with the evervescent and highly talented TOLady herself. While she took up the incredible fall foliage, I was contemplating some unusual items of composition.

    The first was near a waterfall, but it's not the fall I shot. The light was harsh, the shooting angle off-kilter, and I was a frightful example to the elderly couple who happened by in the midst of the shot.


    The second was just laying about on a picnic table, and we stopped for a few minutes contemplation of what was there for the taking.


    But, delightful a companion for photography as is Sandi (and thanks Sandi for the great time shooting !), my time in El Grande Blanco Norte ended, and I was off again in travel. This shot presented itself in the usual circumstances of reflections, scratched window plastic, and movement. To boot, I didn't have my Nikon handy, so I pulled out a Canon S400. Houston's not looked so inviting to me at the ground level, I can say.

    Those people who want straight clean-angle horizons may note the curved horizon and the almost banked attitude of the Embraer with amusement or annoyance as they see fit.


    The last one I happened on after overnighting in Albuquerque due to a very late flight with Continental in the wee hours, with the next morning devoted to driving home, and then, just as I was about to enter my front door, I spied this little critter. I've always found macro shots quite difficult, so I upped the stakes even more and tried to compose the photo differently than I was initially thinking about. No pressure, eh ?


    Shots 1 and 2 on the D100 with the 12-24mm AFS, Shot 2 also with a Canon 500D diopter on the 12-24mm, Shot 3 with a Canon S400 P&S. Shot 4 with the D100 and the Nikon 52mm f/1.2 with extension tube. All uncropped, processed in NC (1, 2, 4), and minor PP in PS-CS (mostly for the copyright addition and resizing for the Cafe). Shot 1 was PP using Fred Miranda's action. The little hair in Shot 4 was actually stuck to the mantis' head...

    For those who want it explicitly stated again, comments and critique are requested and invited.

    Travel's a neat thing, but it has some drawbacks. Fortunately, I have a camera along from time to time.

    Always shoot.

    John P.
  2. Excellent captures, John!!! Glad your shot of the leaf turned out so beautifully, as mine were far too shallow DOF... artistic but not great. Love what you did with that stair railing, esp the sepia treatment. Yes, a good time was had by all!
  3. Love the second shot. Very nicely done.
  4. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Sandi :

    Thanks for the kind comments.

    And it was a good time.

    John P.
  5. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gordon :

    Thanks. Getting the angle right was a bit tricky with that lens, but it was rather fun to try.

    John P.
  6. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    I was gonna say John, that it's hard to criticise when all that comes to mind is praise - these shots are indeed great. However since you insist on some critique, I'll try, but believe me, I really want to say "Great Shot!" K?

    On #1 - you might have gotten a little bit more compositional value out of this otherwise excellent shot if you had tried to keep the vertical lines, especially near the top of the stair, vertical. I know this is not easy to do when looking fo an interesting angle with a super-wide. And maybe get just a little detail on the stairs that are now completely shadowed.

    #2 - Whoa dude. You can't seriously expect me to give you advice on this one can you. It's great. Ok, one thing. The stem of the leaf goes out of the frame to the left. Next time, don't let it.

    #3 This one's easy. You accidently got the wing of the airplane in the shot. :wink: No, really, the strong graphic division of the scene by the wing DOES give this one a creative, yet classic composition. To make it better, give more contrast to the city below, eliminate the flare off the airplane window and clean up the air over the city.

    #4 Since you apparently stood on your head to shoot this mantis, you get more points for creativity. I also like the color - it's not natural, and neither are those beaded antenna. I can't really criticise this one, except it's an ugly bug which I would hate to see halfway up my leg the morning after a binge drunk.

    I hope I wasn't to harsh. I was trying to put the C in C&C is all - these shots are actually great as the other commentors have already pointed out. You do good work.
  7. I really like the leaf shot. I think what made it even better was knowing that it was just sitting there waiting for you. Good eye on that one.

    The only shot I don't care for is the airplane wing. It seems like a snapshot, which is fine but not something I would try to critique.

    The ugly bug, is nice. I like the change in perspective you achieved. But really that is one ugly bug.
  8. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Chris :

    Thanks for the comments.

    On No. 1, I actually went with a high contrast shot from the beginning and then went to B&W with sepia in PP. I envisioned the shot from the beginning as B&W with hard shadows. Next time, I'll try it both ways. I'll also tinker with the vertical lines a bit. The railing elements were not all quite vertical actually (this park's infrastructure is in fair shape, but not perfect) but you're right that the view needs some more correction. Good thoughts. BTW, I also "grained" the shot to ISO400 to get a little more of the old time feel I had using film.

    On No. 3, I was a bit stumped on processing this one, as I'm so used to NEFs and NC to address some issues with contrast, as well as working with the curves function. I need to get better at PS-CS so I can address this sort of thing. I'll try playing with it a bit more. If I'm going to pull out that little Canon, I need to do better in P and PP efforts.

    For No. 4, I didn't have to stand on my head, actually. The mantis was on the wall of my house under the portal, and I shot from above, not flipping the shot in processing as it's what I saw. The colour's actually pretty close for the light conditions in shade - the background stucco's almost right on with the real thing for example. What I was trying to do was capture the lines of the antennae, and not so much the body of the insect.

    Shooting with the 52mm f/1.2 "CRT" and an extension tube is kind of fun, BTW. It's not the typical macro combination, and it renders a lot of the areas out of DOF with a rather pleasing (to me, at least) bokeh. I'm still getting a handle on picking the right focal plane, as the lens can't be focused much beyond moving the camera sensor plane relative to the subject.

    Thanks for the useful C&C. I'm hoping that designation can be used here in the Cafe by others to get some constructive material posted on their works. I do wonder if we could create a little icon to attach to the post title that could be used to designate a C&C request as well. I'm unsure if the question mark icon is the appropriate one to use...

    John P.
  9. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Matt :

    < chuckling > Well, the wing shot is a snapshot of sorts, because I was constrained on how to shoot and the time was fleeting, quite obviously. What I was trying to do is get the line of the wing with the background colour while we started a hard bank. But I can't argue with your characterisation of this as a "snapshot". :wink:

    On the leaf shot, I think that I need to give Sandi (TOLady) full credit for spotting those leaves on the table. That gal has a darned good eye for interesting shots, I must say.

    The mantis was serendipity of the first order. It was climbing the wall under the portal (a covered porch-like structure in southwest architecture) in the corner behind the screen door on the front of my house when I came home after a night of flight misadventures. I really had to scrunch myself up against the wall in the corner to shoot the mantis from above, and tried to get the lines of the antennae to form the composition more than the body of the mantis.

    As for "ugly", I'm sure another mantis of the opposite gender would be offended by that pejorative characterisation ! :rolleyes: 

    Thanks for the C&C !

    John P.
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