Friday, November 22, 2013

Martha's Bloomers



  1. I'll try this again. My last post went poof! Nice work, as always. My favorites are 6, 7, 9 and 12. I'm curious about #10, why you left the bright/white spot in the middle area of the left side? Instead of allowing me to study the antique hardware set within its lovely, weathered surroundings, my eye wants to keep going back to the bright spot on the left, wondering what is behind the glass and why you would have left it there? Aren't you the one who taught me that white/light spots are distracting?

  2. Jan, as always, thanks for the comment. Interesting question about the white spot. Simple answer is that I never saw it as more than something behind the textured glass. I have no other explanation. I believe it is the white top on a can of bug spray but didn’t examine the items in the cabinet that closely. As far as the teaching part—not entirely sure but I think that should be attributed to Alan Wilson. I have always endeavored to teach that there are no rules—so it depends upon the photograph. I do often go over my photographs for anything white but mainly because I like black, dark photographs. So I am guilty as charged. LOL Another interesting thing that I didn’t consider—to me, the latch was the main attraction in the photo then I left in not only the white spot but the bright area of color making the latch the darkest and most difficult thing to lock in on according to the conventional wisdoms. Twenty lashes and now I have to go back to Martha’s Bloomers.

    The photograph that disturbs me, and I started to remove it prior to reading your comment is the one of the birdhouse--badly imbalanced to the point of being disturbing. Not that badly imbalanced is bad for a photograph it is just bad for that particular photograph. Imbalance is perfectly okay in a photograph that is intended to to be disturbing or convey tension. This one was supposed to take advantage of the cutsie nature of the birdhouse. Actually I liked the cross. Must be for friarbirds. .

  3. I agree about the birdhouse - actually I didn't spend more than a second looking at it, as (in all honesty) I didn't find the subject matter all that interesting. Strange, because I am a huge fan of birds and anything bird related. I think because it had a new look (yes, I did notice the cross on my second look). I LOVE all things old, and it would have been much more interesting had it been made out of old materials. One "fix" I would try if it were my photo and I liked it, would be to use some kind of filter or texture or even go B&W or ?? - anything to give it an older look. Just my 2 cents and I seriously doubt you care enough about the photo to spend additional time in processing. As for "white," I can definitely attribute to you to not leave any white near the edge of a photograph. Yes, I do listen and occasionally I actually learn something - you know your "blind sow" saying!? LOL

  4. Actually, I feel I have learned a lot from you. Not nearly all you have tried to teach me, but I try and I sppreciate your willingness to try to teach us. I mean that sincerely. Please don't stop; remember the blind sow. :)

  5. Jan, I am encouraged by your comment on the birdhouse. I see a glimmer that you may not have immediately seen it as a birdhouse.

    As I have often mentioned, I spend way too much time taking valueless photographs and that is were I put the birdhouse as most of the other photographs posted here. Sometimes I get angry with myself for that. But like duChemin often says-that is s practice, the photographs that prepare you for doing it better when the time comes to do something of value. Martha's Bloomers is not my preferred photo location but many people that I shoot with enjoy it so I am more than happy to go even though I seldom come away with anything important. What I mostly look for is the use of balance, line, shape, color-subject matter is of little importance. Looking at them from that aspect, some work, many don’t. Work or not work, it is still a learning experience.

    With your proclivity to appreciate things bird related, I am pleased you were not attracted to the birdhouse, because from my point of view, it is not a photograph of a birdhouse-it is line, shape, tone, color-what is needed to be seen as a photograph. Yes, most people are going to see it entirely as a birdhouse, some at first as a birdhouse and then as a photograph, rarely, but possible, some will see it as a photograph rather than a birdhouse. Maybe this last category is difficult for people that do not enjoy abstract expressionism. I don't know. I do know that I fall into the last two categories-vacillate between the two.

    In 'reading' a photograph you should be aware it first as a photograph, then as how the photograph expresses a statement-the use of the visual language. That second step requires seeing all the elements included within the frame and deciding the relationships created between those elements. I am very tired of listening to critiques that start with rules from people that are never, will never, be able to see a photograph. They are impediments to moving beyond the craft of photography.

    You are absolutely correct about my distaste of anything light or white that breaks the edge of the frame. I should not say that I 'always' check the edge of the frame before posting a photograph-I do if I feel the photograph is important enough that I want it to be presented at its best. I first try to eliminate these objects in the viewfinder; that is not always possible. I frequently do a lot of cloning of objects that break the frame.

    As far as posting-I frequently post too soon then decided that the post processing was not what I really wanted-as with the mentioned white spot and the repost. I might eventually have seen it but because the photograph has little personal value I most likely would not have. Because you called my attention to it I corrected it and it is a much better presentation of the image. I am constantly reprocessing my photographs. I get in a hurry to post when I really shouldn't.

    As far as teaching, I have considerable question about my ability to teach-not that I do not like trying it. I question my skill; I question the need. I am so narrowly focused when it comes to photography and realize that I do not see it the way most amateur photographers do. But, which it the correct way? Or are both ways correct but not necessarily related? Why do I feel it is necessary to try to get other photographers to see photography the way I do? Why do I think that anyone would want to see photography differently from the way that they see it? Am I doing good or harm? I don't know that I have the answer to any of those questions. That is one of the main reasons that I am dropping out of the camera club this year. I have decided that the members have their own needs from photography and as much as I would like to expose them to my way of thinking they don't want nor do they have a need to see photography my way. So I am going it on my own as I did for many years. It worked for me then. Just hope it will work for me now.

  6. Jan, you get me to do things that I normally do not do. But since the discussion is started, I will share my personal ‘critique’ on each of these photographs. Let me begin by saying that the critiques are not necessarily complimentary.

    I often debate about posting photographs that I do not feel are my very best. I know that would make me look like a much better photographer if I had that discipline. Whether or not I am thought of as a good photographer is mildly of interest but I would much rather be an honest photographer. I think that posting the lesser photographs along with the photographs that I like better is really more honest as to who I am as a photographer, which to me is more important.

    1. The Barn: Last December I shot a photograph of this barn that I like very much. The elements in this photograph are very similar, but this photograph does not work nearly as well, possibly the lighting is not as good. This photograph does go back to a long time theme of mine—chaos vs. order. I love contrasting the two in a photograph and one of the best ways to do this is to include natural objects with man made objects. I consider nature to be purposeful chaos where manmade objects are very severe, very geometric. Here I do like the lines of the roof elements but there is much too much confusion for the photograph to actually work well. I like the color-the contrast of complimentary colors sky and grass. I like the rustic ruggedness of the building. Unfortunately I don’t see the photograph as being very successful.

    2 Clay: This is a little tongue in cheek. I wanted to combine the word with the clay pots and then I cut off the Y. Duh. It is also an experiment in placement and comes very close to many of the abstract photographs that I do.

    3, Bike: It is difficult to say anything positive about this photographs. Yes, I liked the idea of doing a photograph of the rusty old bike; I liked the Flying Cloud insignia. I am not sure the balance or the lines save it as a photograph.

    3. Dove: To me this has more emotional attachment because it is a living creature and I am always somewhat disturbed to see living creatures caged for our entertainment. The biggest problem with this photograph is moment. I should have waited for the dove in the back to change positions. Eliminate that dove and the photograph would work better; wait for the moment and it might have worked well.

    4. Owl: Simply dot-dot-in-space. I just liked the contrast of the bright colors against the dark tones of the owl. In processing I tried picking up some of the shadow blue to contrast with the yellow.

    5. Rows of Pots: I shoot this every time I go to MB. It is simply pattern, texture and color broken by scattered dead leaves. There is nothing emotional about the photograph. Pattern, texture and color are simply a form of abstract expressionism.

    6. Scattered Pots: Attempt at using chaos of repeating shapes. Maybe if I had included all of the three upright pots at the top, the three circles might have worked. As it is it is simply jumble because of the lack of interesting relationships between the elements. I am more interested in ‘found’ objects—in finding design in randomness. I will occasionally—but not often—rearrange objects for a photograph. This goes to my randomness theme but not all randomness photographs are successful.

  7. 7: Pink Flower: Simply trying to find shape, form and line that would make a pleasing composition. I looked at several of these flowers through the viewfinder before finding one that I thought might work. It is nothing special other than a relatively pleasing composition from a difficult subject.

    8: Purple Flower: IMO, this is probably, next to the last photo, the most successful photograph of the bunch. Line, balance, shape and form work better in this photograph than any of the others. As I do with almost every photograph that includes green, I desaturated the green. Digital green is way to garish for my taste.

    9. Glass Fronted Cabinet: I liked the rustic textures of the wood the texture of the glass and the hint of the items inside. It is close to ‘color field’ in execution. But what caught my attention was the latch. The latch imprisons the colorful objects in the cabinet; it is old, rusted, nostalgic—all good things. Do not know why we are attracted to old or rustic or nostalgic, but we are. However, bad execution of processing. See repost for something that is a better presentation.

    10. Birdhouse: This is a photograph mostly of line. There is a play on color between the warm wood and the blue roof—enhanced in processing to create the contrast. What caught my attention is the cross, which connects with my interest in things religious. How that connects with birdhouses, I don’t know. The protrusions on either side remind me of ‘parson’s chambers’ which is a style of house that I find interesting because it connects with my interest and love for backwoods, country people.

    11. Rack: Again, mostly line, form and color. I enjoy including words in my photographs. Dr Pepper has that strong Texas connection I always find interesting. The red almost forms dot in space, the placement of the sign and the support suggest a cross, the warm and cool contrast nicely making the warm jump out visually. The condition of the wire rack, the rust on the sign, the word ‘empties’ all suggest nostalgia for the days when Dr Pepper came in glass bottles—was brewed in Texas and tasted much better.

    12. Cherubs: Okay, I don’t know if these are cherubs or just naked kids. It is metaphorical for people and you know me and metaphorical people—I’ll shoot it.

    13. Bust: Again, metaphorical people. In painting there is a technique sometime referred to as ‘mother color’ where the same hue is added to all the paints to create harmony. In post processing it is easily done by applying an all over colorcast. This was shot inside using mostly blue window light. It looked okay that way, but I prefer this warmer version. Even thought the head is off center and not counter balanced by another object, I feel that the negative space combined with the shadow and textures creates a pleasing placement. This along with the purple flower are the only two photographs that in my opinion have any real success.

  8. Thanks, Gary, for offering your own critique of these images. I sometimes wonder what is in your mind and why you shoot certain things, if they have any particular meaning to you, etc. Given all you have said in the past about "reading" photographs and what can be drawn from them, about them, about the photographer that took them, etc, sometimes I am surprised at some of the photographs you present on your blog. I can understand why you would name those two particular images (flower and bust) as having "any real success." On the other hand, the subject matter has to interest me in order to hold my attention longer than the average 3 seconds that most photographs receive. While those two may be the most "successful" technically, as you explained, I am (perhaps like most people?) more drawn to photographs of people/objects/scenes that contain subject matter that I am interested in. Therefore, I would spend more time looking at something that might not offer as many elements for success, just because I am interested in the subject matter. That is why I often say your photographs are all well done, because you took them and they are. I guess that is what makes photography/art is so subjective, because it is often hard to keep one's personal biases separate from the photograph itself. For example, I am not in the least bit interested in sports. Some sports photographer could win "sports photographer of the year" for some 'phenomenal' shot that makes the cover of Sports Illustrated. It could be perfect in composition, lighting, balance and every other element you can name, but I won't spend 2 seconds looking at it because I don't give a hoot about sports.

    In my earlier post, I mentioned some that I really, really liked (my favorites). Here are some of my least favorites and why. The barn photo I think I would like much better if it had been horizontal, or at least had more space on either side of the barn. It just seems to crammed into the frame. As for the owl, I don't care for it at all. Why? Because there is nothing "real" about it at all. A fake owl. It just doesn't speak to me in any way, except to say "fake owl." I love both photographs of the pots. First the top one - yes, it is pattern but they have also been stacked that way for a long time, long enough for vines to grow around them and then die. That was what made it for me, not just the pattern. The second pots (though inanimate) were still interesting and held my eye because of the randomness (opposite of previous one with a clearly defined pattern) but I also love how the light and shadows work together to create more interest. Ok, I'm sure I have not said anything helpful - just saying what comes to my mind - a very tired one at that and I need to hit the sack before I fall out of my chair. I do enjoy your blog and I am amazed at what a prolific photographer you are. Truly amazed.

  9. ok, i went back and studied the pots (pattern). the first time i looked at it, i thought the vines had grown around the pot and died. now i see that they have just been lying there a long time and leaves have fallen on them. i still think the leaves create more interest than new pots, recently stacked.

  10. My assessment: There are many kinds of photographers. Some just want to take pictures. Some just what to document what they have seen for memories sake. Some want to create art. I have no idea what I want to do with photography other than to find out about myself and to share that through my photographs. I want to take pictures; a memory is almost always attached; and I couldn’t care less about creating art. Who even knows what art is?

    I am not a very consistent person. I am not a very disciplined person. My interests are constantly changing because of my photography, which gives me new ideas, ways of thinking. I make no demands that my photography to be consistent. Some photographers feel they need to limit themselves to a signature, to a style. That is very important for a professional photographer. As an amateur I do not feel that need to limit myself.

    When someone asks me, I say that I am a people photographer—and to a great extent I am only a people photographer. Hardly anything else interests me. Still I enjoy all types of photography. It doesn’t have to be a photograph of a person to be a people picture. There is almost always a people connection to an inanimate object. I do not know that it is always the same thing that attracts me to a photograph or to a particular subject matter. Sure, some because I am interested in the subject matter, but some because of their abstract beauty, design, execution—or their metaphorical associations. Photographs that I find most interesting are about human interactions. I do not know that there is anything that completely turns me off. I would not ever want to change that. Do I enjoy all photographs equally? No.

    I know no one else goes to Martha’s Bloomers to photograph a tray of small pots that they have photographed more than once. In the pots I see repeating shape, pattern or order. In the leaves I see chaos—my very, very long time project of order vs. chaos, manmade objects vs. natural objects.

    I also see references to people. Some person arranged the pots in the tray—a human action. I see that person or the people who work at MB as having ignored the posts, like an old building that sits neglected the paint pealing, wasting away. I see the inactions, the inattention of people. To that extent the photograph is my question, why were they placed here and why have the pots been ignored so long? A flowerpot does not lose its utility, the only reason for its existence is its ability to hold a plant and these pots are capable of doing that. Has a new more technologically advanced pot taken their place? Is it simply style that has become dated, antiquated? Is the color no longer fashionable? How do the pots feel about the neglect? Are they heartbroken? Are they pleased for the rest? In the tray the pots serve no useful purpose. They lie dormant developing the patina of age. Age, death, purposefulness, lose of usefulness, design—who knows why I enjoyed shooting this tray of pots. I just know that I can connect with the actions or inactions of people regarding pots and I can project human emotions onto the pots. Viola, a photograph. I am sure you remember that Janet’s pet name for me was Weird Woodard. As you can see, it was justified.

    I recently have placed two quotes on one of my blogs: Jay Maisel’s “To become a better photographer become a better person.” Joe McNally’s “To become a more interesting photographer stand in front of more interesting subject matter.” And David duChemin’s quote, which I agree with, “To become a more interesting photographer, become a more interested person.” Okay, that seems like three but the first two are quotes, the last only a paraphrase.

    I have absolutely no idea if my photography is good or bad. I have no idea that anyone will find anything interesting about the photographs I post. I am not even sure if that the answer to either of those questions is important to me. Never the less, I am always thrilled when someone sees a photograph as interesting.