A Nurse with a Gun

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Please don't get me wrong, I totally love this as it is an awesome picture, and I have total respect for your photographic vision. I only wish my photographic vision were half as good. However there is one thing, which is that I see in color. Do you not? I hear dogs see in black and white are you a dog? When I look at this I see a totally unrealistic representation of reality as I see it. Why don't people understand that human beings see in color and black and white far from being artistic is just a depature from reality as bad as anything you could do in PhotoShop? That's my only comment otherwise I love this. I just really wish it had been in color as it would have been double awesome. dmofong999 please see my photostream
More totally awesome photo critique here...........

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Blogger Brice said...

I like black and white photography. I've got lots of photos that I took way out in the back of beyond. Most of them are black and white. My brain fills in the colors as I remember them. Art isn't what the artist put into it, it is what admirer gets out of it.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Talie said...

Great photo of a beautiful woman.
Ansel Adams did stunning work in black and white that wouldn't have been quite so stunning in color.

Please ignore those who don't know any better and keep up the great photography.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Michael W. said...

Good Lord..........

Some people would b*tch if you hung them with a new rope. It isn't about the medium the artist uses, it's what he/she accomplishes with it. I would bet that people complained about Michelangelo painting a fresco on a ceiling rather than on a wall because they couldn't see the details.

Pearls before swine.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Sans Authoritas said...

He don't like black and white? Racist.

The author needs to unshutter his eyes! Black and white photography needs to have more exposure, not less!

-Sans Authoritas

1:13 PM  
Blogger tony chu said...

umm dogs don't see in black and white... they see in color as well

3:08 PM  
Anonymous WW Paul said...

I like the drama and clarity of black and white photography.

Anyone who complains that the world is in color has never lived through a winter in the North.

5:22 PM  
Blogger lee n. field said...

"More totally awesome photo critique here..........."

This is a joke right? Notional [sarcasm][/sarcasm] tags around it.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous gamachinist said...

Black and white requires a little imagination. It also shows detail better most of the time. However, it is more forgiving for portraits.

To each his own. I prefer black and white.
I also listen to the tv instead of watching it most of the time too.I'm old enough to remember radio show repeats from when I was little, and original black and white television shows too.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Cortillaen said...

My perception is that b&w photography focuses one more on the shapes, forms, and motion in an image by removing colors and their attention-grabbing tendency. There's an argument for the "whole deal" nature of color photography, but ignoring the virtues of b&w is foolish.

8:00 PM  
Blogger stbaguley said...

True, black and white IS less than full color. To that extent your correspondent is correct. I wonder what it is that so limits his appreciation? By limiting his palette the artist is trying to draw attention to what remains, (or to what may be absent). I suspect that impatience with the absence of color is reflective of an inability to slow down and savor the offering presented or to take the time to work those riddles. Haste makes waste. Wastelands are generally depicted in black and white aren't they? So perhaps there is some kind of hope for him.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Ruminator said...

Interesting comment on an excellent image. My thought is that the critic is attempting to drive traffic to his (?) site. I visited and this seems to be the track the author takes with a number of very fine images. I don't really understand what he intends. That probably doesn't matter.

Xavier, I really like the image. The composition suits the subject and I like you use of thirds. The soft light on her face framed by the dark hood is effective.

I'm not sure what I would suggest to improve either the composition or technical components of the image. Nice work.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Freddyboomboom said...


I see that you cut and pasted the comment from the linked website.

Very funny as I was thinking of finding the dude and beating him for you.

I know training the photographers eye is a constant practice thing, but I like the photo's you've showcased here. I don't care what your mother says about them...

And yes, I especially liked the one in this post.

Our wedding photographers, husband and wife team, took color and black & white photos, one after the other. One of the black & white photos is my favorite from the whole day.

Just my opinion, worth the electrons used to display it.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous TJP said...

Ansel Adams HDR. I'm still laughing at that one.

I prefer pan film for certain technical reasons which are irrelevant to this post.

Whether or not color works is up to the creator of the image. It requires a different type of discipline. I never developed it, so I'm learning.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Glenn B said...

It would have been much more difficult to make many of the photographs on the linked page, and the one on your main page, work if they had been in color. Color is, in my opinion, a much more difficult medium with which to work and with which to successfully make a statement with photography especially in portraits. It is doubly as tough to make a statement, set a mood, make one truly feel for the shot in cinematography when shooting color. While color film may reflect the reality of a scene, if it is done well - B&W reflects the soul of it.

All the best,
Glenn B

7:43 AM  
Blogger Mauser*Girl said...

There was a time in the early 70's that color photography first entered the world of art photography. Up until that point, every serious photographer shot black and white, and color was the red-headed step-child of photography, relegated to family snap shots and documentary work.

There is something about black-and-white that can't be done in color photography, and vice versa. Black-and-white forces you to look at the subject, without distraction of color, and at the construction of the photo. At the same time, color photography can make something very plain very interesting BECAUSE of the color.

They both have their pros and cons, and anyone who does not understand this is obviously not much of an art critic and probably even less of a photographer.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess it depends on the intended use of the photograph. A mug shot has no artistic motive, and is shot to capture information about a suspect. But an art photo? I can't remember who said it, but the best definition I've ever heard of art is "A lie that reveals truth better than factual evidence can".

When I was into photography before the digital age, the shading and gradation of B&W was far superior to what I could do with color. Also, the basic printing processes for B&W were far easier and less expensive than color, which allowed me to learn those skills and develop my eye. Using different exposures, filters, and bath times allowed me to alter the shading, exposure, and contrast of a print, allowing me dozens of options from a single negative. Color had a much smaller range of variation.

One other factor which B&W allowed me to manipulate was grain size. Color used dyes instead of silver halide, and graininess could be manipulated or brought our with it, but nowhere to the extent one could with B&W. I always liked a certain amount of grain (in both still and motion pictures), and I favored Tri-X over the newer films.

I guess it's different with digital, since nearly the image manipulation is done after the "exposure". I still don't think digital photography is equal to film in terms of contrast and subtlety, but I may be biased.


3:11 PM  
Anonymous Stranger said...

The drill for beginning photographers used to be to take one egg, one main light, one fill light, and one piece of white background paper. After some 2,000 or so negatives, one had a solid grasp of lighting a subject.

After printing those same 2,000 negatives, with appropriate retouching, burning and dodging, one had some basic darkroom skills.

All too often, today's snapshooters mistake "pop" for quality. And boast of the "quality" of prints that appear to have been illuminated by a bare #2 flashbulb. At 12 inches.


7:54 PM  
Anonymous Sans Authoritas said...

When I visited Auchwitz, I took numerous sets of the same subject in both black and white and in color. The black and white photos were simply far more striking, and really brought home what the place was about.

-Sans Authoritas

8:10 PM  
Anonymous ChiefMinion said...

Good post. I've often pondered why many of the best movies are in B&W. Of course that was the medium of the day, but why have they stood the test of time when they have so many color movies to compete with? Has anyone else noticed that the "colorized" versions of these movies are never as good as the B&W originals?

The best I've come up with is that we do see in color. A B&W movie or picture asks us to add something of ourselves. It seems that when I look at a color picture, I know immediately whether or not I like it and move on. A B&W photo takes a bit longer to consider. I'm not saying all photography should be in B&W, but it is a useful tool, particularly for an artistic approach.

9:41 AM  
Blogger DouginSalcha said...


I would suspect that were I to ask you what your profession is, you would respond, "I'm a nurse..." and if I were to ask what your hobby is, you would respond, "I like photography..." or, "I like to shoot..." or, "I like to ride my bike..." or, "I like my dogs..."

It is my opinion that you do all of them - your hobbies - exceptionally well but your profession is done with a certain sense of dedication that is "over and above" the efforts that you put into your hobby interests.

I also like photography and I have experimented with black & white; it offers something that, with all of the years I've attempted to take pictures, I find I can only occasionally achieve. There is a sense of contrast in the best b&w photos that just doesn't seem to come through in most color photography (that I've ever seen); certainly, Ansel Adams was a master of it. For those who cannot see it, I'm sorry; I cannot give them "sight" if they are naturally "blind"...

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting comment on an excellent image. My thought is that the critic is attempting to drive traffic to his (?) site. I visited and this seems to be the track the author takes with a number of very fine images. I don't really understand what he intends. That probably doesn't matter.

That must be the best sarcastic post about a sarcastic website page that I have ever seen. The comment on the other site about using a tripod or a longer lens and shooting from the beach regarding a photograph which is a real wartime beach landing under fire must be made up, though. I cannot imagine anyone not recognizing what that picture is.

4:08 PM  
Blogger BobG said...

I think both color and b-w have their place; b-w brings out subtleties of shading that are sometimes masked by color; color shows the intensity and contrasts that can exist in nature.
Just my opinion.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Del said...

Great link to the "criticism"
I loved the Photoshopped Ansel Adams.
Gag a brick :-)

Black and white contains many challenges in photography and you have conquered many of them. Good job. Glad you're back.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand the criticism. The image, to me, is stunning.


6:11 PM  
Blogger Glenn B said...

I have looked at this photograph over an over again and then some. Why, because I wanted to see it in light of a critic.

If I were about to critique the image that Xavier presented to us, first of all let me say it is only meant to help improve what I think is a spectacularly beautiful photograph. Furthermore it would not be that it is in B&W. B&W makes this shot better.

What I might say along a very critical line is that it is in B&W and lacks a certain few aspects it could have had for a B&W shot that would have made it better and has one or three that should be eliminated to make it better.

What does it not have that it should have? It does not have even lighting on the face and I think that was probably unintentional because the difference is so subtle as not to make any statement with it being like that. It is due to the hood shading the upper portion of the face. There is a slight but yet distinct shading on the upper face in a line that runs across the photo from the bottom of the left cheekbone through the bottom of the nose to the bottom of the other cheekbone. It is very subtle indeed but it is there and it detracts from this picture greatly in my opinion. If you wanted to shade it such for effect, then I would recommend much stronger shading but my guess is this was unintentional.

What is there that should not be?
There are highlights on the lower portion of the face such as the bottom of the nose and in between the lower lip and chim that I find hard to believe were intentional and that distract from the photo over all. A more balanced, softer light (not necessqarily less light) overall would have corrected this and the uneven lighting and shade aspect I mentioned above. Use of a reflector or difuser would probably have done well here.

What else is there that should not be there? There is the very distracting subject matter in the distance over the subject's left shoulder (lower right side of photo as you look at it). This picture would have been much more stunning, and brought your attention to the face of the model and only to her face, had it been free of such a distraction. That is all it is in this picture, a distraction. In essence the outer white area would have had you focus in, then the dark area of hood and jacket also would have had you focus further in, thereby winding up only on the face of the model. As it is though there is an outside distraction to which all of us are sooner or later drawn (if we are honest) the more we look at the photograph and this distracts from it.

The only other things I would mention, other than this being a beautiful photograph of a beautiful subject, is that there seem to be hairs out of place in front of the face. These could have been removed digitally or in the darkroom, or could have been moved out of the way by a very observant photographer's assistant in the field. I am specifically speaking about the apparent hair (or scratch like lines): one running from the bottom middle of the subject's left eye to the mid portion on the left side of her nose (slightly curved), the other running similarly from the right corner of her lower lip to about midway between the line of her lip and her chin on the right side of her face (slightly curved)and the one running out of the right corner of her right eye almost straight to the right. All of the other hairs fall in line with the curves of her face or with a look to be expected that do not distract from the lady's beauty.

Tiny things like these, I think, make the difference between a really spectacular photograph and a very nice piece of art photography.

All the best,
Glenn B

11:55 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Thank you for your honest critique Glenn! It's strange, but the very things you mentioned are reasons why I like this photo. The hint of a shadow is expected in my opinion, but it doesn't overshadow the face. A good balance. The odd shape in the background repeats the line of the hair and gives the shot a sense of place and reality rather than a stark illustration. I tried the shot without the background "distraction" and I found I did not like it nearly as much.

The hair, yeah I agree, I wish it wasn't there. I tried to get rid of it in post, but my skills are just not enough to make that happen without a visual trace. I opted to just go withit rather than make the image look as though something wasn't quite right.

I'm not a strobist. I use natural light. I can't recall whether I used a reflector on this shot. I suspect not. It was a rather spontaneous shot taken when I noticed the light was near perfect. Your words are food for thought though. I always enjoy good constructive criticism especially when it is well founded. If you would like to take a look at a few other photos of mine, my photostream can be found here. I appreciate any and all honest constructive criticism. I'm still learning. Hopefully I always will be.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Bob Annis said...

Black and white is about light. Color is about, well, color.

You see in color in daylight, but at night, you see in black and white, because ther color cells need more photons to work. So the dog argument isn't totally valid.

IMO, a good photographer can generate plenty of emotion, more, perhaps, than in a color shot. Things show up that would be washed away in color.

At bottom, I just like B&W. De gustibus non disputandum est. No point in arguing about differing tastes.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Glenn B said...

My criticism was, of course, subject to my likes. Someonme else, as did you, might find the things Zi mentioned to be exactly what they are hoping to see.

11:09 PM  

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