Cloister lines": Review by the Senior Critic Team

Published by Yvette Depaepe in collaboration with Alfred Forns, Head of the Senior Critics

1x has a unique feature the founders are very proud of: the photo critique. Members can submit pictures to a team of knowledgeable senior critics. Their feedback is useful, interesting and enriching even for the best of us.

Critique on the photo ”Cloister lines” submitted by Mario Lechuga.

 

 

11 handheld shots to make this panoramic. I love interior architecture in chruches, cathedrals and so on. That is why I usually take panoramics when I visit different monuments as Santo Domingo de Silos Abbey is.  All shots were developed in lightroom and stitched in Autopano Giga.
There were a lot of people but I waited until they were in the opposite corner.

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Senior Critic Andreas Agazzi 

Thanks for posting your image here while sharing also the technical information of your camera settings.
Your intention of how you wanted to capture this scene is obvious, the architecture including the floor and ceiling is inviting for such a composition. In this case it is key that the symmetry is very carefully aligned within the frame by assuring it especially for each corner and here also along the vertical and horizontal center lines. Stating this I would recommend to do some adjustments, it will enhance the overall look.

Light management in this situation is quite challenging, the exterior area in full daylight does compete with inner ceiling.

In my opinion the outside and part of the arcade and floor are too bright, as a result the eyes are a bit distracted by that. With the main pillar in the foreground from where the arcades are leading to the opposite directions it is not clear which way the eyes should follow. As generally the aim is to lead the eyes to one focus point we have here a bi-directional view. Maybe as an idea you want to try to brighten up the center pillar and darken arcades towards the outer sides gradually?

One other option you might try is to leave the idea of a centered and symmetric view by re-framing the image and set it into the rule of thirds; thus cropping the left side of the image by one third. The main pillar now at the left side of the frame would then be the starting point for the eyes journey and the view would continue to the right side using the arcade, floor and ceiling as leading lines. The light setting is essential here but as an idea you might want to try it.

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Senior Critic Mike Kreiten 

This is very much different from your light project, I'm surprised. Thank you for posting in critique and providing the shooting settings.
Cloisters are an attractive subject, I have my own experience capturing them. I always wanted a fish-eye for these occasions, but then I thought about how often would I use it and saved my money. But it looks cool...

You came across the issue by stitching and you did a good job in this. The major problem at stitching is the consistency of base material.

I don't know if you work with Adobe RAW, the JPGs just or Lightroom. But I assume you're a skilled editor. In Lightroom it's easy to transfer modifications of all kinds to another picture. In RAW, you need to use Adobe Bridge (free of charge) to open multiple RAWs at once. I'm of course referring to the very bright inner of your cloister, which I find distracting, as Andreas mentioned already. You avoided hard, asymmetrical shadows from the front bows by choosing the right side & time, but the downside was the dynamic range required to balance inside and outside light later on. The Canon 1000d is not known for an extraordinary dynamic range, as most Canons, so a later point in time would have helped. But probably the spot is not accessible much later. At least the bright parts on the wall between the bows in front structure could have been avoided by going deeper when capturing. From what I can see, you took it from the height of the knees of your front post sculptures, a 1,8m roughly.

This is a usual perspective for humans, and unusual perspectives bring more tension in a picture.

If you did it from 50cm for example, the bright walls between bows would not appear at all.
There is still some falling line left and right you could fix in this, more on the left side than on the right. The remaining people in the back of your square you could clone out easily, I would consider that. The two elements left and right at the end of your gangway don't contribute to your picture, so you could stretch the frame or crop them away a bit. Lens correction in LR/PS can also be used not to correct the picture, but doing the opposite. You could generate a fish-eye distortion by choosing the according lens and "correct" the wrong way.
I hope this gave you some valuable feedback and maybe inspiration to go for another few steps with your work. If not start from scratch and fight the light balancing first.

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Rijko Ebens 

Great shot! I like the symmetry in this photo very much, but to come to flourish fully it has to be perfect.

I have a couple of comments. First, on the left hand side, the exit in the wall should be completely visible or not at all. the same holds for the plaque on the right hand side of the image. Both to left and right one extra shot should be added to fix this. Moreover, the motifs in the floor would also show an extra line that would strengthen to the feeling of symmetry. The corner is centred in the middle well, so that is good. I would also lighten up the ceilings on the left side of the photo to balance it with the right side of the ceilings. Try to clone out the people in the back ground (either with post-editing, long exposure or by just being patience for the right moment). Also, the outside is a bit over-exposed; you could try exposure blending to compensate this. Also the floor has some over-exposed spots. All in all, a location offering great composition opportunities, but it takes quite some work to make the best out of it.

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Senior Critic Zane Paxton 

The grand symmetry is THE dominant aspect of the expression here. The expressive challenge is that the symmetry has a lot of distracting attributes that all reduce the expressive power of the image.

I'll try to articulate the main ones. 

  • An aspect of something such as symmetry is NOT a substitute for a primary subject. An aspect such as symmetry just doesn't contain enough meaning to sustain the role of Primary Subject. What does Symmetry express? Formality? An imposed sense of order? Those remain descriptions or aspects of something but does not rise to the level of being complete enough to express what this is and how it is unique. Lots of churches, government buildings, academic buildings and monuments have strong symmetry, but that doesn't tell us what this place is. A church? A convent? a University? What (in purely visual terms)? Symmetry imposes a strong sense of order without really having much to say; that is pretty much the definition of a gimmick. Sorry, I'll admit that symmetry is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.
  • The image has no Primary Subject; because of that it has no point of focus for the eye to settle on. It's all background elements.
  • The dominant symmetry cuts the image into halves. Which half is supposed to drive the expression? Uncertainty and visual confusion reduces the expressive power of an image considerably; generally avoid doing this error if you want to be highly expressive.
  • Symmetry is very static; i.e. our eye doesn't rove around much and we spend less time looking at such images. The left and right halves are pretty much identical, so we only have to take the time to look at half of the image before we move on.
  • Calling out an aspect as a primary point of an expression is essentially documentary; that doesn't interpret or express.
  • The expressive 'Holy Grail' here on 1x seems to be the pursuit of uniqueness and originality. This has been done before many times before and feels very familiar; that is the opposite of uniqueness and originality.
  • Symmetry is far more abstract (universal and generic) which is the opposite of unique and special. Thus the sense of place tends to be eroded.
  • Symmetry is ''interesting'' to a point, then what are you trying to say beyond that observation? Consider this as a visual story; say it in language to make a point. ''A strongly symmetrical older building that might have a religious use''. The meaning is limited in that statement.

There's more I could ramble on about but I will stop here. The point is that the things that reduce the expressive power dramatically outnumber the useful reasons to use symmetry.

Consider that incorporating opposites is more expressive. As examples, to express light we need to see dark, to better feel roughness we need to see smooth, to understand youth contrast it with age, etc. The opposite of a symmetrical object is asymmetry; in the practical sense that is an off-axis or asymmetrical point of view. Consider that reinforcing an aspect with more of the same is perhaps not that expressive and dilutes the expression by some amount. If you want to do a portrait of someone, would you place them in a crowd to reinforce that the subject is a person?

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John Bull 
I love cloisters and this one is particularly attractive with its double pillars. I rather like the three figures framed in three of the distant cloisters. Have you considered cloning out the notice boards, posts and rope placed along the edge of the “windows”?

 

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