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Time for Tea

By Robert_Malcolm  
Spirograph effect from a still life

Tags: Still life Bw Black and white Close-up and macro Digitally manipulated Teacups

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


DRicherby 9 269 725 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2011 2:31AM
Hi, Robert, and welcome to ePhotozine! I'm sorry it's taken so long for anyone to comment on your upload. It's actually pretty unusual for an image to sit in the critique gallery for even a few hours without comment but I realise that's not much consolation.

It's an interesting and unusual photo and, to be honest, I'm not really sure what I think of it. The 'spirograph' looks good and makes a nice frame but I'm not sure how well it goes with the rows of tea cups — it's quite an avant garde treatment of a rather staid subject. Part of me thinks that's a nice contrast but part of me thinks the technique would be better applied to something more modern-looking.

The base photo looks pretty good, though perhaps a bit lacking in contrast. I think I'd prefer to see the whole frame filled with regular rows of cups, without the big gaps on the left half.

Overall, I'm still not sure what I think but I hope my comments have been helpful and that you'll post again.

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11 Jan 2011 8:49AM
Hi, DR. The reason I asked for a critique was because I'm not sure about it either. It was the contrast between the normal and avant-garde that I was exploring. I was working almost exclusively with film until Oct 2009 and, although I've been using Photoshop on scanned images since 1997/8, that was mainly for the type of processing previously undertaken in the darkroom and cleaning up backgrounds. Since upgrading to CS5 I'm exploring other treatments.
Your comments are very helpful, thank you.
Tooth 13 5.8k 227 Ireland
11 Jan 2011 10:57AM
Hi Robert, welcome to EPZ and I'll add to Dave's apology for this one slipping through the critique net. Please don't let that put you off putting up for critique again.

As for the shot, well, it is a hard one to call, as it's kind of an experimental technique and it really depends what you wanted out of it. I can see the juxtapoistion of the mundanity of the teacup with the other-worldly treatment.

I'll just look at it from the viewpoint of strength of composition. The main focus is on the teacup in the centre, and while there's a common convention, if not near-obsession, about the rule of thirds, I think this kind of dynamic shot with a main focus in the centre works very well here. The strong diagonal lead in from bottom left-ish works very draws the eye straight into the pic thit the target in the centre.

I concur with Dave's comment about the big gaps - i think there's a lot of extraneous stuff on either side, and I think a square crop would fit the centrally based comp, improve the diagonal dynamic, and lose the weaker stuff from the sides.

I've done a mod just to show that crop...see what you think. Hope to see you on here again Smile

11 Jan 2011 11:38AM
Thanks Stephen. I've been studiously disregarding the rule of thirds in a lot of cases for about 20 years. I can't fit following the 'rules' with creativity - doesn't work for me. I agree entirely that for some it is a near-obsession, but it generates a formulaic approach to composition that defies the definition of photography as an art.
I had no idea what to expect as a result of asking for a critique and both you and David have kindly taken the time to comment thoughtfully and honestly, for which I thank you both. The apologies for the delay were quite unnecessary. The beginning of a year is usually full of distractions and far more important and essential activities.
I shall ensure that, should I request a critique in the future, it is of a shot that I'm quite happy with (that may be a long time coming).

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