J. Lanning Smith  

Lunch in Savannah by J. Lanning Smith

May 2020 - Lunch in Savannah

May 2020 - J. Lanning Smith


About the Image(s)

I submitted a version of this image before, but I'm continuing to work on it because this image keeps drawing me back to it. I think it's because I see myself in this image. I lost my wife to brain cancer 7 years ago, and now I eat most meals alone. But more than that, I lost 150 pounds in the year after my wife passed away and I now weigh 170 pounds versus the 320 pounds that I weighed before. So, I see my old self in the first woman, and I see my new self in the second woman. In both cases, they are eating alone as do I. And like the second woman, I tend to be on my phone or iPad while I'm eating. So, in a sense, that's the meaning that this image has come to have for me.

It was shot from across the street of the building where they are eating, using my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and a 100mm fixed macro lens.

11 comments posted

Beverly Caine   Beverly Caine
Interesting image but to be honest, I prefer the composition of the original and feel that with proper cropping you would have a whole other image.   Posted: 05/02/2020 21:19:29

J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
Thanks Beverly. I don't know if you remember, but I've shown this image here before with a different crop that showed some of the building too. But in this view of the image, I'm wanting to focus specifically on the people in the photograph. That's the reason for this crop, but it sounds like you prefer the wider view with some of the building too. And that's good to know. This is an image that keeps drawing me back to it, but I don't feel like I've perfected it yet. So, I'm open to all ideas for it.   Posted: 05/04/2020 16:47:20

Ed Tepper   Ed Tepper
Jim, I think this is a very interesting photo. I like the visual and that the glass produces a somewhat blurry effect on the woman; makes it look classic in the Pictorialist tradition.

Think about widening the crop somewhat, especially in the left but also a little on the right to give the woman more breathing room. To me she's little scrunched in on both sides. Also think about bring the Tequila sign back in. To me that adds to the story.   Posted: 05/08/2020 21:42:27
J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
Thanks Ed. I keep trying different crops. I think that's been my biggest struggle - finding the right crop.   Posted: 05/11/2020 16:14:18

Victor Dallons   Victor Dallons
Two lonely figures, each in their own space with an illusion to me of being separated by a window. This image of eating alone certainly is poignant for those who have experienced much of it. I used to travel a lot and had many meals on my own, which for me were usually not relaxing and I hurried through them, probably not eating as healthily as I should have.

I like the carrell gesture of the two woman, with their hands signed up in a row. For me, the f line from the formed by woman's back up along the Curtin edge to the top of the image forms a nice framing of the subjects. I think you have cropped the image well. I see that you cloned out the lamp in the upper right corner of the image, I think a good move.

For me, the lack of detail and flat light detracts from the image. I think that the reflection from the glass adds a lot of haziness to the image; perhaps a polarizing filter would have helped to provide a little more clarity (assuming you did not use one). I think you could preserve some of the detail in the conversion to monochrome. I like the detail in her blouse and think that you could bring that out more by darkening the cyans. Play around with the sliders some to get the best balance of light and dark. (Watch that dark object on the right side of the table, it is a distraction to me.) My personal preference is to have more contrast in the image, checking to see if I have a white point and a black point. Curves or levels in photoshop, or curves in ACR or Lightroom do a nice job.). I think that a little selective vignetting along the left side would help contain the image.

I saw an earlier version of this image that included some of the building around the window. I think that the building did provide some context, explaining the lack of clarity in the image. For me, just the image in the window is blurry and looks like poor photographic technique. I think you would do we'll to add back in some of that context.   Posted: 05/10/2020 11:25:35
Comment Image
J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
Thank you Victor. I have actually been thinking along the lines of what you suggested. So it's good to know that others think along those lines too. I like what you did with the image.   Posted: 05/11/2020 16:12:32

Karen Johnson-Nieuwendijk   Karen Johnson-Nieuwendijk
I think you have really conveyed the mood of being alone with this photo, which I can't decide whether I prefer the photo as shot or cropped so that the window is defined. I think the slight blurriness of the photo adds to the loneliness of the subjects and therefore adds to the story. I like the changes that Victor made to bring out the subjects a bit more.   Posted: 05/11/2020 15:37:05
J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
Thank you Karen. I agree with you.   Posted: 05/11/2020 16:15:13

Carol Sheppard   Carol Sheppard
I like the original version better, but find the version with more contrast also compelling. The current version feels like a damaged image to me, with the blur or fogginess more distracting than enhancing. While I found the contrast between the two individuals thought-provoking, I feel that rather than just portraying loneliness, the image makes a value judgment on the woman that is a bit sad and feels insulting to me. If I were that woman, I might be embarrassed to see that image posted. It feels like she is too vulnerable.   Posted: 05/15/2020 22:20:09
J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
Thank you Carol. I did not intend to make a value statement about her, but you're not the first person to suggest that. I agree with you that this image doesn't convey loneliness, but I never said it did. I said it reminded me of myself and the fact that I generally eat alone. But I'm not lonely and I therefore never intended to imply or convey that she was either. I think loneliness and being alone are two entirely different things. I know people who feel lonely even though they are surrounded by lots of other people. And then there are others, such as myself, who while being alone actually have very satisfying and fulfilling lives. I don't think we know the situation with this woman. Having said all that, I'm finding that most viewers, like you, prefer the original version and don't like the hazy look of the window without the context of the rest of the scene, so I'm planning to go back to that. Thanks for your comments. They have been helpful in helping me to make that decision.   Posted: 05/16/2020 00:28:03

Bill Foy   Bill Foy
This is what I said in August: "I think I'm seeing a different story that everyone else. There are two people on the left - one's eating and the other's using a phone. There appear to be two people on the right, hidden by the building. And, there's another person with her(?) back to us. I'm not bothered by the apparent crookedness of the image. I think the colors are OK and the sharpness is about a good as can be expected given the condition of the window. Norman Rockwell? Perhaps the haziness might make one think that's true. I don't think so."

Looking at the image more closely, I now think the person with their back to us is at another table, the person beside your subject is a man and they're seated at a table for four. Perhaps she's simply lost in thought?

I think Carol is right about the blurring or fogginess being more of a distraction than an enhancement. I like Ed's suggest to ease the cropping. I think Victor's adjustments are good, with the exception of the baring of the woman's midriff.   Posted: 05/20/2020 10:36:06


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