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Looking for improvement This is the e-group critique board. If you post a picture here it will be assumed that you are looking for comprehensive technical feedback - both good and bad, but always respectful. Only post pictures here if you can deal with potentially negative constructive criticism. Anyone is qualified to comment and post feedback, and everyone is encouraged to do so. NB: "Looking for Improvement" is the place to post any pictures you would like advice on improving, no matter how bad you might think they are.

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  #16  
Old 11th February 2008
PeterD
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Re: Pants?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
Nice shot, E-1 fan!

Peter, You mentioned "message" in a couple of your posts, and I was wondering whether you could say a little more about this. I'm broadly in agreement with (early) Susan Sontag who in "Against Interpretation" (1964) - and I think I'm reading her right - suggested that "message" was something viewers imposed on art they approached, in order to make sense of it and, perhaps inadvertently, tame it. For Sontag, "message" becomes a reduction of a work of art, a paraphrase of it, rather than a celebration of the art itself.

What's your position?
Well, we are getting deep but I shall try to explain my feelings on this.

The message I refer to is that of an artist to his/her audience. Messages can become scrambled and lead to false interpretations. It is the artist's task to provide something pleasing and clear so that the scope for mis-interpretation is reduced.

Within your interpretation of Sontag reference, the responsibility reading messages from art is with the audience. This is true. The artist has no control over the audience except for what he/she has presented. If the work is confused then the audience will dismiss it regardless of the quality of the work itself. This why what I have been saying is so important.

I note that Ellie made the following remark:-

Quote

If I'm honest I have to say it's better than any picture I've managed to get of our cat.

It's nice to see what you're trying to achieve, and I think you've set yourself a hard task. Let us see how you get on.

From a composition point of view it would have been nice if your cat had been sitting a bit closer, and looking towards, the empty plate - perhaps optimistically hoping for it to be filled?

End Quote

This sort of composition conveys a clear message also note that Ellie thought the cat image was good. I think that really sums this up rather well - unless of course you feel differently.

Kind regards

PeterD
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  #17  
Old 11th February 2008
Hiding_Pup
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Re: Pants?

Many thanks for your comment, Ellie, which I missed the first time round. Your expectant cat idea is a good one, one I've explored and one I'll almost certainly go back to:



Perhaps you'll persuade me otherwise, Peter, but, at present, I can't agree with you that art has to be 'pleasing and clear' (or that it needs to appeal to a broad consensus of people) and I don't think that's what artists should be about. High tragedy, for example, is far from pleasing, but some of our greatest plays are tragedies. Similarly, I don't think art needs to be clear to be successful either - again, some of our best plays are also some of most ambiguous. I wouldn't want to discount works of art that are pleasing and clear as art, but I wouldn't want to exclude art that isn't pleasing or clear from that definition either.

Actually, the plate in my picture wasn't for the cat at all. It was a result of food for humans and then placed there by the room's inhabitant near her clean but looking-the-worse-for-wear laundry. There's no direct relationship, of course, either between the laundry and the food, or between the laundry and the cat - in the way there might be between a cat and a plate of cat-food - but it's precisely those negative relationships that drew me to click my camera. Cats have nothing to do with laundry but the truth about cats is that they inhabit the same space as laundry; they're often seen next to it.

I wanted to underline and formalise this negative relationship - as much, in my eyes, part of cat-character as wanting food - hence my thinking behind the rather rigidly geometric "arrangement" (nothing in fact was actually positioned with intention but I did move the camera until I got what I wanted). I was going for a composition that looks very arranged but wasn't in fact so.

These are about as far as my "intentions" went, but rather than being the "meaning" of the picture, I suppose I'd like the picture to be an invitation to experience and wonder about the tensions and connections between the elements it depicts: perhaps, comparing little things with great, a little how, when one views Picasso's "Wounded Bird and Cat", one can't help but thing f the poor bird as a predator who's very similar to the cat.

http://www.abcgallery.com/P/picasso/picasso134.html
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  #18  
Old 11th February 2008
Jim Ford Jim Ford is offline
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Re: Pants?

Yeah, right - glad to see you've abandoned the washing idea in the last image! ;^)
(Better put in a smiley to be on the safe side.)

Jim Ford
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  #19  
Old 11th February 2008
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Re: Pants?

Are you doing this for a bet?
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  #20  
Old 11th February 2008
ndl0071
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Re: Pants?

I took the original post to be a joke given the content of the photo coupled with the thread title, hence my comment re the washing, however having seen how it's developed and some of the old billy thats been written, I'm now just plain scared
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  #21  
Old 11th February 2008
Hiding_Pup
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Re: Pants?

No, rest assured this thread isn't the result of a bet! This is the first time I've contributed an image to either the 'Looking for Perfection' or 'Foto Fair' sections of this forum. I was prompted to do so by a comment I read (can't even remember where now) which was about how this(?) forum was so equipment-discussion-heavy and how no-one actually liked thinking about images.

One of the things I've found since participating in this and other forums is that there is a definite aesthetic to how photography forum members discuss images generally - definite criteria about what makes or doesn't make a good picture. To me, it's a rather limiting aesthetic so, after taking what I consider to be one of my best photos ever this week, I decided to start this thread, partly to see what other members thought of it (whether favourable or otherwise), but also, anticipating a certain kind of reaction, partly to see if we could open out discussion beyond the usual forum-chatter so shrewdly satirized by the following, rather entertaining post on The Online Photographer:

http://theonlinephotographer.blogspo...-internet.html
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  #22  
Old 11th February 2008
PeterD
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Re: Pants?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
No, rest assured this thread isn't the result of a bet! This is the first time I've contributed an image to either the 'Looking for Perfection' or 'Foto Fair' sections of this forum. I was prompted to do so by a comment I read (can't even remember where now) which was about how this(?) forum was so equipment-discussion-heavy and how no-one actually liked thinking about images.

One of the things I've found since participating in this and other forums is that there is a definite aesthetic to how photography forum members discuss images generally - definite criteria about what makes or doesn't make a good picture. To me, it's a rather limiting aesthetic so, after taking what I consider to be one of my best photos ever this week, I decided to start this thread, partly to see what other members thought of it (whether favourable or otherwise), but also, anticipating a certain kind of reaction, partly to see if we could open out discussion beyond the usual forum-chatter so shrewdly satirized by the following, rather entertaining post on The Online Photographer:

http://theonlinephotographer.blogspo...-internet.html
Hiding Pup

I am glad you have said that this thread was not started for a bet as I have tried to treat your comments seriously.

I concede that my choice of the word 'pleasing' may have been misunderstood for giving pleasure. Perhaps I should have used the term appealing.

What is the purpose of presenting images that do not convey what it is you intend others to see?

I thought Ellie made a very useful suggestion given the props that were to hand in your image.

I have looked through the thread you have posted above and in general have to agree with some of the critique given. What is very clear is that there are as many opinions as there are posters but all seem to take the same theme.

I think your interpretation about the Bird and Cat is puzzling. The bird depicted is not a predator. You will note the absence of any background images in the illustration.

You are entitled to your opinions but I have not seen anything in what you present as supporting your approach. If anything, they contradict it.

Very few people are responding and this may be an indication of the interest they have in the thread.

I wish you well and hope that you are able to realise your ambition.

Kind regards

PeterD
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  #23  
Old 11th February 2008
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Re: Pants?

Quote:
Originally Posted by art frames View Post
Are you doing this for a bet?
I know Hiding Pup has commented that this thread wasn't started for, or as a bet... but I must be honest and say I do have my doubts about this, and indeed commented to the site owner not long after it was started.

This section of the site is after all, the critique forum, and quite simply the photograph presented in the first post is not good at all, containing many of the attributes one doesn't strive for, nor wants to see in ones own images. I have viewed some of your other photographs on your flikr site, and although each of us is different, with varying tastes, experience and abilities, I cannot for the life of me understand why you feel this image is one of... "your best ever" photographs. This comment is totally beyond me, and to me you lose significant credibility by saying so.

Had I not seen some of your other images, which are quite obviously far superior to this image, then I'd possibly have been a little more understanding and would have stood back and just watched this thread for longer before posting in it. Alas not I'm afraid.

I am with Art Frames here... I know you've stated differently, but you do not help your cause and I feel this post is very likely to be a bet... or similar. Call me skeptical, or perhaps a realist - I am not particularly bothered.

Just my 0.02 penneth worth.
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  #24  
Old 11th February 2008
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Re: Pants?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
No, rest assured this thread isn't the result of a bet! This is the first time I've contributed an image to either the 'Looking for Perfection' or 'Foto Fair' sections of this forum.
The reason I asked about it being a bet was that you appeared not to really be taking part in what was being offered but seemed to be trying to provoke a reaction and/or string it all out rather like a limp version of a candid camera stunt which lost its way.

I am sure that you have proven yourself right and hope you feel happy.

I feel you might have misjudged some very genuine people here. My first response to you took thought and time, you didn't appear to read it or if you did you ignored it.

I am not sure if it wouldn't have been better to do it for a bet rather than to see if you can expand our thinking to where you are.

Peter
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  #25  
Old 12th February 2008
Hiding_Pup
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Re: Pants?

Peter (Art Frame Peter) I did read your original comment and I'm sorry if you thought I ignored it, but I got a little distracted both by E-1 fan's Polo cat and by my own thoughts. If anything, I wasn't quite sure what to say in response to your suggestion that I should find another location. I can hardly transport my (very skittish) cat to an industrial estate or whatever. She lives here, in my house, with me, and that's where she'll be photographed.

I don't have a history in art history/appreciation or whatever, and I'm certainly, certainly not trying to lord it over anybody in the despicable way you suggest. In fact, I find your accusations hurtful and unnecessary.

Do I think it'd be great if every member here discovered their own unique style of photography that would be clearly identifiable as their own? Absolutely. Do I want to learn with others here what my own style and identity as a photographer is? Absolutely. BUT, so long as we - and I mean all of us here - stop at thinking a good picture is one that's a simply technically perfect one, none of us are going to get anywhere close to what we're all capable of, no matter how much we spend on the latest cameras and lenses and post-processing programs and printers.

It'd be great if this section of the forum is going to be about discovering and fostering each member's personal vision and, where necessary, helping one another with whatever technical deficiencies that we might uncover along the way. But if it's just going to be about getting everyone up to an identikit level of technical proficiency and encouraging one another to take pictures any technically proficient photographer might take, then I, myself, want nothing to do with it.
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  #26  
Old 12th February 2008
Ellie Ellie is offline
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Re: Pants?

I think everybody sees different things in art, whether they are looking at photographs, paintings or other other forms.

I'm a bit confused by what you say about a unique style, everybody has that already, surely? If you take two photographers and put them in the same place for an hour you'll see a clear difference in their results. Maybe you'll like what you see, maybe you won't, it's all down to personal taste. It's well nigh impossible to make somebody do something they don't want to do, especially in the art world, and that includes the very personal field of photography.

Perhaps what you're aiming to do with your photography is to create a scene and then photograph it? It's something many current photographers do with some success, they take days and weeks putting their scenes together and then take their photographs.

It's not something I would ever imagine doing though because it's too contrived, and not my style and maybe I'm a bit of a Philistine when it comes to 'appreciating' some modern art

Probably not in the least relevant, but read this recently. I think said by Rene Burri. It's -here- :-
"Food for thought. A young photographer in China asked me some years ago whether I knew what Chinese painters, poets or sculptors would do when they became famous. I did not know. He said they would change their names to see whether they were still any good."
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  #27  
Old 12th February 2008
Hiding_Pup
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Re: Pants?

Cheers for your post, Ellie, it's most welcome after some of the more unkind comments above. Actually, I agree with you completely and don't like actively staging pictures either - if other photographers have success that way, good luck to them! What I do like, though, is capturing spontaneous events in such a way that they might as well have been staged. Here's an image I've posted elsewhere on this forum which is appearing in a book on digital photography later this year. I really like the theatrical, posed feel of it though, obviously, it's the kind of shot that can't be set up at all.



You're absolutely right that, if you took a couple of photography enthusiasts to the same place you'd end up with totally different pictures. But if a thousand photographers ended up in the same place I think many of their images would be quite similar. I suppose popular tourist destinations are an extreme example. In his "Small World", Martin Parr takes a very wry look at how all our pictures are, generally, quite similar:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/200...pe.photography

Real individuality is something quite different, I think. In fact, the bit on Steve McCurry in the interesting article you linked to chimes in my mind with how difficult getting to grips with one's own individual style actually can be:

"Leading a spartan life, Steve saved enough to buy 300 rolls of film with a little cash left over. Armed with hopes and ambition, he set out for India, where he spent two years, following in the path of his inspiration Henri Cartier-Bresson. As Steve puts it: "I stayed at some of the world's worst hotels and wish I had a nickel for every time I was sick." But he survived these two seminal years, which confirmed his total dedication to the craft and gave him the kind of experience that toughens and builds character, provided it does not crush it.

His intense years of dedication and frugality paid off. Steve developed an individual style that has served him well."
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  #28  
Old 12th February 2008
E-P1 fan
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Re: Pants?

Hugely enjoyable egg on face conclusion Martin
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  #29  
Old 12th February 2008
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Re: Pants?

If you look at the way you approached this and what you said at each point then the plea that we are being hurtful to you doesn't quite hang together.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
I don't have a history in art history/appreciation or whatever, and I'm certainly, certainly not trying to lord it over anybody in the despicable way you suggest. In fact, I find your accusations hurtful and unnecessary.
But just a few posts back you actually explained your motivation quite differently "To me, it's a rather limiting aesthetic ...I decided to start this thread, partly to see what other members thought of it (whether favourable or otherwise), but also, anticipating a certain kind of reaction, partly to see if we could open out discussion beyond the usual forum-chatter"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
I'm broadly in agreement with (early) Susan Sontag who in "Against Interpretation" (1964) - and I think I'm reading her right - suggested that "message" was something viewers imposed on art they approached, in order to make sense of it and, perhaps inadvertently, tame it. For Sontag, "message" becomes a reduction of a work of art, a paraphrase of it, rather than a celebration of the art itself. What's your position?
Some might think you were being somewhat 'high and mighty' at this point...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
BUT, so long as we - and I mean all of us here - stop at thinking a good picture is one that's a simply technically perfect one, none of us are going to get anywhere close to what we're all capable of.
I agree... but why would you say this "the post-processing is a little ham-fisted for my taste" to Napper when he looked for comment on his portrait just a couple of days ago?

As my mother said "Oh what a tangled web we weave...."

Peter
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  #30  
Old 12th February 2008
Hiding_Pup
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Re: Pants?

Talk about selective quoting. I guess you can make anybody say anything with judicious editing. Like reality tv...

If you look at the way you approached this and what you said at each point then the plea that we are being hurtful to you doesn't quite hang together.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
I don't have a history in art history/appreciation or whatever, and I'm certainly, certainly not trying to lord it over anybody in the despicable way you suggest. In fact, I find your accusations hurtful and unnecessary.
But just a few posts back you actually explained your motivation quite differently "To me, it's a rather limiting aesthetic ...I decided to start this thread, partly to see what other members thought of it (whether favourable or otherwise), but also, anticipating a certain kind of reaction, partly to see if we could open out discussion beyond the usual forum-chatter"

*Note I've written 'we' not 'I'. The world of fine art photography is as new to me as it is to most other people and I thought that, with this being a new forum, people here, myself included, might like to think about and discuss photography in a different way. Clearly you don't so do whatever you like - whatever floats your boat.*


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
I'm broadly in agreement with (early) Susan Sontag who in "Against Interpretation" (1964) - and I think I'm reading her right - suggested that "message" was something viewers imposed on art they approached, in order to make sense of it and, perhaps inadvertently, tame it. For Sontag, "message" becomes a reduction of a work of art, a paraphrase of it, rather than a celebration of the art itself. What's your position?
Some might think you were being somewhat 'high and mighty' at this point...

Sontag is widely acknowledged as one of the 20th century's most important writers on photography. You raised the idea of 'meaning'; Sontag is one of the most influential writers on the concept. I have no idea why you think it's a crime to mention her on a photography forum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
BUT, so long as we - and I mean all of us here - stop at thinking a good picture is one that's a simply technically perfect one, none of us are going to get anywhere close to what we're all capable of.
I agree... but why would you say this "the post-processing is a little ham-fisted for my taste" to Napper when he looked for comment on his portrait just a couple of days ago?

[I]I have no problem with technical proficiency. It was my understanding that Napper was going for a certain type of picture (contemporary style portrait against a black background) and I didn't think how he'd done it was the most effective way of doing it. You'll notice that, in the same post, I try to be helpful by highlighting a technique of overpowering ambient light with one or multiple flashes. What you've quoted me writing also makes abundantly clear that it's a personal, subjective opinion I'm airing and that Napper is free to make whatever creative choices he wants, including whether or not he wants those jaggedy edges on his portrait.[/I]

As my mother said "Oh what a tangled web we weave...."

In the spirit of community and good will, I'll refrain from making remarks about your mother.
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