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06-21-2020, 10:29 AM - 1 Like   #1
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A dangerous question

Warning: somewhat philosophical, and not about gear.

I tend to periodically take a step back and evaluate where I am with things, and where I want to go. It's been right about 5 years since I bought by first DSLR and lens and started taking pictures purely for artistic reasons. I've bought and sold lenses, experimented, and gained some post-processing experience. Now I'm asking myself, what next?

I feel like it's time to consolidate and narrow my practice so that I can concentrate in getting better at something specific. But I'm not quite sure what that should be. Part of the reason for that is that I am often blind to my shortcomings, and

Now the dangerous request. For anyone who is inclined, I would very much appreciate some feedback on my work. Please have a look through my Flickr account (Sir Nameless | Flickr) and tell me what you see--maybe you'll have some insight that will help me figure out what to do next.

- What subject matter do I see well?
- What am I doing that you think doesn't work?
- How is my post-processing? What's working? What isn't?
- How would you label my style, assuming I have something discernable?
- What other insight do you have?

Some of what's in there is for forum posts and isn't my best work, but I'll leave it there anyway. Everything is fair game.

I'm definitely not seeking out validation, or likes, or views, or whatever. Actually, I'd rather have criticism, even if it's a little harsh (I have thick skin). But positive feedback is also useful.

Of course, on my own, I'm already factoring in things like my own preferences, opportunity, goals, etc. I'm just looking for outside feedback.

Thanks a TON in advance! I'm going to submit this post now before I chicken out.

p.s. Apologies if I picked the wrong forum section.

06-21-2020, 11:40 AM - 1 Like   #2
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The way I always look at photography is that its for my enjoyment, what I like often times is not what other find enjoyable.

Overt the last 10 years I have picked challenges to photograph, for the last couple years one was to photograph snowflakes. The technical challenges in doing this also gave way to finding new ways I can apply them to other bodies of my photography. If I had narrowed my focus onto a style of work I would never open doorways into other things that are enjoyable in photography.

How you are processing also falls into what you like. we have to look no further than tonal mapping, I find it atrocious but its not hard to find 1million followers that would like it.

However I do find I like enjoyed many of your photographs

Much of the time the enjoyable content of photography is lost to the person viewing the final image.
06-21-2020, 11:55 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sir Nameless Quote
Warning: somewhat philosophical, and not about gear.

I tend to periodically take a step back and evaluate where I am with things, and where I want to go. It's been right about 5 years since I bought by first DSLR and lens and started taking pictures purely for artistic reasons. I've bought and sold lenses, experimented, and gained some post-processing experience. Now I'm asking myself, what next?

I feel like it's time to consolidate and narrow my practice so that I can concentrate in getting better at something specific. But I'm not quite sure what that should be. Part of the reason for that is that I am often blind to my shortcomings, and

Now the dangerous request. For anyone who is inclined, I would very much appreciate some feedback on my work. Please have a look through my Flickr account (Sir Nameless | Flickr) and tell me what you see--maybe you'll have some insight that will help me figure out what to do next.

- What subject matter do I see well?
- What am I doing that you think doesn't work?
- How is my post-processing? What's working? What isn't?
- How would you label my style, assuming I have something discernable?
- What other insight do you have?

Some of what's in there is for forum posts and isn't my best work, but I'll leave it there anyway. Everything is fair game.

I'm definitely not seeking out validation, or likes, or views, or whatever. Actually, I'd rather have criticism, even if it's a little harsh (I have thick skin). But positive feedback is also useful.

Of course, on my own, I'm already factoring in things like my own preferences, opportunity, goals, etc. I'm just looking for outside feedback.

Thanks a TON in advance! I'm going to submit this post now before I chicken out.

p.s. Apologies if I picked the wrong forum section.
Certainly a dangerous question. To be honest, it was a lot of gravestones, only one I liked is the one with the little bird on top of a stone. Actually that is what I came across in a number of your pictures, singling the odd one out, like the museum entrance sign. Also liked the BW of the lonely tree. That is what I like in your pictures, singling out, the sloth for instance, it is a strong one because you did not attempt to get all of the animal in the picture, it is what I call humour. Did not like the grape hyacinths for that matter, too much of them. DeWalt is reasonably strong, but what is the point here, again I like the fact that you dared to omit some of the machine. Mustard, yes the contrast between the windows and the wall is striking and again it is singling out part of something. I think that your strong point is in catching certain details and emphasize them. Your weak point taking pictures like the gravestones and grape hyacinths. I can only see the results of your pictures and I have no idea about postprocessing other than I use it to a minimum to let people see what I saw at a certain moment. I do not like to enhance pictures, I could not do that in the film era and I will not do it now. So show an honest picture, try not to PP it too much. After all, you captured a moment and should not alter the past so to speak. So no comment on PP. And all of this is positive feedback even the fact that I do not understand why you pictured the gravestones, it is not mysterious or lovely or special. So think why you would make such a picture and try to get the message across.
Hope this helps.
06-21-2020, 11:58 AM - 3 Likes   #4
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I think only you can answer what you want to tell with your photos or anything. It's a "dangerous" step to start asking that question indeed, but a brave one too. I like this exercise of thinking carefully why I made an image, what did I want to show there, what is it that I like about it. Another way to focus is to work on a project (or multiple in parallel), where I want to say something through the series. I find it a more natural way to narrow down that saying "I'll take photos of X because people seem to like them"


Here's a well timed video on this topic, I liked his story:



06-21-2020, 12:25 PM - 1 Like   #5
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My favorites from your stream are some of the minimalistic black & whites: "Meadow Grass", "Winter", the untitled branch and reflection, "Aquatic Plants" (the one that doesn't have the lily pads on the surface). I also like "Calm Morning". I think these are particularly well seen and composed, and they have something else that is hard to articulate; I think with these you succeed at going beyond making photographs of subject X, and into making photographic images that are mainly about form, tone, negative space, balance of elements.
06-21-2020, 12:34 PM - 1 Like   #6
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You have a better eye for details than bigger vistas but, like many of us, need to single out what is important and find ways of getting rid of what isn't in your compositions. Think about what else is in your composition and whether it could be removed or better placed by altering your position. The rose blossoms in a crystal vase - could your viewpoint have been changed to move the bright window out of frame? The colour image of the waterfall is full of light and the monochrome waterfall full of movement, but I don't know what the big empty tree-margined pond reflection was about at all. As far as post-processing, I see no glaring errors or eccentric decisions and your use of monochrome is generally successful and interesting. Look for more interesting light to accent your subjects, although those with interesting light (often monochrome) work well.

The important thing is to keep shooting!
06-21-2020, 12:59 PM - 1 Like   #7
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While I am not the best judge I can tell you that I like them. Interesting angles and compositions, nice colors, sharp when necessary etc. Very nice work!
06-21-2020, 01:08 PM - 1 Like   #8
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An interesting question and to be honest I think the answer is already there. Generally your stuff is pretty good and your post processing not half bad. If I look at your faves and compare that to your own selection and most popular work, there are distinct parallels. You have an eye for detail and elements in the landscape you see and I think that is where you should head. On the other hand, with a few exceptions, your landscape stuff, the wider view, is quite a lot weaker, like you don't quite know what you should be looking for and doing with it. Look again at what you've faved to see where you want to be heading with it. That's my tuppence worth, as you asked.

06-21-2020, 01:11 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by aaacb Quote
Here's a well timed video on this topic, I liked his story:

Sean Tucker is certainly one of the more rewarding sources on questions like the ones you're asking. In fact, he has produced quite a number of videos that you might want to check out. In particular, I would complement the video suggested by aaacb with this one, where, for all our yearning to find a style and a genre to perfect, he encourages people to also retain the freedom of shooting whatever it is that makes them happy:


That said, let me not just hide behind a link to a tube video, and give you a short feedback on your photography and what I see in it. Well, I see a photographer who seems to deeply care about what he is doing. Who has a good photographic eye, and whose technical knowledge and familiarity with his gear help him to actually capture what he is seeing. Whose processing skills and sense of refinement let him enhance images, inviting the viewer to explore them, instead of drawing the viewer's attention to the processing. I didn't have much time for looking at your images nor for this answer, nor am I good enough myself to really pass judgement, but I found them quite touching and compelling enough to comment on them. You already are a pretty accomplished photographer, you know.

To my mind, seeking for paths to improvement is as natural and potentially rewarding as is rejecting undue pressures of conformity. Try and fail and keep on shooting and getting better, but also enjoy the journey and don't make it too easy for people to just put you in a box where you're supposed to stay forever.

Last edited by Madaboutpix; 06-21-2020 at 01:38 PM. Reason: Rephrased.
06-21-2020, 01:13 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I took a quick glance through your work. From my limited understanding, you tend to like structure and texture in nature, especially the finer details of plants, rocks, and objects in general. I think you should concentrate on that, experimenting more with more unusual compositions, colours, and especially lighting when it comes to time of day. For example, you could do specific studies where you focus on a specific colour.

You seem to like landscapes a little too. I wouldn't let that fall by the wayside either. To improve that I would suggest especially avoiding early afternoon style shots where the sky is blue and focus more on sunrise and sunset golden-hour light. You have chosen some very nice scenery for your landscapes, but many of the wide-angle ones lack strong foregrounds, and that is something that would add some interest to those backgrounds and middle grounds.

I would say you have a good eye for colour as well, so that will keeps showing in your future work I am sure.

I would say your postprocessing is pretty good. If there is anything to say, I think it's that in some lower contrast shots, you could work to provide more tonal contrast in the highlights, such as in your pears photo. In that photo, which looks pretty nice, you could brighten some of the tones close to the brightest tone I think. I am not talking about a massive change, just a subtle adjustment to create more tones in the image for more contrast, especially since the image is in black and white.
06-21-2020, 02:13 PM - 1 Like   #11
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Well, I like gravestones. In fact, I have my own collection of cemetery photos although I concentrate on old stones and cemeteries.

What I see is someone who enjoys the lines, shapes, and textures of things. This makes me think that you could begin seriously exploring black & white photography. I don't mean just doing a black & white conversion. I mean thinking about black & white while you are composing your image and taking the photo. I also mean working with a variety of tones during the finishing process. It really is a subtle genre with which you can continue to grow.

There are a few of e-books that can get you started, and some decent on-line courses (on Phlearn and Lynda.com).

Just some thoughts from an old man.

Good luck!

Don
06-21-2020, 03:47 PM - 1 Like   #12
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This is me thinking out loud for myself as much as anything about a problem I face. It grows from points my Prof. Blythe in English Composition gave about the fundamentals of communication.
What is your subject?
That should be what you focus on. Take the gravestones, is it the spacing, the stones, the graveyard? I don't know, do you? If you do can you see how someone else can't?
The whale is clearly a whale in the ocean. It is not a whale, or a whale breaching, or a big animal. To me the DeWalt has no subject. Is it a shiny part? Is it a tool? My guess is a new tool.
Some photos with a confusing or non defined subject will still be seen by some people as having a subject because of thier natural inclination to that. But others won't. Hopefully the photographer is showing the photo so others can see what the photographer found special.
It is like pointing out there is a bird in a tree and if the person asks where in the tree you tell them if they don't see it, that's too bad. Why point out the bird if you didn't want them see it?
Look at "cinnamon sticks" the edge is the subject. Stick, or cinnamon isn't. I had to read the title to know it was cinnamon. The stick part vanishes. You have obscured that to clearly show the edge. What is interesting about the edge Is, I presume to be the curl. It could also be the fiberous quality of the edge. If your subject is there is an edge to cinnamon it is very well executed. But the subject isn't very interesting. If the more interesting subjects of the curl or the fiberous quality are the subject then you could arrange them better to emphasise the curls or get closer to show the fibers depending on which subject you chose.
Once again, this is to clarify my understanding of the communication of photography but I hope it helps you and maybe others. Hopefully I communicated clearly. I certainly didn't mean to offend. If I did I appologise. I do like your photos overall.
06-21-2020, 03:48 PM - 1 Like   #13
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The photographs are good, so I will suggest a few things to try. Firstly have you thought of working towards a finished project? Something you have an interest in or a passion for, then you can play around with sequencing of images, looking for specific things to fit with in the project. Then I would suggest strongly looking at other photographers work, there was a not bad BBC series 'The genius of Photography' also a series called 'Contacts' that I think is on You Tube along with various documentaries of various photographers.
06-21-2020, 05:07 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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You seem to enjoy conveying a sense, or mood, of a place. You also enjoy the details, almost as thought you are asking the viewer to stop for a moment and look a bit longer.

Overall a decent portfolio, but you might consider a bit of curation, if you have more than three similar photos, especially in a row, that dimishes the subject, IMO. I need to learn how to make triptych collages, so I can follow my own advice.
06-21-2020, 09:28 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Not sure if I have an answer as to what style is but I do find a strong preference to your images that have a more minimalist look. Finding and isolating details out of chaos, particularly the chaos of nature is something I enjoy. If I have any suggestion it is to look for different perspectives on any subject and strive for a strong uncluttered composition. At the same time I would not recommend restricting yourself to any particular style but explore what you do well.
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