Friday, November 26, 2010

Technically Speaking: What Bothers You, If Anything, About This Photograph?

This is one of my favorite photographs from a recent trip to Laos. I like it because, for among other reasons, it illustrates several photo tips:
• See eye to eye;
• The name of the game is to fill the frame;
• When you think you are close, move in or zoom in closer.
• Get everything in the scene in focus.
• Watch the background.
• Avoid overexposed highlights.
• Tell a story.

But I was wondering . . . Is there something – specifically – about this photograph, technically speaking, that bothers you?

Post your comment here - so others can easily see and so I can track. Good comments and suggestions often get lost on Twitter and Facebook.

Don't be shy. I can take it! :-)

Explore the light,
Rick

P.S. I will post my response here soon.

51 comments:

Gary Simmons said...

I don't know if you would consider this 'technically', but eye-contact is what I dislike here. I would rather the main subject was looking at the camera... but even that is ok.

I really don't like the person on the right looking out of the frame...

Nic said...

I like the photo but the headless monk on the left makes the composition seem a little unbalanced to me... course I might just be nit-picking because you imply there just be a problem with it!

Shane said...

The photo is a little small for a good look, Rick. But...

Since you asked ( ;) ) The monk on the far left of the frame is cut off above the shoulders. I find myself wishing I could see his face.

C Phillips said...

The left-most monk. He's cut off and in an awkward position.

gb said...

Yeah, homeboy on the right is making me wonder what's going on off to his left.

Paul Nachman aka Nasher said...

Hi! Don't like the headless guy left, the kid with attention elsewhere on right, ditto the kid behind. Takes my attention away from the subject. So basically too busy. Nice pic though!!!

bobwyo said...

Could you have shifted left a little to get the 'headless' monk out of the frame and still keep the three recognizable ones?

Courtney said...

The monk to the left - who is cropped out, throws me off. I know that pictures don't have to be perfect and it's okay to crop, but for some reason, I feel like if he was looking at the young man that was building something, it would have added another dimension since everyone else wasn't paying attention.

Dennis said...

Man on the left whose upper body is cut off has his hand on his crotch.

Sheylynne said...

The only thing that is bothering me is that the guy on the far left is beheaded. I'm not sure if he is important to the picture but part of him is in it and I'm really wondering what he looks like.

Cindy said...

Too many things to look at. Nothing seems to draw my eye.

André said...

Yes, first the chap on the left, the one which is out of the frame.

In sum, there's too much elements in the picture, so u don't know where to look.

Richard Asarisi said...

Nice and colorful but what bothers me is you chopped the guys head off on the left side of the frame. You should have moved to the left when you took the shot to maybe make the background the two boys instead of the chopped of guy.

Jeff said...

The decapitated monk??

Paul Katcher said...

My eyes track toward the brightest part of the photo, which for me is the green trees. That's not really an area of interest here, so maybe a technical improvement would be to mute that part, either in post-processing or balancing it by throwing more light on the foreground subjects.

A great shot. Only nit-picking because you asked!

Arthur said...

One monk on the left doesn't "had" head..

Anonymous said...

I like the picture but I think just having the 3 kids would have been better.

Peter said...

There appears to be something growing out of the top of the head of the second monk from the right.

Rikk said...

The guy in the background at left grabbing his crotch doesn't do it for me.

Colin R said...

The head and partial hand being cut off of the adult (perhaps?) on the left kinda bothers me. It's too small a crowd to "expect" there to be cut offs here and there.

Michael Seneschal said...

Expression over perfection. It's a great natural moment.

Guy said...

The clutter in the foreground.

victor said...

Not crazy about the crop. And the cut-off guy in the upper left appears to be readying for a TSA patdown.

David said...

It would be good to see the teacher's face to see if he is pleased,disappointed, or looking away as the other students are. I would not have chopped the teacher's head off, or would have cropped the teacher out. I think the teacher's expression is critical to the story. Nice photograph though, well developed and in focus.

Christopher said...

In my humble opinion it would have been a great shot if the individual on the left side of the frame was gone.

Michael Jardeen said...

I would crop it on the left to cut off most of that monk. I tried it and you can actually cut out the hands and still have the elbow of the young monk in the front in the picture. The only only other nit is that the monk on the right keeps dragging my eyes and mind out of the picture.

Marcus said...

Hi Rick, all the things that you talk about are true, save for one thing. My eye was almost immediately drawn to the 1/2 person on the left side. What's he (I assume) doing with the group.
The reason why is because it could change the story. Is it someone helping the children with their crafts or someone telling them to make something?

MichaelV said...

Two things, Rick. The beheaded gentleman in the upper left and the fact that there is no eye contact with the kids.

But - which I was there!

Baldrider said...

The standing monk. It would have been nice to see his head and face.

zac said...

Hi Rick,

Nice pic, but I think it would have worked better if you could have shifted the angle so you wouldn't have gotten the incomplete person on the left. Something about the lack of separation of the orange or the incompletion of that person is somewhat distracting. Otherwise, the shot definitely works!

Anonymous said...

for me it's the forground its the brightest part and my eye seem to go to it mostly

Jacques said...

Well, what bugs me is the boy on the right looking "outside" the picture frame. I'm thinking that if he'd been looking at the boy working with the sticks that it would have helped guide the eye towards him even more. Now I keep wondering what he's looking at.

Don't know if that's the "technical" kind of comment you were looking for...

Anonymous said...

Do you mean photo-technically or ethically?

Glenn Zumwalt said...

The monk on the upper left of the frame with the cell phone and just the fingers of his right hand in the frame, could be cropped out.

I would have waited until the young monk on the right side of the frame was looking into the frame or was looking at the work in his hands.

Ron C said...

I would like it better with less depth of field so the viewer's attention was more forced to the main subject.

Chris said...

The exposure seems spot-on. The composition is intriguing and pleasing to the eye, but I have to agree with some of the previous comments: the "headless" monk to the left is distracting and throws the compositional balance off slightly. Tighter cropping would not be desirable, as you'd lose the lovely architectural elements and sense of scale. Still, I really like this shot. I love your impressive oeuvre of people shots from around the world! Keep up the great work.

Rick Sammon said...

Geez...at least someone liked the shot:

Blogger Michael Seneschal said... Expression over perfection. It's a great natural moment.

Thank you Michael! :-)

Actually, all the comments are good - and the main one was expected. See why in a day or so here on the blog.

Rick

Christopher R. Gray said...

I don't think this photograph was meant as a fine art portrait. I look at it more as an environmental moment in time. They are not staged.

However the headless monk is distracting. Maybe a different camera position or cropping would have helped.

ana.gr said...

agree with most about the monk. The crop is a bit uncomfortable, perhaps a thighter crop to let only the hands ar only the tunic as backdrop would have been better.

TJ said...

I like the communication you have. It has a good documentary feel which shows the involvement of these boys in this craft.

I personally would crop in a little, to keep the main attention on the foreground boy. A little off the top and right side.

The one looking out of frame, adds a bit of interest (what is happening over there? What is he looking at?) and creates a mystery. and also balances out the adult on the left.

What bothers me technically is the depth of field. If it was shallower, but still had the boy in the background in focus, the image would really pop. Also the brightest part is the trees in the background, which keeps pulling the eye away
but as a grab shot,I think it is fantastic

I do like this image. It is an interesting view into a simpler culture.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the monk in the foreground is doing it would have been nice to see all of it, but then that would make him the centre and maybe call for differential focus compared with the others.

Monk on left would be OK cut off if out of focus and obviously 'background'.

White pillar on right doesn't quite balance orange of monk on left.

Scott said...

I liked the photo it reminded me of my favorite scene from Roman Polanski's file Rosemary's Baby where Ruth Gordon is on the phone in the bedroom and all you see is her back. (Great Shot makes you think outside the frame.)

Kelvin Dickenson said...

From a technical perspective, the shot is well exposed and in focus. In terms of composition I would prefer a tighter crop and shallower depth of field around the boy in the foreground of the frame.

CarlCoxStudios said...

Aside from the fact the boy in the foreground looks a little like Matt Kloskowski; he's also missing his left hand... cut off at the joint.

Neat shot, just the same.

Mark said...

The exposure and color balance is perfect, at least on my monitor. I like that its a captured moment and not overly staged.

With that there are two things that bother me. The headless monk on the left with the scissors looking ominous and the one looking out of frame, though the one looking out of frame tells a story too. What was going on camera right??

Al Marsh said...

? Maybe wait until the monk on the right is looking into the scene or at seems less distracted? More of the monk in the left background with the threatening sissors Less of the foot of the monk on the left background?

wendy said...

It seems to busy to me. To many things going on for me to focus on any one thing.

Anonymous said...

Technically, I think the fill-flash is a bit harsh and full-frontal. An off-camera position with diffuser would have made three lighting more even I think.

And the headless monk doesn't look very elegant.

Radek Kozak said...

For me this image is too much of a clutter. I would probably try exclude monk on the far left and the one in the far background -> wait for the moment when they are gone or just ask them. This image for me is definitely about the monk in center who's engaged in doing sth -> i would try more shallow depth of field bringing focus to him and only him. Second photograph i would try to take would be similar but with addition with the monk on the right looking away - he would probably end up in the near background on slight out of focus planar.

Not criticizing just saying what would make this image work for me personally :)

Glenn Z said...

The headless monk doesn't bother me, it looks planned. It is the fingers and phone poking into the frame looks like you missed them when you framed the shot.

In your examples, the amputations look planned and deliberate not haphazard and something the photographer missed when framing the shot.

Rick Sammon said...

Hi Everyone and thank you for your comments. I will post a very long response – with comments from top pros – tomorrow. Not that this is that big a deal.. it's just something to get us thinking about composition.

Glenn Z – that's a pair of sizzors no a cell phone :-) And, it's not a planned shot at all. Just a quick grab shot. But you will see a very planned shot in tomorrow's post along with another grab shot... both from the National Geographic web site.

And Anon.. it's not a fill flash shot. :-)

Thank you all!

Best,
Rick