M8, 2.8/24 - ISO 320, 1/30 sec.
C&C as always very welcome.
Just like my corner Starbucks
Here is my honest take on this image. First off, you have all the technical aspects of this type of photography down, so I'm going to start to get critical with you on style ()
You used a relatively wide lens, which included the background to anchor the setting. However, you also included a generous portion of upper wall and ceiling, which don't add anything of importance to the image IMO. (Okay, the clock is a nice element, but doesn't really add to the image...) You also got the main action balanced across a golden mean, so that was good, however the main action occurs in a relatively small portion of the total frame.
If it were me, I would have moved in about three steps closer with the same lens, lowering my position some to make the main subjects larger while still keeping the pots visible in the background. Focusing on those closer subjects, the pots would probably have gone slightly oof but remained identifiable. IMO that would have made an image with stronger overall impact.
my .02 only,
Jack is right. A few steps closer and a bit wider lens, and then crop like Maggie. Still, an interesting subject. No offense meant. DR
No colorful passages overflowing with goods, no anonymous crowds of customers – we see (or at least get the impression of) a quiet niche within these vast halls, and then our view is directed toward a little inter-personal scene. The composition successfully balances the attention to the room and its details with the regard to the two men and holds both aspects in suspense (which would be destroyed by cropping). In its outward relation, in contrast to the crowded Grand Bazaar, the photo exhibits the intimacy of this single place of work; within the photo the manifoldness of the equipment in this special room is opposed to the two individual men and the one gesture of handing over the cup of tea. The clock above the scene is like a postmark reminding the viewer of photography's very nature: to defend a moment in time, worth to be kept, against the 'tempus fugit". It may also say: "Mind your lifetime and your time of life" – alluding to the two men below, one young, one old – or just, in a witty reading: "It's teatime." A masterly and entertaining photo!
I must say, I prefer the original composition. It may have been an accident but has an important new feature in the overall contex of the image; the tallness as well as narrowness. It puts the subjects in the bottom space and provides a view that tells me more than the second.
I think the "close and focused" school has its points, as well as the 'strange and striking"; I prefer the latter. I am always doing three things at once, and am quickly bored with many 'photographically composed' images. That is because my favorite way to view is not chimping, or print, or laptop screen or even a good 1920x1200 (although I STARTED with two 18: 1280x1024 side by side.)
I use images, since they have SO much detail and resolution to 'explore' what I may not have at the time I took the image. I can spend ten minutes 'crawling around' my dual 30" 2600x1600 screens. It is a virtual world without the hokey 3-d of VR
It is very different from modern 'good' professional photo techniques, where the common denominator must be a much broader commercial acceptance. However, even there, I find the close in, 'wart on nose' approach a bit unsatifying!
There is a place for both; Warhol's, Avedon (neither very good photographers, per se, any more than Matisse could draw) but they too created context and motion in even the most sparse images. Reminds me of the 6-8 stokes that Picasso used to create the famous Don Quixote pix.
Bottom line is that although the crop may be better composed it lacks the drama of the taller, more exagerrated perspective. That said, if instead of the clock and sign, that add to the context, there was a dull wall, I may have cropped too-but that isnt the image. The image DOES have interest there, and it adds a newer , freher view to the ..."I found some poorer people in a cute locale in a foreign country"...cliche image.
i like capturing my subjects in context of their surroundings. however, sometimes the surrounding within the frame doesn't quite tell much of a story. but everything depends on what you want to convey to your audience.
as a documentary, i think your original framing works because it's showing some relationship between the two men, and between them and the interior of the tea shop. the time on the clock suggests to me that it's afternoon, and perhaps tea time.
however, what is distracting my eyes is the strong contrast around the refrigerator the elder gentleman is leaning against. my eyes are quite drawn to it instead of the interaction between the two men. it appears that you've used a micro-contrast enhancing technique. is this correct? if you're using this technique, then i'm assuming that you wanted to bring out some details of the tea pots, the machine, and other tea accessories in the background. yes/no? consider isolating the technique, or use it more conservatively so that the refrigerator the elder is leaning against will not seem to dominate.
as it is, my eyes keeps gravitating to the refrigerator.
i hope this was helpful.
EDIT: keep in mind that if it doesn't look quite right on the monitor, doesn't mean it won't look right when printed.
Last edited by Daniel; 24th February 2008 at 10:10.
Mind you, I wasn't suggesting an actual crop of the photo as presented, but more of an idea about moving in a wee bit closer. As Jack said, with a lower angle you might get an increased focus on the two men AND include just as much of the context.
I'm certainly not advocating a tight-in portrait, as this is obviously more a work of photoethnography than portraiture.
I just came to... And now all I can add is, "What Maggie said."
Hello everyone, first of all thanks for all the comment and interest - I find it very interesting to read all the different opinions and suggestions, and I am glad to see that my pic stimulated some debate on composition, tight vs wide street photo, and such. About the pic, I agree with the "going lower" to frame suggestion, and I would definitely have gone for a slightly lower POV, but it wasn't possible; besides that, I am staying with the original framing, with the relative positioning of people and objects in it...
Thanks again everyone, once more all reply were much appreciated and the debate was very interesting!
my take: coming in closer would enlarged the coffee cup a bit and emphasized it. good, since that is the thrust of the action and subject focus. keeping the angle wide will add necessary background context
For street, getting in low and close with a wideangle produces more winning images, IMO...
Here is a shot where I asked the dad permission to shoot. I lean in so close and the camera is angled such that he assumes I am taking a snap of the daughter's hands as she plays her piece:
Next is a similar situation, where the camera is angled such that the worker assumes I am shooting his hands and handiwork:
With a normal lens, their assumptions would have been correct...
Jack is absolutely right. I think it was Robert Capa who said:" if your pictures are not strong enough, move closer." Look at these examples of Jack's: Lower, and tighter with a wide angle (sounds contradictory). DR
I would add that it also helps to get good at shooting from the waist with a focus preset. You may gamble on some comp, but it can deliver an even more dramatic look at times.
Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.
I like the fact that it does change the viewing angle and thus the background also. In the great shots Jack posted, you are looking downward and get what I call a "fly-over" perspective. (I am 6'4" tall, so a lot of my shots would have this look too if I am standing.) Shooting from the waist is more like crouching down below eye level for even the subjects. It does not work well in harsh sunlight, as you get too much face shading, but in open shade conditions, it allows for a more "involved" perspective, I think.
Guy, the Carmel and PR plans would be blast for this.
Maggie, the CV 15 is great and creative for this, but it does take some practice to control the angle for distortion. I find the Zeiss 25/2.8 to be more forgiving, even if I do give up some overall width, but it is just a lot of fun to play around with.
Hmm....now I want to get back onto the streets and play again ;-)
Interesting. The comment that 'shoot from the waist is more dramatic' is exactly the single difference that matters to me in the original shot - getting a feeling for space, in this case, the high ceiling in a small area.
shooting a 20 story bldg from a next door building from the 10th floor can be dull. From ground or 40th floor, and you get a dramatic perspective.
Here, I got the feeling of someone 'coming down stairs' upon an typical city scene. Typical of looking at NY city subway liosks from stairs to the trains. (for those out west, think looking up or down at a person in a canyon! )
Anyway, always learning. I tried some "from the floor " shots in euro churches that were interesting, but not as dramatic, since they were too long a perspective (and 12mm)
PS glad you kept the shot as is!