Friday, April 3, 2009

The 6th and last assignment for my 2 month long photo class with Carol Leigh.

This is an email I sent to my teacher Carol and the online photo group after I'd uploaded photos and was in a que for critiques:
Hi Carol Leigh,

I've been thinking (which is always a problem). I uploaded two "old" photos and submitted them for this motion assignment. I didn't have or make the time time to shoot for this motion assignment and the few tries to shoot for motion generated nothing.

Why I'm writing you is to let you know you don't have to give me a critique on motion. I don't want to put you in the awkward position like I did on the previous assignment when I just uploaded "something". When I shot the photos I placed in the motion folder I wasn't even shooting for motion.

Believe it or not, on the previous spiral assignment, I spent lots of time on this assignment with many different subjects. I just didn't come up with anything I liked. However, I did learn a lot from the time I spent on the spiral failed shots. Really a lot.

For this motion assignment however, I hadn't had the time. Hence I learned nothing. I feel really bad and WILL on my own, when I have a bit more time, go out and shoot some motion just so I get the awareness and experience I have gotten from all the shooting I've done for the previous assignments.

So, you don't have to critique the photos in my motion folder.

Phew. I have to tell you, I really checked my motives before writing this email. I'm clear my motive is clean and unselfish. I really don't want you to struggle with photos that I didn't even shoot for this assignment.

Thanks to you and everyone. I love you and your classes and I'll be back when I have more time.

Love and gratitude,

Linda Jeffers

And here is the critique Carol sent me:

Hmmmm . . . What I like about your
photo are the warm sunset-like colors
and the strong layered elements.
You've got a slash of orange sky.
Then some dark and darker horizontal
slashes of mountains and shoreline,
and then a large slash of more sunsetlike
colors in the water. The pelican
stands out strongly against the water.
What's neat is that it's not a
completely black silhouette -- we can
see that this is a white pelican, and
the black and white markings on the
wings are very visible.
All the layers create movement in
your picture as our eye hops down
(and up) from the sky to the pelican
and from the pelican to the sky.
There are a couple of things bugging me, however. The first thing is that the background slants
way over toward the left. I know this is the Salton Sea and I know how the area does slant, but
in a photograph that slantitude becomes a distraction and makes the picture looks like it was
taken carelessly. With a level horizon line your photo would look a lot better.
The second thing is that the overall look -- which might be a post-processing watercolor effect
— is really choppy and pixelated. I get the feeling that not only has the photograph been
cropped way down, causing the look to deteriorate, but that the deteriorated look has been
enhanced by whatever filter or effect was applied to the shot. Look, too, in the upper right
section of the frame where there are some darkish elements against the greyer mountains. We're
not sure what those are and so they become distractions.
We walk a fine line when we crop like crazy and when we choose different painterly or
specialized effects for our pictures. Just as you think to yourself before you click the shutter --
what attracted me to this? -- you need to ask yourself why you're using a certain painterly effect.
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should, etc.

I like your concept. You
created a stark and bold and
simple image with a slice of
black at the bottom, grey
sand up top, and a black
slice of a gull in between.
Your picture is very
monochromatic (shades of
black and grey) and there's
no question what you want
us to see first, where you
want us to look. Well done.
You know what's
interesting? If you stare at the gull, sometimes he looks like he's flying away from us and other
times he looks like he's flying right toward us! How M.C. Escher-esque!
The only thing I'm finding disturbing is how coarse the bird's silhouette (or shadow) looks
against the grey background. The picture looks like it's a tiny little slice cropped out of a much
larger photograph, and it's beginning to fall apart as a result.
Sometimes that can work for us, where we can turn a shot that's perhaps already soft and grainy
into something that's REALLY soft and grainy. Architectural detail is especially good for this
type of treatment, where maybe you've shot the side of a building that has a gargoyle on it. You
then crop away the entire building, leaving just the gargoyle. When you blow up that gargoyle,
it's going to look soft, grainy (noisy), and maybe very cool! It can easily be very awful,
however. It all depends on what we're looking for.
So what about this gull? If it's a shadow, it seems a bit too dark and too choppy around the
edges. If it's a silhouette, it looks too choppy around the edges, especially on the left wingtip.
I like that you're experimenting with a lot of different looks. By playing around with this stuff,
by not being afraid to experiment, you eventually learn what works, what doesn't, and why. I
recommend you keep experimenting. Lack of fear will help you eventually find your own
unique photographic voice.
Carol Leigh
April 3, 2009

This is the email I sent to the Group and Carol after reading Carol's critique:

Thanks Carol Leigh for my Motion critique and the encouragement to explore. I don’t really have a clue what my photographic voice is. I do know I love the excitement and drive that leads me to want to learn more and more. Thanks for being so sensitive and making this class such a safe environment to learn.

It’s hard for me to say good things about myself but I do know I am learning and know I will continue learning forever and ever. I like that I no longer let the fear of what others will think stop me from even trying. That is exciting in itself. For years I wanted to take photography classes. For years, I used one excuse after another and never took any classes.

Then I met Carol Davis. Carol Davis sent me note cards while I was away hiking a long hike. Her note cards were made containing pictures of some of her online class photos. I was impressed. Later, I’d see Carol Davis regularly at meetings we both attend and she’d share her excitement over taking more of Carol Leigh’s online photography classes. Hmmmm. I began to think that maybe I too could do an online photo class. That seemed easier and safer than actually being in a classroom with other photography students.

I signed up. Was scared to death until your first critique Carol.

The rest is history. I’ve taken about 3 online classes and two workshops in the last year and a half. I’m hooked and only wish I had more time to continue taking every class you offer Carol Leigh. Thank you for knowing how to be with each and every one of us. You certainly know how to be with me. I feel safe and I learn so much.

Linda Jeffers

Lesson #1 learned - I don't need to beat someone up when they've messed up. They know they messed up and have already beat themselves up worse than I ever could.
Lesson #2 learned - Make sure I have enough time before taking something on I really care about.

Oh, so many old feelings came up from long ago during the last two class assignments when I didn't have the time and just submitted anything.

1 comment:

Carol Leigh said...

Uh-oh . . . Now that I know my critiques are being read by the world at large, I wonder if I'll change my style of critiquing your photos? Nah! You've made huge advances with your photography, Linda, since I've known you. I admire your determination and your passion and your tenacity. May your photos exceed your expectations. -- Carol Leigh