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Ruth Carll's picture

April Fools Day was not a joke for us - 18 Month Anniversary!

Hello All,

It has been 18 months since this group started on April Fools Day. Since that time we have become one of the most active groups on fStoppers. This is due to the contributions of many new and experienced photographers. Our type of work is not the main focus of fStoppers, but we have found a home here. And, quite of few of our members have had a Photo of the Day and many Editor's Picks. Well done group!

The main reason that this group thrives is that the members participate in the discussions. I encourage those of you who are new to comment on the work of the other members. You don't have to be an expert to provide feedback. Your opinions and suggestions are welcome regardless of the level of experience behind them.

I also encourage you to participate in the dialog as this is the way you learn. Analyzing images and coming up with suggestions is an important skill that will help advance your own work as well as that of the team.

Lastly, I encourage you to participate in dialog because it keeps the pace of the group moving. If you post and wait for comments on your work without commenting on others' posts, the group pace slows. Also, those providing feedback to you would appreciate feedback from you as well.

As we pass this 18 months landmark, let's keep this great group healthy and helpful! by continuing to post our experiments and success AND contributing our thoughts and knowledge as well.

Thanks again to all of you who have made this group a success!

PS - feel free to post anything you like on this thread.

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46 Comments

Ruth Carll's picture

I thought it would be fun to post and 'then and now' sort of thing. So, here is one of my first ink images posted and here is what I am doing now. I love this subject and I attribute my success to the feedback I have gotten from this group. Yea team!

The first image shows that I couldn't get the focus down and I was having soooo much trouble. I could see in my mind's eye what I wanted but couldn't seem to get it into the camera. I received so much help on light levels and camera speed and .... you name it!

The following images are examples of current work - two from "the dark side" series I am working on now and one from the idea of creating complex scenes.

Thanks for the help!

Joe Svelnys's picture

All are wonderful of course but boy that second one speaks to me as a mainly nature photographer; That belongs in a fairytail out in the woods someplace.

18 months, I hadn't realized the group started at the same time I did on my photography journey. I'll have to dig thru the archives and see if I can't come up with a nice before/after. :)

Ruth Carll's picture

I would love to see a 'then and now' from you Joe! You are a solid member of the team and I am thankful you are here.

The image you mention above is one of my all-time favorites. Your comment is really appreciated. One of the things that put me in my nostalgic mood is that I posted that image on the main site via my profile and didn't receive any votes or thoughts from anyone outside of our group. I understand that this site is predominantly professional photographers and they do pretty much nudes, landscapes, portraits and product work. However, I would have thought that, as photographers, there would be some intellectual curiosity and/or interest in something different. Ironically, these shots are actually hard to do and might even require more set up and pre-thought than most of what is typically posted.

This disappointing response got me thinking about the awesomeness of our group. I'm so glad to have found people interested in ... anything that might come up!

Hunter Chan's picture

Love these!!! I could see the large amount of work needed to produce such image!

Alan Brown's picture

I second your introduction Ruth. I can't believe it has been 18 months already, I like I'm assuming so many others, have gained so much by being involved in this group and using members as sound boards during experimentation.

I would like to comment further on opinions;
1) no opinion (by definition) can be wrong it is an expression of a personal view.
2) the only 'bad' opinion is one that is left unexpressed
3) all opinions (whether good or bad) should be presented as, and accepted as a gift. We are all here to improve, and sincere feedback helps us all learn and get better.
4) feedback from a novice is invaluable as they are less likely burdened by the mind (ie rules...) and impacted more purely by what they see

As you say, providing feedback also helps us all to better analyze our own work - I always tend to put myself in the shoes of others now, trying to see what they may see and comment on.

Lastly , opinions WILL differ. We may agree or disagree, that does not mean one is correct and another not. I feel it important to look at all viewpoints but ALWAYS stick to your own identity - don't look to change to suit the taste of others, change because it provides a better fit for what you are trying to achieve.

Hunter Chan's picture

I'll second that! Differences are gifts, not barriers!

Joe Svelnys's picture

Then and Now - Perhaps not the best example but one I bumped into while processing today's photos. Thought I'd share.

First image is of a fern in the forest; shot taken a year ago (so not quite when I started back in June 2019) but compares well with the shot taken today. Minimal processing and more of a "documentation" shot.

Second image is of a fern in the forest; shot taken today. Though the processing is different (reflecting the mood Ive been in as of late); the overall image gives more depth and feeling of being in the woods. More processing and more of an "artistic" shot... (though there are people that prefer less "art edits", it's all good).

I'm still horrible about not bringing my tripod out into the field, a long with little palm-led lights. Perhaps one day. heh. Today my biggest gripe was bringing just my 24~70 lens and not my 200~500; all the animals were out today! hah

Hunter Chan's picture

That was a drastic difference! I love the deep feel of the forest in the second one!

Joe Svelnys's picture

Thanks Hunter! :)

Alan Brown's picture

Yep, such a great improvement. The first is simply a picture, the second oozes mood and depth.

Joe Svelnys's picture

Thank you Alan!

Joe Svelnys's picture

The second Fern image just got "explorer" on Flickr for what thats worth; if anything it gets visibility up and more people can enjoy it. :)

Ruth Carll's picture

Wow! This is a great example of growth. The second image is a knockout! Thank for sharing these!!

Joe Svelnys's picture

Its been quite the journey but I feel Im finally developing my voice. :)

Chris Jablonski's picture

Thanks, Ruth, for starting and running this Group. I think it is a great success, due in large measure to your energy.

I've only got "then & then" I'm afraid! With two house moves, a house renovation, and working online from temporary accommodation without a phone line under COVID conditions, photography has suffered. Maybe soon!

Alan Brown's picture

Not on the run are you Chris? Or part of a witness protection plan?
Seems like you may be in hiding, unwilling to capture/show any identifiable locations :-)

Chris Jablonski's picture

On second thoughts... maybe more "now": from the balcony of my temporary accom in an apartment.

Joe Svelnys's picture

Love the tones in the first image of the pair. Very lucky to be able to take such images from a balcony... I'm stuck in a basement. heh

Chris Jablonski's picture

Thanks, Joe. Sorry to hear you're in a basement. Yes, a balcony was certainly welcome.

Hunter Chan's picture

That was AWSOME! I think our group is one of the most active on Fstoppers!

Hunter Chan's picture

My case of then and now! In this case, architecture for me! My first architecture photo dates back to 2018 (of my school clock tower), but it was lost and I couldn't find it right now. So I went for ones in December 2019 (the first two) compared to my work in September and October of 2020 (the 3rd and 4th):

Chris Jablonski's picture

Your work has certainly evolved, Mr Sepia, but your earlier images, especially the first, with its bold graphics, appeal to me as well.

I don't mean to diminish the two recent images, which feel as if they're from the same person; you seem to have something of a signature style of your own. Better than FS generic epic Iceland. ;-)

Hunter Chan's picture

Thanks, Chris! I am thinking of re-editing the first photo so that it has a film-like feel. As for the second one, I don't quite life the half-in-focus horn sticking out of the right......

Chris Jablonski's picture

The first two already have a filmic feel for me, Hunter - in fact I vaguely thought they were film images, without giving the medium much thought.

The partial OOF in the second is not necessarily a deal-breaker. You could try some localised sharpening with a bigger radius than usual, and it may become less noticeable. Better a good photo with some mild imperfections than a sharp image of a flawed concept..

Hunter Chan's picture

Well, I did a re-edit yesterday, and it looked like this (with comparison to the original) :
Just in case people are wondering why it doesn't look like I'm improving......

Chris Jablonski's picture

Interesting variations on a theme, Hunter. There is something about the original I like, though.

I wonder if it's uncropped, as framed up. I think truing up the verticals is a good idea, but I think the cropping arguably unbalances the composition, with the removal of the "distractions" at bottom right. (I'm reminded of your wall cracks and the nail at bottom right in mid-September.)

One time, I had a naturalistic scene looking OK except for an over-bright leaf on a rock catching too much of the light. I removed it, and re-shot. At home later, I had one image with an over-bright leaf, and another with an unbalanced composition. Two duds. Lesson learned.

I'm unsure about the common practice of shooting big, incl. stitching, and cropping later. It suggests not knowing what you're doing, and hoping inspiration comes later. Not suggesting you've done that, but I think there's something that grabs us at the time we frame up that can be lost if we fiddle with the composition, unless we press the shutter knowing something needs to be altered in post. (I'll usually look for another image rather than than do that.) There can be an integrity to the image composed in the viewfinder, in the moment.

I calmly await being shot down in flames....

Hunter Chan's picture

Thanks for the comment, Chris! As you mentioned, I actually used the impainting tool to remove the nail and the black tiles on the bottom, but didn't crop it. By the way, I don't have much resolution to crop out, so I prefer to get the composition right in-camera when I can. Very true about the "shooting big, cropping later" losing the original feel, though.

Hunter Chan's picture

And, oh! I finally got your point! The only time I cropped this was when correcting the perspective (had to crop out the transparent parts to make the photo a rectangle shape) As for the removal of the "distractions", I was prepared to give the first photo a minimalist feel, and the photo with the nail and tiles on the bottom felt too cramped up for me.

Joe Svelnys's picture

Just wanted to poke my head in and say I agree with Chris; they all have their merits and appeal. Out of the four the last one is my favorite; 16;9 vertical is nice to see and is rarely seen and complements the composition and buildings.

Hunter Chan's picture

Thanks, Joe! That photo took me a lot of work and I had to finish my homework at school to squeeze out time to edit it :-P

Ruth Carll's picture

Wow! This is amazing. The second to images are the full package. I'm so happy you posted this and that you are here!

Alan Brown's picture

Heck, it's been so long now I can barely remember images I posted in the early days to the group. It would be great if Ruth had the ability to pull up those 'first posts'.

I can (hopefully) show growth with my ME ICM technique over this period - it took a while but I feel I have learned so much with the help of the group. Thanks to all for all the past critical support.

Ruth Carll's picture

Sooo... this is going to wow you! Here are the first two images that you posted to the group. Interestingly - same subject, wildly different vision.

Alan Brown's picture

Wow, that's going back some. As I said to Joe these remain favorites.

Joe Svelnys's picture

I can see the evolution but man, you first works are still awesome. Love that solo tree in the snow. The ICMs have refined and become more abstract; but same the early ones are still wonderful to look at.

Alan Brown's picture

Thanks Joe, these are actually two of my all-time favorites and bring back such emotions. Both were taken amidst a prolonged snowstorm, with roads all but closed and not a soul anywhere in the vicinity or beyond.

I still get the feeling of pure isolation & solitude I felt at the time when looking a these, and although my ICM techniques may have developed I still crave to find 'straight' shots that scream such a story.

Ruth Carll's picture

While looking at these examples, i found that i was going to write this same observation. Instead, I'll add it here but it is directed to all - even myself.

I am surprised by the growth in these examples that has occured in such a short time! There are two specific leaps I see in all cases. The first is that the current images are 'complete'. By this I mean that, while the first images in each set show technical skill and thought (i.e. they aren't snapshots), the second 'current' ones are complete. They have technique and thought but they also have composition and mood, complexity and story. They are richer examples of work that I would call art.

They second observation comes from something the I remember Patrick or Lee saying once. This is my own spin because they were talking about amateurs vs pros. A photographer/artist moves from amatuer to master when their work is recognizable without seeing their name. Think about this. It means that someone who has a vision of what they are trying to create and works to bring this vision into reality by repeating their process and fine tuning will eventually produce work that has an identity. I see that happening in all of these examples. I'm not talking about every image someone takes in the future will be part of this journey. Heck, I'm all over the place with my images because I love to try new things and shoot all the time. But, if asked to pull together a true portfolio, the work would have a unified 'look' that identified the artist. This should be our goal and a measurement of grouth. This group is certainly influential to my journey toward artistry! I also see it in those who have persisted here too. I hope any new member who reads this is inspired to participate in this way too.

Joe Svelnys's picture

One of the big lessons I've learned over the past year (and I still have to further work on this) - technically good and perfect focus is good but sometimes that holds back the art and mood side of the balancing equation. Example is sharpness, though very important I find myself leaning away from razor-sharp images.

I have a background in the arts but only recently got into photography. A big misconception was thinking most photographers show images they took using minimal post edits (aka straight from camera) - boy was I mistaken. Though there are of course "purists" the majority of photographers edit and sometimes heavily so... In the end it is Art from an Artist, and is all good, I was just taken back.

So pulling this into a cohesive thought - I've found myself leaning away from my "purists" beginnings and just enjoying what I want (though to be honest it is all enjoyable, but you get what I mean). :)

D Man's picture

I was playing with "BLURRRRY" pictures...oh by the way...they are still bluurrry

Joe Svelnys's picture

Reminds me of Forest Gump "blurry is what blurry dose!" :) Joking aside love the images. First reminds me of a person running in a forest using B/W night vision. Second reminds me more of a fire or blaze.

D Man's picture

it does a little look like fire...

D Man's picture

you do see that these are the same photos?

Joe Svelnys's picture

I figured shot one after the other, so same location and just one shot after the next, but now that you point it out they are the same just the second is an extreme crop. I still stand by my assessment though as they do give off slightly different moods. :)

D Man's picture

I totally agree with you!

D Man's picture

you see them now...you know, every time I look at that photo, more things pop out at me...