Robert Atkins  


Dancer  by Robert Atkins

July 2021 - Dancer

July 2021 - Robert Atkins

Original

About the Image(s)

This image was captured at least two decades ago in Upper Antelope Canyon. It was on perhaps my first trip to the southwest with 4x5, which at the time was an old Crown Graphic and its original 135mm Graphic Optar lens (about 35mm in full frame equivalent). That was back in the day when Antelope was relatively unknown. The guide walked my wife and I through the canyon, then left us to photograph, and we had a couple of hours on our own. We didn't see anyone else the whole time. Back then I didn't even have a light meter, so I was using the meter on my Pentax K1000 (I also shot a bunch of 35mm film) to try to fathom the exposures, and it was hardly sensitive enough to meter anything in the canyon. This image here was the best of the 4x5 compositions and exposures. It is shot on Velvia 50, and the exposure time was in the 30 sec to minute range (best I remember).

I never thought the shots from that day were worth the cost of a drum scan, but now with my own flatbed capability, I continue to go through some of these old shots and play around with the processing. The original is deliberately scanned really flat - I am still learning the art of scanning but am told that is what you are supposed to do - so the chrome on the light table is definitely more brilliant. The processing was to bring back that brilliance, push it a bit farther, and, in particular, to bring out the contrast between the warm sandstone reflected light and the blue tones. The graceful streaks of blue reminded me of a dancer - you can almost see the arms and sweeping legs. To enhance this, feel further, and to help solve what I believed was a compositional balance problem, I then created a "multiple exposure" layering several rotated versions of the image on top of each other, masking so the multi-exposure is only there in the sweeping forms of the lower left (and a little bit in the upper right). I'd be interested in folks' thoughts on this artistic addition, as well as generally on the saturation and contrast. I think the composition works a bit better in final image but would be interested in whether it is strong enough or not.


15 comments posted




Dan Mottaz   Dan Mottaz
Hey Robert, there's something about the neon effect of how these slot canyons light up. They make such colorful imagery. Your photo is truly a delight to look at. The reds and blues work very well together. Compared to your original, I commend you for the skills you displayed in making those colors come out so nicely. I feel the saturation and contrast are perfectly appropriate.
Although I'm not a fan of the double exposure effect to extend the dancer, I do feel the composition is pleasing. Looking at your original, I don't feel you lose anything by not having the double exposure. For me the repetition in the lower frame calls attention to itself. Perhaps if you were to work with your cloning so the lines don't have that repetitive effect, it would be less distracting (?)
Regardless, it's a terrific photograph that clearly displays your talent as a photographer and post processor.   Posted: 07/01/2021 10:49:07
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Dan. I'm glad to get feedback that I didn't go too far with the color & saturation. I'm always nervous showing a dull before shot. I'm noticing that the pro landscape photographers are generally unwilling to share the originals of their portfolio images. I don't think they want people knowing how far they have journeyed from the literal interpretation, or at least that is my thesis.

I'm going to keep trying the creative stuff - flare, double exposure, etc. - since part of my goal here is to expand creatively, but in ways that work. So far, it seems I've not found ones that work, but I'm not discouraged yet. I hesitated to describe the multiple exposure, wondering how obvious it is without me pointing it out. Sounds like for you at least it is pretty obvious. Also good feedback, and good suggestions about how to make it a little less obvious.   Posted: 07/10/2021 10:14:37
Dan Mottaz   Dan Mottaz
Please don't be discouraged, Robert. From the limited showings I've seen of your creative work, you are definitely going in the right direction. Your work is pleasing and inspiring. Remember that not everyone will relate to the more creative imagery. In this realm of imagemaking, I have to remind myself that I do it for me regardless of what others think.   Posted: 07/12/2021 12:36:29
John Kelly   John Kelly
(Group 88)
Hi Robert,
Just to let you know this is a very, very good photograph. Not that I'm any kind of expert, but at my age, I know what I like and this looks great. Let alone you have a great memory of a place most people never get to visit. I'm also an old Nikon F2 photographer from the sixties. I kind of miss the film "sometimes" but the digital was the best thing that ever happened by permitting people of all worlds to enter into photography. Keep on keepin on!   Posted: 07/18/2021 07:07:25



Cheryl LaLonde   Cheryl LaLonde
Hi Robert
I really love what you have done with the colors in this image. I agree with Dan. It is not overdone. I agree with you Robert that it would look better with more to fill in the bottom left but I think it needs to be done so that the repetition is not as obvious. Without the extra as you have added it the eye is drawn right out the bottom of the image. With the extra layers added it brings your eye back to explore some more. It can be done with some patience in photoshop. You would have to rotate and warp the second/third layers until the lines blended more seamlessly. They would have to be at the same angle. I have done a quick try with one extra layer. As Dan said, don't get discouraged, with your creativity and eye for composition you will make things work the way you want. Dan is also right about doing it for yourself. Feedback from others is just opinion, use it or reject it based on what you want to create.   Posted: 07/15/2021 17:17:52
Comment Image
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Cheryl. I did not think the multiple exposure was as obvious as you and Dan are pointing out. I did spend some time trying to blend (and somehow this was frustratingly harder than expected) but I clearly need to work at it some more. Not sure what you mean by the comment "would have to be at the same angle".

I'm not discouraged. I do think the question of how much to follow thoughts from others vs. one's own path is one which could be worthy of a deep discussion. For example, maybe here it is not important to disguise the multiple copies but embrace them as part of the "motion" which somehow this image invokes for me and which is further echoed in the title "Dancer". Even before we get to others, I'm not sure of my own opinion on this.   Posted: 07/18/2021 13:52:18



Bob Wills   Bob Wills
Hi Robert,

I am in awe of your images, and this image is no exception, highlighting your technical skills. Tack sharp, excellent processing and color use. I like the saturation of reds and blues. My eye is drawn into the big black hole and suggest looking at a crop to minimize that issue for viewers like me. As always. stellar work. Ultimately, our work is to please our own eye, and you have an excellent eye for beauty.   Posted: 07/18/2021 12:45:22
Comment Image
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Bob. Yes, the biggest challenge with this is that the composition was not stellar - hence the big black hole (which when posted btw looked to have a green cast vs black - I've since fixed that) as well as a general imbalance. The "multi-exposure" was my shot at trying to fix that, but your crop is an interesting alternative. Makes it a completely different image - I don't know if I like it more or less, it is just very different to me. I will let it set and come back a few times - my usual approach. Appreciate the suggestion in any case.   Posted: 07/18/2021 13:37:34
Bob Wills   Bob Wills
When I was evaluating your image, I always start with Auto tone in ACR/LR and the green glob showed up. I assumed it was a lens flare, or aberration, so that's when I started to look for a crop. I wasn't smart enough to go to the Antelope Canyons in my youth, so it is beyong me now.
I never expect any member to think my comments are "better or worse" just my thoughts on YOUR image.   Posted: 07/18/2021 15:02:06
Bob Wills   Bob Wills
That I keep coming back to your image speaks volumes to me about how much there is to view. The green flare, for want of a better term, does break up the blackness, but the more I look, the more I realize that the swirling lines all lead me to the darkness then out of the frame. Even my crop doesn't change that aspect. What I may be seeing is that the black rock edge is too sharp and might be better left unsharpened. I also cloned some of the blue in the blackness at the top onto the rock to break up the black. This is such a good image I would suggest you come back to it repeatedly until you have nothing more. Or maybe you are already there.   Posted: 07/19/2021 08:27:16
Comment Image
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
I need to dig the film out and try to look at it carefully on the light table, but I think the greenish glow is an artifact of scanning and processing vs. flare on the film. This is the sort of image that would benefit from a drum scanner vs my flatbed. In fact, still learning my flatbed, I scanned this particular image mainly to see how badly it would come out. Then I was pleasantly surprised it wasn't too bad.

In any case I fixed the greenish cast. But I am thinking about your comments that the black hole doesn't work and the lower tails of light lead you out of the frame. On the later, I am wondering if I can't fade them more to help prevent the tendency to leave the frame. Maybe I will try and let you tell me what you think. Don't know what to do with the black hole. Putting stuff on top of it is a nice idea, perhaps I will play with that more.

Agree there is a lot to play with in something this abstract.

  Posted: 07/20/2021 16:40:24
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Bob, I had an hour or so, and went ahead and tried some stuff. I went back to a version without the rotated multi-exposure, since that didn't seem to be working for folks (and I agreed with everyone looking at it again). But then I went with a more low key version which tries to fade and darken the elements reaching out from the center. I am hoping this both simplifies things as well as holds the viewer interest in the frame better. I still did not address the "black hole". I am hoping that it works in a more believable understandable way as the obscuring piece of rock now that the multi-exposure that overlaid part of it is gone. Thoughts welcome.   Posted: 07/20/2021 21:34:54
Comment Image
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
I need to dig the film out and try to look at it carefully on the light table, but I think the greenish glow is an artifact of scanning and processing vs. flare on the film. This is the sort of image that would benefit from a drum scanner vs my flatbed. In fact, still learning my flatbed, I scanned this particular image mainly to see how badly it would come out. Then I was pleasantly surprised it wasn't too bad.

In any case I fixed the greenish cast. But I am thinking about your comments that the black hole doesn't work and the lower tails of light lead you out of the frame. On the later, I am wondering if I can't fade them more to help prevent the tendency to leave the frame. Maybe I will try and let you tell me what you think. Don't know what to do with the black hole. Putting stuff on top of it is a nice idea, perhaps I will play with that more.

Agree there is a lot to play with in something this abstract.

  Posted: 07/21/2021 06:41:21
Bob Wills   Bob Wills
I am going to reply to both posts here. When I look at your last version as a thumbnail, which I use often and squint at it, I believe it provides a more balanced image. I'm glad you posted this for us. Your image provides a lot of artistry training for us. Even though it is an abstract, it is still an identifiable slot canyon image.   Posted: 07/21/2021 08:50:24



Emily Kawasaki   Emily Kawasaki
Beautiful shot and edit Robert. You captured the details and texture of the canyon perfectly. I also like how Cheryl's and Bob's edits pulled out even more canyon details and shapes. Antelope Canyon looks wonderfully serne and magical. I hope to one day get the opportunity to visit and photograph it.   Posted: 07/22/2021 15:36:42



 

Please log in to post a comment