For Critique The First Cup (second attempt)

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
OK, the light was a bit different this morning. And I decided on f8 instead of f4 to get more DOF, so the Sony went up to ISO 12,800 (which I'm fine with). So obviously the character of the shot is totally different with some nice grit instead of the smoother tones of the one yesterday. And with the shot yesterday, I think a crop closer to square would have been good, but I didn't want to abrubtly crop out the shadow in this one. So I gave up the symmetry I had yesterday which may disappoint some, but I like it....and that's what matters I think. I also tried to keep the handle at a more perfect right angle (though I'm still not sure it's dead level). I also took the requests of more contrast into account.

So tell me what you think of this one on it's own merits. Are there aspects that worked better in the other one? Are they more like apples and oranges than one would imagine since they are the same subject? If it weren't first thing in the morning and I decided to use a tripod, would you prefer it being shot at base ISO for a cleaner look? I look forward to hearing your opinions.

the first cup (second attempt) by Luke Lavin, on Flickr
 

S Noel

All-Pro
Oct 5, 2010
124
Casey County, KY (Liberty)
Stephen Noel
Nope. At least not for me. The combination of DOF, grain, trailing shadow and and the handle, take the eye away from the central subject, the coffee. But, if you're looking for a wider, abstract "photo", then it works. Although, it does have a slightly "off balance" look, in the horizontal plane. And that comment is, just being "picky", and not being "critical" of your work.
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
I like the first better. This looks flat and uninteresting to me. Different strokes for different folks.
Jason, I don't mind that you prefer the first. But I'm curious what makes this one look flat and uninteresting to you. Do you attribute it to everything being in focus? Do you find the noise distracting? If I learn why people react the way they do, it's more helpful than just learning whether they like or not. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
Nope. At least not for me. The combination of DOF, grain, trailing shadow and and the handle, take the eye away from the central subject, the coffee. But, if you're looking for a wider, abstract "photo", then it works. Although, it does have a slightly "off balance" look, in the horizontal plane. And that comment is, just being "picky", and not being "critical" of your work.
Thanks for your take, Steve. I know you're a serious coffee drinker from past comments. For me the subject is actually not the coffee, though. For me, the subject is the light and shadow. The subject is the 'feel' of the routine of the the first cup being broken for a brief moment when noticing the light letting one know that they are not a robot going through life doing the same pointless things day after day. Maybe I'm aiming too high. Or maybe Paul's comment from yesterday "my god it's like staring into the bottomless depths of your black black soul ... " was actually the most accurate.

Either way, I appreciate your opinion (and everyone else's). I may end up extending this one out to a photo a day project until I really get it right.
 

Djarum

All-Pro
Jul 10, 2010
123
Huntsville, AL
Jason
Jason, I don't mind that you prefer the first. But I'm curious what makes this one look flat and uninteresting to you. Do you attribute it to everything being in focus? Do you find the noise distracting? If I learn why people react the way they do, it's more helpful than just learning whether they like or not. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
The handle in the first one was just enough OOF for my tastes. I think that the first one balances "abstract" in terms of light and shapes with "realism".
 

john m flores

All-Pro
Aug 13, 2012
124
Thanks for your take, Steve. I know you're a serious coffee drinker from past comments. For me the subject is actually not the coffee, though. For me, the subject is the light and shadow. The subject is the 'feel' of the routine of the the first cup being broken for a brief moment when noticing the light letting one know that they are not a robot going through life doing the same pointless things day after day. Maybe I'm aiming too high. Or maybe Paul's comment from yesterday "my god it's like staring into the bottomless depths of your black black soul ... " was actually the most accurate.
This. Explore this more. You're not aiming too high. Ideas like this lie at the heart of great photography and make CC more than simple analysis of composition, focus, exposure, etc.

With your idea in mind, I see the "figure" being the cup, the coffee, and the ritual of the first cup and the "ground", being the shadow, the unexpected beauty in the mundane. Find a balance between these two and you may have something. Maybe rotate the cup around 30-45 degrees so the mug handle starts to cast an interesting shadow of its own and shift the composition to the right (cup closer to the right edge) so that the cup and shadow are equal partners.
 

ReD

Hall of Famer
Mar 27, 2013
123
My opinion - The composition is better in the second, being off centre the shadow adds the balance. I would have tried to view the handle vertically so no side view is showing just a light streak against shadow - more minimal
the subject matter is the whole composition not one element - I'd try focus on the cup rim, the handle, & the coffee - whichever works best
I like the grain in the second but the first is equally good provided you get the balance
 

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