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Old Sep 22, 2011, 11:48 AM   #1
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After a scene is shot and the photo is critiqued, does it make any sense to penalize the photo for elements in the pic which the photographer has absolutely no control? For example a shot of a house with a car in the driveway. Saying that the shine on the bumper draws the eyes away from the main subject. As the photographer the main subject was the the house and the car in the driveway. Its like photographing a forest and complaining that one of the trees is too tall, or too green, or too something or other.
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Old Sep 22, 2011, 12:04 PM   #2
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It depends. A perfect example is lighting. Taking a landscape photo at 2pm in the middle of summer with washed out sky. Just because you, as the photographer, wanted to take the photo doesn't mean it will be a good photo. If you want it to be a good photo and not just a snapshot, return during a more appropriate time of day.

Or, take one of the areas I enjoy shooting - sports. The photographer has no control over how people move. But if the ref steps into the frame and you get his behind taking up half the frame - the shot is ruined. Or, the background is a porta-potty. My recommendation when people post a shot with that in the background is to pay attention to backgrounds when they select their shooting position.

A big difference between taking snapshots and producing photographs is: PLANNING.
Let's take your 'house' example. If the important photo is the house, come back when the car isn't there - or if it's your house, move the car.

I think, in large part, some people have difficulty with the concept of planning - they see something that interests them and they want to take the shot. Then, they get a little bent when other people suggest they could have done some things better.

As I tell people that are new to shooting sports - a big part of a successful image isn't just what you have IN the image, it's what you leave OUT.
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Old Sep 22, 2011, 1:33 PM   #3
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Here is the shot in question. I preferred to have the car in the driveway to show that the people are at home. The comment I got was the shine on the bumper drew the eyes and wasnt good. Im not bent at all, at least disagreeing doesnt make one bent does it?
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Old Sep 22, 2011, 1:34 PM   #4
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To comment on other aspects of an image without mentioning something because you think the photographer has no control over it, is disengenuous. To use your example, the car in the driveway may belong to the photographer; if anybody has control of it, he or she does.

I go around my community on Christmas Eve taking photos of the homes that are well decorated. ("well" being a very flexible criterion.) (Many of these photos are published in our community newsletter, and have been a favorite feature of the newsletter over the years.) I do so in the evening to be certain that the decorations will be lit, but not so late that, if the decorations are obscured by vehicles in the driveway or at the curb, I can ask that they move them while photos. My requests have always received positive, pleasant responses. So who's to say that the photographer has no control of the content?

In addition, pointing out the problems may not help with the image as submitted for review and critique, but it may help the photographer avoid similar problems in the future. He or she may be able to avoid that particular problem by framing the subject from a different angle, for instance.

If nobody points out that the emperor has no cloths, he's going to keep walking around naked. Is that the result we'd like to see?
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Old Sep 22, 2011, 1:39 PM   #5
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I wouldn't have had any problem at all, asking them to move the cars out of their driveway so I could take a photo of their beautiful home. If you want to show that someone is home, ask them to have a kid (someone too young to drive) to pose in an upstairs window.
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Old Sep 22, 2011, 1:56 PM   #6
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The people who own the house are actually friends of mine and would have gladly moved the car. But I wanted the car in the pic. Is that a faux pas? Is there some general rule that when photographing a house there should be an empty driveway? I didnt know of that one. And if I did Im sure it would be one of the rules I would be breaking or is it braking? There is so much to see in the large image. Each window has a lot of things to look at. Moving around, the cars are just another piece of the landscape to me.
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Old Sep 22, 2011, 2:10 PM   #7
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Bynx - you think an element in a photo is a plus. Someone else thinks it's a negative. So what? The other person's opinion is just as valid as yours. You can certainly disagree but that doesn't mean their opinion is invalid. None of us are going to agree 100% with critique we're given. For my purposes, I think it's good for both sides to state why the like/don't like it and leave it at that. In that manner, other readers can learn to look at the image in different ways.
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Old Sep 22, 2011, 2:44 PM   #8
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There is nothing wrong with a car in the driveway in general however in your photo the back of the car appears brighter than the house thus distracts away from the house. It also dominates the right hand foreground. Is the prime focus the house or the car? If it's the house then mute the shine on the car by changing the view point or fix it in post processing. Changing the viewpoint may also reduce the car's dominance.

Humans are conditioned by evolution to lock onto bright shiny things, like the gleam of a predators teeth, as well as moving things, to avoid saber-tooth tigers in the underbrush, to survive long enough to pass on your genes!
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Old Sep 22, 2011, 3:10 PM   #9
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If you want to photograph a house, having a car in the way doesn't help.

I can't tell from this photo if there are some other decorations or some other architectural elements that the cars might be obscuring. But if the cars weren't there, it wouldn't even occur to me to wonder about it.

It's your photo. If you're happy with it, and the homeowners are happy with it, that's what counts.

But if you submit it for critiquing, and someone suggests that you might have removed an unnecessary foreground element, take it in the spirit in which it was intended, along with a grain of salt.
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Old Sep 22, 2011, 3:50 PM   #10
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The photo here is specific. But what about commenting as a critique on other photos which there is no control. Saying a tree is too tall or too short isn't helpful because I have no control over the trees. I guess if I had come say 50 years before when it was shorter that might have helped. I hear criticisms about time of day or lighting effects of the sun or lack of. It would be nice if we could all arrive at the perfect time. Often its just not possible so whether you get there at the perfect time is just dumb luck. There are elements in every photo which the photographer has control of, like cropping, how close or how far to the main subject. Color, exposure, noise, etc that can all be criticized. But aren't there elements which just cant be helped? And I'm not talking my pic in particular, but just pics in general. I guess its just me, but it wouldn't occur to me to criticize the car in the driveway. Its color, the number on its plates, or the reflection on its bumper. Its all part of the scene. This idea that the brightness of the car draws the eyes. It doesn't draw mine. I control my eyes not some shine. Examining the details of the image are what my eyes do. That's why the importance of the car just never occurred to me. I'm kinda surprised it bothers others so much. Which makes me wonder what the hell I think when I take a pic. I know I wanted the cars in the pic and exactly where they are parked. The closest car was actually parked to the left. I asked it to be moved over so I could get the lights in the garden below the front window.

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