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05-26-2013, 07:35 AM   #1
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feedback requested

I am getting together a body of work for a project and have uploaded many pieces to flickr (now that they have a terabyte for free, why not!) I was just wanting to get some feedback on the photos. The vast majority are K-01 w/ one of the following lenses:
PENTAX SMC M 28mm f/2.8
PENTAX SMC "k" 30mm f/2.8
PENTAX SMC XS 40mm f/2.8
PENTAX SMC M 50mm f/1.7

some were taken with
Phoenix 19-35
PENTAX 18-55
Tair 11a 135mm 2.8

I am looking for some harsh critique because I want to get better.

Thanks for looking!

Greg

Flickr: gregorycristiani's Photostream

05-26-2013, 08:00 AM   #2
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Thanks for sharing the photos; I found them to be a mixed bag--some seemed simple snapshots without good composition or a clear subject. I don't like criticising; I'd rather focus on the three I thought really got it right and were superb. 9305, which has excellent composition (and is a very good use of B&W); 9193, which I found had a very strong point of view and was an effective use of blur (still perhaps the background was a touch too shaky, and its a pity you can't clone out whoever you can see a bit of behind the subject); and 2826--the peacock--because, well, you simply nailed that one!
05-26-2013, 09:23 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by cristigj Quote
I am getting together a body of work for a project and have uploaded many pieces to flickr (now that they have a terabyte for free, why not!) I was just wanting to get some feedback on the photos. The vast majority are K-01 w/ one of the following lenses:
PENTAX SMC M 28mm f/2.8
PENTAX SMC "k" 30mm f/2.8
PENTAX SMC XS 40mm f/2.8
PENTAX SMC M 50mm f/1.7

some were taken with
Phoenix 19-35
PENTAX 18-55
Tair 11a 135mm 2.8

I am looking for some harsh critique because I want to get better.

Thanks for looking!

Greg

Flickr: gregorycristiani's Photostream
If you're looking for critique, please post each photo in a separate thread in the critique section:

Photo Critique - PentaxForums.com

That'll get you a lot more comments

Adam
PentaxForums.com Webmaster (Site Usage Guide | Site Help | My Photography)



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05-26-2013, 11:20 AM   #4
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thanks for the feedback. I posted a thread over in the critique section. I really need to get better at narrowing down the body of work. The editorial process is somewhat new to me. I had selected the 600 or so photos on flickr from a pool of about 3,000, which themselves were culled from a gross pool of roughly 30,000 - 40,000 daily shots over the past 8 months (I was keeping track, but then I got a second K-o1 and the count went out the window. For the first 3 months, I was using a Fuji AX330 point and click, and I think I had about 14k on that camera alone). I am taking the photos daily and then doing minimal processing in Picasa and then uploading them to my facebook page. The concept has grown a little, and as I begin to think about sending the photos out to open and juried competitions, I am faced with an additional task of drastically cutting down the amassed volume and picking out the best candidates for a coherent body of work. As it stands, the idea for the project proposal is basically 365 photos, one from each day, in my hometown. In that regard, I am casting the net pretty wide in terms of conceptually what I am doing. On one level, its a simple document. On another level, there are things I see and capture everyday which begin to re-emerge as themes and motifs throughout. In any case, again, I appreciate the feedback and hope to get some more over at the critique section. Thanks!

05-26-2013, 03:02 PM   #5
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40,000 photos in 8 months?! I don't wish to sound cruel, but taking that many photos, it's not really surprising you will see reoccurring themes - it would be hard not to. But, I can't really see anything in your Flickr stream that demands attention or is standout fantastic. I feel a little bad saying that, but you asked for honesty. The only advice I can offer is consider what you think you are good at, hone that skill and try and make it your own. Or do what I and many others do and take photos for your own enjoyment.
05-26-2013, 05:27 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Except for the Peacock there's not one I would want to hang on the wall. For me street photography is about people, people instantly connect to faces, we are hard wired from birth to look for faces and smile, it was a survival technique then (I got fed), and it is now when you take images of people on the street.

I realize that this is one image a day and it's going to be a mixed bag, but it seems that little attention has been made to the lighting. If the lighting is bad your wasting your time as all you'll get are humdrum, 'flat' images.

I arrange my street photography differently, I don't mooch around, I set myself up in a position, I have several favorites, where the light on my subjects will be Rembrandt Light, roughly at 45 to my (potential) subjects, as the light moves so do I, I watch for a non intrusive background so I can avoid lighting poles growing out of peoples heads, then I capture them as they walk towards me, people want to see faces, if they make eye contact with the camera then that is 'the moment' to grab them. Rembrandt lighting gives your images modelling and depth, makes them 3D. The 70mm lens might be better for this, I sometimes use the 70mm on a Pentax Q! Which is a really long lens, and people seem to ignore the Pentax Q. It's an 'ambush' technique.

Sometimes I use my other favorite technique, which is the exact opposite, and that is to talk to people, then I can get really close to interesting faces, as my old tutor said all the time,'if you can see their ears - your too far away', I mean that close, complete with stubble and warts, and that's just the women LOL. Tough place Sheffield UK.

A few street pointers.

If people are walking across you, by and large you want them walking into the shot, not walking out of the shot.

Take pictures of people doing something, laughing, shouting, walking, texting, reading etc. etc..... you get the idea, if it ends in 'ing' then it's good.

Try to complete shapes, all of a person if possible, don't lop off their head.

If you miss that shot, like buses, there will be another one along in a minute.

Bad weather is good, gales, snow and rain make people behave differently.

Take 'bits of things', the peeling paint, the rusty lock, years ago I did a whole year of just doors, it taught me the importance of lighting.

Chris
05-26-2013, 06:45 PM   #7
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again, thank you for the feedback. I suppose my concern is more of a james joyce approach to documentary photography as opposed to photography-for-copy advertising, I maybe should have said that up-front. Not everyone liked finnegan's wake. These are more or less experiments to some degree. Its a document of a several block radius of a city over the course of a year. Some of it is going to be bland, I suppose. Perhaps it would only hold a limited regional interest.

And, I do enjoy taking photos a great deal otherwise I wouldnt still be doing it. The project, in fact, was born out of a great need to remain visually active with limited time. Chris, I appreciate the pointers. The rembrandt lighting. I agree about that, I was a painting major at the art academy of cincinnati and have a bookshelf crammed full of rembrandt, caravaggio, odd nerdrum, leonardo, the wyeths etc. new masters and old. I have made a consistent study of chiaroscuro in my drawing and painting. In terms of lighting, I should mention that the vast majority of these are being done at midday during my lunch hour. I try to cover as much ground as I can in that hour. Midday sun forces me at times into alleys where the light can be a little better. I also look for areas where the ground is in shadow, but the light reflected off of the skyscrapers is coming in and bouncing around causing some three-point effects. I cant always lurk in alleyways with my camera. Security guards tend to get a little crappy about that. So, yes. I do realize a lot of photographers will simply not work with natural light at this time of day for this very reason. On the other hand, it is also the busiest time of day in terms of pedestrian traffic and variety of people.

I dont know. I mean, I will say that the compositions are about divided equally between planned and unplanned.Usually if I want someone looking directly into the camera, I will just ask them if I can take their picture. Most of the time though, I am trying to catch people unaware. Right now, I am almost exclusively using a 30mm which does require me to get a lot closer to people.

I don't know, I dont think it is fair of me to ask for feedback, and then feel compelled to defend aesthetic decisions that I am making (one of which could be the challenges involved with shooting when the sun is at its highest point in the sky) so I am not going to do that. I basically just wanted to hear from people what they thought in terms of whether the images were well-executed, compelling in any way. Primarily, this is because, as this project winds down, I am beginning to look to shop it around for display galleries, possible partial publication, etc. Intended for the Fine Art crowd. That is where I received my training and where I continue to work in terms of my visual endeavors. From what I am hearing, however, it seems I still have quite a lot of work to do in terms of my technique, which I am the first to admit. However, it may be useful for the purpose of critique to clarify what I am attempting to do and whether or not I am succeeding in doing it. So I will just take a second to clarify that.

Yes this is something related to street photography, I suppose. In terms of 'decisive moments,' as much as I am enamored of HCB and the school/discipline of photographers that came after him, I am not trying to copy him or emulate him so much as use the technique that he pioneered as a point of departure to create partial narratives, or even what I would call 'abbreviations' -- like hearing part of someone's conversation on the street, only to be interrupted by a loud car stereo followed by someone asking you for spare change. etc. More akin to a literary cut-up than having an entire pictorial narrative in a single frame. Schizophrenic, I suppose would be a good way to describe it. Now, it occurs to me that some of the photos just aren't very good by any standard you chose to apply to them, whether it has some heady concept behind it or not. And, like I said, I have been at this for 8 months, I'd like to think that I do understand exposure and composition somewhat. I did drop out of art school, but I'd like to think I picked something up there. I also realize that a vast majority of these are going to have to be nixed -- I have 4 more months in the project and need to select only 365 images. The photostream is there as whiteboard more or less. There are certain things I want the viewer to consider simply by the fact that it is in the frame (basically, something I have been calling the politics of the picture plane. What's in-frame? What dominates, what is simply filler, what is noise, what is a countervailing force to the dominant element, how does this create compositional tension? For lack of a better term, 'politics'). For instance, I think there is one where it is a blank wall and the tip of someone's nose and their hand holding a cell phone are the only thing in frame on the far right.Literally, the image is a blank wall and a partial man. Flat, featureless. Call it commentary on contemporary existence perhaps, instead of compositional error. Boring as hell isn't it? Well, that is exactly what I was trying to convey. Nobody will ever select that image as a postcard or an ad for the new android device (which is why I consider it to be in the tradition of anti-graphic photography). Why then do we select it as a modus operandi for our society? A bunch of zombies looking at complacently staring at cell phones. So, some of the thematic concerns, the aesthetic concerns and I suppose, trying to ask am I doing anything in that direction insofar as the visual information in the frames is concerned?
05-26-2013, 08:09 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by cristigj Quote
I have 4 more months in the project and need to select only 365 images. The photostream is there as whiteboard more or less. There are certain things I want the viewer to consider simply by the fact that it is in the frame
This doesn't sound objective to me. The artist is the one who supposedly has an idea or emotion to convey. When an artist tells me he doesn't have a meaning to his work, and it is the viewer who puts meaning into it - "hidden meanings", I walk away. If he doesn't know what he wants to say, why should I bother looking or trying to make sense of it? Photos don't all have to be pretty, but they should have a reason to exist or there is no reason to look at them.

05-27-2013, 02:24 AM   #9
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Thanks for taking my critique in the way I intended, I did think, in the cold light of day, that I might have been too abrupt.

The problem for any of us looking at your project images, is we have to take the time to try to get into your mindset, your reasoning. We have the advantage of your discourse here. But, by definition, few will 'get it', you really have to be blatantly obvious if you want people to look at your images for more than a few seconds. Which is why I photograph faces. Faces can convey all you are trying to say, in a language we all understand.

I don't want to leave you with the impression that I lurk in alleyways with a telephoto lens under my plastic mac!!! Just the opposite, all Cities have areas for recreation in them, where people can take their lunch, with fountains, flower beds etc., they are my hunting ground. I just make sure that the Sun is shining on my subjects and I concentrate on that area.

This is one of my usual areas.




Harsh midday Sun can be very chiaroscuro and can be tamed by using HDR with bracketed shots, not everybody likes it, but done discreetly it works as you can control the hard shadows in post processing.




Chris
05-27-2013, 06:56 AM   #10
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Well, no...not objective, and this isnt art school crap that necessarily needs a theoretical crutch to stand upright. I am a staunch critic of any work that requires a preface in order for the viewer to understand it or access it (though I do think it is occasionally important to orient a viewer with a brief artists statement). I dont like to name what my concerns are because I am trying to convey it visually. Primarily, these are concerned with wealth and power disparities among different portions of the population. Ancillary to this are issues of gentrification (not sure if you guys do that in the UK...take a slum and then turn it into low-income artists flats for a year or two, then bring the development money in and make it into an area for the rich while displacing the existing population of poor people?), the way urban planning and the design of public spaces presuppose and reinforce a particular social stratification. Yes, I have an agenda with these, a purpose. Not really trying to beat anyone over the head with it, just ruffle the facade enough to get the viewer's brain going. Not that the viewer has to do all the heavy lifting, but I would prefer to be in dialogue with the viewer. When the viewer is a passive observer you are either in the realm of advertising or entertainment, or increasingly what passes as journalism these days. In any case, no, there is a definite intent. As a body of work, I wanted to present it as innocuously as possible. I was hoping to avoid such heavy handed compositions and visual manipulations as Dorthea Lange, I wanted to eschew emotional appeal, opting instead for repetition, meter, up to, but not past the point of monotony, occasional reprieve (as in the photos of people laughing or twirling a soccerball), but ultimately a long sideways glance at how things are in a finite space of a few blocks of the city center.... with a little bit of morbid fascination mixed in for good measure.

Chris, your photos are fantastic. Perfectly metered, good use of bokeh. Color is fantastic. I do agree with the idea of the use of faces. More generally (and this is maybe more of an ongoing debate in painting), I have argued in favor of figurative work for the very reasons you cite. It is a way to communicate instantly. In the fine art painting circles, the advent of abstraction led to another debate about the use of the figure as being inherently 'fascist.(no crap). Certainly propaganda images use the figure for this reason (as does advertising)--to immediately appeal to emotion etc. and sway the viewer to act (buy, vote, participate in a pogrom) in accordance with a particular line, I dont necessarily think it is inherently fascist to use the figure or faces in work. There are instances (like Lange, but only in historical retrospect) where this can cause resentment in the viewer. Nowadays, at least here in the US, images like Lange's come under attack frequently for being manipulative, posed, disingenuous . Bresson, on the other hand, I have not seen a single one of his images that I could say was manipulative, yet they are all the more powerful for that very reason. Alvarez-Bravo also has a certain something I find haunting. Trying to find those kinds of photos daily, well.... my approach to the work has been try, fail, try again, fail better. So, yeah, it is an ongoing process of advance and retreat when it comes to technique.

Now the most important concern though is whether or not one is conveying the information visually. That I've had to even explore the topics verbally tells me that I still have some work to do and some things to figure out about how I can say what I want to say visually. Even the harsher comments are welcome because they are the ones that are more likely to piss me off and give me the motivation to look critically at what I am doing everyday with this project.

Thanks again!

--greg
05-27-2013, 07:25 AM   #11
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Just from looking at the first page shown on Flickr I see a lot of photos that are unintentionally blurry.
I would lose all of those.
The street photos where you have isolated a subject but they are not looking at you or not doing or posing in an interesting manner I would also lose.
The street photos where there is no point of interest and the subjects are not doing an interesting activity I would also discard.
In many cases it looks like the shots were hurried or you tried to hide the fact you were taking the subjects picture.
Too many people walking away from you, lose those.
Cull them down to your best 365 and then come back and ask for critique.
05-27-2013, 08:55 AM   #12
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thanks crewl1. The project is ongoing, however I am getting a proposal ready for submission for a show at a local gallery. The season starts in September and at that point, the 1 year period will be over. My deadline for submission is June 1, however. I have talked to the gallery director who has encouraged me to submit anyway and only about 12-24 photos. I had made a prior submission where I selected 10 that I felt were interrelated and formed five pairs. The editorial process is entirely new to me. So, hearing from an outsider what to loose and what to keep is very helpful. Yes, a lot of these were hurried. I usually only have about an hour give or take per day to take photos. I try to get in about 150 per day. Out of those dailies I usually select and minimally process about 30-50. Out of those I try to pick the better ones. I am starting to get over the fear of taking people's pictures. I find it is less confrontational than I had expected. Most people just dont care, or if they do, it is unusual that it would become violent. Hopefully as this project wraps up, I can get some real winners in there and have a coherent body of work to show.
05-27-2013, 05:05 PM   #13
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Time should increase your comfort level.
As long as you aren't a jerk most folks won't mind and if they do be ready to delete the photo if asked.
Also, never take pictures of minors without parents permission.
05-27-2013, 07:12 PM   #14
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yeah, my most vociferous opponents have eventually softened up a bit. I printed off some 3x5's to show people. Everyone at first hated me: the security guards, the shopowners, the police, the utility workers, the guys selling counterfeit merch and bootleg DVDs especially hate me--still no photos, but they will at least talk to me and I generally have a friendly rapport (well, at least not hostile) with them. The more I talk to them the less suspicious they are of me. I even got to visit a cpl. at the courthouse over having taken some shots in the courthouse. They still let me bring my camera in, but if I want to take pictures they ask that I come back after any criminal trials are over and jurors gone etc.. This one is tricky. I argued with them that I thought I was in a public space. Apparently, according to a friend of mine that is a criminal attorney, they still reserve some right to administer the media due to the sensitivity of the goings-on there, despite there being public areas of the courthouse.

In regard to the minor thing....I work in a law firm as my day job. I asked 4 of the attorneys there (who are all pretty conservative) about this very issue. I had a guy want to kick my butt for having taken a photo of his daughter. All 4 attorneys said that there was no legal reason I couldnt take picture of a minor if they are in public. That basically, there is no presumption of privacy if you and your subject are lawfully present in public space. One of the attorneys cited Supreme Court Justice Black as "if you can see it, you can shoot it" until it gets into whether or not it is used for commercial purposes. Here, commercial purposes seems like a grey area to me. Is selling a limited number of prints in body of work a "commercial enterprise" or does the law regulate only some mass thing, like the selling of catalogs, tshirts, posters, advertising copy etc.?

However, I have found that it is usually a best practice to avoid taking photos of minors. Just as it may be my right to take a photo in public, it may be someone else's right to rearrange my face. Which is generally yeah -- why I prefer to not be seen by my subject. Ultimately, though, I dont know for sure what the law in the US says about the issue of taking photos of minors so I agree that it is a best practice to avoid it.
06-11-2013, 06:38 PM   #15
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just found out last week.!! that's me, 9th one down, left-most column. MANIFEST International Photography Annual 2

"For this second International Photography Annual Manifest received 681 submissions from 243 artists from across the U.S. and beyond. The publication will include 65 works by 45 artists from 12 states and 5 countries including England, China, the Slovac Republic, South Africa, and the United States"
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