For Critique Request for Critique "portrait of a car"

pniev

Student for life
May 13, 2013
124
I have to send in a "portrait of a car". As the weather is awful, it does not make sense to go out now. So I looked at some recent photos and the only useable photo was this one (I don't shoot many cars ;-) ).

May I ask what your thoughts are of this "portrait of a car" photo, e.g. w.r.t. composition, IQ, choice of dramatic B/W, and especially does it communicate something / does it stir a specific emotion? Would you send it in or just say "well, I'll pass this one".

I opted for a dramatic look because this is not an old classic, race car, convertible, or another special car but just a regular car. I wanted to visualize that a regular car can be sportive and suited for the secondary roads.

Any suggestions for improvement?

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Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
124
Troy, NY
Peter,

Interesting problem.

I wanted to visualize that a regular car can be sportive and suited for the secondary roads.
In the magic of my mind, I approach this as an advertising problem: you want to show that this car can safely travel -- conquer, even -- secondary (I can't tell from your image, but the road you show might be unpaved, packed dirt and gravel perhaps) roads.

If I were doing this project, I might take one of three approaches.

(1) show more of the road ahead, show that this car is ready for the challenge, and show more of the uncivilized nature of the road ahead. Specifically, I would reduce the amount of area visible to the left of the car and increase the area to the right (the direction the car is going). It might also help to get lower so that you can see more of the nature of the road. Also, does it have to be B&W? Color might emphasize the difference between the beauty of the car and the less-than-civilized nature of the dirt (?) road.

(2) It might be worth trying to show that the car has already conquered the rough road -- show it on top of a rise, with rough road in the foreground.

or,

(3) show it speeding down the road, with dust coming up behind and rough road ahead.

Also, it might be my display, but the fence looks very HDR/"crunchy" to me and pulls my eye away from the car.

I hope this helps. Feel free to ignore any or all.

Cheers, Jock
 
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dalethorn

Guest
Purely as an aesthetic, and not for advertising etc., the car looks too big in the frame, and the slight tilt-up on the right exaggerates the too-big look. Since it's a small car and not an obvious muscle-car, I would try to flatten the car in the image if possible, then make it smaller against the backdrop. For me, there would be a point where the landscape would have more drama than it does now, but the car would still be an obvious draw. The plain white against the many-hued background would seem to promote the car, but I'd consider making the car less white somehow.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
If the car is the main subject, I'd get it from more of a 3/4 or even 2/3 angle, with as much or more emphasis on the sweep of the car's side as the rear end. The other thing is I find the lumber-strewn hillside to the left really distracting. I realize this is part of showing what kind of environment you can use the car in, but it keeps pulling my eye away from the car. I think the dramatic B&W works fine...

-Ray
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
I think this is more of a "landscape shot with a car" photo than a "portrait of a car". The car is clearly parked, but still it is leading the viewer out of the frame. One naturally wants to see where the subject is heading, but by placing "the subject" leading out of the frame, you have cheated the viewer. I think that's why I perceive it more as a landscape photo that has a car in it. And I think it's more successful as a landscape photograph. There is visual interest in the 3 areas of foreground, mid-ground and background.

I'm also OK with the dramatic b/w......especially for the sky. If you can do more selective contrast, I might back it off a touch in the midground where I think it is just obscuring some details (and possibly what Jock is referring to as the crunchy-looking bits). I like the photo, but I don't think it's a portrait of a car...... at least not as it is now.
 

pniev

Student for life
May 13, 2013
124
Thanks for your valuable advice! And you're absolutely right. This shot was not made for the car. I took some landscape shots there and thought "why not include the car". Thanks for helping me understand why I was not happy with this photo. As weather cleared up, I went out to take some shots of my car. Unfortunately not during sunrise or with low-level fog, but at least I have one. I am hesitating between three different versions of the same shot. Which one do you like best? And please, let me know if I should just skip this challenge! Thanks again for your help! Much appreciated!

#1
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#2


#3
 
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dalethorn

Guest
I think I like the colors in No.3 best. I also think the horizon is slightly tilted. But if you let me ride in the back seat with the top down, I can forget all about the tilty horizon :biggrin:.
Ditto no. 3
 

pniev

Student for life
May 13, 2013
124
Thanks for your views. I must admit that I am seriously considering to skip this one too. I should not have lowered the windows, probably put the tires in a different position, and car and background are conceptually somewhat detached because it was shot outside the property (you may have guessed already that it's not my house ;-) ). I am not sure about the emotion the photo communicates.
I will also try to get a result that's in the middle of 1 and 3.

Regarding the horizon: that one puzzles me because when I straigthen based on one line, another seems to be shifted/tilted. I will look into that again

Thanks!
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
124
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
Thanks for your views. I must admit that I am seriously considering to skip this one too. I should not have lowered the windows, probably put the tires in a different position, and car and background are conceptually somewhat detached because it was shot outside the property (you may have guessed already that it's not my house ;-) ). I am not sure about the emotion the photo communicates.
I will also try to get a result that's in the middle of 1 and 3.

Regarding the horizon: that one puzzles me because when I straigthen based on one line, another seems to be shifted/tilted. I will look into that again

Thanks!
Perspective distortion caused by shooting not quite square to your subject or background can often cause an image to look tilted. A combination of rotational, horizontal and vertical correction may be required to make the image look straight.
 

Lightmancer

Super Moderator
Aug 13, 2011
164
Sunny Frimley
Bill Palmer
Let's look at this from a different angle. Forget that the subject is a car. It's an environmental portrait first and foremost, so I think you should approach the brief from that angle. Make the car the focal point, maybe fill the frame with it, as Lucille has, and choose a background that adds to the story, not detracts. Make sense? I think this illustrates what I mean:
 

pniev

Student for life
May 13, 2013
124
It does. Lucille may not know how to shoot a car (I guess you have to aim for the gas tank) but she knows how to take a photograph of a car. ;-) The reflections of the clouds in the car (and no visible photographer) also show that Lucille knows about <strike>shooting</strike> photographing a car.

BTW" what a great car and environment in your photo!


I do have some "part of the car filling the frame" shots but the composition is awful. I thought about this one but it's not really a portrait. Besides, it's missing something too (sunglasses visible in mirror, more interesting road, navigation instead of phone in display, camera position (it was a bumpy road) etc etc)
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In the end, after consultation with my family, the following turned out to be the least bad one. It is the one shown above but processed in such a way that it is somewhere between #1 and #3.
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I am pretty sure I will end somewhere at the bottom of the ranking, but it was a good exercise. Your guidance is most helpful for doing better next time.
 
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pniev

Student for life
May 13, 2013
124
Initially I wanted to use an impressionist interpretation but Probably most people would have had some difficulty with making a connection with the "portrait" concept. ;-)

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