Photo of the Day – 7 July 2016: Bottles

Posted on 13th July 2017 by Admin under Comment, Photograph
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The phone rang.  It was a friend who is also a keen photographer.  “What are you doing?”, she asked.  As it happens, I was in the middle of editing this image.  I had just completed the adjustments in Lightroom and was about to convert it to monochrome using Silver Efex Pro 2.  When I said I liked the shot, she wanted to see it.  I simply selected the Black and White option in Lightroom and sent her a copy in its interim state.  It be would be fair to say that she was unimpressed.

Old stone bottles

Bottles – the final image


One suggestion which my friend made, and which I took up, was a square crop.  I had been experimenting with a 4 x 5 ratio, but there was not much happening on the left hand side.  A square crop made more sense.

With the revised composition and the monochrome processing complete, the image got a much better reception.  The conversion to black and white, using Silver Efex Pro 2, had brought out tones and textures which not been previously evident.  There were two points of criticism.  The first concerned the out of focus area at the bottom of the shot.  The suggestion was to crop it to have more of the image in focus.  The other advice was to straighten the vertical on the left.

The best way to view an image is to print it.  Which I did as I wanted to see how valid the points raised were, in particular whether the shot requires complete front to back sharpness.  In my opinion, the bottles are the focal point and the bread board provides a counterbalance.  A moderate crop is possible, but I would not want to go too far.  I like the way that the light falls on the board and the darker area holds the eye in at the bottom.  Moreover, having the foreground out of focus helps give the image a feeling of depth and directs the eye to the main subject.

Regarding the leaning vertical, yes, it is a distortion.  Not due to the lens, though, as the photograph was taken in a 14th century house.  The wall might have been straight once, but time has long since intervened.  Given that diagonals provide more dynamic tension than horizontal or vertical lines, I see no reason to apply a correction.  If correction is the right word, given that is how it was.  From the age of everything in the scene, it should be apparent to the viewer that the building has acquired some character during its existence.  The sloping wall is telling its own story.

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