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Thread: Grading & Degrading

  1. #1
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    Cool Grading & Degrading

    Hi there, its been awhile since I posted anything for critique, just being mindful and following the guidelines so please bear with me if I go offtrack

    I took this picture while walking around, observing for the first time how does things look like in the busiest fish market in Tokyo. There is no pre-planning, just a spur of a moment shot. The place is quite bright (due to artificial and natural light) and wet. Like every market in the world, there are many activities happening everywhere at the same time.

    This picture captures the fishmongers cleaning and grading the tuna according to the quality of the flesh(??) and afterwards it is tossed onto the floor (for collection by someone else I presume). The title just came to my mind upon looking at the picture closer and doing this short writeup.

    I did some minor cropping to emphasize the process of tuna being cut, gutted, graded and tossed aside.

    I didn't like the original color (I find it too dull), so I used Adobe Lightroom to adjust the color, tone, contrast, lighting to make the tuna and floor look 'wet' but kept the emphasis on the fishmongers so that you could see them working in the background .

    Some opinion I would like to seek here;
    1. Is the picture too articifical? Would this picture be improved with more 'brighter' and less dark colors?
    2. Could I have done better with the croppping?
    3. What is your first impression when you see this?
    4. Any other comments would be welcomed.




    A higher resolution picture could be found here.

    Thanks for reading & commenting.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Grading & Degrading

    Hey this is cool!

    Looks like something out of a NEWSWEEK magazine... i think bcos of the colour and sheen... it has a certain gloss like fashion photography...

    looks soft in some areas... not sure lighting/ handshake?

    but it's really too bright, i feel like it needs some vignetting/ burning to soften especially the right side... it must have been glaring at the actual scene!

    but yep i think you achieved what u wanted.. my eyes do go to the fishmongers.

    although, if you have a closeup of the fish head that would be REALLY dramatic...

  3. #3

    Default Re: Grading & Degrading

    TS, you mentioned the fishmongers were grading the fishes. I do see the fish mongers doing something. But what? I can only make out that they are busy with their stuff. BUt grading or degrading i can't say for sure. Markings on the fish to show their grades are not clearly visible too... To me this is a failed story. It does not appeal to me that the market is busy and fishes are constantly graded and sold. THe right side of the pic seems to be over exposed as well. Like what many would say, sometimes, bring yourself lower to the floor, the angle that you are capturing might be more dramatic.
    My Humble Flickr --> The pavement of my thoughts

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    Default Re: Grading & Degrading

    lovely.. thats some huge fish!!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Grading & Degrading

    Hi thanks for the comments simplequirk, nigel84 & bigbird17

    nigel84. Looking at it again, I do agree that the fishmongers are abit far away and anyone looking at it the first time might not guess what they are doing, but I wanted to keep the 3 tunas on the floor in the picture. Cropping and removing the foremost tuna just doesn't appeal to me as I wanted to so some sort of 'factory-line' process going on. But I do appreciate the honest comment.

    simplequirk. Newsweek? haha. Thanks for the ego boost in the morning!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Grading & Degrading

    As photojournalism it does not work, for it does not convey very clearly what is happening: the fishmongers are too far in the background, slightly out of focus and their work on the fish is obscured by themselves. And then the large fishes on the floor, again lack details and is overly contrasty. In other words it is not recording much of the facts and reality of the place. It is not like if you see the picture you can write a 1000 words of what is going on in that place. In that respect it fails.

    But as art, it is somewhat OK, meaning that the camera have captured interesting visual elements which are spatially arranged in an aesthetic manner, eg the 3 fishes - which could, for arts sake, have just been similar blobs of different scales - the perspective, and the shape and spatial contrast between these blobs and the other kinds of blobs in the background, namely the men. The over contrast - ie diff between light and dark - also works, to make these elements a little more abstract. You can look at the picture and look again. So it works there.

    It may also work for communication uses, eg where you want to merely suggest a fish market, a wet, harshly lighted, hardworking place, but without revealing too much of where, when and what about it.

    The only question then is: what was in your mind when you shot and process it? What did you intend to achieve, and did you achieved it? (and these are what the guidelines were asking you to put up front and not what you have said.)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Grading & Degrading

    Sorry for the late reply epsion, I read your comments and took sometime thinking about them.

    I took this picture because of the way the fishes were lined up, and at the end / beginning(?) of the line the men were working. After walking around the market, I did not see similiar setup like this one. Maybe because of space constrains, the goods are normally lined up side by side.

    My objective is to capture an image of the fish market which I would go back and look at it over again. To capture something memorable to me.

    Did I achieve it? I think so, as I said earlier, this is one of my favourite pictures. I hope I don't sound too lame.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Grading & Degrading

    If it works for you it works for you. But do you think people can feel what you felt when you were there then?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Grading & Degrading

    Quote Originally Posted by espion View Post
    If it works for you it works for you. But do you think people can feel what you felt when you were there then?
    I can only hope so, but taste is very subjective. Especially in this forum I guess. I mean we all come from different backgrounds and had different experiences that shaped us, so how we look at things would be totally different.

    If you ask me, I don't think people might feel the way I felt, to me, its abit too cluttered, but I was there and looking at it I can still remember how it it. But if they have not been there, it might be hard to bring the viewer to that place at that point in time. Am I wandering?

    Thank you for your comments, its been quite a learning experience for me. Perhaps I should relook at some of the pictures and bring them in.

    Cheers and have a good day ahead.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Grading & Degrading

    Quote Originally Posted by FooFighter View Post
    If you ask me, I don't think people might feel the way I felt ...
    And that is precisely the point in my asking what is your intent.

    For if it is something only meaningful to you, then there is no need for public critique, for the public is blind to what you see and certainly do not share your experiences.

    But when you put up a thing to the public it must mean something to the public too to justify their time and engagement, notwithstanding the public's diverse taste and perspectives. And, for example, you may have intended to convey your feelings, ie make them feel what you feel, our what you experienced, or something entirely new, even to yourself. And you can hope if you have put some thought and effort to make it happen, or else it is just wishful thinking.

    A picture is a means to say something, like any language. If I say lkasdk asdlfjkhkl asdfjh asd.hfkla asd;lhk asd;lkj asd', it certainly make no sense to you, however meaningful it may be to me. But that is OK if I never intended to say anything to you in the first place. But if I did, and I used that language, then it is I and not the audience that failed, and I have no reason to hope you somehow can understand my obscure language.
    Last edited by espion; 3rd November 2008 at 10:21 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Grading & Degrading

    Hi FooFighter,

    Here's my response to your enquiries:

    1. Is the picture too articifical? Would this picture be improved with more 'brighter' and less dark colors?

    Yes, the picture definitely looks artificial. I do not think that a fishmonger's shop has such a lighting anywhere in the world, yes? I believe such lighting can only be achieved in a studio under controlled conditions. And no, I feel that no further adjustments need to be made. The darkness in this image creates the gritty feel in the marketplace. Remove the dark colours, and you lose the feel of the marketplace.

    2. Could I have done better with the croppping?

    I feel that based on the layout and positioning of the fishmongers, this is the best angle that you can get. However, if we were to turn back time, it will be great to shift the white styrofoam boxes on the right side of the photo to the centre, place a fish on top of it and shoot the fishmongers while placing the fish head in the foreground (i.e. do a close-up shot of it). It will probably look good but you will probably have to try various angles before getting a good shot.


    3. What is your first impression when you see this?

    I know that it's not shot locally and that the lighting is artificial.

    4. Any other comments would be welcomed.

    No comments.
    Last edited by patricktay; 4th November 2008 at 04:01 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Grading & Degrading

    Quote Originally Posted by FooFighter View Post

    Some opinion I would like to seek here;
    1. Is the picture too articifical? Would this picture be improved with more 'brighter' and less dark colors?
    2. Could I have done better with the croppping?
    3. What is your first impression when you see this?
    4. Any other comments would be welcomed.


    Thanks for reading & commenting.
    i like the composition

    1) yes, brighter and more normalised colors would be great. but i have more problems with the high contrast approach you have taken here - it makes the picture's details murky and i have trouble discerning what is going on at first.

    2) no, seems fine to me

    3) see 1

    4) take note of the whites, the blown-out-ness is making them a tad distracting here

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Grading & Degrading

    Sorry for the late response, but its been madness at work (which is why sometimes I need to escape to CS )

    espion. Appreciate the time you took to write the comments, maybe I haven't reach that level yet. Truth be told, I didnt plan or had any concept in mind, I took what I see and brought it home to process. At the same time hoping that it wont come out disappointing. Thank you.

    patricktay & night86mare. Thanks for your comments. I wish I could go back and do it again. But life is not a rehearsal, or maybe I should have gone to Pasir Panjang fish mkt to practise first

    I agree that I tend to go over 'to the darkside' when I do post processing and I tend to lean toward glossy and high contrast look.

    Thanks again for your comments.

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