Out on Christmas eve

(Alberto) #1

Hi everyone, and happy new year!

One of my goals for 2019 (related to photography) is to shoot more and code less. So, I’ve decided to start posting more pics here, as a way to get some pressure to improve. Here’s one that I like, taken around Christmas (actually, as you can see on the 26th – but “out on dec 26th eve” somehow didn’t sound like a nice title to me :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:). Technically it has more than one flaw, but I like its mood. Feedback is highly appreciated (even more so if negative, but in that case please try to argue why you don’t like it, if possible).


(Mica) #2

Excellent idea!

I like the mood as well, and assuming you didn’t do some crazy post processing, the exposure looks good to me as well. You’ve managed to keep detail & color in the blue-ish lights, but the street lights are blown, which I think is totally acceptable. You still have some shadow detail along the building, which is also nice. Some of the best photos ever are technically quite bad :wink:

My main gripe, I think, is composition. What are we supposed to be looking at here? For me, the dark silhouettes just to the left of center are pretty interesting, the blue lights are interesting. The building to the right is less interesting. The lamp posts on the extreme left seem to be in the frame accidentally.

(Alberto) #3

Hi @paperdigits,

thanks a lot for your comments!

Well, in my mind the small gathering of people is the main subject, but the empty square around them is equally important, as well as the various lights in the fog. Or at least that was the intent…

I was very torn between keeping or cropping them away, in fact. In the end, I decided to keep them to avoid moving the clock tower too much towards the edge of the frame. But I see that they might just be distracting.

Thanks again, this was definitely useful!

(Mica) #4

If it were my photo, I’d crop it something like this:

Just food for thought! Thanks for sharing.

(Sebastien Guyader) #5

I enjoy this photo, it’s mood, particularly when looking at it full screen size and in an adequately dark room.
I would crop off a little in the left and bottom, and try to compensate for the perspective to keep vertical lines vertical.

(Elle Stone) #6

I think composition per se isn’t the problem, but instead a lack of visual cues regarding where to look, cues to lead the viewer’s eyes around the frame but always eventually back to the gathering of people.

As @paperdigits notes (and did very nicely), one could crop quite a bit of the image away and have a very different image in which attention is drawn to the group simply because there is less in the frame.

But given that @agriggio wants the small gathering of peopleto be the main subject, but also wants to keep the empty square (which I think adds a lot to the moodiness of the image), along with the impression of lights in the fog, the question is how to get closer to some or all of these goals. Edits that can draw attention to the group of people without affecting composition per se include at least the following, and surely there are other ways:

  1. Increase tonal contrast around the group and decrease elsewhere, including vignetting to control tonal contrast at the edges.
  2. Increase saturation around the group and decrease elsewhere.
  3. Emphasize any leading lines that point to the group.
  4. Sharpen the group and immediate surround, and/or soften everything else.
  5. Change the colors (subtly or a lot) in and around the group to contrast with the colors in other areas.

I tried 1 and 2 and came up with this, which doesn’t do a very good job of preserving or enhancing the sense of fog but perhaps (I’m not sure) does allow the eyes to travel more naturally to the group of people without having to crop away any of the empty square:

I agree with @sguyader that it would be nice to somehow lessen the leaning of the buildings especially on the right edge, but only if doing so wouldn’t remove so much of the edges as to lessen the impression of empty space around the group of people.


Now that the awesome remarks have been given :stuck_out_tongue:, I can give mine :blush:.

This is what I noticed:

– The buildings to the right aren’t interesting. Could see less of them. What I mean is that they all look very similar. Edit: That said, I enjoy the atmosphere that light in the alcoves and the alleyway give, so cropping them away would be a shame.
– The farthest one meets the background building right at the centre of the frame, making a vertical line that distracts me from the subject which is the gathering.

(Simon Frei) #8

The picture must be quite good, judging by the amount and diversity of stuff to like in it (I don’t presume to judge it myself). Let me speak up for yet another thing: I love the right part of the image. The street scene with the light in the alcoves contrasting with the rather dull house-fronts. I imagined cutting away everything to the left and the tower itself, but actually doing it moves the group too much out of visual focus. I like the picture really well as it is - I am even beginning to be able to put up with those blue lights :slight_smile:


Yes, I do like the atmosphere the alcoves and alleyway provide. I forgot to write about them in my previous post. :blush: (I will edit that in.)

(Elle Stone) #10

@agriggio - I meant to ask - how well do the colors in the image match your recollection of the actual colors at the scene?

The reason I ask is because I’ve been taking photographs at night, and at least for me, getting the colors in the photograph to match the scene is a challenge. The commonly given advice to use Daylight white balance isn’t working for me at all, at least not when there are artificial lights in the scene. I think @ggbutcher recently made a similar observation.

If you were to consider making a black and white rendition instead of a color rendition - if black and white could adequately capture what you like about the scene - it would be considerably easier to push the tonality around freely, shift the focus at will, increase the appearance of fogginess, and such.

(Alberto) #11

@Elle, actually the image has been colour graded, I don’t quite remember how close it was to reality but in this case colour fidelity was not a goal at all :slight_smile:

whenever I show a B&W rendering of one of my pics to my wife, she says I’m cheating, “because everything looks good in B&W” (her claim, not mine). I don’t fully agree, but I do agree that having two dimensions less to worry about makes life easier usually :slight_smile:

Anyway, thanks to everybody for their input! Highly appreciated, a lot of insightful comments! :+1:


@agriggio definitely follow your passion, but know that your code and photography are both beautiful!

(Alberto) #13

Here’s a new version, trying to incorporate the feedback. What I did:

  • cropped differently, getting rid of the rightmost buildings
  • added one more frame to the panorama to fully include the leftmost lamps. Initially I dropped it because it’s completely blurred (I shot hand-held, 1/15th, while heading to the bar with friends waiting… not exactly the ideal scenario)
  • corrected the perspective
  • tried to emphasize the gathering of people
  • slightly different grading

Overall, I like it better than the previous one, so thanks again!


I thought as much and it does look better now. Happy new year!