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- I think a big test for me as to whether an image is strong or not is I feel something, I've made an emotional connection to the picture, the subject matter, and ultimately the photographer. Hi, I'm Steve Simon, the Passionate Photographer, and welcome to the Photo Critique of the Week. This week we're going to look at a few infrared images by a fellow instructor and photographer, Justin Reznick. Justin has converted several of his cameras to create a magical rendering of everyday scenes captured in infrared light.
Let's take a look. I've only got a few images to show here, but some of them are really quite beautiful. The first two are kind of a landscape scene, but obviously this tree is the star. And I'm just going to show you all the images and then we're going to come back and we're going to critique and talk about some of the images. And then he has this architectural series. And the last image is also an infrared image, but it's a little less obvious that it is, of the Windy City in Chicago.
All right, well, we have a variety of different images here, and I thought I would start with this image of the tree basically is the star in this picture. But if you look at this image, you can see that your eye obviously sees the tree, but it quickly moves into the background of the mountains and the forest here, and it looks like that's either a sun or a moon. And with infrared sometimes you don't really know what you're looking at. Is it day or night? It doesn't matter.
It's beautiful and it creates kind of a mood. And the difference between this picture and this picture is there's no question to me that the star of this picture is the tree. Of course, the tree is very prominent here, but it also is working with the landscape, the water, and the mountains in the background. And because of that, I think that ultimately it dilutes the photograph when I compare it to this one, because in this image not only do I have of course the tree, but you've also got the same water and the same mountains in the background.
But because of the angle that Justin used to take it, now suddenly the tree is more prominent. You can see that it goes above the horizon here when it comes to the top of the frame. You've got these beautiful clouds. And it really is obviously a slightly different time of day, about the tree and kind of the story that it tells. And I think that it's really kind of interesting to see that, because in this image I feel that this area here, because of the placement of the way everything is included within the frame, is kind of giving the image here a little more prominence and it's taking away from the beauty of this tree.
So, I think for balance, if I were to make this picture a little stronger, and I'm not keeping the same aspect ratio, but I'm sort of looking at the corner of the frame and I'm very aware of this little highlight tree here and how it's going to play with this. And I think if I crop it like this, immediately it feels a little bit better. It feels a little bit more balanced. The focus is back at the tree. But regardless, it's not enough to make me change my mind from this particular picture, because I think that this picture is much stronger.
It's the same tree, the light is amazing. It is the star of the photo, whereas in this one the tree is a star, but not as big (laughs) a star as it is here. It's beautifully prominent. Then you can sort of look around the frame and see everything else that's included, the beautiful clouds and the landscape and the water. You even have the bonus of these little duck-like figures. They're probably ducks, or whatever kind of bird that is. It gets a little bit, it's a critique show, so I'll be ultra sort of scrutinizing the image, and this area here is a little bit hard to see, at least when you're sort of looking at them kind of small.
You've got a lot of highlights and there are a lot of trees there. It's by far not a deal-breaker. You've got a lot of beautiful elements that make up this scene. The one criticism I might say, and I don't know if it's possible, I would like to see a little bit more on the bottom. I feel that because this landscape is so beautiful, it sometimes needs a little bit more space to inhabit. I feel that the cropping at the bottom here is a little bit uncomfortable, if you will.
There's a little bit of tension there because it's cropped so abruptly. Now, it may have been cropped, I wasn't there. There may have been something there that needed to be cropped out and this is the best possible crop of this image. But in a perfect world, if there was the same of what I'm seeing up here, having a little bit more space at the bottom, I think, would make the picture even stronger. But it's a very strong image. Let's move on to the series of infrared building images. And it's kind of obvious, it wasn't really quite at first, that there's some color here.
You've got this blue in the windows, where these images are definitely black and white. When you start to develop an idea like Justin has here, you start to think of how images can sort of work together and the story that they're going to tell. These two images, for me, are just pretty amazing. You don't have to, and this is the beauty when you're rendering the architecture with infrared. And I looked at the metadata, because these clouds are amazing. They're streaked. They're not kind of what we normally look at.
There's movement in them. And that's kind of magical that fits with the infrared capture of these things. The exposures, at least for one the images, was 30 seconds, and that's what you're going to get when you do that, like water and clouds and long exposures. It creates a surprise that you really can't predict, even if you've been doing this a long time. So, I think both these images, as black and white, as a series, are strong and I just can't wait to see more. This image here, there's a little bit of color. And for me, the one problem I have with this image is a little bit in the composition.
I find that the clouds up here, there's a little bit too much of it and it's hijacking me from where the image really is strongest, and that's in the building itself, this beautiful Frank Gehry building with the blue streaks in the windows. And I think with a crop, and, again, I'm not being sensitive to keeping the same aspect ratio, but let's see what happens when we crop it a little bit differently. I'm going to crop it maybe like this.
And I think for me, immediately it feels a little bit more balanced. As a matter of fact, I'm just going to sort of maybe come down even a little bit more. I spend a lot of time on the strong images, trying to figure out the exact crop, what's going to work the best, and then that's when I send it out into the world. So, you can see the original, and you can kind of feel, at least I can, that my eye is going up to the sky. When I crop it, I can still see the sky, but I tend to follow the lines of the building, and it feels a little bit more balanced.
And this space here that's got a visual weight balances out the building a little bit more. So, really it starts to feel compositionally in line with these other images. They're all now, for me, very, very strong. So, it was just a little bit of adjustment that I think can make a big difference. And I think you really need to look at your own work, especially your best images, and say, "Can I make this even stronger?" And sometimes you will find that that's the case. The last image I wanted to include because it's infrared but it's very kind of subtle.
And it's just kind of a beautiful rendering of Chicago. But for me it feels a little more commercial. It feels a little bit less connected. When I look at these other images that he shot with infrared, the strongest ones, and I would sort of pick these four. I'm going to take out Chicago for now. For me, I'm feeling a lot when I look at these pictures. And when I look at them and think about the photographer, I feel that Justin's fingerprints are all over this.
But when it comes to that one shot in Chicago, I kind of feel that a lot of photographers would take this. It doesn't have the signature look that I'm used to in that other body of work. So, there you go. While using any type of photographic effect or tool to use achieve your artistic vision, it's right on point, but sometimes they can be a little overbearing for me as the viewer. If the first thing you see in the image is a trick or technique, I think that can hurt your vision and the image overall.
But Justin's use of his infrared camera creates images that are beautiful and evocative. And when he combines infrared with long exposures as he's done here, the streaking in the clouds contribute to an overall ethereal look that really sets his work apart. Well, that's it for this episode. Thanks for watching. We'll see you next week.