Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Old Man and the Sea

What is the photo of

An adult male grey seal resting on a beach

When was the photo taken

22nd Jan 2006 1100am, during a storm

Where was the photo taken

Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

Why was the photo taken

When I saw this chap, 'sitting' on the beach, and the stormy looking sea, the image just said something to me. It gave me this feeling of an old fisherman looking out onto the sea where he has spent most of his livelihood. There was a connection between the seal and the sea. Perhaps this is just me. I was going to post this photo earlier and then deleted it because I didn't think it was worthwhile, but each time I look at this photo it just speaks to me. So I am wondering how others perceive it.

Why was this composition chosen

The composition was chosen to emphasise this 'link' between the seal and the sea. So I wanted the viewer to see the whole body and the head of the seal looking out on to the stormy sea.

How was the photo taken

1/160th, f16.0, focal length 80mm. Shot in RAW, Adobe RGB.

How was the photo processed

Pretty basic adjustments. White balance, exposure, shadows, saturation and curves adjusted in Camera RAW. Levels, shadow/highlights, saturation tweeked in PS and a slight contrast added. Finally sharpened.



Ivan said...

Impact - 8. Really good image. Lone seal, raging sea - helps me feel what this place can be like. Very well done.

Composition - 7. I love the composition, and the seal looking out to the sea. Plenty of sea to see too, which adds to the power. Seal in left, looking right is perfect way round too. Simple, powerful and effective. Tad too much bland sky and beach top and bottom for me brings it down from an 8 to a 7. Slightly tigher horizontal panoramic crop would have lifted it more.

Light/Colour - 7. The tones in the beach and sea make up for a bland sky. Very powerful and hence a good score. I may have tried to beef it up a bit more by pushing the levels, hence a 7 rather than an 8. Really speaks to the nature of this place - even though I have never been, it gives a real sense of what it must be like there.

Technical Skill 7 - Image seems well taken, especially given the stormy conditions, and the PS adjustments simple but just what was needed. Hard to judge unless we see the original (note: maybe for subtle manipulations we include the original unaltered too?).

Originality 8 - I've not seen an image like this before, and I think it's very powerful. I guess if there are seals on Sable then it's not that original, but I think the way it is simply composed and the way the seal is looking out to the raging sea is brilliant, so I upped my original 7 to an 8 out of respect for that.

Overall - 7.4. Good solid 7, which could have been an 8 if the composition was a little tighter for me, and if the levels were a little more beefed up.

Your best so far, and reaffirms my suspicion that you are a naturally gifted wildlife photographer, whose landscapes are good but have less impact than the nature photos you effortlessly generate time and time again.

If we had removed technical skill as a category (and the manipulations were very simple hence hard to score highly), then it would have been a rounded-up 8 for me.

Critical Light said...


Thanks for the rating. I was concerned that you wouldn't be able to feel the same 'atmosphere' that this picture creates for me; but you did so that makes me very happy.

You know, I guess sometimes I am lazy because as I was submitting this I was thinking about cropping the sky; I felt there was too much. I KNEW that you would comment on it. But, I prepare my images for sale in a standard format (4 by 6, 5 by 7) and then make a 'save for web' file for the blog. Sometimes I don't put that little extra effort in when submitting them on the blog. I should. However, I don't think I would have cropped the beach.

You said 'I may have tried to beef it up a bit more by pushing the levels'. What exactly do you mean by this because you have mentioned this before. Do you mean shifting the gamma to the right to darken the image a bit more. (Actually, now that I think about it, I usually adjust the levels in Camera RAW so I shouldn't really need to do much in PS. I should make sure I get it right in CamRAW before moving it over to PS. The brightness control in RAW is the same as the gamma control in Levels in PS; is that right?).


Anonymous said...

I'll have a think about what I mean about beefing it up a bit and see if I can adequately summarise it.

Do you think it's a good idea to put your signature on every print? I know it adds to the arty quality of the print, and I suppose your customers like it, but it wouldn't be something I'd want on the print itself.

Critical Light said...

Signature. I now apply the digital signature to any print that I sell. I do this not because its arty but because its my own work. I am the artist. I try to keep the signature small and in a location that doesn't change the feel of the photograph or diverts the eye. Several photographers suggested that I sign my work. I use to use a pen but the digital signature is much easier and looks better.

Sue was unsure about the signature thing and I had quite a bit of discussion with various people before I decided to do it. My standing is that it is my work, my art and you are buying it from me. So, it needs to carry my 'signature'. People who buy my images don't mention it at all, in fact friends who have purchased stuff from me want my signature on the work.

The other reason is to reduce the chances that it will be scanned and replicated. I realise that it would be very easy to remove it digitally but not everyone has those skills.


bishopsindubai said...

Impact 8 – A dramatic and eye catching shot. Lots of energy and thought in this. The way the deal is calmly contemplating the storm waves as if they were a placid lake is a special experience that many of us would never see unless this shot had been taken..

Composition -8 Strong composition that works well for me. The positioning of the seal on a third’s spot with the expanse of the sea given the space it needs.

Light/Colour – 7 The tones of the water are strong, the beach and seal clear and balanced. Sky a little washed out, although colour tinting too much may have lost the distinction between sky and sea. I wonder what a b&w version would be like – perhaps more drama could have been imparted?

Technical skill – 5.5 A quick and simple process used effectively.

Originality – 8 – It feels original to me, even though it could be described simply, it has more to it than a “seal on a beach”. It’s all about the seal and it’s thoughts…

Total – 7.3 Again, this deserves higher I think as it is a very strong image. I’d have it on my wall!