Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2005/05/04

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Subject: [Leica] Peter provokes contentious controversy
From: pklein at (Peter Klein)
Date: Wed May 4 21:58:27 2005

Folks:  I'm glad I got some feedback this time--that's how we learn.  Now 
here's my comments on your comments, and some further work on the image.

Here's the original version as posted:

And here are two reworked versions, one color, one B&W:

Better?  Worse?   Color or B&W better?  Polishing a t*rd?

Here's what happened.  The picture was a quick grab shot with a 50mm DR 
Summicron, on Provia 100F.  Probably between f/5.6 and f/8 at 1/125.   I 
had taken the DR to the zoo specifically to see how it rendered things on 
really good slow slide film.

When I saw the guy with the prosthetic hands raise the camera, I liked the 
silver camera in his silver hooks.  As Stasys mentioned, here was this guy 
who had been so badly injured was doing something that required a fair 
amount of dexterity with apparent ease. Though he stood out as different 
and handicapped, there he was doing a perfectly normal thing with his 
attractive companion.  I also liked the contrast between his appearance and 
that of the peacock, whose presence says "Look at me, I'm beautiful and 

B.D.:  Perhaps for you, an experienced journalist, seeing a double amputee 
is no big deal.  It's not something I see every day, and I reacted to 
it.  In a way, I thought his hooks nimbly manipulating that little digicam 
was just as beautiful as the peacock.  And I kept thinking of the movie 
"The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946), which has a WWII veteran character in 
much the same condition as my subject.

I agree that the picture is too cluttered.  If you look at the full frame, 
you'll see why I had problems.  This is just a medium-quality JPEG of the 
original 4000 dpi scan, reduced 7:1.

I wanted to move to the left to get the table umbrella's pole away from the 
man and the flowerpot out of the frame. But there were peacock tail 
feathers and a little girl in the way, and pushing or stomping on either 
would not have been acceptable behavior, and probably would have ruined the 
picture.  The little girl started to run in front of me just as the man 
raised his camera, and I only got one shot before the moment was gone.

If I'd had a little more room and a couple of seconds more, I would have 
moved to the left.  If I'd had a SLR with a zoom lens, I would have taken 
one shot as I did, but a little further to the left, and another zoomed in 
to show just the "arms and the man" and the camera.  And maybe another with 
just him and his girlfriend.  But I really wanted the relation between him 
and the peacock.

As it was, I had about 3 seconds to decide everything--I'd been 
photographing kids feeding the peacock, and then noticed the man with the 
prosthetics just as he was raising the camera.

Philippe:  No, I didn't talk to him after I took the picture.  I was 
curious, but I didn't want to intrude.  I didn't know if he was the type 
who was willing to talk about his condition, or if he wanted to be treated 
as if it didn't exist.  In a way I wish I had talked to him, because I'd 
like to give him a print.  But maybe better not.

Colors:  I think I raised the midtones too much--I wanted to get the 
peacock a little out of the mud, and I overbrightened the rest of the 
image.   I've backed off on that.  In the reworked images, I burned in the 
background people in the color version, and even more in the B&W.

And I've sharpened the image a bit more.  Mark Rabiner thinks I don't 
sharpen my images enough.  Perhaps so.  I know that I absolutely loathe 
oversharpened images.  They look totally phony to me.  So I usually err on 
the side of undersharpening.  The same often goes for curve 
adjustments.  I'll adjust a curve, and then back off a bit because I think 
it looks too "processed."  Sometimes an hour or a day later, I wish I'd 
done more.  But often not.

Anyway, that's my thought process.  Again, thanks to everyone for responding.


Replies: Reply from mark at (Mark Rabiner) ([Leica] Peter provokes contentious controversy)
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