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Before I start, I'd like to make a few preliminary points: 1. I would have normally passed on this critique, hadn't it been for the one...

Well, one has to acknowledge the hunting talent of the author. Nothing more elusive and harder to catch that a real lemonade, especiall...

The obvious. A very well balanced shot. Simple. Clean. Focused. A bit on the darkish side, but hey: it's a late night study after all. ...

A study about art and painting. And distraction. Or inspiration. Or, a story about an artist and his canvas. And an elusive subject. Or...

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Before I start, I'd like to make a few preliminary points:
1. I would have normally passed on this critique, hadn't it been for the one I just read.
2. What I will discuss hereafter may be less than welcomed as I will pull no punches. So if you are faint of heart or don't feel up to reading possibly distressing content: don't read on. But, and that's a big but, I only do so because I believe that critiques must indeed be thoughtful as in thought out, all the more so when one first mentions being part of a "Project Comment", presumably as a token of capacity.
3. Below, as you read on, is my own critique, which is only fair.

Now: to the core.

There are critiques of all kinds. I have no problem with that. After all, anyone is entitled to formulate an opinion, however sustained it is. But, they are themselves open to scrutiny and commentary.

Writing a critique isn't about giving points. That's an aside. But if you do, and do so following the underlying logic given by the scoring board, as in "vision", "originality" and such; the least you can do is do it correctly.
Hence: vision obviously doesn't concern the "vision" as in "image" but what the artist has envisioned to convey, what his artistic eye has seen that he wants to render etc.

Same thing for "originality". If the object of the critique is a photograph, the fact it is taken in a remote place, doesn't qualify it as "original" anymore than the name of the place. The close shot of a car wheel in Thule isn't different in that respect from one taken in Kuala Lumpur or NYC, nor is it original per se in that respect.

I'll brush off the inconsistencies of the technicals and others.
My point isn't to make anybody feel bad, though I for one do find it revealing to start a critique by one's ID as a "critique" but I'll let that also slide. No, my point is to make sure that if you are indeed intent on making a critique, it has to attend the piece's essentials, not some kind of cursory judgemental piece following shoddy guidelines.

The people who offer this to us, DA's artists deserve better. They offer us in all ingenuity the product of their efforts and travails. The bravest offer these special columns, the critiques, in an effort to better themselves and extend the reaching out to their audience.

We were graced with many great words in the English language. Abstain and refrain are amongst them. They are powerful and relevant. I use them myself quite often. Just not this time.

You think I'm too hard?
This is the last sentence of the critique:
"Overall, You did a great job on this piece. The only thing I could think of that would make it any better would be a bird or animal in the shot somewhere, but then again, we are talking Iceland. You should be happy with the photograph".

Yeah... You did a great job with this critique. The only thing I could think of adding to it is a bit of content... somewhere... But then again, we're talking Iceland... You should be happy with it.

A critique as it could be made, among many others possible...

First a little background. The place this photo was taken is a very well known spot for photos. You'll literally find hundreds and hundreds of them. One of the reasons why is the black volcanic sand beach to the east, the other being the mountain towering on the eastern end of it (the Vestrahorn), both of which the author has pictured in other shots.
But this specific view is taken on the other side facing the opposite direction: westward, towards the city of Höfn which is barely discernible in the lower fringes bellow the mountains and hidden by the evening mist on the shoreline.
The forefront of the shot pictures the black lava sand dunes covered with Lyme grass. Most of what we see of it is dead growth and therefore whitish, which contrasts very strongly and beautifully with the black lava sand it's on.

Now this sight is especially nice at sunset, because the black lava literally drinks the light while the whitish grass reverberates it. The light itself is sunset, so full of hues and nuances, and so is the dead grass with differently oriented blades of different consistency. Part of the grass gets direct lighting, the rest only gets the ambient glow. The tan spikes catching the fading raking light in an even eerier display of pinkish reds.
This is obviously the prominent character in the shot. But it's far from the only one.
Indeed, the whole shot seems constructed from this fantastic land of purple and pink topped white haired black headed mounds. These gently rolling figures giving way to more and slowly evolving rocky creatures until they fade out in the distant mist contained by the overbearing mountains and glaciers in the distance.
The alternance of lighter and darker layers literally sandwiched between the contrasted skies and dunes gives the final touch of irreality to this overpowering nature.
All landscape shots that do not portray a remarkable landmark are by definition centered, or rather free from centering constraints. But this shot is centered, but only so once the striking features we just described are taken in by the onlooker. Indeed, right in the middle of it, one can see the almost straight path, as the stone paved path in an English garden, made by the reflecting waters laid along, in a luminous repetition of their darker counterparts: the dune at the forefront that are aligned with them.
I'll stop here not to make too long a contribution, but there are many more interesting aspects to this shot I wouldn't mind exploring.
So, how can this be rated relative to the given criteria?
Well, it is very difficult, because the criteria themselves involve interpreting the author's perceptions and decisions, of which we know absolutely nothing. We aren't qualified to discern intent.
But let's give it a try anyway, since I railed earlier about them.
Vision: the idea to use these contrasts and layers of subdued and brighter lights as they disappear in the distance is an obvious vision by the author. The same can be said for portraying literally this dune people anchored on the rim of this strange world.
Originality: that's an easy one. Of the thousands of photos taken at this spot, I have yet to find another with this setting. Again, just fo background info, this forsaken place is visited yearly by at least 40,000 people in search of a good photo...
Technique: again, not an easy call, as it is a criteria better suited to other types of artistic expression (painting and such) in my opinion. Still, I notice the artist has used a lens allowing him to both focus on the dunes without killing the background. A lesser focus would have flattened it, leaving it remarkable but emotionless, and a higher one would have destroyed all narrative hopes by reducing the depth. This tends to show intent. Also, point needs to be made about making the city in the background literally disappear. The mist helps, but the choice of precise height and lens made it possible. This shows also intent in my book, and therefore technical mastery.
Impact: That's a very tricky notion. And very personal. So I'll pass by lamely stating that "the image speaks for itself".
Thank you all and especially Dane Vetter for this beautiful shot.
Well, one has to acknowledge the hunting talent of the author.
Nothing more elusive and harder to catch that a real lemonade, especially if it's gone native...
It's clear this specific specimen was approached carefully as no finger or lip print can be seen on the rim. Yet, the obvious telltale sign of sipping can be attested by the bent straw, denoting maybe a slight difficulty on the hunter's part when finalizing the tasting phase.
Otherwise, the phasing of colors from bottom to top in accord with the glass hue is masterful. Fresh and light. Slightly opaque. Very nice! Cheers!
The obvious.
A very well balanced shot. Simple. Clean. Focused. A bit on the darkish side, but hey: it's a late night study after all.
The model is laid back. In a relaxed attitude.
A beautiful woman lounging on a sofa in an office like setting. Black and white contrast.
Soft and hard edges. Contrasts to magnify her aesthetics.
And I would have left it at that.
No reason to look further.
After a first look, if the photograph has grabbed my attention, I generally look at the author's title of the piece, if for no other reason than respect for his work.
"Late night study". OK.
At that point, impossible to say whether she is the subject of the study or studying herself. The pose makes it impossible to even ascertain whether she is awake and not sleeping or dozing off, her arms at her sides.
And again, the flawlessness of her curves, the purity of the lines enhanced by the matrix of contrasts at work would have been ample justification to leave it at that.
Except I noticed her toe nail. Black. Black on whites or at least light greys.
Now why would that previously missed detail suddenly stop me from letting it go? Why does it pull me back to reconsider everything in this photo? Or more to the point, to consider everything and not just let myself be subjugated by the sheer purity of its aesthetics?
There are lots of reasons that could explain that nail. If nothing else, the fact that the model had them painted black.
Now, just to make a point clear: I believe that once a piece of art is created, it frees itself from its creator and evolves on its own. This is one of the reasons why I never take into account the authors words about a specific piece when enjoying it. It doesn't mean I do not read them, but I do not let them interfere with the immediate perception.
Why does it matter? Well in this precise case, I do not take into account what the author writes about why he titled this photograph this way. You see, the question is not really to know why something happened (the black nail or the pose) but what its effect is. To detail my thoughts, I believe Randall also had a problem with this toe nail, or more precisely with all of them, which is why we do not see them and only the one the model could not fold without altering too significantly the pose Randall had set. Again, I may be totally wrong. We'll see.
All that matters is that this literal black "contrepoint" made me look much more closely at the portrayed scene because it seems somehow unnatural. Who would paint one's toe nails (even worse, just one nail) black and leave the hands clean? If nothing else, it piques your fancy. So you look again for what else you may have missed.
First, she is sculptural. No doubt. But not in a sexually connoted way. She is naked for sure, but that's almost an aside. No aggressive nipple, a breast profile so soft it is barely distinguishable from the ribs jutting out a few inches lower.
Second, she isn't resting. Though her performance hides the strength required for her pose, it is there. And the setting isn't comfortable either.Her shoulders rest but her head is stretched at an angle and her legs and arms are in traction, her abs firm and active. She is doing something. Looking at something most probably from the setting.
Third, indeed even from afar it is clear her eyes are not closed as I first thought. She is looking at something. But what? There's nothing there really to meet her gaze, save maybe the upper left side of her left leg which she has partially crossed over.
At that point I realize that initially her pose made me think (quite unconsciously) of a classical lounging pose à la Odalisque minus the rich setting and eventual callipygian bottom. Which is probably why I thought she was resting. But there's one more difference: she doesn't look our way. She doesn't pose. Actually, that's quite striking. She seems totally oblivious to her surroundings. Is she examining herself? Her curves, the firmness of her thighs? Passing time pretending to look for the telltale signs of cellulite?
It's like we are privy to an intimate scene. A stolen glance we have taken over our shoulder at an unsuspecting "she" passing the time. Actually, she is so impervious to us (or the author of the photograph) it may well be we aren't in the same time frame... memories?
If that is so, if that is the essence of this shot, I cannot but admire the subtlety, the delicacy of the exercise. Remarkable would be more appropriate. That could also explain the choice of a so very attractive model yet subdued in its physical expression. The innate quality of such fond memories. It could also explain the lighting. Dark but not somber, and exacting the right mix of precise detail and soft exposure. Classy. Very classy.

So that's how a single black toenail led me here. Madness or luck? :)

Won't read it again for fear of simply deleting it; being strung out so far on a limb with so little to show for it. So please be indulgent Randall as it's shot from the hip as straight forwardly as I could. ;-)
A study about art and painting. And distraction. Or inspiration.
Or, a story about an artist and his canvas. And an elusive subject. Or his muse.

This is all about focus and frame. Foregrounds and backgrounds. Colors and shades. Proportions and perspectives. Colors and planes, gradients and intersections.

The photo itself is a frame. A frame of frames. Orthogonic frames at that. All lines and grain. Even the lights.
And so close to life. Almost alive, if only but its intricacies and our own projection.
But its dead and sterile. All lines and coarse grain.

All but for her.
All curves and silk. Colors defined and smooth. Shades and shapes that talk of continuity and not asperity. A flawlessness tribute to life.
And she not only eludes the primary frame but the entire lattice of them.
She is remarkably unconcerned by them. By the artist's efforts to frame her?

She isn't the subject (or the object for that matter) of the photo. She just makes sure we properly focus. Or rather, we step back. Is this why the author requested she posed in symmetry to the curve of the wall on the opposite side? That wouldn't surprise me in the least. Is this also why the photographer voluntarily expanded the right side to include a curved arch as is response?

This is a testimony to the artist's unending search for perfection.
A masterpiece if it were. And I am not overly fond of this art, finding it often coarse and prone to overindulgency. Again, it's almost a painting, which may explain that. In a way close to Fernand Leger in its use of frames and color gradients, but in a class of its own.

I hope Randall Hobbet will not find this critique too lame or convoluted. Lacking essentials in beauty and aesthetics yet superfluous on intents. I hope to dispel all such by simply stating I love paintings and woman, simplicity and subtility. And this is a masterpiece.


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Add a Comment:
beautyliesintheeye Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2017
The pleasure is mine! ;-)
Samboska Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2017   Traditional Artist
:squee-love: - PLZ 
Bernardumaine Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2017  Professional Traditional Artist
Merci pour le fav :D
beautyliesintheeye Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2017
C'est avec grand plaisir!
AquaBlueberry Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you very much for the llama!
Roger-Wilco-66 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2017   Photographer
Thank you for taking your time to critique "Refresh me!"

beautyliesintheeye Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2017
I thought that would make you smile and refresh the reader as well as the drinkers, be it with their eyes!
Roger-Wilco-66 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2017   Photographer
You definitely succeeded :-)
robpolder Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
thanks a lot for your many comments! come check again :) cheers, rob
beautyliesintheeye Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2017
It has been my pleasure.
I had noticed what you do a little while back and waited to have a little time to peruse your work.
It is very eclectic and original (as I think I already wrote the first time), and at the same time there is a sense of coherence and style that little by little comes to the surface.
You have a keen eye and a clear mind. Makes for interesting views and takes.
I have yet a lot to see or see again... and eventually comment... :-)
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