Looking for critiques

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by MenacingTourist, Jul 13, 2006.

  1. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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    I finally have things set up to go from tripping the shutter to making a print. Would love some feedback on things I should be thinking about or changing or doing better at any point in my process, etc.

    I know some of us don't go to the gallery all that often so I'm asking here to take a look at the photos I've recently posted and offer up some of your thoughts and impressions. If after a few hours/days the photos move off the main gallery page please go to my personal gallery.

    I'm really not looking for a pat on the back. I want to improve and I know I have a long way to go. Did I mention I'm especially interested in suggestions?

    Thank you very much,

    Alan.
     
  2. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Alan,

    I made a comment on one of your photographs, but my suggestion is, quite simply, be aware of feet and hands. With kids, they can be very expressive, and cropping at knees, elbows, wrists or ankles just sort of looks, well, amputated. I think the expressions you've captured are lovely, and the image quality with that lens is dreamy. Not an easy thing, LF and kids! I think you are off to a great start.

    Good luck with it, and looking forward to more!
     
  3. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Well, I looked at all the pictures and I htink you did very well. LF portraiture is not easy, specially with kids and you managed to obtain some very natural poses and expressions. Suzanne's suggestion is good and it seems to me the negs were a tiny bit underexposed, but these are technical matters easily remedied, you did good IMO for a first time....specially with a packard shutter... :smile:
     
  4. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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    I think I'm making the mistake of concentrating too much on the gear and getting the subject in focus. I didn't pick the easiest lens to shoot kids with!

    For the next ones I'll try and relax about the technical things and think more about composition. I kind of feel a little overwhelmed at all the stuff going on in my head. I think the more I shoot the more comfortable I'll get and some of these obvious mistakes won't be as common.

    Baby steps...
     
  5. dphphoto

    dphphoto Member

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    You're off to a very good start. I'm not bothered by cropped fingers, etc, myself. I think the facial expressions are key.
    The best thing is to keep shooting. After a while, a few years maybe, it will feel like the camera is setting itself up. Movements will be second nature and you'll be concentrating on the subject (seems like I just said this same thing to Mark Pope on another forum). Keep doing what you're doing, just do it more. Dean
     
  6. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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    I figure I have about 9,990 to go :smile:
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Alan,

    You may or may not be interested to read the free 'Critiques' module in The Photo School at www.rogerandfrances.com. It is a piece about critiques written from the point of view of someone who has given them at the Rencontres at Arles, on the Leica stand. The burden of my song is that critiques are a two-way transaction and you need to know what you are want and what you are likely to get.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  8. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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    Good point Roger.
    Let me clarify my intentions a little bit more...

    I am very new at making photographs and this initial request for critiques is to look at what I have and give some general as well as descriptive comments to sort of consolidate what is happening in the photos (process included). Kind of a "here's what I can do right now, please help me move on to the next part" sort of thing. Later, when I can work on a theme I will have an outline of what I'm trying to do and how I think I can make it happen. Right now I don't even know the questions to ask.

    Being self taught I know that there are holes in my education. I want this critique to give me the material to help me figure a way to cover the areas I have missed. So far I have gotten some very good information and am excited to incorporate it and move forward.

    I know that some improvement will come with just making more photos, but I also want to have the voices in my head as I go about making more. That way I can maximize my time.

    I hope that makes sense.
     
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Alan,

    OK: what are you looking for? 'Fine art' print sales? Commissions? Weddings (just kidding)? Publication? If the last, what in?

    The education ain't so important. Where you want to go -- that is important.

    FWIW, the straight black and whites -- the portraits, the studio shot especially -- were what I liked most.

    Cheers,

    R
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2006
  10. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    I have to disagree with this, there is nothing wrong with wanting to learn to do something well and enjoy it. Why does he have to focus on the money right away? Why does he have to have a direction?

    I started doing this because I love it and even if I could not sell one print I would still be doing it!
     
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Jorge,

    I think you may have missed my point, possibly because I did not express myself well. After all, what do you mean by learning to do something well and enjoying it? What you like in a general sense, I may regard as rubbish, and vice versa; but if you ask me a specific question, such as 'Is this suitable for exhibition' or 'Could I sell a book on this?' it's a lot easier to answer. I am not necessarily pointing him in a commercial durection, but I (and anyone else doing a worthwhile critique) must understand what he wants to know and where he wants to go, i.e. his direction, commercial or no.

    Without a direction, it is next to impossible to give (or receive) any direction other than camera-club platitudes. It is also extremely difficult to criticise at second hand, from the screen, without seeing original prints. I'd be grateful for your reaction to the same piece in the Photo School about critiques, which was written to address this specific point.

    Congratulations, by the way, on your recovery, and the very best wishes for further progress.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  12. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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    Hard to say.
    I'm interested in portraiture but depending on the type of camera I use the feeling changes. LF feels rather formal and I am in love with the tones and richness that the very old lenses impart combined with the dense pyro negatives. MF is a little more fun and a little more loose and maybe a little more modern feeling. Most of all I like the "stillness" element in portraiture regardless of what format is used.

    If this relates to fine art, commisions, publications or even weddings then that is where I'd like to go.

    My limitations are I don't have a studio or lights since I moved. I still have a reflector though! I also don't have an enlarger. Contact printing is my best option and the 5x7 or even 4x5 is what I spend most of my time with.

    The photographers I admire most (but don't necessarally want to copy) are Mortensen, Avedon, Penn, Ritts and Mary Ellen Mark.

    Hope that helps.
     
  13. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    well I'm still doing it and haven't sold a print in two years!! I sold some at the only show I had two years ago so I thought there was hope. perhaps not and yet I carry on.
     
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  15. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Just that, the pleasure is in the learning, seeing the progress, knowing that at the end of the day you strived for something better.

    As I understand it, Alan was presenting his first try with a view camera and an almost impossible lens to use, and you come out rainingon his parade with all these notions about direction, blah, blah, blah......The guy did an outstanding job for a first run! Where the pictures perfect, no they were not, were they very good given the equipment and the little practice he has had, yes they were!!!!

    This idea that you need to "know" where someone is going to be able to give a critique smacks me of arrogance, what is wrong with telling a beguinner "you are on the right path, keep working on it" and worry about the "direction" once he is acomplished technically? Telling someone "hey, dont waste your time until you know what you want to do" to me is one of the most discouraging things you can say.

    I have never read or seen one of your books ( I guess the subject matter never appealed to me if I saw them) but I have read you have written something like 50 books, would it have killed you to give him a few pointers instead of beating your own drum and tell us who you have critiqued for? WHat is Alan supposed to do? tell you, "Hey Roger, I want to be like Avedon or Dermachelier....can you now give me a cirtique? Is this what is required?

    IMO Alan's photography will take the direction that inspires him and makes the journey enjoyable, and does necessarily requires and 10 step plan to become Ann Geddes....
     
  16. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Well, if you sold some there is certainly hope!!! I think your problem is you have been sitting on your ass posting at APUG instead of promoting yourself and your work... :D Get ot it bubba....
     
  17. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Alan,

    In that case, I'd say than indeed you are doing well. Within the limitations of the lousy monitor on my internet computer I was well taken with the black and white portraits; the simplest seemed the best to me -- though I suppose that the 'in-studio' portrait was actually quite complex and also one of the best. When I say 'quite complex' I'm not being arrogant or patronizing, pace Jorge, just comparing it with the simplicity of the other portraits.

    In one of your earlier posts I believe you said something about being too hung up on equipment or process, and you may be right, but I can't tell: I haven't seen your original prints. Your eye is what's important. It looks to me as though you take good portraits. Is it arrogant to say that? If so, tough. You asked for a critique. If I saw your work at Arles I'd probably say, yes, go on, keep shooting portraits, you're good now, and with practice you'll be bloody good one day: good enough to choose whatever route you want to choose to apply it. If it's just for fun, you're already good. If it's for profit (commissions, publication, whatever) it's only a matter of time.

    Incidentally, great to meet another Mortensen fan.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  18. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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  19. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Yeah well, that is the problem with "experts" in these forums, many times their answers are more about themselves than what was asked, thus useless.....
     
  20. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Gay,

    The love of it (photography) is so vitally important and I really like the work of yours that I have seen. I think that selling work at your first show is a very good sign. Jorge addressed the necessary componant. Good luck.
     
  21. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Alan, In response to your request, I think that you are doing well with the LF portraiture. Others have given you valid guidance. LF portraiture is not easy and you are to be commended for your work thusfar. Keep up the work. Good to see you posting.
     
  22. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Jorge,

    I'd be more interested in Alan's opinion of whether or not my (limited) advice and the critique module are useless, rather than yours, as he was the one who asked the question.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  23. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Fortunatelly for me what interests you and what I am able to post are two different things. BTW, since you keep hawking your so called "school" when are you going to become an APUG sponsor? Or are we supposed to feel "priviledged" by your presence here so much that we need to keep putting up with your incesant self promotion?

    As to the critique you gave Alan, is this an example of your great experience? Just goes to show, those who can do, those who cant teach....
     
  24. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Well, Jorge, you go on being your charming self, and I'll go on being my charming self, and we'll let other people decide whom they like.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  25. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Fine by me, I just would have thought that such a luminary who has gone out of his way to let us know how acomplished he is would have written a better critique.....silly me!
     
  26. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Every once in a while I experience a phrase that stuns me. I'm turning that one over: "A better critique". To me, the idea of "critiquing to improve someone else's vision or sensitivity", especially by pointing out ... er... excuse me - "drawing attention" to all the so-called faults of the work is nothing but counterproductive anyway. How could any "critique" be better than any another?? More closely following convention, or "accepted" practices? More effectively defining the Critics opinion? Making the critique-ee feel less worthwhile? Inspiring the vict ... uh .. photographer to only do things "my way"?

    I can try to express the effect the work has on me. I might say, "I feel a sense of tranquility when I look at this", or "I am disturbed, or elated, or ... I smell onions..." All of which I cannot explain. I would NEVER say, "This is wrong!!"... because I do NOT know what is "right".

    I will never forget a critique written by a respected (Highly!!) Art Critic for the Boston Globe. He wrote about a book by one of Ipswich's most highly respected Photographer/ Artists. She had produced a book containing scandalous nudes of prominent Townspeople - completely aboveboard and WITH their knowledge and consent. Her next book and the subject of the critique was a collection of architecture from Cape Cod; buildings, bridges, lighthouses (?), wharves ... all bereft of people in them.
    He wrote, "This is a continuation of (her) first work - the buildings and bridges are NUDE/I] -- they do not have people on them ..."

    A bridge is nude without people? What if the bridge does not have people, and it was built less than eighteen years ago? Are we talking about "child-bridge" pornography??

    How would you - anyone - evaluate that critique? "Good", "Bad", "Intermediate"? "Stupid -whacked out, must have been smoking `funny' cigarettes" - or ...???

    I know of only one course of action to obtain significant work, and it has nothing to do with critique: Keep going. Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. It WILL come. It will, - or you may well find that it has been there all the time, and you never realized its presence.