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 Post subject: Precious
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:16 pm 
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"Precious"
Lynx at Cat Survival Trust, on a wet summer's day. Title is not the lynx's name, which I don't know.
Canon 7D, EF-S 15-85 at 85mm, f/5.6, 1/400s, ISO3200

I don't think I ever posted this one here. The other thread on the question of PP level reminded me of a parallel question: what is an appropriate level for technical quality to play in artistic output?

Let's go back a bit. It was summer. I got talked into going to CST as they had baby snow leopards. I saw photos elsewhere of them running about and playing on the grass, in the open. A unique opportunity! So I signed up to go. Of course, the weather was against me when the day finally came. It was very dark and gloomy on arrival at the site, and started raining not long after a late lunch. The babies couldn't be let out in that weather, but we still had the cats on site. The rain got heavier as the day went on. Most people had left by mid afternoon, even though we were free to go around as much as we wanted for quite a while yet. As I still had free space left on the cards, I stuck around a bit longer.

This lynx certainly had an expression. At close range I was using the 15-85 in order to ensure I had enough un-zoom to get them in if they got close. The low light was kinda annoying. I had a general setting applied which coped with most cases. Leaving the exposure at a medium value of 1/400s to help against (subject) motion blur, it meant I was forced up to ISO3200. The aperture was fixed also. A faster lens would be of limited value here since the DoF is already very shallow and only just about enough to keep the face in focus. The Lynx didn't stay like this for long, so there was no time to dial in other settings. This is the shot, no second chances.

While I like the expression, I didn't like the rest of the shot. The high ISO induced limited dynamic range was becoming visible in the white bits around the eyes. The background is... non existent. A blurred out grey concrete wall. Chroma noise shows up most in grey, so I had to noise reduce it. The wooden platform it was sitting on wasn't that nice either. So I put a tight crop on to limit its visual impact. And just to take the edge of the flatness, I added the vignette in post. No, it's not from the 15-85!

So what did I have? Dull colours, limited dynamic range, noise, shallow DoF but not in a great way. Technically there is a lot I wish was improved. I didn't upload it to dA for a long time, as I had what were technically better shots. I wasn't even sure it was worth bothering with when I finally did. It got a bit of interest comparable to my other big cat shots. Didn't think much about it.

A few days later, my comment box exploded. It was selected for a Daily Deviation. Each day on dA, they select a submission from any time in various categories and feature it on their site. Precious here got selected which was both an honour and a surprise. At the time, if you were to ask me to select my top 10 photos, this wouldn't have been one of them. It did really made me think, just how much influence should we apply to technical quality?

Bonus points to anyone who figures out why I picked the title.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:25 pm 
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Amazing picture.

(was it because you got paid? :wink: )

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:30 pm 
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Thanks. And nope...

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:49 pm 
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love the photo, there is a story in those eyes. The tips of the ears work well.

"Precious" there is features of Gollum in that face, ears and eyes.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:01 pm 
yeah, i like the photo a lot..

i too was thinking that the "precious" title had to do with the lord of the rings and smigel the gollum... he kind of was always hunched over in that movie with a similar look on his face when he was repeating that line over and over again


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:07 pm 
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You both got it :)

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:48 am 
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It’s a great shot popo, the technical problems that you see in it have no impression on me, and as you saw by yourself, nor with many others. The DOF and the background don’t get in the way and , if you wouldn’t have mentioned those, I would not have mentioned them either. I think that technical perfection isn’t a goal in itself, its relevancy is in accordance with the reason you took that shot in the first place. The expression on the lynx face is strong enough to make the shot, the last hear on its tail in perfect focus would not have added anything to it.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:01 am 
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Priceless expression! :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:05 am 
i can see how you could get caught up in critiquing the potentially to shallow DOF and the lack of anything exciting in the background, but for me anyways the strength in the expression of that cat makes the composition so strong that it's very easy to overlook those minor things you wish you could have changed...

as far as the crop out of the wooden plank, Well i never got to see the original, but if I imagine what little is left of the plank there just extended into the foreground i could see how it would be distracting, so I think I tend to agree with the crop.

Should have been more descriptive of my thoughts in the first post.. sorry.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:48 am 
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It did really made me think, just how much influence should we apply to technical quality?


Your answer lies in the Daily Deviation, being show cased and the comments. It would also make the bokeh boys proud of you. :)

Cheers

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:30 am 
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Well I'm not one for all the technical mumbo jumbo but...wow great shot Popo.
I suspect thats why alotta people like it...cause it's non typical & good!!!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:47 am 
Love the picture popo! nicely done :-)

As for your question: we should apply zero zero influence on technical quality!

To qualify that statement: a picture either works or it doesn't. You know it as a viewer in under 1/10th of a second if the picture works or not. And, you're not using any analytical skills to assess this at all..none whatsoever.

AFTER the fraction of a second has passed, our intellect starts acting up and wanting to butt in and only then do we analyze. Our intellects tries to explain why we react to the image the way we do..be it with indifference, enthusiasm or otherwise. As such, we shouldn't "trust" our analysis very much - it's just a way to find inner justification and explanation for a reaction that is determined by entirely other parts of our brains.

A picture doesn't become great because of technical quality and it doesn't stink because of it either. A picture is great because of creativity, composition, aesthetics and all sorts of other things than "technical".

It's sort of like asking yourself why you like a color or a taste or a sound.

Do we like Rembrandt's paintings because he used the finest brushes (I have no idea if he did), are we enthralled by Mozart's music because it's played on a Boesendorfer Imperial?

I instantly liked your picture because it worked. Any reason I can give you would just be an intellectualization..when the fact of the matter is that I saw it and it sparked an immediate positive reaction and I'm looking at a 1MP compressed JPG thumbnail of it..lol

..that's just my opinion..:-)


Cheers!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:25 am 
Thats a stunning picture there, but why the high ISO?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:09 am 
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How I ended up at those settings was covered in the original post, but in short there was no light and I was set up to prevent motion blur.

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Lenses: EF 35/2, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 10-18, 15-85
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:46 pm 
Sorry popo, I just saw the picture details. A very nice picture though.


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