View Full Version : for Umut - photo discussion

09-07-2012, 01:58 PM
This thread grows out of both Umut's desire for more discussion of the work of professionals and a scotch-induced comment by Vaughn in the Moonrise Hernandez thread.

Colorado-based landscape photographer Mike David sells a quite a bit out of booths at a couple of upscale shopping malls. He has a shot of docked Venetian gondolas that has been a pretty good seller for him. One of his sales people and I got into a discussion one day about this photo. She used to be a professional darkroom printer and so is pretty anal about prints. Over the years it has become difficult for her to look at it because of a blurry, white tie rope against the dark background that offends her perfectionism. She has even asked him to photoshop it out, but he won't because it was the scene that he found.

Go here, http://mikedavidphotos.com/gallery/europe and click on the 2nd photo in the Italy section.

What do people think? Would you remove it or let it stay?

09-07-2012, 02:04 PM
I'd let it stay. His style obviously includes capturing the sense of motion for the gently moving boats. That would match better with my style.

Leigh B
09-07-2012, 07:30 PM
I agree with ArtO and the original photographer... leave it there.

As a photographer I feel I'm obliged to record the world as it exists, not to create a different one that agrees with my vision.

The world is not always nice and pristine as we would wish. Ask any combat photographer.

- Leigh

09-08-2012, 08:25 AM
The stems of the three gondolas are all motion blurred. This can be a nice touch to gently suggest the eternal movement of the boats on the laguna. The white rope of the rightmost stem stresses this movement and can actually help the effect and hence the composition.

If the movement had been entirely frozen we would see a different picture, not less interesting, but not "technically better".

09-08-2012, 08:42 AM
I don't think any amount of editing could change these rote, travel magazine views for the better.

09-08-2012, 08:58 AM
It's a little hard to judge on a monitor, and I'm not sure what my initial reaction might have been if I hadn't been told to look at a problem area.
Even though there is some motion blur on the other boats, the rope really stands out, I think it would bug me if I had made the photo, and I'm not sure that I would show it.
OTH, he did and it sells, that's really hard to argue with.

09-08-2012, 09:20 AM
I agree with ArtO and the original photographer... leave it there.

As a photographer I feel I'm obliged to record the world as it exists, not to create a different one that agrees with my vision.

The world is not always nice and pristine as we would wish. Ask any combat photographer.

- Leigh

I find the rope distracting. That is one of the reasons that I like shooting a spare frame or two for important shots, no PS required that way. Just me though.

As to the obligation to the record the world as it exists, I feel no such obligation. In fact I don't think it's even possible to take an unbiased shot.

The simple act of pointing the camera one way rather than another gives priority to one context vs another.

Photography is manipulated at every step; choice of film, lens, FOV, POV, development, printing, lighting, timing, ...

09-09-2012, 12:42 AM
it wouldn''t have been hard to remove the rope the old fashioned way either ..

Poisson Du Jour
09-09-2012, 02:18 AM
It is of no consequence in terms of aesthetics, as there are bigger problems. Politely, she needs to take a few steps back and accept the scene the way the photographer found it, without artifice or fuss, just as it was, even though it is far from a perfect "this is Venice" representation. The rope is not a major distracting element and of the photograph, however, the photograph itself fails because the blue tarps detract from the old-world feel of Venice; the tarps would be enough to send me in the opposite direction — they are quite bland and unserviceable. Compositionallly the scene is congested and confused, with conflicting angles, undefined central area of interest and a displaced subject in the way of the lamp, which to me is something that just does not fit into the image. That's my version. I would not want it changed from the way the image has been recorded, just composition given more precision of thought. His record of Greece is perhaps the most defining of his works, if a repeating theme among millions who have photographed the same subjects.

09-09-2012, 08:20 PM
Frotog and Poisson, you are not alone in your assessment of his talents. Where he really outdoes nearly everybody else is in public relations, marketing, salesmanship, and hustle. He was a very successful business executive before he quit to go full time as a photographer. He sells seminars, group photography tours, and puts on a pretty impressive narrated show with live musicians. Whenever I go to an art show or gallery, I try to chat up the photogs and learn as much as I can. He gave me a lot of pretty good advice on a couple of occasions 4-5 years ago when I was completely clueless about how to get serious with the hobby. But somehow every time I talked to him, it ended up costing me $100. And he was smooth enough to make me think it was my idea. I get the impression that he is disliked by the other photographers in this market because they feel their stuff is better, but he outsells most of them. And he ain't living check to check.

09-10-2012, 09:48 AM
Complaining about that rope is like complaining that there's a dark vein in the marble on a statue in an awkward spot. Get over it and move on! Sure, this is very much a postcard photo, and I agree not the pinnacle of high art (I doubt we'll ever see it hanging at MoMA), but it's perfectly workmanlike and nice. I don't find the blue tarps objectionable either. They're of the moment and location. Would it be nicer if they were red-and-white striped fitted canvas? Sure, but to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you take the photo with the scene you have, not the scene you want to have.

09-10-2012, 12:05 PM
The nylon tarps IMO are not more detracting than the nylon cloths covering the gondolas. The tarps, the cloths, and the gondolas are all newly built. Gondolas are still made today. Venice is not a museum, is a living town. One day you'll find park meters on the spot, I'm sure.