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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Critique Corner 
Thread started 13 Sep 2012 (Thursday) 07:32
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Berlin and Paris

 
onona
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Sep 13, 2012 07:32 |  #1

Last week I visited Berlin for the first time, and also returned to Paris for a day on the way back home as it's one of my favourite cities in Europe.

Berlin is a really fascinating city for photography as it has strong contrasts of classical architecture juxtaposed with totally derelict buildings, many of which have remained in an unrepaired state since WWII. One of the things I was most looking forward to seeing in Berlin is the Holocaust memorial in Friedrichstadt; while somewhat controversial for some reasons, I personally found it a sombre, humbling experience wondering through it. It takes up an entire city block, with straight rows of blocks of varying height places along an uneven ground. The blocks vary from waist heigh to towering above you as you walk through it.

When I stopped in Paris on the way back, the weather was pretty bad. It was raining the entire day (I seem to have bad luck with Paris as it rained quite a bit the last time I was there too!) but it actually turned out to be a good thing as the rain adds a lot visually to the scenery, and makes for some dynamic photography. In a rare bout of luck, the courtyard in the middle of the Louvre was almost completely empty, allowing me to take a photo of the famous glass pyramid without anyone inbetween me and it.

Anyway, here are the pics. I'd love to hear any critique or ideas about them, whether positive or negative. I almost always shoot for black and white as it's my favourite look for photography, and I'm always looking for shots that will work in mono. I do all my mono conversions in Silver Efex Pro, spending quite a lot of time on each image to bring out details where I want them and subdue them where I don't.

This first photo was taken in the Holocaust memorial. The memorial is actually quite busy with visitors all the time, but I knelt down with my camera ready, waiting for a moment when the path would be empty. The original photo is a lot lighter, but I decided to make it very low key instead in the conversion, to reflect the sombre event that the memorial represents. I also feel that the darker tones almost skew the scale of the image to the point that the stone blocks feel even larger than they are, which I like. The result is a little dystopian, like something out of Brazil or Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The ground slopes which is why the tiled ground is at an angle. I considered fixing this in Photoshop but decided against it, out of respect for the original design. Am I being too purist in this regard? The slope does visually bother me a little.

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8457/7979369360_72047a1357_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/onona/797936936​0/  (external link)
Sombre Reminder (external link) by onona (external link), on Flickr

This second photo is obviously also taken at the memorial, although it's taken in a different part (notice the lighting fixtures in the ground). I spotted this elderly chap walking towards the edge of the memorial, and thought it'd make a poignant image. I made the mono conversion much harsher and grittier than the previous image as I felt it worked better to draw attention to the shape of the man. I intentionally darkened the foreground stones a little to enhance the feeling of light in the top middle of the image, trying to get a result which felt a little symbolic.

Again, the sloping ground visually bothers me a little, and I wonder if I should have fixed it.

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8439/7980237162_0312570980_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/onona/798023716​2/  (external link)
Holocaust-Mahnmal (external link) by onona (external link), on Flickr

Lastly, here's the Louvre's pyramid. Unfortunately there were some people behind me so I couldn't move further back to include the entire reflection of the pyramid, which is a shame. There's some slight haloing around the top of the pyramid that came about in the conversion, but I didn't fix it as I think it creates an interesting effect, and also lifts the shape a little off the cloudy background.

Should the cars and buses in the background be painted out? I'm unsure.

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8041/7979551987_bdb1c63761_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/onona/797955198​7/  (external link)
Louvre (external link) by onona (external link), on Flickr

Anyway, thanks for looking.

Leigh
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Martin ­ Dixon
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Sep 13, 2012 08:32 |  #2

I like 2 best.

Even in 2 it isn't obvious what it is, I'm not sure what to about it but it will lack a story to people who don't know. Perhaps as part of a set it would work better.

1 looks interesting with the top o the blocks shown - making 2 seem to lack them.

3 looks like you messed with the clouds to get contrast on the pyramid.


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ChunkyDA
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Sep 13, 2012 22:31 |  #3

Each one would be "wall worthy" in my book. The black frame is a nice touch, you have a very artistic eye.


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AdjustThePolarizer
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Sep 13, 2012 22:47 |  #4

editeditedit


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onona
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Sep 16, 2012 15:30 |  #5

Thanks for the responses, folks.

@Martin Dixon, thanks a lot for your comments, it's always good to hear a few ideas. I think you're right about the photo working better as part of a set. I assume that people who have been to the memorial would recognise it, but considering most people haven't been there, I guess it would lack that context. That's an interesting point to make, duly noted. In photo 3, the pyramid itself actually had a lot of contrast; I played with the clouds simply to get a little drama in the sky. Do you feel I went a little overboard? I do have a tendency to go for dramatic skies when doing PP. I'll revisit the image and experiment with some different approaches.

@ChunkyDA, thanks! I'm rather fond of black frames, I often feel that a photo is a little incomplete without one. My background in traditional art means I always make an effort to frame subjects in the same way as I'd paint or draw them.

@AdjustThePolarizer, I have the bad weather to thank for the empty courtyard! It's not obvious in the photo but it was raining quite a lot even while I took the shot.


Leigh
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Croasdail
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Sep 16, 2012 16:37 |  #6

"Should the cars and buses in the background be painted out? I'm unsure."

In my never ever to be humble opinion - no. They cars and peeps add scale, and also can in the future att a time element to the photo.

Just my opinion... worth what you paid for it. Cheers


Mark
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kent ­ andersen
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Sep 16, 2012 17:12 |  #7

"should the cars and buses in the background.... "

Yes, I think it will be bether without it. They are not adding anything important to the picture, without them it will be cleaner. Less is more, even in this picture.

close one eye, point one finger from each side of the picture. Cover the cars with them, and see if they are adding anything to the picture.


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onona
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Sep 20, 2012 09:21 |  #8

... and this is why I love web forums! Two completely different perspectives, posted one after the other. I guess at the end of the day it kinda comes down to this:

- Is the photo simply a snapshot of that moment in time, to remember it? Or
- Is it an image that's meant to stand on its own, as a depiction of a landmark or even something more abstract?

Depending on your view, you'd either remove the people or not.

I think I'll do both versions. Thanks for your input!


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ejenner
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Sep 20, 2012 21:31 |  #9

onona wrote in post #15018628 (external link)
... and this is why I love web forums! Two completely different perspectives, posted one after the other. I guess at the end of the day it kinda comes down to this:

- Is the photo simply a snapshot of that moment in time, to remember it? Or
- Is it an image that's meant to stand on its own, as a depiction of a landmark or even something more abstract?

Depending on your view, you'd either remove the people or not.

I think I'll do both versions. Thanks for your input!

I'll add a third. Perhaps being biased from living in Paris for a while.

I like the people in the background, but not the cars and definitely not the buses.

The sloping ground I'm not sure about. Can you even 'fix' it without distorting the verticals? I think whether you should our not depends on how you would title the photograph. If you'd mention the name of the place in the title, I would not fix it if it accurately represents the memorial. If the title was just something like 'memorial' or more generic, then I would 'fix' it. At least that's my thought right now.


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Clean ­ Gene
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Sep 21, 2012 02:17 |  #10

onona wrote in post #14985062 (external link)
Again, the sloping ground visually bothers me a little, and I wonder if I should have fixed it.



Well...it's the Holocaust memorial. If there's ANY circumstance in which "bothering people a little" is appropriate, it's here.

Anyway, these are all very strong images.

I think that my "favorite" is the first one, but that's not to say that it's the best. #2 is also a gorgeous image and that single lone person walking down that straight path amongst those harsh squares/narrow corridor is pretty effective.

But I also love #1. The vertical orientation of the image, combined with the vertical pillars and the narrow framing just makes the entire image feel claustrophobic and deeply unsettling to me, and the fact that there isn;t a single other person there adds to that. It's a very uncomfortable image for me, and viewing it I feel utterly alone, and that's precisely what I love about it.

Anyway, great images.




  
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Clean ­ Gene
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Sep 21, 2012 02:22 |  #11

onona wrote in post #15018628 (external link)
...
I think I'll do both versions. Thanks for your input!

Yep. That's the way to go.

Keep the image that you have. Clone out the cars (or do a reshoot). Don't assume, do it both ways and then compare.

Personally, I love the image as is, but I might sing a different tune if you do it differently. I can't say until I've seen it, but try it out and see how it works.




  
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Berlin and Paris
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