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A Family at War

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Once again thank you for all the awards etc on the last image.

Please base the comments on V2 as I messed up the Keyline on V1, V3 is slightly too bright andorange for my liking and V4 too muddy

This is an image I was in two minds about uploading.

For quite some considerable time i've been playing with a few still lives, trying to get a style that I like, I've tried textures, HDR, natural light, and for some reason they don't quite feel right for me (if that makes sense). Over the last month I've been experimenting with light painting, just using a maglight, not easy, its requiring a lot of layer blending.

I took a decision a while back to be more selective in the uploads, selecting those im happy with, both in subject and processing. Today I break that rule, don't get me wrong I'm getting there, but I feel its still WIP, whether thats subject matter, or processing, I'm not sure.

Some have seen this before in my blog (I will put up the variants, which may help with your input).

More information on the image, I have always had a massive interest in my Family History (well history in general), this image may form one of the images to illustrate my family history, which I hope to produce for family members. This will dipict a family at war (Hence the title), the 2 medals on the right are my grandfathers from WW1 which I am the proud owner. The others sadly are not originals, but are to help depict another family member who died in WW2.

Thanks again for looking.

Camera:Nikon D800 Check out Nikon Nation!
Lens:Nikkor 50mm f1.8 D AF Check out Nikon Nation!
Recording media:RAW (digital)
Date Taken:14 Jan 2013 - 8:09 PM
Title:A Family at War
Username:Nick_w Nick_w
Uploaded:24 Jan 2013 - 1:40 PM
Tags:Close-up / macro, Flash / lighting, General, Specialist / abstract
Votes:38
Variant - TestsVariant - Tests

Comments

Paddy_photos
24 Jan 2013 - 1:42 PM

Hi Nick
I this this shot looks very nice.

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Dinky65
Dinky65  1 United States
24 Jan 2013 - 1:43 PM

very nice art form!Smile

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Nick_w
Nick_w e2 Member 73881 forum postsNick_w vcard England99 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2013 - 1:46 PM

Oh they keyline doesn't look good Sad

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widtink
widtink  2406 forum posts Scotland2 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2013 - 1:57 PM

V3 for me Nick very thoughtfully presented

Rod

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Richsr
Richsr e2 Member 790 forum postsRichsr vcard England209 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2013 - 2:01 PM

Like your set up and the good details and light works well Nick.
Not sure the key line works with this Nick attually prefer the image with out it
Regards Richard

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mrswoolybill
mrswoolybill Critique Team 7435 forum postsmrswoolybill vcard United Kingdom1024 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2013 - 2:05 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

I prefer V3 here, for simplicity and for the cooler, darker feel. That gives the emotional distance of the present reviewing the past, if that makes sense. I do find the presentation in V1 and V4 a bit distracting.
It's not entirely clear what you are actually aiming for though - primarily art with a personal history, or primarily family history that works artistically. From your narrative I think the latter - in which case the non-original medals seem to me to dilute the truth of the exercise.
Just as an afterthought - do you have any old toys, or any female memorabilia in the family - clothing, handbag, jewellery or whatever - to convey the whole family?
Moira

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Nick_w
Nick_w e2 Member 73881 forum postsNick_w vcard England99 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2013 - 2:13 PM

That some wonderful ideas Moira.

Unfortunately I dont Moira, my grandmother died before I was born, so most of her things got lost with time (my mum does have some, most were distroyed , the rest are in Australia). I will be honest these were put together more to trial the new technique. The other medal is a genuine DFC, which is important for the family side of the image.

(Marked as constructive BTW)

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SlowSong
SlowSong e2 Member 64439 forum postsSlowSong vcard England29 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2013 - 5:00 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

Not keen on the keyline in V2 as I find my eye being pulled down to it. V3 for me, but have you considered fading the bottom into blackness a little to mask the hard line or burning in the corner of the case to take off some of the brightness? You've some nice items there but the box does look rather empty. Perhaps that was your intention but I feel the emptiness needs just a little breaking up.
x

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LesF
LesF e2 Member 7176 forum postsLesF vcard 8 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2013 - 6:21 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

Not easy these still life's Nick, but it's the practice and research that will finally put the jigsaw pieces into place.
For me V1 without the keyline, it makes it blend into the background better, with the keyline it appears your ending the image, if you get what I mean.
With V4 you could try leaving the lower case as is but use the lighting of V1 on the upper section, just an idea


LesF

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chase
chase Critique Team 91118 forum postschase vcard England240 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2013 - 6:33 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

V1 & 2 look better colour/lighting wise Nick,although I think you could have been quite a bit more subtle with the light,especially on the top box in the mid section.
Love your subject matter,the key-line does nothing for me but I don't find it particularly intrusive either & it does give a little demarcation to the image as a whole.
I think the top box needs to be closed a little more with the medal peering out from inside just to give the image a little less of an 'open ' feel,a bit more intrigue to the viewer,wondering what else is stored inside,maybe a load of papers/photographs/love letters inside would do the trick.
Reckon you have a nice set up without the big suitcase Nick,to make it a little more intimate too.

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keithh
keithh e2 Member 1023041 forum postskeithh vcard Wallis and Futuna33 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2013 - 6:53 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

Version 1 (cos I'm not going through all of them Wink )

First thing is the big blue rectangle at the top of the image.

Second the angle is too low which means that all the main elements are at the wrong viewing angle and grouped across a central line.. Then there are silly things like - does the cigar type box fit the scene ...looks a bit Asian...but if everything came out of it, then why is the blue ribboned medal trapped beneath it. But mostly it's the big blue rectangle.

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Nick_w
Nick_w e2 Member 73881 forum postsNick_w vcard England99 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2013 - 7:00 PM

Thanks everyone, there's some great comments.

I'm not too bothered about the key line, it's only for web presentation, so I don't think it needs burning in at the bottom. Janet good point with the light, I'm still trying to perfect it, and I'm not sure this was the best set up for the technique ( a soft box would have been better).

Once again thanks everyone.

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Nick_w
Nick_w e2 Member 73881 forum postsNick_w vcard England99 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2013 - 7:54 PM

Sorry missed your critique Keith, I know I'm a slow typer Wink

I think I was a bit too concerned about keeping the perspective, yep the box not Asian but North African, but your right it doesn't fit. Maybe a battered old tobacco tin or similar?

I said it was work in progress, so much harder constructing a composition than "seeing" one, it will come together...

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Eviscera
Eviscera e2 Member 81104 forum postsEviscera vcard United Kingdom149 Constructive Critique Points
24 Jan 2013 - 9:03 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

Certainly a good study Nick !

Good use and placement of complimentary elements , Nice balance of positive/negative space , pleasing colour contrast and an effective crop.

As a re-take you could consider the following.

Lower or raise the tripod. The viewing angle could improve the structural arrangement of the lines in the image and add or decease tension.

Simplify the content. The two medals either side of the central one neither lend a compositional lead nor supportive role.

Try placing your finger over both of them , the image is balanced...

Choose a different (or mute the) foreground. Its buckles and rivets are competing with the main content and the highlight on the corner of the briefcase is where your eye is first drawn.

Balance contrived and constructed. The bible seems it would naturally lean that way , but the zebra medal looks plonked on.

Im unsure why you didn't feel the image would be better using natural (or single source light with some subtle angled bounce)

The lightpaint approach seems to have lost the directional modelling that natural would have supplied and could do with some edge structure.

So imho ,Its a good experimental , with great material that needs simplification of light and content.

Ive tried these still lifes , wel hard and usually end up proper boring Smile

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SueEley
SueEley e2 Member 8271 forum postsSueEley vcard Wales96 Constructive Critique Points
25 Jan 2013 - 10:01 AM

I think what you have done shows a lot of thought and skill, though as mentioned above there is more to do with the light etc. What strikes me is that it is a very formal arrangement, like a shrine, and one aspect of the picture that creates this effect is that there is a lot to read in the image, (ID card, words on medal, bible) and these things (from this jpeg) all look pretty clear and sharp, though not all equally sharp, and are all oriented in a way to be read, so they all appear important and information rich. A bit more use of selective focus. possibly in post processing if the items have to be on a similar plane, could give a more natural feel to the image if that's what you want, as eye and brain tend to focus on what they are interested in. You probably, of course, have intended the effect you achieved - I am just giving another way of looking at the subject. I agree with Eviscera about the medals, too.

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