"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." —Samuel Beckett

― Scapes CritiqueSwamp - Spring Knees

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Swamp - Spring Knees

Post by minniev » Mon May 22, 2017 9:25 pm

It is hard to make myself take shots other than the dam shots so I'm disciplining myself.

Took an early hike to my usual swamp, and tried different shots of the cypress knees and reflections. All feedback and critique, including edits, are appreciated. I was unsure in this one if the knee on the left may be too close to the edge, or if the overall confusion of reflection and knees compensates for it.
sw (1 of 1).jpg
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by Duck » Mon May 22, 2017 10:25 pm

Behind my house, growing up, ran a brook from the reservoir to the river. It was my playground and my little sanctuary of solitude. It was also the catalyst that made me want to get a camera, just for the sole purpose of recording the wonder I found whenever I was in the woods. I never quite got to capturing that feeling. Each image I took was a total gut shot to the ego. None of my images ever came close to representing what I saw, but then I was a complete novice with a film camera and rolls of black and white Tri-X.

Every once in a while I return to the woods with the express purpose of capturing what was in my mind's eye during my youth. I figure with the experience I have now it should be easier. One would think that. Nope. I have had a hard time of it still. But most of that is my fault as I do not go there during the right time of day, with the right type of light, etc. All the things that are beneficial to gaining some form of success at acquiring images filled with emotion of a subject that is difficult to photograph to begin with (at least for me). The one thing I have noticed from viewing other's images of similar subjects is that simplicity is the key to capturing the required emotions.

I think you already know the answer to your questions and any form of attaboys would be tantamount to a boldfaced lie. I do know that there is an image to be made there. I see it at the periphery of my expectations but as I am in a similar boat as you are with no paddle of my own I can not offer much in the form of a possible solution. I am still on my own quest. I just need to get off my butt and chase after it. It's just there are too many other subjects to chase too. 8~
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Post by minniev » Tue May 23, 2017 12:25 am

Duck wrote:Behind my house, growing up, ran a brook from the reservoir to the river. It was my playground and my little sanctuary of solitude. It was also the catalyst that made me want to get a camera, just for the sole purpose of recording the wonder I found whenever I was in the woods. I never quite got to capturing that feeling. Each image I took was a total gut shot to the ego. None of my images ever came close to representing what I saw, but then I was a complete novice with a film camera and rolls of black and white Tri-X.

Every once in a while I return to the woods with the express purpose of capturing what was in my mind's eye during my youth. I figure with the experience I have now it should be easier. One would think that. Nope. I have had a hard time of it still. But most of that is my fault as I do not go there during the right time of day, with the right type of light, etc. All the things that are beneficial to gaining some form of success at acquiring images filled with emotion of a subject that is difficult to photograph to begin with (at least for me). The one thing I have noticed from viewing other's images of similar subjects is that simplicity is the key to capturing the required emotions.

I think you already know the answer to your questions and any form of attaboys would be tantamount to a boldfaced lie. I do know that there is an image to be made there. I see it at the periphery of my expectations but as I am in a similar boat as you are with no paddle of my own I can not offer much in the form of a possible solution. I am still on my own quest. I just need to get off my butt and chase after it. It's just there are too many other subjects to chase too. 8~


Thank ya for an honest and interesting reply that makes a darned good read! This little swamp is sometimes rewarding but most often frustrating. I am not good at simple images anyway, so perhaps that's why it defeats me more often than it rewards me. In certain kinds of light, my kitchen-sink compositional leanings work reasonably well. I admire David Chauvin's swamp photography, I think he does a great job of pulling the magic of the swamp out. But I'm still journeying. When I'm not chasing birds.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by Charles Haacker » Tue May 23, 2017 1:42 am

With all respect due to Founder Duck, long have I looked at this picture and found it well composed, impactful, restful, and technically excellent. The great trunk nearest the camera, with its defensive perimeter of spikes, is the center of interest. The reflections of the green canopy above mirror the green algae on the surface. I suppose it's arguable that a little less depth of field could be beneficial, that the farther trees need not be quite so sharp so as to keep attention on that near tree, but I think that's nitpicky. It's also arguable that low sun coming in from, say, right rear, picking up all the motes in the air would be icing on the cake, but for me the existing light is fine. I honestly do not find anything about this confusing. It's the picture I hope I would have made had I been there, beating off the mosquitoes long enough to trip the shutter before fleeing to the car. :)

I do acknowledge that photographing woods for themselves is HAAAAARRrrrrd! But I think one trick is to find something interesting in the foreground and literally focus on it, be it a tree, part of a tree, a boulder, shelf fungus, whatever, and let the rest of the scene fall somewhat out of focus. I think it helps to have a trail or a track that can serve as a leading line, a place to come from and a place to go, but mysteriously,
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Post by minniev » Tue May 23, 2017 2:41 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:With all respect due to Founder Duck, long have I looked at this picture and found it well composed, impactful, restful, and technically excellent. The great trunk nearest the camera, with its defensive perimeter of spikes, is the center of interest. The reflections of the green canopy above mirror the green algae on the surface. I suppose it's arguable that a little less depth of field could be beneficial, that the farther trees need not be quite so sharp so as to keep attention on that near tree, but I think that's nitpicky. It's also arguable that low sun coming in from, say, right rear, picking up all the motes in the air would be icing on the cake, but for me the existing light is fine. I honestly do not find anything about this confusing. It's the picture I hope I would have made had I been there, beating off the mosquitoes long enough to trip the shutter before fleeing to the car. :)

I do acknowledge that photographing woods for themselves is HAAAAARRrrrrd! But I think one trick is to find something interesting in the foreground and literally focus on it, be it a tree, part of a tree, a boulder, shelf fungus, whatever, and let the rest of the scene fall somewhat out of focus. I think it helps to have a trail or a track that can serve as a leading line, a place to come from and a place to go, but mysteriously,


Thank you Chuck, for this detailed response. The mosquitos are no big and aggressive that they hurt when they hit you - even before they bite! At dawn, when this was shot, they are especially hungry and eager for breakfast. But dawn is the best light here, as there's a sizeable cliff on the west side that cuts off afternoon light before it gets soft. On the east side, there's forest but there's a way for light to sneak in through the trees.

Though the swamp is a small one, it offers me infinite opportunities for detail. Where it fights back is the larger views. I did get the nearest knee too near the edge, I know - failed to give myself enough spare space to allow for vertical correction in post (I have to shoot slightly downwards because I'm shooting off a bridge)

Good point about DOF.
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Post by Charles Haacker » Tue May 23, 2017 11:16 pm

minniev wrote:Thank you Chuck, for this detailed response. The mosquitos are no big and aggressive that they hurt when they hit you - even before they bite! At dawn, when this was shot, they are especially hungry and eager for breakfast. But dawn is the best light here, as there's a sizeable cliff on the west side that cuts off afternoon light before it gets soft. On the east side, there's forest but there's a way for light to sneak in through the trees.

Though the swamp is a small one, it offers me infinite opportunities for detail. Where it fights back is the larger views. I did get the nearest knee too near the edge, I know - failed to give myself enough spare space to allow for vertical correction in post (I have to shoot slightly downwards because I'm shooting off a bridge)

Good point about DOF.

I finally got smart and looked up cypress knees. I had no idea they are the spiky thingies. I thought we were talking about the cropped-thru trunk at left midground. I did not know the bent part is out of sight below the waterline. In any case I still don't think that knee is too near the bottom edge. Every picture, painting, or photograph simply must have a delimiting frame, and in the case of landscape/swampscape, something almost inevitably gets cropped. It bothers me not one whit. (By the way, thanks to that delimiting frame, any observer who did not know that the swamp is small would have no idea from this picture that it doesn't cover square miles.)
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Post by Ceropegia » Wed May 24, 2017 12:57 pm

I think the atmosphere is great! I actually like the DOF. To me it is the best part of the image. It takes me deeper into the swamp where I would not venture otherwise. Cyprus knees have always captivated me. I would love to see them more clearly, although it is obviously not your fault because the reflections in the foreground from the trees in the back and the straight-on angle of the knee's own reflections have kept them from standing out. Perhaps, if possible, changing the vantage point to allow more light between the knees and taking the shot at a slightly different time of day that would cast the shadows at more of an angle, might emphasize the knees more. Cropping some off the bottom might tamp down some of the distraction of the tree reflections and serve to compensate for the downward angle from the bridge. I don't think in doing so, cutting off part of the the knee in the foreground would be a bad thing. I think it would contribute to the overall depth of the image. BTW, as Charles says woods are HAAAAARRrrrrd. I almost never manage to get a decent shot in the woods so don't often even try anymore.

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Post by St3v3M » Tue Jun 06, 2017 1:14 am

minniev wrote:... I admire David Chauvin's swamp photography, I think he does a great job of pulling the magic of the swamp out. But I'm still journeying. When I'm not chasing birds.

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Post by St3v3M » Tue Jun 06, 2017 1:35 am

minniev wrote:It is hard to make myself take shots other than the dam shots so I'm disciplining myself.

Took an early hike to my usual swamp, and tried different shots of the cypress knees and reflections. All feedback and critique, including edits, are appreciated. I was unsure in this one if the knee on the left may be too close to the edge, or if the overall confusion of reflection and knees compensates for it.

I've looked at this for awhile now and unlike your other swamp images, I can't find anything to hold on to which I imagine is why you put this here. It's not that it's a bad image, but more that I can't find a focus or call it an abstract. I love the mood and the colors. Is it a little out of focus, or is it my eyes?

I don't like to say something and run so I thought I'd look at this more and offer two alternatives. The first is drastic, a quarter of the image, while the second is almost yours removing that awkward log on the right. I hope these help! S-
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sw %281 of 1%29v2.jpg
sw %281 of 1%29v2.jpg (202.34 KiB) Viewed 554 times
sw %281 of 1%29v1.jpg
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Post by minniev » Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:47 am

St3v3M wrote:
minniev wrote:It is hard to make myself take shots other than the dam shots so I'm disciplining myself.

Took an early hike to my usual swamp, and tried different shots of the cypress knees and reflections. All feedback and critique, including edits, are appreciated. I was unsure in this one if the knee on the left may be too close to the edge, or if the overall confusion of reflection and knees compensates for it.

I've looked at this for awhile now and unlike your other swamp images, I can't find anything to hold on to which I imagine is why you put this here. It's not that it's a bad image, but more that I can't find a focus or call it an abstract. I love the mood and the colors. Is it a little out of focus, or is it my eyes?

I don't like to say something and run so I thought I'd look at this more and offer two alternatives. The first is drastic, a quarter of the image, while the second is almost yours removing that awkward log on the right. I hope these help! S-


Thank you for taking the time to give me this detailed feedback and showing some options. The crops do simplify things, and simplification is always a challenge for me. I don't think it's out of focus, the knee peaks are plenty sharp and that's usually the telling point with these shots. Like many of the swamp images, it's somewhat disorienting because of the layers of overlapping things and their reflections. The challenge, as always, is to find a way to bring some kind of order to the disorientation. With this one I couldn't quite do it. But I'll be back!
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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