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Monocrhome critique/feedback please

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Jan 14, 2013
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Veracruz
Snapped this in the street last Monday. I was thinking of using it as my digital Christmas card this year. It has led me to pondering more street photography even though this one is not really a "street" type picture.

Again, I was thinking composition here and visualizing in black and white when I framed the shot. Shot what I could and used Picasa for a crop, later, since it wasn't really possible to get any closer.

Comments much appreciated and a Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year to the Two Wheeled Texans community!

LuzyFuerza4_zps5ace3d2d.jpg
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2013
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Veracruz
I hear you, something along the lines of a sharper contrast and definition of the cloud edges and a deeper black background like this, maybe?

I had backed it off a little, does this work better?

LuzyFuerza_zpse9d145ec.jpg
 

philipbarrett

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Very nice. Are you using the zone system?

I ask because I see everything from 1 to 10 which is hard to pull off.
 
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Thanks to everyone for their feedback. Including the lady and the late Marty Feldman, no?

PhilipB, I tried to understand Ansel Adams zone system, but found it all confusing to me as a relative neophyte. I do enjoy all of his work, and his work inspired me to seek out a very wide range of inspiration from a somewhat varied list of photographers. I do know of the system but didn't compose the shot or, more importantly, work it digitally in post processing to emulate that. I did find the most important thing that Ansel Adams ever said, that really connected with me, was to always turn around 180 degrees when you have taken a shot because the best shot might be right behind you. This is something I always try to stay aware of and it has really paid off for me with landscapes and some street stuff.

For influences in black and white I have found the work of the following photographers simply fascinating!

In no particular order:

Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Lola Alvarez Bravo
Edward Weston (his Mexico period)
Tina Modotti (Weston's assistant)
Graciela Iturbide
Henri Cartier-Bresson
Enrique Metinides (very heavy and raw not for everyone)
Ansel Adams
David Muench
Man Ray

I enjoy sitting with a cup of coffee and books of their work to see what they saw and why their compositions work. It is interesting when I find one of my pictures that carries the same composition style as something from them.
Subconscious at work????

I stumbled on to photography by simply bringing back images from my rides here where I live in Mexico, to share with family. I never thought I would enjoy it so much!
 
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Thanks, JR. I think I am going to have to find someone locally who can show me what some better post processing can do and give it a try. I feel I am ready now for a course and understand enough about composition at least, that I can contribute something worthwhile in a class for discussion.
 

philipbarrett

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PhilipB, I tried to understand Ansel Adams zone system, but found it all confusing to me as a relative neophyte.
The system itself is quite simple, it's the proponents of the system that tend to make it complicated! All you are doing is looking for a complete range of tones, if you think photo paper that would range from pure white (the paper itself) to pure black (100% exposed, no more silver left to oxidize).

Light meters, whether handheld or internal average the image to be 15% grey. This is fine if you happen to be focusing on such a tone, but let's say you're focusing on a bright whitewashed wall (like your picture). The light meter would still read that as 15% gray and give you an exposure that will deliver that. In other words, your pure white becomes a mid-grey.

The zone system would have you meter the same scene but then compensate for the actual exposure desired. 15% grey is Zone 5 (in the middle of the 10 zones), pure white is zone 10. So you would simply meter the white then stop up 5 stops.

Example; your meter tells you the white area is at f11 you would then set the camera to 5 stops higher or f2. After this, everything else in the scene will expose correctly.

The most practical way to achieve this is to focus your meter on something pretty much in the midrange of your scene (zone 5) and use that exposure. If the scene contains a wide range of tones they will all be rendered correctly.

As for photographers, check out Karsh. Incredible that one artist captured so many of the iconic portraits of famous people.

http://www.karsh.org/
 
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Phillip, thanks for taking the time and making the effort to explain the zone system. I really value that and now have a much clearer idea!
Funny you should mention Karsh. He had a studio at the Chateau Laurier hotel in Ottawa, I visited it a few times when I was younger and stayed at that hotel. Later, when I worked in radio in Ottawa, a guy I worked with, Ed Needham, had paid for a session with Karsh for a publicity portrait. Amazing work by Karsh. I knew one of Malek's assistants. Malek was Yousuf's brother, he had his own commercial style. Of course, at the time, being young with no interest in photography on my part, I missed a great opportunity for learning something!
C'est la vie...
 

philipbarrett

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Great stories, I also wish I could go back and capitalize on the connections I was introduced to as a youngster.

The Karsh site has a little bio next to each picture, they are often highly funny. Churchill's famous bulldog scowl was due to his infamous cigar being unceremoniously removed from his hand prior to the shot!

http://www.karsh.org/#/the_work/portraits/winston_churchill

The Hemmingway story is a hoot too.
 
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