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Author Topic: A conversation  (Read 2109 times)

GreggP

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A conversation
« on: May 20, 2018, 03:18:11 pm »

I'm a little intimidated posting my photos here after reading the discussion about street photography and what qualifies. I'm not nearly as experienced as many of you LuLa veterans, so my photography has room for lots of improvement. I've decided to start posting here because I feel I can get honest feedback that will help me improve. So I welcome any useful criticism.

I started shooting street photos only a few years ago. Many were just people on the street. I also took quite a few shots of the homeless because I thought they showed the cracks in society and exposed our failures or mistakes (not specifically them but us as a community). After a while, I started to feel like I was exploiting them for the sake of my photography and have since taken far fewer. Hopefully, those that include the less fortunate, will convey some sort of story that makes for a compelling street photo. I struggle with that. Another thing I try to avoid are shots of random people walking down the street. Especially of pretty females. I feel like that's stalking. I also try to avoid any sort of posing. I want all my street shots to be candid but that's not always possible when my subject sees me and responds with a smile or frown. On a few occasions, someone will ask me to take their photo. Although these are more like street portraiture, not real street photography by some standards.

My goal is to have a shot that tells a story, has a nice composition and/or artistic merit.

I'm going to start with those from a few years ago, so you can see how I've struggled with this.


Two Men and a Trike by Gregg Plummer, on Flickr



GreggP

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2018, 04:56:43 pm »

Did I post this in the wrong place? I was hoping to get a little feedback/critique. Do I need to include the word 'critique' in the subject? Just wanting to make sure before I post another one of my street shots for critique.

Rob C

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2018, 05:32:27 pm »

Fatigue?

Rob

GreggP

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2018, 07:19:37 pm »

Admins, would it be possible to get this thread moved to the 'User Critiques' section?

Thanks!

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2018, 07:50:21 pm »

I like the rich tonality and the guy’s expression. I am not going to go into whether that is good street, bad street, or street at all (as a genre), documentary, or candid. Doesn’t matter. I see it as a photograph. Two nitpicks: hand and foot. I find them distracting. The foot could be easily eliminated by cropping. You can’t do much with the blurred hand. That is something that could have need done only during shooting, either by using a faster shutter speed, or by waiting for the moment the hand movement ends.

Two23

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2018, 08:03:32 pm »

1.  I'm a little intimidated posting my photos here after reading the discussion about street photography and what qualifies. I'm not nearly as experienced as many of you LuLa veterans, so my photography has room for lots of improvement. I've decided to start posting here because I feel I can get honest feedback that will help me improve. So I welcome any useful criticism.

2. I started shooting street photos only a few years ago. Many were just people on the street. I also took quite a few shots of the homeless because I thought they showed the cracks in society and exposed our failures or mistakes (not specifically them but us as a community). After a while, I started to feel like I was exploiting them for the sake of my photography and have since taken far fewer.

3.  Another thing I try to avoid are shots of random people walking down the street. Especially of pretty females. I feel like that's stalking. I also try to avoid any sort of posing. I want all my street shots to be candid but that's not always possible when my subject sees me and responds with a smile or frown. On a few occasions, someone will ask me to take their photo. Although these are more like street portraiture, not real street photography by some standards.


1. You have to start somewhere, and the shot posted is as good as any to start.

2. There is an ethical dilemma here.  In one sense, anyone in a public place is fair game.  On the other hand, you are getting a photo and they get nothing in return.  It's an uneven exchange.  I rarely take those kinds of photos of addicts/bums/mentally ill, but when I do I always try to give them something.  Usually it's a $5 card to either a MacDonald's or a Subway.  At least they get a meal.  I never give cash.  I'm under no illusion that my taking their photo will somehow help them.  I try to make it a more even exchange.

3. You have to use your best judgement, but generally I will take those photos if it's not demeaning to the person.  Or, you could take a cue from Bruce Gilden. ;D :D ;D     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkIWW6vwrvM



Kent in SD
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GreggP

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2018, 08:41:51 pm »

1. You have to start somewhere, and the shot posted is as good as any to start.

2. There is an ethical dilemma here.  In one sense, anyone in a public place is fair game.  On the other hand, you are getting a photo and they get nothing in return.  It's an uneven exchange.  I rarely take those kinds of photos of addicts/bums/mentally ill, but when I do I always try to give them something.  Usually it's a $5 card to either a MacDonald's or a Subway.  At least they get a meal.  I never give cash.  I'm under no illusion that my taking their photo will somehow help them.  I try to make it a more even exchange.

3. You have to use your best judgement, but generally I will take those photos if it's not demeaning to the person.  Or, you could take a cue from Bruce Gilden. ;D :D ;D     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkIWW6vwrvM



Kent in SD

Good points. When I first came across these guys, camera in hand, the one with the backpack gave me a WTF look. I told him I was an amateur photographer who's just attempting street photography. Which was true because that was probably my first time out trying street photography. He then became very friendly and said they didn't mind if I took their photo. Then he struck a pose. I explained that I thought the most effective street photos were candid. So I asked if it was OK if I just hung around and shot a few photos of them doing whatever if I wasn't there. I've captured a few images of homeless guys who clearly look pissed off. I apologize and ask them if they wanted me to delete the image. Once a guy said I could keep it if I gave him some money, so I gave him $5 (btw, I like your gift card idea). I'll post that photo in another thread. I'm taking far fewer photos of the homeless now basically because of what you said about the ethical dilemma.

However, sometimes when I'm just walking around with my camera in hand, a homeless guy will ask me to take their photo. It happened last weekend in Chicago, as a matter of fact. I took his photo (he was holding a sign that said, "Need money for hookers" but I haven't posted it anywhere. He laughed at me for saying I thought it was taking unfair advantage of him.

GreggP

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2018, 08:53:40 pm »

Quote
3. You have to use your best judgement, but generally I will take those photos if it's not demeaning to the person.  Or, you could take a cue from Bruce Gilden. ;D :D ;D

I would never feel comfortable doing that. When I first saw those flash street photos, I thought they were pretty cool looking. This guy, Boris the Flash, does mostly color. Salvatore Matarazzo is another that I follow who does the in-your-face flash style. I'm not as big a fan anymore because I think it's too intrusive and their photos are all starting to look alike. They don't really tell a story. Just SURPRISE!!
« Last Edit: May 21, 2018, 11:20:46 pm by GreggP »
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Chris Calohan

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2018, 07:20:10 am »

For what my two cents are worth, if you can follow my drift; you've taken a simple street shot and because of the "over" processing tried to make it into something it wasn't: simple.

I see nothing particularly exploitative about these two gentlemen. Yeah, they're probably homeless or at least living on the edge but then again so are about a million and a half more just like them in the US. It's not their plight or whatever you make of them as people that makes the shot "street," but rather if the moment you are capturing is genuine and shown as such.

Hey, but I don't shoot a lot of street, so again, my thoughts are only to say, keep it simple.
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Two23

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2018, 09:10:01 am »

For what my two cents are worth, if you can follow my drift; you've taken a simple street shot and because of the "over" processing tried to make it into something it wasn't: simple.

I see nothing particularly exploitative about these two gentlemen. Yeah, they're probably homeless or at least living on the edge but then again so are about a million and a half more just like them in the US. It's not their plight or whatever you make of them as people that makes the shot "street," but rather if the moment you are capturing is genuine and shown as such.


I agree with all of the above.  The images I have more of a problem with are the ones of unconscious people lying on the street or are obviously seriously mentally ill.  Those are the people I will give a meal card to if I take a photo.  (And it's not very often I take those photos.)


Kent in SD
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GreggP

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2018, 10:07:54 am »

For what my two cents are worth, if you can follow my drift; you've taken a simple street shot and because of the "over" processing tried to make it into something it wasn't: simple.

What specifically do you mean by over processed? Another person thought the tone curve was too far to the left. Since I didn't use that adjustment in Lightroom, I take that to mean it looks too dark, which could be caused by adding too much contrast or clarity? At the time that this was edited, I was new to Lightroom and had just gone through a bunch of Anthony Morganti tutorials. I followed his "quick and dirty" recommendations, which included decreasing highlights to -100 and increasing shadows to 100. I then adjusted exposure to whatever I thought looked right on my old uncalibrated 1998 Dell monitor. He also recommended setting whites and blacks by holding the shift key while double clicking on the word "Blacks" and same for Whites to get the full dynamic range. I think the exposure was too low on camera, so I started with something that was pretty dark.

JNB_Rare

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2018, 08:00:40 pm »

What specifically do you mean by over processed? Another person thought the tone curve was too far to the left. Since I didn't use that adjustment in Lightroom, I take that to mean it looks too dark, which could be caused by adding too much contrast or clarity? At the time that this was edited, I was new to Lightroom and had just gone through a bunch of Anthony Morganti tutorials. I followed his "quick and dirty" recommendations, which included decreasing highlights to -100 and increasing shadows to 100. I then adjusted exposure to whatever I thought looked right on my old uncalibrated 1998 Dell monitor. He also recommended setting whites and blacks by holding the shift key while double clicking on the word "Blacks" and same for Whites to get the full dynamic range. I think the exposure was too low on camera, so I started with something that was pretty dark.

The processing does look too dark on my monitor, and the histogram for this image bears that out (see original histogram below). There is very little in the upper third of the range (highlights & whites), and a whole lot of pixels in the lower half (shadows). So it looks unnatural (in my opinion) to what I would assume was scene with a much more even tonal range. If it looks good (full tonal) on your monitor, then your monitor is set too bright, leading you to process darker.

I have very crudely increased the exposure/shadows in your posted example and posted the results with the new histogram. Now, your interpretation is what is important. But I agree with the impression that it looks over processed/too dark, and you may not be seeing it on your monitor.

Other than that, I like the image. There is a distracting white blob (outlined) which I'd deal with, and you could consider a little cropping at the right (it's not contributing, IMO).
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GreggP

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2018, 08:13:57 pm »

The processing does look too dark on my monitor, and the histogram for this image bears that out (see original histogram below). There is very little in the upper third of the range (highlights & whites), and a whole lot of pixels in the lower half (shadows). So it looks unnatural (in my opinion) to what I would assume was scene with a much more even tonal range. If it looks good (full tonal) on your monitor, then your monitor is set too bright, leading you to process darker.

I have very crudely increased the exposure/shadows in your posted example and posted the results with the new histogram. Now, your interpretation is what is important. But I agree with the impression that it looks over processed/too dark, and you may not be seeing it on your monitor.

Other than that, I like the image. There is a distracting white blob (outlined) which I'd deal with, and you could consider a little cropping at the right (it's not contributing, IMO).

Thanks a lot! I no longer use that old Dell monitor. About a month ago, I purchased a 17" gaming laptop with 4K screen. It isn't calibrated but I can see that a lot of my photos look pretty dark, so the Dell probably was set too bright. I'm saving up for a 27" external monitor and will buy a Spyder at the same time. Just curious, do you think the photo I posted in the thread "Looper" is too dark? That was processed on my laptop.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 08:52:29 pm by GreggP »
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Two23

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2018, 09:00:58 pm »

Just curious, do you think the photo I posted in the thread .... is too dark? That was processed on my laptop.

My experience is that Flickr tends to darken images down a bit when I post there.   Here's a shot I took earlier this year and it's so dark it looks like it was shot at night!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/96826069@N00/26548382437/in/dateposted-public/


Kent in SD
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GreggP

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2018, 09:27:28 pm »

My experience is that Flickr tends to darken images down a bit when I post there.   Here's a shot I took earlier this year and it's so dark it looks like it was shot at night!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/96826069@N00/26548382437/in/dateposted-public/


Kent in SD

Yeah, that definitely looks like a night shot.

JNB_Rare

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2018, 10:24:48 pm »

Thanks a lot! I no longer use that old Dell monitor. About a month ago, I purchased a 17" gaming laptop with 4K screen. It isn't calibrated but I can see that a lot of my photos look pretty dark, so the Dell probably was set too bright. I'm saving up for a 27" external monitor and will buy a Spyder at the same time. Just curious, do you think the photo I posted in the thread "Looper" is too dark? That was processed on my laptop.

No, Looper looks much better. Your monitor shows the image in the context of how its brightness and contrast are set. The histogram shows the actual distribution of tones in the image. Compare the original histogram for "A Conversation" to the one from "Looper".

Even though I have a calibrated monitor I always refer to the histogram as a "check". Occasionally I need to edit under different lighting conditions, and that can throw off my perception. This holds true for the camera as well – reviewing a shot on the LCD screen alone can be misleading. Have a look at the histogram, too.
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Two23

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2018, 10:31:53 pm »



Even though I have a calibrated monitor I always refer to the histogram as a "check". Occasionally I need to edit under different lighting conditions, and that can throw off my perception. This holds true for the camera as well – reviewing a shot on the LCD screen alone can be misleading. Have a look at the histogram, too.


Isn't the camera's histogram that of a jpeg, not the RAW file though?  I agree it's a good place to start.


Kent in SD
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GreggP

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2018, 10:33:27 pm »

No, Looper looks much better. Your monitor shows the image in the context of how its brightness and contrast are set. The histogram shows the actual distribution of tones in the image. Compare the original histogram for "A Conversation" to the one from "Looper".

Even though I have a calibrated monitor I always refer to the histogram as a "check". Occasionally I need to edit under different lighting conditions, and that can throw off my perception. This holds true for the camera as well – reviewing a shot on the LCD screen alone can be misleading. Have a look at the histogram, too.

Thanks for the comparison.

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2018, 10:56:03 pm »


Isn't the camera's histogram that of a jpeg, not the RAW file though?  I agree it's a good place to start.

Kent in SD

Yes, it's true that the post-shot camera histogram is typically not from the RAW data. That's where experience starts to matter. Even though my histogram (and/or "blinkies") may show some blown highlights, I've come to know about how much is still recoverable in the RAW file on my camera (yours might be different).

Of course, it may be neither here nor there for street shooting – you almost never get a second chance at the perfect moment, so you have to deal with what you shot. Fortunately, metering systems and dynamic range have gotten really good. If you're shooting in pretty consistent light conditions you can pay attention to the first few (test) shots, tweak exposure if necessary, then quit your chimping! Some real pros (not me) can set proper exposure without ever looking at their camera meter!
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Two23

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Re: A conversation
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2018, 11:22:45 pm »



Of course, it may be neither here nor there for street shooting – you almost never get a second chance at the perfect moment, so you have to deal with what you shot. Fortunately, metering systems and dynamic range have gotten really good. If you're shooting in pretty consistent light conditions you can pay attention to the first few (test) shots, tweak exposure if necessary, then quit your chimping! Some real pros (not me) can set proper exposure without ever looking at their camera meter!

I typically use a camera of vintage 1930s to 1950s for street shooting.  I meter with a Minolta IVf.  Since it's not a spot meter (it's incident light) I generally have to rely on experience to fine tune the final exposure.


Kent in SD
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