Back Modifications (6)
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Barren quartet

By JoeColorado
Exemplifying the lack of games, of spirit, of cheer, of life, of joy--this quartet of lonely skeletons of trees on a park field depicts winter and the cold months in West Des Moines, USA. The soccer (football) fields--no games, no tailgating parties, no competitive spirit-joyless. The green grass--dormant. The tennis courts and playground equipment--lacking people, they are empty.

Tags: Weather Winter Afternoon Landscape and travel Iowa loneliness of the deserted place Crossroads Park (WDM) West Des Moines West Des Moines parks winter 2017-2018


28 Jan 2019 8:42AM
Hi Joel. Welcome to the Critique Gallery. I see you've been a member for several years, but this is the only image currently in your portfolio.
You've mentioned the "loneliness of winter" as your theme here, and you chose to go with the deep cyan blue monochrome effect to emphasize that.
But I wonder if you could say a bit more about your picture, and how you feel about it yourself... how well do you think you've succeeded in communicating that loneliness? Are you happy with the image as it stands, but would maybe like some alternative suggestions as to how you could have done it? Or is there some way that you're not happy with it, and would like suggestions for improvement? It would help me to know what kind of critical input you're looking for.

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mrswoolybill Plus
13 1.7k 2094 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2019 8:51AM
Hi Joe, Alan has been typing while I have been looking at this one.

Your first upload after five years here - so this one is special to you. It has a great atmosphere - there's something particularly bleak about places like this in winter, empty of human life. The scene should be bustling, noisy... Seaside resorts have the same effect in winter. The blue toning works with that, although it would also be useful to see the original for comparison. You can upload that here as a modification.

You ticked for critique, which disables votes and awards - I hope that was your intention. I have uploaded a modification (under the blue Modifications button), a much tighter crop. You opted for quite a formal, symmetrical, detached view - the trees shown in full, the goal placed centrally. I wanted to go under the trees, go off-centre, for a more intimate view. Let's explore, wander around in the frame, not just stand on the side lines...

I also made a Levels adjustment, moving the right hand (highlights) slider in a bit. That gives a better sense of distance, depth, I think. Late afternoon, after the sun has gone - atmospheric light but it may require a few tweaks!

It's just a suggestion, the Critique Gallery is as much as anything about seeing an image through different pairs of eyes. As Alan says, the more you tell us, the more we can do.
dudler Plus
16 972 1534 England
28 Jan 2019 10:24AM
And welcome form me, too, Joel.

It's a long way from home for me, but this has a very familiar look to it: any British recreation ground with the football* goals, bare trees, and non-existent light at teatime.

So I've been there, and it pushes memory buttons for me: always good in a picture.

The composition is about the four trees, for me: I might want the whole thing a little brighter, or (as an alternative) I might choose a black background (an option just under the picture as you upload).

My initial thought was to crop both top and bottom, to remove more or less dead space. But I wonder if part of the bleakness of the scene is the separation between the viewer and the football pitch.

* They may be something different in the USA, I realise: to the European mind, they can be nothing but football (soccer, if you want to differentiate it from rugby, Australian rules and American football!)
banehawi Plus
15 2.2k 4044 Canada
28 Jan 2019 1:14PM
This works well Joel.

We are making some assumptions, - this is a mono with a cyan tone, can you confirm this is how youve processed it?

Personally, though effective as a mood, I would prefer it a little brighter, and tried two modifications that are either mono or less blue. Theyre no better, just alternative ways to produce the image. I tried to focus on the mistiness of the scene.

I see soccer is popular in Iowa!


28 Jan 2019 1:59PM
Thank you for your comments-keep them coming. I decided to re-activate my membership on a lark yesterday and was quite surprised to get all the comments. I am trying to expand my skills and talents in photography and perhaps even to sell them overseas. I am just learning, so please bear with me. Once again, many thanks.
28 Jan 2019 3:19PM
I see there's been plenty of comment since I was here earlier, and some interesting modifications. My first impulse on seeing your image was to crop it in a similar way to Moira, because for me the image is more about the empty playing field than it is about the trees, and like Willie I feel it would also work if it were lighter and a little less blue. That's what I've suggested in my mod, and I've also added a white vignette, which I think somehow helps to reinforce that feeling of coldness and emptiness. Just another approach to consider, I hope you find it useful.

mrswoolybill Plus
13 1.7k 2094 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2019 3:56PM
Alan's mod is interesting. Generally I reckon there are very few occasions when a white vignette will work, but winter is definitely one of them!

I meant to add earlier - there are some nice strong diagonals in the branches, and if you crop tighter you can make them explore the upper corners of the frame - that's something that I tried to do in my mod. That can give the image a coherent structure. Plus very often an uneven number of subjects (eg the trees) is easier to compose for than an even number, because they will fall readily into a nice satisfying balance.

Thanks for your feedback, and keep uploading here! It really helps to know what you are aiming for - if you want to sell your work then remember that you need to see it through other people's eyes, and that's what the Critique Gallery is about.
pamelajean Plus
13 1.2k 2096 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2019 6:45PM
Hello, Joel, and welcome to the Critique Gallery.

I've read all of the comments above and have something else for you to consider. That is, 3 is a good number compositionally. In simple terms, the “rule of odds” is to have an odd number of objects in your photos. HERE is an interesting article with lots of pictures to demonstrate the "rule".

So I have sought to demonstrate this compositional guideline with your picture, offering two modifications. For both, I reduced the image to mono, then added a slight blue tone, cropped to leave 3 trees only, added canvas (first to the left, second to the right), then did a Levels adjustment to add brightness and a bit more contrast.
In the first modification, the tree and goal are on a thirds line (see Rule Of Thirds ), and in the second modification, the tree and goal are set inside the bottom left thirds square.

It's a fine image in the first place, so these are simply compositional suggestions, and possibly just something to try in the future. I think your blue is very strong, and dominates the image so that it gets more attention than the trees and winter scene.

paulbroad Plus
12 131 1285 United Kingdom
29 Jan 2019 8:55AM
I rather like what you have done. Quite a strong image with viewer impact. This may seem a very minor point, but I would clone out that waste bin, or whatever it is - the tiny black cylindrical blob. Once seen I keep looking at it.

29 Jan 2019 9:05AM

Quote: I would clone out that waste bin, or whatever it is - the tiny black cylindrical blob. Once seen I keep looking at it.


Agreed. Now that Paul's mentioned it I can't tear my eyes away from it...
pamelajean Plus
13 1.2k 2096 United Kingdom
29 Jan 2019 3:17PM
Oops, forgot to say that I did remove the black waste bin in my mods.

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