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CS #148 - Take the lead

Discussion in 'The Collective Shoot' started by coutanth1, Aug 9, 2009.

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  1. :smile::smile:G' Day All!!:smile::smile:

    I've been thinking a lot lately about something someone recently said to me:

    "**You’re now working in the realm of image psychology – a very interesting topic with a lot more to it than is recognized by most amateur photographers. [For example, we read from left to right. Therefore, our eye/brain is more comfortable with an image that flows from left to right. Take your path image and make a mirror image of it. Then show both to someone who doesn’t know the real path. (don’t tell them which is reality)]" ((The 'path image' being a submission to the CS #146 which was hosted by Lyndee, in which I re-did the original, highlighting the changes and what I discovered.))

    Then I came across this excerpt from 'Psychology of The Image' (Pg 158) by Michael Forrester:

    "Good photographs come from developing an eye for the picture...Success requires no more than the ability to make the essential creative leap from what you see to what will work as a photographic image...The secret of doing this is to train the eye to see images that will give pleasure when they are taken out of the complex confused and constantly shifting world and made into photographs isolated by their frames." --Kodak 1993

    There is more of this to come, but for this week I was thinking about the "stuff" within a given image that leads the viewer. Left to right, using horizontal features, diagonal lines, etc... Sometimes in PPg we desaturate everything but a certain aspect of the image, that certain aspect being what we want the viewer to really concentrate on, what we really want them to look at. Perhaps you put the emphasis on one color within the image. Or you use sharpening or de-focusing techniques to stress a particular part. Same goes for selective coloring, etc...

    So, this weeks' theme is: Take The Lead.

    Just as a few weeks ago, this shoot already started on Thursday August 6th, and is open for shooting and posting thru Thursday August 13th (Midnight your local time).

    So let's see how you take an image, and using some PPg techniques lead your viewer in a particular direction, or maybe for a particular reaction. I have some things bookmarked from John Suler that I think will be useful. But we'll get to those as the week progresses.

    As the purpose for the Collective Shoot is for everyone to get out and shoot for a common theme, and during/for a particular time schedule, posting shots taken outside of the posted times is discouraged. From time to time, the host may use an image taken outside of the posted shooting time purely for the sake of example/illustration.

    To get y'all going this week, I'm going to use the original and PPd shot of a baby praying mantis from about a month ago. As you see, the original doesn't look like much, and really isn't appealing. Smack dab in the middle of all this I found this baby mantis, barely one inch long, and hanging upside down from the QAL.

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    Here is the final cut. Cropped and rotated the image so that a diagonal line runs from the bottom left corner, right thru the body and head tilt, on thru to the upper right corner of the shot. My psychological approach to this was to situate the feller so that he stands out first of all. My second goal involved using the pose to my advantage as the direction of the head/eye gaze now leads the viewer to question, amongst other things, "Just what is that little guy looking at, or standing at attention for?" The gaze from any creature is one way of immediatley grabbing your viewers' attention - it's part of human nature and it's a subtle way in which we interact with given images.

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    Not one of my better PPg jobs, but I think you understand where this is going, as there is a wide range of techniques available for leading the viewer. One of those used in the final cut was the use of the empty space, the BG bokeh.

    So let's see how you Take The Lead. :smile:
  2. JusPlainCrayzee

    JusPlainCrayzee Administrator Administrator

    Love the topic, Herschel...! And now that the doctor has given me the go ahead to pick up my camera (finally...! :tongue:) , I have a particular shot I'm thinking of. Hopefully it will meet the definition of this week's subject...
  3. Ah, once again you have stepped in to fill a gap:wink:.

    'Tis indeed a challenge for all amateur photographers -- we all learn the "rules of composition", but it is quite another thing to understand and apply them to achieve the desired impact. A big part of it is in developing the habit of verbalizing what we like about the subject before releasing the shutter. Then we know where we are going with the image. Of course, sometimes we don't recognize all of the possibilities until we see what the camera captured.

    I hope that some of our advanced amateurs and pros will weigh in (with comments, at the very least) for this CS -- it's a chance for all of us to learn.

    Thank you.
  4. Wow, how very creative!!! :smile: I'm hoping to use some of the stuff that I've shot this weekend for this. Am not at home right now, so no PP ability. :wink:
  5. Herschel, I hope I understand, the first image is the RAW image that I took on Friday, it kind of leads the viewer from left to right across the image, but to me it's not a comfortable image to look at. The second image after PP is a lot more interesting and a lot easier to look at, and it does pull the eye from left to right.


  6. Great, Eric. The image isn't about the wall or the cigarette bin -- your crop brings the viewer's focus where it belongs. I like the angle too -- it suggests depth. [Everbody has his/her "thing" of the month -- I've always been a fan of gradients of all kinds (sharpness, tone level, saturation, angled lines, etc.], subtle and otherwise]
  7. Lyndee,

    :smile: I'm happy to hear that you have been given your "marching orders" by the Doc. I can't wait to see where you take us now that you're at full strength. :smile:


    You're Welcome! Indeed the cafe is akin to hanging out with a group of well-adjusted "addicts" - waiting for a new theme just doesn't sit well with any of us. :tongue:

    A big part of it is in developing the habit of verbalizing what we like about the subject before releasing the shutter. -- I'm glad you said this because this is an integral part of this weeks' shoot. Whereas artists such as musicians, painters, and even house builders utilize a set of materials or tools to create something new in blank space or out of "nothingness", sculpters, carvers, and photographers seek to strip away or reveal just the parts that matter. We are trying to simplify the scene in a way that makes our viewer stop and enjoy for awhile.


    :smile: As always, I try to make this so that our members, on a global scale, are able to participate; So that there aren't too many constrictions. Can't wait to see what you shot over the weekend.


    :smile: Thank you so much, not just for getting us off and running, but also with a really good example and understanding of the "why's". Indeed the original is not all that appealing. It's rather flat in appearance, and there are some elements that if left in place, would leave me as the viewer thinking "Gee, that's a snapshot of some dishes/antennae reflected in a window." - and then I'd move on. By removing some of the clutter - the ashtray, some of the wall, etc.. - and by adjusting the colors so that the sky reflection 'pops', by removing the flatness of the brick wall - now I want to stay awhile and consume this image longer. Now I feel like I'm being drawn into the shot, especially with some of the lines and repetitions in the reflection. Just my HO, I'd like to see this one cropped just a little bit more and here's why: The left side has a shadow reflection, which seems to have some prominence to it, and I think that if that were removed, along with the far left antennae, and the row of 3 lights within the windowed structure: I think what you'll be left with is an image that has a prominent FG antennna/dish, which then has a good balanced relationship with the four other dishes in the distant BG. (I just held my hand over the left side of the shot, which then as described seems to make this really 'pop' - to the point that I'd want to frame it.) What do you think??
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  8. :frown:That shadow would be a reflection of my fat belly... :eek: :biggrin: and the edge of my hat.:cool:  You're probably right, I also see a few more marks on the window that need to be removed.:wink:
  9. As previously mentioned, I have some things bookmarked to help in the enhancement of this weeks' learning. The following is an excerpt from "Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche" by Dr. John Suler. (Oh, and here is a link in case you'd like to read more. There is a 'Jump to...' menu at the top right of the pages, along with further suggested links within the article on the bottom left of the pages. http://users.rider.edu/~suler/photopsy/introduction.htm)

    There are a few things that I'd like to add after this excerpt.

    "“Good composition!”

    You’ve heard that comment many times. It’s a nice compliment, but what exactly does it mean?

    Generally speaking, the word “composition” refers to the way in which something is made up, the way individual parts are put together to construct a whole. In art and music, it is the plan, placement, or arrangement of elements to create a work. While composing paintings and music, artists have carte blanche to add whatever elements they wish to the canvas or sheet music. For traditional photography, the process is more limiting. To create good composition, photographers must carefully frame a preexisting and often visually complex scene, usually by following the three most basic rules of good composition: simplify, simplify, simplify. "

    And this:

    "I like to think of good composition as more than just how the individual parts are arranged to fit together. At the most sophisticated level, it entails how all the elements of the image – color, texture, shading, lines, perspective, depth of field, etc. - come together to express the idea, meaning, feeling, or subject matter of the image. When creating an image, it’s always helpful to ask oneself, “Does this element support the idea?” A soft focus portrait will not accurately capture the edgy personality. Regardless of how beautiful low key photography can be, shooting a dark photograph of a party will not reinforce the idea that everyone had fun.

    In truly exceptional composition, all the elements come together to create a sense of unity. They support each other in producing a Big Picture where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. They complement each other by expressing different nuances of meaning concerning the subject matter. Great masters have said that in the perfect composition, nothing can be added and nothing taken away. The image is complete unto itself. For the viewer, it just “feels right,” even though they may not be able to verbalize why."

    Oh, and I also want to borrow from the quote in Eric's signature: "There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." - Ansel Adams

    Here's where I'm going with all of this: Photography is like dancing, and that "it takes two to tango". (:) tongue:) ) Someone leads, and someone follows. But there is more to the dance. There is also a need for a thing called 'balance". In photography, this might relate to the particular color balance of an image. It may also relate to the balancing of the image weight, or a balancing of the symmetry within a scene.

    To further illustrate what I'm talking about with 'balance', I want to take another look at Eric's shot of the reflected dishes. Earlier I had placed my hand over the left side of the shot, an improptu cropping that left me seeing just the foreground/larger dish, and then the right side background four dishes trailing away to the right. In my comment about cropping this image in such a manner, I felt that the image then became more balanced for the viewer. This has to do with the visual fulcrum - the balancing of the see-saw, if you will. Visually we attach a certain amount of weight to the larger, more prominent foreground dish. which is on the shorter end of the see-saw between it and the lesser weighted four background dishes. Since the four background dishes are at a further distance from the pivot point, we attribute an amount of weight to those four that evenly counter-balances the foreground dish. And there-in lies the root of my reasoning for cropping that particular image just a hair more. Doing so, I feel, would lead to a more balanced, more pleasing image that pulls me in that much more. Then I would feel as though my dance partner was assuredly leading me about the floor/scene, rather than dragging me. (Not that Eric woul intentionally do that as he is not a 2 left-footed dancer. :biggrin:) 

    :smile: My hopes this week are that we gain a better understanding of the things we know, in what we do with our wonderful set of tools - the camera, the lens, the settings, the environment we are presented with; So on, and so on. There are more techniques to use in leading the viewer that I'd like to touch upon. And we'll get there as we continue this dance. :biggrin:
  10. I'm not quite sure that this fits the topic, but it was one of those accidental, there-at-the-right-time lucky shots. I was out on my balcony shooting something else when all of a sudden I spotted the squirrel scampering along the boardwalk...... I didn't do much PP, just a slight straightening and slight cropping.

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  11. Connie,

    This is an exceptional example of what we're talking about. The slight straightening plays right into one of the things that the brain wants to experience: ORDER - Vertical lines being vertical, horizontal lines being horizontal, and from there the brain is happy to follow diagonals wherever they may lead. Your cropping for this is right on the money for several reasons: First of all, the decking element changes from a larger foreground 'square', abruptly narrowing to the walkway leading out of the top right. The left side railing ropes are fulfilling several roles in this shot: First they are dividing the shot so that the viewers' attention is shifted to the right, onto the safe and dry decking. (The brains' sense of self-preservation naturally causes us to avoid the other side of the rope railing as this would lead to getting our feet wet, or perhaps worse since the viewer doesn't really know the true depth of the water. :tongue:)  Next, the rope railing serves to re-emphsize the overall direction and interaction in this shot. By cropping right across the tops of the posts, you have re-enforced the boundaries of the larger area of the deck. Now my eye is very naturally led towards the safer path of travel - along the narrower decking exiting the shot top right. Now to pull it all together with the last element - the squirrel. The positioning/angling, the body language of the squirrel causes me to mentally interact with this feller. I want to see where he/she is going. And here is where we come full circle, the squirrel is obviously not heading towards the unknown water depth anymore than we naturally would. This begins a little mystery within the shot - I can see the narrower path exiting top right, but what lies beyond that? Is there a safer path for the squirrel to get a drink of water? Is it heading for home, or perhaps an un-seen food source?

    Folks, there is one other element in Connie's image that I'd like to touch upon: (and foregive me as some of you will read this and drag your hand over your head saying "Oh Herschel, that's a no-brainer.") But here it is: The darkness of the water on the left versus the lighter area of decking subconsciously causes us to stay towards the right of this scene. The brighter deck boards make us want to go that direction, the direction along which things are in the light, that we can readily see as being "true". We naturally want to stay away from the darkness, that unknown water depth. Connie might know that it is only 12" deep, but because we can't see the bottom, we will shy from going that way in this shot. And this is just one of many elements that can be used to lead a viewer along. One of the techniques used in PPg is to selectively darken and lighten certain aspects of a scene. This is a subtle way in which you can direct your viewer thru a shot.

    Great stuff!! Keep it coming. :wink:
  12. Herschel, cropped this back to remove the row of three lights, and did not like the looks of the images, I like the window frames coming out of the corners of the image, and using an 8x10 crop, I can't achieve that. So, I cropped it to 8x10 with the window frames coming out of the corners of the images, and removed the one remaining light of the three.

  13. My first decent Dragonfly

    I was down at my in-laws property Thursday, practicing my BIF tracking and focusing skills, which equaled 80+ shots of crap. But at least I'm getting better at keeping the crap within the frame. :rolleyes: 

    Anyways, while waiting for the next target to fly overhead, this dragonfly decided to take a break from whatever it was doing. He rested on the outside wall of one of the out-buildings. I had the 70-300 with the 1.4 TC attached. On two occasions, he decided that I was blocking the waning beams of daylight and abruptly flew off. However, on the third attempt, I managed to creep up within 8', and get this original:

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    After a slight straighten, and crop, I have this leading from left to right. Put some more time into the PPg, adjusting the colors so that he 'pops' in comparison to the BG. The last bit was two-fold: First to sharpen the body overall; Then, using the free-hand select tool to draw a crooked circle around the head, and apply some more sharpening to just the head. In reviewing this, now I'm happier. The lower set of wings are in unison with the grain of the wooden background, while the upper set of wings are poised in a slightly up-swept position. Since true horizontal lines have a sub-conscious value of the subject being in a state of rest, the slight diagonal adds some tension to the moment. Put that together with the poising of the upper set of wings, and the tension of possible movement is captured. Re-enforcing this is the darker triangular area along the lower portion, and the body positioning, and going back to what we were just talking about - leading away from the darkness: Enjoy the view of this one while you can because at any moment this dragonfly could be gone.

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  14. Eric,

    :smile: Yes!! This exactly what I was picturing. Of course I am not one to restrain anyones' creativity, or personal likings. As the artist, my thinking about this may or may not appeal to you. But I'm so thankful that you re-worked this to help illustrate what I was saying. And I'm glad that you left that one light inside the building above the reflection of the distant array. Doing so, IMHO, adds to symmetrical directing of the viewer's attention. I think that makes it a much stronger image. Spot on comparison work, and great contribution to help in the learning process. What else do you have 'cause now I'm hungry for more. :biggrin:
  15. Feed MEEEEEE

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    View attachment 391326
  16. Wow, Herschel, you really did a thorough job of analyzing my image! :smile:

    I really did very little PP -- nothing in the way of burning-in or dodging, nothing in the way of color adjustments. I had to straighten the image because of the angle at which I was positioned and shooting on my balcony, two stories above the boardwalk. I cropped judiciously in order to eliminate some extraneous white (the water drainpipe on the building) but that was it..

    This little fellow went scampering on along the boardwalk, up the steps you can't see because they are around the corner, and then into the common area where there are lots of trees for him to collect nuts and play with his fellow squirrels....

    It was when I was getting ready to process the other shots that I'd also taken today and was looking at this one that I recalled the topic of the Collective Shoot and thought, "well, there's sure some leading lines going on in this image!" and submitted it.. :smile:
  17. Ed,

    Sir, ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING!! Taking what is a good remembrance shot of Leo, and re-working it just a bit to make this one very powerful shot. I remember awhile back a question concerning the anogram ROT - Rule Of Thirds, and this is a beautiful example to talk about this.

    First, two more excerpts from Dr. John Suler's article: "Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche" concerning the rule of thirds, with a follow-up on breaking certain rules. (And here is a link to the full page concerning the ROTs: http://users.rider.edu/~suler/photopsy/rulethirds.htm

    "One of the most basic and effective strategies for composition is the well-known Rule of Thirds. In a tic-tac-toe fashion, you mentally divide the shot into nine rectangular areas by visualizing two equally spaced horizontal and vertical lines. The result will give you three horizontal and vertical layers of the same size, with four points where the lines intersect. You then place the elements of the shot according to this grid. There are several possibilities:

    1. Place elements, especially important subjects, at one or two of the intersection points, what some call the “power points.”"


    "In an image with a single subject and lots of background or negative space, we might apply the Rule of Thirds by creating twice as much background or negative space as subject. Usually, we would place the subject in the right third. Based on how people read, in many cultures the eye moves more naturally from left to right, so the viewer will feel more secure entering the background or space on the left and moving naturally to the subject on the right. The position of the subject will look more grounded. However, in some shots, we might instead place the subject on the left to create a sense of uneasiness and tension. The eye lands on the subject, trails off into the empty space on the right, and then tries to jump back to the subject, resulting in a “shifting” feeling. The photograph "Suspicion” to the right illustrates this uneasy shiftyness."

    Like I said, Ed's first shot of Leo is good keep-sake shot. But he didn't stop there. He zoomed in a little and cropped, eliminating the distracting bit of tail in the foreground. Leo's right eye is placed at the top left "power point" - the intersection of the left vertical and top horizontal 'tic-tac-toe' lines. Lastly, and what I think is really important: Ed breaks the rules by twisting the image out of alignment, so that Leo's whiskers are aligned from upper left leading down to lower right. In doing so, a bit of action and tension is created/enforced: In the shot, Leo's head is cocked in a bit of attention. Due to the angle, placement, and eye direction, we get a sense of height in that Leo is no longer just looking out the window; Now he is looking down on something. Leo now holds the "upper paw" in a direct, but very subtle manner. In the rounding out of the power of this shot, take another look at that upper left power point - see that crisp detail in the eye and the reflection within the eye? See that street pole that is obviously out of the shot? The pole isn't straight either but this is a case where this really works well, because, to me, Leo's overall expression is now "I have a different perspective upon the outside world." or "I'm ready for any 'feather-head' that lands upon that street pole." With just a few adjustments, Ed has created a powerful in-and-out interaction where the anticipation is really intense.

    Ed, Great job in your handling of the simple details!! Simply powerfull!! :smile:
  18. Connie,

    :wink: That's right - if I'm hosting, I'm not going to be a slacker about it. :tongue:

    I'm really glad that you are contributing this week. Your images cover a wide range of particular "types" of photography, but part of the "bottom-line", I think, is to pull the viewer into the image and make them stay for awhile; To create something that 'pops' in a particular manner that gets a reaction from them like: "Wow! Would you look at that!" Whether that is thru minimalism, abstract, or reducing a scene to B&W, there is a wide variety of techniques that can be applied so as to take ahold of the viewer, to create an interaction, or to get a particular reaction. And sometimes verbalizing the 'why' of a particular image seems out of reach. I certainly have taken shots that, to be honest, I really don't know why I like it, I just know that there is something appealing. And that is something which I feel is really important. If from time to time, we sit back and really examine a shot, we might just gain a new understanding that enables us to be bettter "armed" photographers. We open our eyes to new possibilities that we might otherwise have ignored. :wink:
  19. JusPlainCrayzee

    JusPlainCrayzee Administrator Administrator

    Okay, Herschel...I'm hoping this fits in with the theme...

    This is a photo of a piece of sculpture in St. Louis' new 'CityGarden', which opened last month. Within the garden there are 24 pieces of sculpture, and the head is entitled Eros Bendato.

    In the original shot, you can see pretty much the whole scene surrounding the head itself. I wanted the emphasis to be on the head, though, so I did a bit of cropping and PP'ing and such.

    Is this what you were referring to?

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  20. Herschel used a lot of words -- I'll keep it simple: Ed, in just a couple of mouse strokes, you took Leo from a retiring, almost indifferent, pose to "The Boss". [Even I feel compelled to offer him a few tidbits.:biggrin:]
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