Critique - Deserted pavement in Cooma

I’ve seen some discussion about critique recently, so I thought I’d try out the Critique section.

I should maybe post this in the “Charge your battery” thread, but hey, a change is as good as a holiday… or so they say :grinning:
What do you think of this one? Took it in Cooma earlier this evening, and kind of like it. But I’m sure it could be better, so don’t spare my feelings - composition, processing, anything. What would you change?


Everything from the table and chairs and the air conditioner on to the right and down look great, but were the overhead sign, the first storefront, and the drink box really that glaring? I know they were to the camera, but I mean to your vision.

Its a nice night shot and you wanted to show the deserted… ok

what if you do a very narrow crop of the table and chairs with a little of the blue and yellow light out of the background?
(dont know if its allowed to modify your pic and post such crop as an example here)

edit: for example, in that given jpg have x=0 and y=1160 as a starting point and take a 16:9 landscape crop of 879x494

I like the composition and I have the feeling to see right away what you look to achieve.
The island of light in the night, the feeling of loneliness, the framing and the selected DoF is appropriate for that ! I really like the reflections in the closed stores front windows.

Although I like the environment I think the subject lack a bit of “caché” the chairs are Ok but the store is a little bit too modern and cold the fridge is especially mood breaking to me. The store is a little bit over lit maybe and the inside feels too bright when the amount of light on the rest of the alley feels perfect but I guess you have to shoot what you come across :smiley:

Overhaul I really like your picture, watching it makes me wish I had the time to go out shooting at night like that … maybe soon I hope :smiley:

Good point… and it might sound silly but I don’t really know! In the photo, I liked the contrast between the softly lit exterior and sort of harshly lit interior, but, I find it very hard to remember visually what it actually looked like.
Probably exacerbated by the fact that I’m kind of out of my comfort zone shooting in the street. :sweat_smile:

I’m not sure… I’m not usually a fan of tight crops, but…
What I might do is post this as a Play Raw!

Yes, I agree I think. To start with I thought the contrast between the dark and calm outside, and the bright, busy interior worked quite well, but I’m inclined to agree now. But, yes, it’s what I found!

Thanks very much for all the feedback everyone!
Would you like a Play Raw version?
This is an OOC jpg (downsized) taken a moment before… little more context just for interest.

I use to shoot lots of scenes like this when I started photography on film in 2000ish. What scenes like this need is people or say dogs in them to make them stand out, say showing someone sitting there eating or if on a busy night people are standing outside waiting to buy something. Use the indoor lighting to light up human subjects.

You could probably zoom in or move around and make the table/chairs the main subject and try to blur our the in shop background and hope for some cool blurred/bokeh colours/designs lighting effects.

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Yes, human interest would make all the difference wouldn’t it… I actually took some photos down the street where a few people were waiting outside a pizza shop, which was a nice scene, but I think I was a bit too nervous about photographing the people to make the best of it… (that old problem again).
Next time :laughing:

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I agree that people make street scenes. I often photograph night street scenes when travelling to places like Vietnam. Shock and horror, my main camera for this is a Canon G16 compact, with a 1.8 lens and up to 12800 ISO. I mainly use wide angle lens and around 3200 ISO so I have to really approach people and engage with them. I am also not scared off by noise in images as the ambience is more important. The small camera gives incredible DOF even at 1.8 and is less intimidating to the subjects. I also see other people using mobile phones to great effect for similar work. So my critique of your image is it needs at least one person.

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For me, I’m searching for the subject, but the composition doesn’t necessarily make that clear to me. I’m not a fan of having people in my photos, so I believe you don’t need 'em here. But my eye goes immediately to the blue sign, which is a bit too bright to reveal its detail well, then immediately down and to the soda case on the inside. It just sort of wanders to me. While I like the darkness of the other store fronts, all the light being on the left makes the frame feel out of balance. I like the horizontal frame a bit more, but you still need to work a bit on making it cohesive.

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For me, the first stage of a critique is to examine the elements without judgement. From that we get associations and meanings.

The OP image is full of human interest. The scene is entirely constructed by humans. The focus is on the red table and two chairs. They are red, which pulls them towards the front of the image. The are off-centre. To the right the image fades to out-of-focus darkness. Above we have a sky-blue sign, with an icon representing distant mountains, captioned “Kebab, gozleme, pide, & burger”. To me, this is a mystery, because I am lousy at non-English languages. I have no idea what “gozleme” or “pide” is. Another cryptic (to me) sign is “Snowy mountains cobbler”.

Above the sky-blue “kebab” sign is a ceiling, so perhaps this is a shopping arcade. The ceiling seems anomalous, a man-made structure that encloses this sky and the entire environment.

Below the “kebab” sign is a box that I read as an air-conditioning unit, another reminder that we are in a man-made world, where even the air must be processed.

On the ground behind the chairs is something white. Trash? A discarded napkin? A newspaper? I don’t know.

In front of the chairs are what might be a couple of dead leaves, the only signs of real nature I can detect. The pavement is essentially desolate, fading to darkness, marked by a clearly man-made grid.

Through the window we see what might be a fridge display with blue lighting, surrounded by yellow, and these are reflected in the pavement at the bottom of the picture.

The yellow and blue of the cafe and sky-blue sign, and red furniture, provide the only lightness and colour in the image. They occupy an inverted “L” shape. The bottom-right is dark and colourless, also with a perspective that vanishes to a point outside the image.

The inverted “L” creates a weight to the top-right, creating an unbalanced feeling, reinforced by the “snowy mountains cobbler”.

The table and chairs are set out for two people. But there are no people. This image is about the absence of people. The scene does not look inviting. I wouldn’t want to sit there, on a stage, illuminated by the light from the cafe, and staring out into the gloom of this scene while waiting for the sky to fall on me.

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Thanks for your thoughts! I agree about people in this case. For me, the chairs and table are the subject, but at the same time my eye is very much drawn to wonder around the scene. Which I like! But that is just me…

Thanks very much for the detailed critique - very interesting indeed. I’m not good, or maybe just unpracticed at doing this. Loved your ‘walkthrough’.

I don’t know what a pide or gozleme is either :sweat_smile: we have many shops run by people from all over the world really, so it’s not unexpected to me.
Snowy Mountains Cobbler - Snowy Mountains refers to the region - Cooma isn’t really in the Snowy Mountains, but it is on one of the main highways for people heading for the ski slopes so…
A cobbler is someone who makes/repairs shoes. A dying trade I suspect.

Me neither! I like the way that the image expresses a lonely, cold feel…
All this is definitely not meant as contradiction or anything - just my thoughts in response to your thoughtful… thoughts! :wink:\

Apologies for the slow reply - I was away over the weekend.

A cobbler is someone who makes/repairs shoes.

Ah, yes, of course, I should have known. Here in England it’s the same. I was trying to read “cobblers” as a food.

Yes, to me, the image is emotionally cold, hostile. Your image is powerful because the elements combine to convey this hostility, but in a subtle manner.

News, sport and opinion from the Guardian's UK edition | The Guardian recently featured a photographer whose images are also about the absence of people. I can’t find the article, and forget the photographer’s name. His images (from memory) were less successful as they seemed to be artificial, constructed, and sledge-hammer.

Of course, viewers bring their own experiences when reading images, but I suspect that most viewers would read this as “unwelcoming”. When a critique suggest the image “needs” people, I think this means the viewer is experiencing a need to negate the hostility.

And, of course, the image could have been different. Lift the shadows, crop away the top, put a young couple on the chairs laughing or smiling lovingly at each other. That would be different, prettier, more welcoming, an advert for the cafe.

But a photograph doesn’t need to be “pretty”. If it conveys some emotion it is a good photograph. Yours does, and is.

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That’s a good measure I think… mmm… interesting. Thanks!