[C&C] mixing & matching; does it work?

Discussion in 'Photo Critique' started by bartjeej, Nov 25, 2014.

  1. bartjeej

    bartjeej Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    I´m uploading some pics for my next blog post, and the best two shots I got of a particular scene are the following:

    15871733132_6268e131a4_h.jpg old mosque, chinguetti by bartjeej, on Flickr


    View attachment 103273 timeless / prayer time by bartjeej, on Flickr

    Now both of these photos make the scene look a bit quieter than it really was; it was prayer time, and a number of men - I'd say about 20 in total - entered the mosque over the course of a couple of minutes. However, photography is a sensitive issue in that part of the world, and doubly so around mosques, so several men indicated that they didn't want to be photographed. I respected that ofcourse, but since they were usually in groups, that meant I only got one man entering the mosque (the 2nd shot). To me, that scene is too quiet to represent my experience. I also got a shot with a boy walking past me (the 1st shot), which has some movement and mystery, but to me that lacks the focus on the religious aspect of going to the mosque. So, very much against my principles, I decided to try and combine the two persons into one shot. I chose the background of the 2nd shot for its sharpness, and with some effort, pasted the boy in:

    15878505395_84a93e4621_h.jpg rush hour by bartjeej, on Flickr

    My questions are:
    -does it look awkward / unnatural?
    -does it improve the scene?
    -and if not, which one of the original scenes is the better one?

    There're some differences in lighting with each shot as I tried to capture what it looked like; it was shortly after sunset, and the side of the minaret that's towards the camera had a wonderful alpenglow-ish lighting going on, really quite magical.

    Thanks in advance for any comments, criticism, advice, etcetera!
  2. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey Super Moderator

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    I get what you did, and why you did it. At this screen size, it's convincing -- I can't tell you combined them. And I like the combination better than the individual shots. I wish it were a TINY bit brighter, with even more glow to that wall. But there's something to that blue cast of late evening light, too... maybe you could maximize the blue in post? Not sure if that would work, or if it would even look good, just something I'd explore if it were my image.
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  3. ReD

    ReD Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    prefer the second - it has the stillness I would have expected in this shot

    no doubt the exercise technique could be used again with great effect on another image
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  4. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    I like that it puts a question in your mind of why one figure is blurred and the other isn't even though the pose of the second suggests that they are also moving.
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  5. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    I think it works perfectly. I am also NOT a stickler for "honesty" in a photo (and frankly, from your description and experience even though this specific moment in time never existed, I think your third shot is more "honest" to the hustle and bustle you describe).

    If it werre mine, I'd also clone out that gray horn speaker on top of the tower unless that is important to you (or potentially the viewer for some reason not known to me)
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  6. You did a fine job combining them, I just would not have. I like the stillness of the second by himself.
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  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I like the effort and experimentation of combining them - it's technically pretty seamless, so props for that. But I really like the second photo more overall. Something about the guy in blue walking toward (and probably about to go through) that green door. Which, given the loudspeaker at the top of the tower means probably going in for evening prayers? To me, the movement of the other guy in the foreground just distracts and detracts from that. It's a cool effort, but to me, better off to just stick with the second, or treat them as two altogether different photographs...

    • Like Like x 1
  8. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    I like the combination shot, but like Ray I prefer the second original shot. It has a totally different feel to it when you put the blurred figure in, which destroys - for me - the innate tranquillity of the scene and almost feels threatening instead. I would also bring the light levels up just a bit - it looks very dark on this colour-corrected monitor.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    I find the combination interesting and intriguing, but the shot without the blurry figure would be more likely to occupy a position on my living room wall.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. bartjeej

    bartjeej Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    Thanks for all the comments guys!
    yeah I haven't used HSL controls yet, only curves so far, and haven't been able to get it quite right just yet. Gonna give HSL a go.

    I do like the stillness as well, conflicting feelings! I think on the technical side, it was made a bit easier by the fact that the background of both original shots was nearly the same, and a blurry figure is probably less demanding than a sharp one. Still I learned some new things in the process :smile:

    well, partially one could explain it by the difference in distance and direction - although the difference in shutter speed (1/8 for the first shot and 1/110 for the second) might have something to do with it as well:tongue:

    I usually am a stickler for honesty:tongue:which is why the mix&match photo would really have to be a massive improvement for me to choose it over the original - I probably won't (although I still change my mind every few seconds :wink: )

    As for the speaker, they use it for the call to prayer 5 times a day. It used to be done on a horn, but nowadays I've only seen (and heard - crazy experience in a big city!) speakers be used, even in tiny villages with 3 lightposts like this one. I don't know how many mosques in the world still use the oldfashioned lung-powered method. Bottom line, it's integral to the meaning of the photo :smile:

    I do like the stillness as well, also when judging the photo on its own. The minutes around this particular moment were somewhat different though, which is why I tried the combination.

    I get what you mean, Ray, the tranquility does match the prayer theme (it was evening prayer time indeed).

    I hadn't seen the blurred figure as threatening, but I can see why someone who wasn't at the actual scene might view it as such. As for the levels, I'm still experimenting there. I do want to preserve the evening feel, although I think it could be a bit brighter than these efforts, especially in the shadows. Tricky to maintain proper contrast though, with the already fairly dark sky...

    Thanks Dale - it is indeed one of the shots from my journey that I'm considering printing and hanging on my wall :smile: