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Thread: Sing, Choirs of Angels

  1. #1
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    Default Sing, Choirs of Angels


    This photograph was part of a series of photos shot with a photojournalistic approach and intent. The objective was to document the performance of my church's children, youth and adult choirs performing on Orchard Road as part of Celebrate Christmas in Singapore 2008.

    This shot was actually due to a bit of good timing, and a lot of chance. My original intent was to capture the many dramatic expressions of this choral conductor (he's very animated) so I was just crouched down, waiting for an expression to come along. He then also moved to his right suddenly, revealing the stage lights behind him (that were illuminating the choir), and this was how the flare that you see in the image came about.

    At first glance, I thought it wasn't a very technically sound image as the flare actually resulted in a bad loss in contrast. I converted it to a monochrome image to play around a little and see if some of the contrast could be brought back in monochrome, and was pleasantly surprised with the result. The elimination of colour actually meant the subject stood out a little better.

    In the end, I thought that the shot was a keeper for me, because the flare gave a sense of something majestic, something angelic. It's definitely something different, not your usual technically sound picture.

    I'd like feedback firstly on the composition. Does it work for you, that there is so little room on top of his left hand, and with the slight outline of Ngee Ann City over his right shoulder?

    Secondly, I'd like feedback on whether the flare works for or against the image. Does it give you a sense of something glorious or something majestic, or is it a mere distraction?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    I think the picture still lacks some contrast. Try bumping up the contrast more and burning the shadows in the figure.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    agree that the photo lacks contrast and punch..

    the blown highlight at the bottom is very distracting as well..

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    Quote Originally Posted by jo-squared View Post
    I think the picture still lacks some contrast. Try bumping up the contrast more and burning the shadows in the figure.
    What do you mean "burning the shadows in the figure"?

    Quote Originally Posted by ssping83 View Post
    agree that the photo lacks contrast and punch..

    the blown highlight at the bottom is very distracting as well..
    So I guess the highlight is still something most cannot overlook?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    I like the blown parts actually and do see the intent behind it.

    But I think more room should be given to the left hand and that the background on the left is better without the building.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    Quote Originally Posted by ssping83 View Post
    agree that the photo lacks contrast and punch..

    the blown highlight at the bottom is very distracting as well..
    With all respect, that "blown highlight" is part of the 'story' that is told in the photo. I believe its meant to signify something glorious.. godly even, as befits the title and the posture of the main subject.

    Overall, I think its a great photo, with only the 'W' or 'V' billboard on the left being a little distracting.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    yeah contrast still can bump... ^.^



    let me know if u want it removed...

  8. #8

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    i think compostion is fine. but yes i do agree the gentleman's left hand is a little too near the edge.

    secondly, i feel ngee ann city is a little distracting.

    PS: oh btw, i was helping out the CCIS at PS on the 23rd
    "We will see Him, coming down the clouds from heaven... In Majesty"

  9. #9

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    I think you've "dramatized" your description somewhat. The picture is just a snapshot to me. Quite a bad one, to be frank.

    The flare doesn't work at all here. Increasing the contrast doesn't help either, as what brinkwine has kindly experimented with. Now the blob of light at the bottom becomes an even greater distraction than the flare.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    Im confused how this shot has a photojournalistic approach to it.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    Quote Originally Posted by geeteethree View Post
    Im confused how this shot has a photojournalistic approach to it.
    maybe you could try taking a look through magazines like national geographic where you see the really good shots taken from the photojournalist. i can somehow see how TS has tried to have a photojournalistic appraoch.
    "We will see Him, coming down the clouds from heaven... In Majesty"

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    Contrast is all the more vital precisely because you made it monochrome. It's too washed out at the moment, bring tonality back into that pallid skintone. Portrait would have been a better format choice as well. What's the difference if you had taken the photo with the subject directly backlit instead?

    This image belongs somewhere in the middle of its series and I wouldn't reccommend it to be chosen as a stand alone or the cover image. It's rather ambiguous and doesn't explain who, where & why without your writeup (of course that wouldn't matter if it's only meant for your congregation). However I was looking for a more 'dramatic/animated' expression than this, this looks like a rather normal emotional (singing) gesture actually.

    I guess it's interesting... Might one say for this image, without the flare, the image loses its intention? Initial attention might be the subject but the flare steals limelight due to how it's intrepreted in certain cultures. It's hard to ignore even for me, despite my nonreligious beliefs.
    Last edited by foxtwo; 5th January 2009 at 12:36 AM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    shot with a Canon EOS 1DMkII with Ls? hmmm..
    so just a summarize, lacks of contrasts and blacks; which is why you
    wanted the angelic feel which is why it looks soft, but if the 'majestic'
    feel comes in the picture, whole idea is is wrong.

    imo, position yourself abit to the left to cut down down on the amount
    of light and give abit more room on his left hand would do abit of justice.

    imho, 'glorious' for a choral conductor looks like a smiling man, eyebrows up
    and eyes closed showing he's done his job and is sure he had done it right.
    here, none explains majestic to me.

    so i think, shoot more.
    Last edited by hairyharry; 5th January 2009 at 11:00 AM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    ok, i personally would have rathered the spotlight be directly behind him. that way you can get that rim light that illuminates him. this looks like it's a big mess with the flare washing out your picture. clean up the rest of the background like brinkwine's example and it might have been a wicked shot

  15. #15

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    maybe you could try taking a look through magazines like national geographic where you see the really good shots taken from the photojournalist. i can somehow see how TS has tried to have a photojournalistic appraoch.
    national geographic is not classed as photojournalism. National geographic is travel/wildlife/nature. How has the TS atleast tried to use a photojournalist style to this picture then?

  16. #16

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    Quote Originally Posted by geeteethree View Post
    national geographic is not classed as photojournalism. National geographic is travel/wildlife/nature.
    Not totally true. There are issues when National Geographic focuses on people and culture as well. For example, I own May 2008 issue that talks about 'China: Inside the Dragon'. Although they do not cover events, the styles/techniques used to capture people and culture can be applied to photojournalism.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    ... the styles/techniques used to capture people and culture can be applied to photojournalism.
    What styles and techniques are they ??

  18. #18

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    I don't see what's wrong with the flare and strong light behind if it's meant to be part of the composition. I'm assuming that TS had intentionally included the back light source and the flare so what may be a distraction to some works for others - that includes me. Know the rules, and break them when you need to IMHO.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    Quote Originally Posted by Priscilia View Post
    I think you've "dramatized" your description somewhat. The picture is just a snapshot to me. Quite a bad one, to be frank.

    The flare doesn't work at all here. Increasing the contrast doesn't help either, as what brinkwine has kindly experimented with. Now the blob of light at the bottom becomes an even greater distraction than the flare.
    You must have a very high standard then.

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtwo View Post
    Contrast is all the more vital precisely because you made it monochrome. It's too washed out at the moment, bring tonality back into that pallid skintone. Portrait would have been a better format choice as well. What's the difference if you had taken the photo with the subject directly backlit instead?

    This image belongs somewhere in the middle of its series and I wouldn't reccommend it to be chosen as a stand alone or the cover image. It's rather ambiguous and doesn't explain who, where & why without your writeup (of course that wouldn't matter if it's only meant for your congregation). However I was looking for a more 'dramatic/animated' expression than this, this looks like a rather normal emotional (singing) gesture actually.

    I guess it's interesting... Might one say for this image, without the flare, the image loses its intention? Initial attention might be the subject but the flare steals limelight due to how it's intrepreted in certain cultures. It's hard to ignore even for me, despite my nonreligious beliefs.
    I understand the need for contrast in a monochrome image. That's a given. Getting the subject directly backlit would probably have resulted in the flare disappearing, contrast coming back, but also a less dramatic image overall, imho. There would've been a rim-light, but the look would have been different. I agree that portrait format would probably have been a better approach, but I was afraid to go to portrait orientation because his hands were flailing around sideways a lot.

    This image is indeed in the middle of a series, as what I initially pointed out. I'm with you in the view that it would work better in a series, definitely not a stand-alone image.

    Much of the motivation and intention (along with inspiration for the title) comes from the flare really. It is hard to balance the flare with the contrast levels in the image, and it is harder for viewers to think out of the box (as is evident here).

    Quote Originally Posted by hairyharry View Post
    shot with a Canon EOS 1DMkII with Ls? hmmm..
    so just a summarize, lacks of contrasts and blacks; which is why you
    wanted the angelic feel which is why it looks soft, but if the 'majestic'
    feel comes in the picture, whole idea is is wrong.

    imo, position yourself abit to the left to cut down down on the amount
    of light and give abit more room on his left hand would do abit of justice.

    imho, 'glorious' for a choral conductor looks like a smiling man, eyebrows up
    and eyes closed showing he's done his job and is sure he had done it right.
    here, none explains majestic to me.

    so i think, shoot more.
    I believe one should not judge an image by the gear used to capture it. Why does it matter? I do not understand your statement "which is why you
    wanted the angelic feel which is why it looks soft, but if the 'majestic'
    feel comes in the picture, whole idea is is wrong." So angels are not necessarily majestic, and is there really only one way to interpret majestic?

    I'm not trying to be defensive of my image, but I guess there really is a lack of open-mindedness even within the critique corner community. Everybody pursues technical perfection, and sure why not? Technical perfection is good. It sets an objective standpoint for what is right, wrong, good and bad. It is easy to keep to the rules, and to the mainstream of what people think is a right photo, but it is not easy to be unconventional.

    I have textbook shots within the series too, and granted, there must be a time to keep rules and break rules. This is probably one such example. Subject clearly in focus, other elements nicely blurred out, but also adding to the story.


    What does a choral conductor doing his job right have to do with glorious? IMHO, it is merely fulfilling his responsibility. I do not see how an image as such would have a glorious, or majestic feel to it. I do believe (like what foxtwo mentioned), the flare, or similar lightness, brightness or glow, is usually interpreted as such.

    By the way, this was not shot with L glass, so I don't know how you arrived at that conclusion.

    Quote Originally Posted by timotheus View Post
    ok, i personally would have rathered the spotlight be directly behind him. that way you can get that rim light that illuminates him. this looks like it's a big mess with the flare washing out your picture. clean up the rest of the background like brinkwine's example and it might have been a wicked shot
    The common consensus seems to be that the background be cleaned up and the flare be lost. I would agree with the background being cleaned up. Seems like a good move. However, like in my response to foxtwo, removing the flare would remove a large amount of the motivation for this image's story and title. I will try again with tweaking the contrast, especially on the subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by knoxknocks View Post
    I don't see what's wrong with the flare and strong light behind if it's meant to be part of the composition. I'm assuming that TS had intentionally included the back light source and the flare so what may be a distraction to some works for others - that includes me. Know the rules, and break them when you need to IMHO.
    I'm glad someone sees it from another perspective. I guess a large majority of this community still judges an image solely by its technical excellence.

    Honestly, the inclusion of the backlight was intentional, but the flare was unexpected. He was actually lit with a rim-light when in his previous position, but once he moved to this position, he revealed the lights behind him such that they were directly in my face, and that was when I shot. I had only realised it after the event.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Sing, Choirs of Angels

    With of without the flare for the majority of this community, this image does not appeal to them. You cannot argue with ones personal opinion. It doesn't work for me, and thats most probably because of the angle up and the way it is placed in the frame.

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