Back Modifications (4)
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A storyboard of windows

By Justine67
I was drawn to the colours and light reflecting off the windows on a building across the river so wanted to fill the frame with just the windows so used my telephoto lens (70-300mm) to try to achieve this. I then cropped the image slightly to further focus in on the pattern of glass and the storyboard of city life it revealed.

Tags: City Glass Reflections Abstract Geometric Architecture Windows Cityscape Telephoto Patterns light


dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1692 England
3 May 2016 10:23PM
Hi, Justine, and welcome to the Critique Gallery!

You clearly have a great eye for a strong design from the look of your portfloio - I am jsut wondering whether there are any tweaks possible here. It looks as if there ought to be, but looking at the image in Elements, I'm less sure.

I'm going ot come back to it tomorrow, I think.

Until then, I note that you stopped down a lot, and used a very slow shutter speed - so I'm certain that you also used a tripod!
3 May 2016 10:44PM
Hi Dudler,
Thanks so much for taking the time to view my image and give me your feedback. The photo was actually taken hand held - amongst a jostle of selfie sticks, rollerbladers and Saturday strollers...I probably should have used a tripod as I'm sure it would have been sharper. Anyway, any further comments / advice would be much appreciated as although I tend to shoot fully manual, I struggle with the physics that is photography preferring to find my way intuitively. Thanks again, Justine
ddolfelin Plus
8 103 3 Wales
4 May 2016 5:21AM
Good thinking about the potential of this view.
mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2262 United Kingdom
4 May 2016 8:39AM
A warm welcome from me too. I love the way you have seen the potential in this. The building is a fascinating mix of regular and irregular lines, very difficult to be sure if the verticals are true or not! And then there are hints of very individual lives going on behind those apparently identical windows.

For me the focal point, the 'story', is the couple standing on a balcony. I think they are hand in hand? They add life and emotion.

I would be inclined to crop tighter, particularly at the sides, for two reasons - to concentrate attention on the couple, and also to emphasise the vertical lines, the height of the building. Landscape - horizontal - format tends to draw the eye sideways rather than up and down, which is how I want to read this. I would also maybe get rid of the very light floor at the top.

And then b&w could be interesting, to accentuate lines and light. I shall go and have a play...

Modifications appear under the blue Modifications button below your upload, click on the numbers to view.

I hope you will enjoy the site and that we shall see more from you here.
mrswoolybill Plus
13 2.3k 2262 United Kingdom
4 May 2016 9:32AM
Modifications uploaded.

Going back to John dudler's comment above and your response, if this was hand-held you have very steady hands. You prefer to work intuitively, as I do, but you need to keep an eye on the basic settings and what they are doing for you in order to be sure of getting what you intuitively want. You were extremely lucky to get this this sharp!

To start with there was no need to use F22, which is a very small aperture. Quite apart from being unnecessary for depth of field here, it massively restricts the light getting into the camera, which is why the slow shutter speed was necessary. Your maximum aperture was F6.5, and you could easily increase ISO. Really you were creating difficulties for yourself.

If hand-holding think in terms of the shutter speed and aperture that you need, then adjust the ISO accordingly.

Even with VR I would stick with the usual hand-holding rule-of-thumb - shutter speed no slower than the reciprocal of focal length. So for this lens you are looking at a sliding scale of 1/80 to 1/320 second. Or preferably tripod!

banehawi Plus
16 2.3k 4160 Canada
4 May 2016 2:25PM
Its a good image, with a lot of interest.

Its quite sharp when I apply some sharpening to it, so it was quite decent in the first place.

You see a storyboard, I see boxes, lives contained, colours, reflections of other worlds.

So what better way I think to represent the boxes in a box that to put them all in another box, - a frame. Its in the mod, with the main mage being corrected as much as I can for being shot at an angle; contrast and evening out of the exposure; warmer overall tone; sharpening.

Hop you like it


paulbroad 13 131 1289 United Kingdom
4 May 2016 2:33PM
It is, indeed, passably sharp which is remarkable at 1/13 sec. Composition discussed above, and I would crop tighter to remove some of the brighter highlights. Why did you select f22? Absolutely no need. F8 would be enough and give a much more sensible shutter speed.

F22 is not a good aperture for best lens performance either so, whilst you have done very well, i think you could have added rather a lot of insurance.

TanyaH Plus
17 1.3k 409 United Kingdom
4 May 2016 3:43PM
There's nothing really for me to do in terms of mods, as I think Moira and Willie have that side of options covered. Similarly, with the technical advice - more than adequately covered.

What I will say though is that I love how you've seen this sense of order and structure within what must have been a pretty chaotic sight. That in itself is a skill; you can have all the technical knowledge in the world, but if you can't 'see' a photo in whatever you're looking at, you're never going to bring it out.

As well as the couple in the upper left, I think there's also another person in the lower right area, in a pink dress? I might be wrong there, and it's a piece of furniture or similar, but I do like that diagonal that forms between the couple and the single 'person'.

The other thing I'm finding fascinating is the uniformity of the balcony furniture - there seems to be two types ... the squarer black chairs and the brownish cross-legged chairs. Tables seem to be one variety, irrespective of the chairs that are sitting with it. The curtains are also all a very similar tone and style, so I'm wondering whether this is a hotel of some description? Or one of those serviced apartment blocks that seem to be very popular these days for those who spend half their weeks at home and half at a distant workplace.

Either which way, well done for spotting the potential in this scene Smile

dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1692 England
4 May 2016 6:26PM
You have amazingly steady hands, Justine! I am stunned that you achieved this at 1/13 second and 300mm.

I second Moira and Paul - f/22 was unnecessary, and actually posed a risk to sharpness - both in terms of camera shake, and sheer lens performance.

And I also want to pick up on the point you made about being intuitive, and Moira's comment about keeping an eye on basics.

I am rather a techie, and so I started taking pictures in terms of the settings and reading the Ilford Manual of Photography. In a sense, technique, settings, lenses and stuff don't matter - but they still do. Here's why.

If you work purely by instinct, you may get the basics horribly wrong, and fail to realise your vision.

If you have mastery of the settings, you will always be able to work out how to realise the vision, if it can possibly be realised.

Concert pianists practice daily, playing scales as well as the pieces they want to perform. This is because they realise that they need to be compeltely on top of the basic technical stuff in order to interpret great music sensitively (and, indeed, intuitively).

You don't need to take it to this pitch. But a straightforward appreciation of the fact that if you push this button, that happens (and that it's predictable) can never hurt, and may be very useful. It will allow you to soar in your artistic vision, and avoid a lot of crash landings...

Finally, I realised why I was having so much trouble with working out where to crop: lens distortion. That's why things lined up with the edges perfectly in one place, and looked so wrong in others.

Long lenses, and especially zoom lenses at the long end of their range, tend to suffer from pincushion distortion, which is exactly what the name suggests. A rectangle comes out pincushion-shaped. I tried a correction in editing software, and it looks, to my eye, rather straighter, so that yoru vision - all the lives, all the boxes, the pattern - to take centre stage, without the distortion nibbling away at my mind.

I wonder - does that make sense, and show why I see technique and technical knowledge as being the servant of artistic vision?
pamelajean Plus
14 1.4k 2155 United Kingdom
4 May 2016 7:22PM
Welcome to the Critique Gallery, Justine.

From the thumbnail, I thought this was bookshelves filled with books. That's quite an appropriate mistake to make, considering you title it a storyboard.

You don't say if these windows are near to where you live, but if they are, you could try out the camera settings suggested in the comments above, and get shooting. Keep an eye open for just one or two things interesting that are happening, like the couple here.
Also, are there times when the reflections are good?

For me, with old tired eyes, I'd like this to be taken closer, with fewer windows, so that the finer details can be seen, like the similarity between peoples' patio furniture, for instance.

dark_lord Plus
16 2.6k 691 England
4 May 2016 7:45PM
Welcome from me too.

John has set out the case for understanding the basics perfectly.
I think an analogy would be chefs. They need to know the basics of cooking and their ingredients so that they can produce thier creations.

Just a note on lens distortion.
This is easily corrected insoftware. Lightroom for example in its Develop module has a palette for selecting the lens used. Barrel and pincushion distortion as well as vignetting can be corrected for.
If you haven't got or don't want to pay for Lightroom, you'll have Canon's Digital Photo Professional on the disc that came with your camera which will allow those corrections also.

Some Canon cameras can be uploaded with lens correction data. This is automatically applied to the image. I'm not sure if the 6D can do this but as it's a recent camera i suspect it can. That might sound too technical for you but someone else reading this may find that helpful.

4 May 2016 8:43PM
Thank you all so much for your critiques/ advice and for taking the time to modify my image with some amazing results!...thank you...your comments have really helped and while I realise my lack of knowledge and understanding on the technical side is what is letting me down, I am really trying to address this and get my head round the physics that is's just taking a bit of time and I probably learn better by going out and experimenting rather than trying to plough through a manual although I have a pile of photography magazines and books that I am delving into. My problem seems to be that when out in the field I am so in the moment when behind the lens trying to capture what catches my eye that I don't always have time to think about all the settings I should be using and get the ISO/Shutter speed/aperture balance right. I think I originally had my camera set to 5.6 but then thought that I would need to decrease the aperture increase the depth of field (must have been thinking in terms of traditional landscapes and getting everything into focus) but clearly over compensated! I am keen to revisit the location this time with a tripod - (think I must have leant against a pillar of some sort to gain some stability but definitely no tripod!) and get my settings sorted prior to pressing the shutter...thank you all again, I really do appreciate all the feedback and will definitely re visit the gallery and aim to be a more regular visitor to the site.
TanyaH Plus
17 1.3k 409 United Kingdom
5 May 2016 9:51AM
I know that feeling of 'being in the moment' well, Justine, as it's one that I also suffer from! I get so excited by what's in front of me (and how my eyes see and interpret it) that I often forget that the camera doesn't compensate in the way my eyes do Grin

One thing I have personally found useful is, when you've found a scene that your intuition is shouting at you to capture, look at it with one eye closed ... that might sound a bit odd (and may well get you some odd looks from passers-by) but it does honestly help to flatten out the scene into a 2D plane - which is the way the camera will see it. Our eyes see in 3D, the camera doesn't.

I've sometimes looked at a scene with both eyes, thought it would look amazing, then closed one eye ... it's quite a revelation sometimes!

dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1692 England
6 May 2016 10:58PM
I agree - practical experience is the way to go.

Manuals have changed a lot: in 1975, John Hedgecoe's 'The Book of Photography' was the first to mix technical explanation with inspriting pictures - and the brilliance of it was that most of hte picttures weren't so good that you thought you'd never do as well.

Currently, I reckon Tom Ang has taken up the baton, and writes inspiringly and informatively. You can take his books a couple of pages at a time and work to embed the wisdom by going out and shooting!
TanyaH Plus
17 1.3k 409 United Kingdom
9 May 2016 10:13AM
I'll second Tom Ang ... great writer, great way of writing so it's understandable, do-able and not overpowering Smile

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