Breathing Travel: My Photo Picks; Meaningful Scenes

Choosing a favourite photo is not an easy task so I am bending the rules a little in my coursework atΒ Breathing Travel | MatadorU and featuring three meaningful shots taken on a recent trip to Southern California, as well as a bonus image from Spain.

I am open to your critique of the shots as this is part of the learning experience so please share any feedback if you can; I am developing a thick skin.

Here goes….

I like taking night shots, though struggle with them because I am always shooting from the hip. (The tripod hasn’t had a test run yet). This first shot, of the Capitol Records building, was taken on our final day in LA enroute to the airport. I jumped out of the car to take this photo; I tried to keep a steady hand though I was shaking in my boots for standing in the middle of a downhill sloping road.

To me, the photo is symbolic of the the music industry in its heyday; the architectural design is meant to resemble a stack of records on a turntable. I also like the lit up Patron Tequila bottle, advertised in the background.

The second image was taken at Westwood Memorial Park. It is symbolic of Old Hollywood. It is in the memory of an icon that will never be forgotten. “We are all stars, and we deserve to twinkle” – Marilyn Monroe

The third image is of The Cafe at the Getty Villa in Malibu. I like this shot for a couple of reasons. It was taken at one of my favourite museums. Secondly, in composing this photo, I was drawing inspiration from the talented photographer, Julius Shulman.

This last image – a bonus shot – was taken with my Sony Cybershot of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. I was scrolling through photos today and really liked how the cranes seemed to mimic the towers of the church. A cool juxtaposition, I thought. Gaudi’s masterpiece is due for completion in 2030 (or thereabouts).


30 thoughts on “Breathing Travel: My Photo Picks; Meaningful Scenes

  1. Hi Marina, I really don’t envy you this particular task. Asking someone to choose a favourite photograph is surely like asking a mother to choose which child she loves the most. Your choices highlight the problem. You have four photographs here, each of which you love for a different reason. I like all of your pictures. The night shot is great. The Westwood Memorial Park shot is poignant. The shot of the Sagrada Familia is nicely composed. I think on balance though, if forced to choose, I’d go with the Cafe at the Getty Villa in Malibu. I think it’s a geat photograph. Compositionally, technically and artistically, it’s a very pleasing shot. The hard lines of the roof structure and pillars, framed by the tree in the top of the picture and the shadow of the tree in the bottom of the picture I think works brilliantly. I also like the way the hard angle of the roof is bisected by the soft line of the trees in the background. πŸ™‚

    • Adrian, I don’t even really know the definition of ‘favourite’ when it comes to photos. There are so many variables! I attach meaning to so many moments that turn into photos. I am so appreciative of your comment – that shot was Shulman-inspired πŸ™‚ I am so glad to have been ‘introduced’ to him, and to have been influenced a little by his work. And, I like that he succeeded based on some amateur shots – there’s hope for me yet. Thank you!

  2. Hey Marina…
    Critique…you want it you got it!
    Night shots/tripod…….no discussion…..Bad girl! (seriously, this is a pretty good viewpoint of a GREAT building and with a tripod could have been a GREAT shot…I like it as it is, but it would have been so much better with a low iso/asa and a nice slow shutter speed, maybe light trails from the traffic, maybe zoomed in a little, I’m excited just thinking about it…).
    Tripods seem a real pain in the bum until you get that first really good shot that you couldn’t get any other way……IF YOU’VE GOT ONE USE IT! ha ha!

    Monroe plaque…love it…great angle..might be slightly improved by straightening the verticals and including a smidge more marble this side of the plaque but I’m splitting hairs..I really like this shot, it has such a good ‘feel’.

    Getty Villa….I’d crop for slightly less tree at top and slightly less shadow at bottom but thats just personal preference…lovely composition and the light is great…winner.

    Barcelona cranes…..fab fab fab image..With a dslr this would have been a knockout..its ‘seeing shots’ that is the most important skill for a photographer and you are right, this is such a great juxtaposition.
    2030 eh? That might just means that the cranes could still be there..I’d love to shoot this straight on, with a long and thin landscape crop of just the roof and tower portion of the Sagrada with the cranes behind…In Black and white….high contrast…..Where’s my passport?

    Oh, and did I mention tripods?

    • Stuart – you’re fantastic and I really appreciate you taking the time to critique on my photos. Ok, with the tripod, do you carry one everywhere? This night shot was spontaneous so is there a ‘mobile’ tripod you could recommend as I can’t imagine setting it up on a road! The ISO was at 200 I think, but I know it looks grainy. should I have put it down even more? And the trail lights – I should have thought of that…!! That would have looked cool.
      Monroe plaque: ok, help me out here. I was trying to line it up. Though i lined up along the plaque, seems it didn’t quite work as the photo looked down the wall. How would I set it up to have alleviated any tilt?
      Getty Villa – nice, i think I hit a few good points here! Thanks!
      Barcelona: if I could go back and photograph this even with the Sony but at the right settings – this was at 72 pixels – i would be SO happy! I think you need to go to Spain πŸ™‚
      I would love your advice on tripods. THANK YOU Mr Hyde. You’re awesome πŸ™‚

      • I have to agree with Stuart here! Using a tripod opens a new world of photographic possibilities, Marina. You will learn to use it like an appendage! πŸ™‚

      • Have a look at the manfrotto compact MKC3-H01…Its small(ish) but immensely usable..I do carry it attached to my camera bag so yes, it does go everywhere…iso 200 sounds a good choice but with a tripod you could have used f stops of around the f16-20 mark and things would have been really crispy. Use tripod/aperture priority or fully manual/ then experiment with the shutter speed for different effects..easy peasy lemon squeezy.

        Regards Monroe plaque shot, always try to line up with verticals all the way through the shot ,,so get the best ‘compromise’ line taking into account leading edge of subject and also the line of the verticals in the background..that way verticals seem more consisitent through the whole depth of field..Also you could mess with perspective correction in photoshop…(tick box in tool bar when using crop tool)..
        72 Pixels!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did you borrow the camera from neanderthal man?

      • I think I can’t adjust that Monroe shot as the plaque is too close to the edge but I have a few more shots similar that I will need to look at… I’ll get back to you on that. I am strating to understand that my romanticised notion of shooting from the hip isn’t going to cut it – I’ll take a look at the Manfrotto – thanks! Ok, I cannot believe that the Cybershot was set to 72 pixels. i need to go back and reshoot. πŸ™‚

  3. These are all really interesting images, and I think you are right about choosing favourites. Images stand on there own for many different reasons, it’s a tough choice!

    There are great things happening in that night shot. I like it for the same reasons you do.
    I think Stuart is on to something…I’m imagining a longer exposure (tripod) with the light trails from passing vehicles, sort of an indication of the speed that the music industry moves at.

    The cathedral shot is really incredible! The fact that it is a little overexposed compared to the foreground adds to the whole fairytale feeling happening. The cranes are amazing as are the plane trails in the sky. (I find the blue sign a little distracting..)

    I do love The Cafe at the Getty Villa in Malibu! Beautiful composition.

    • thanks Karen, that’s a great story that i could have woven into the Capitol Records image. I need to start thinking like that. I also liked the lightness of the Sagrada Familia shot though I may need to revisit it in Photoshop – it was taken ay 72 pixels :S I changed the image size to 190 pixels in Photoshop – don’t know if that helps at all? The Cafe was my Shulman shot – I was trying to channel what he saw when he took his modernist shots. Glad you liked that one! Thanks again πŸ™‚

    • Yes, the one from the Getty Villa must have been around 2/3 pm from what I remember. And the Barcelona one… tough one. I know I had a glass of sangria in front of me, from where I took that photo, but that could be any time really πŸ˜‰ I am glad you liked the top two – I just wish I could tweak but unfortunately it comes down to technicalities at the time. Thank you! I appreciate your comment!

  4. I really love the rose shot at the Marilyn memorial – that’s amazing! I also love the night shot of the building with the tequila bottle! I bet you are having a blast with this – I hope you are! πŸ™‚ xo! Happy Monday Marina!

    • Thanks Fergiemoto! I just need to make sure I take a tripod with me for every night shot now. Ouch – my shoulder already hurts πŸ˜‰ have you seen Sagrada Familia yet? It is amazing? I have some interior shots – I am scared to post them as they also were taken at 72 pixels!

      • I hear you about the tripod. No, I haven’t seen it. I’ve been to Madrid and surrounding area, but not Barcelona. I hope someday, but there are still so many other countries I would like to visit.

      • Well, the Sagrada Familia has been undergoing construction for decades and they hope to finish it in 2030! Plenty of time. I’d love to go to Madrid. I hear you -SO many countries and cities to visit. It’s mind boggling fun πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Barbara – you would have such fun photographing this architectural wonder. I am glad you liked it (it was with a compact camera but the image holds many memories) πŸ™‚

  5. It is difficult to choose, they are all pretty amazing πŸ™‚ Me too love night shots, I love taking them and seeing the result πŸ™‚

    I am no expert in photography so I can’t really give a constructive feedback, I can only say: keep taking pictures ‘practice makes perfect’ πŸ™‚

    I like your pictures because they are so alive and every time I am reading your posts it feels as if I am there πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much Kristina! I appreciate that you like the photos for the emotion. I feel like I am trying to strike the balance between technique (that I am just learning about) and the ‘feeling’. Night shots are cool, but tough with no tripod! Thanks again, you’re so kind!

  6. First of all an apologue, I have wanted to visit your website for a long time now, and particularly critique these images since you had asked me to do so. But my firewall on my notebook, which is what I use when I travel, wouldn’t let me enter your site. Well, here I am, so let’s get down to the pictures. Let me start with saying that I like all four of them, some more than others. You have a good eye, and you find great subjects. Generally you shoot from a distance, and I think you could get more intense pictures by closing in. I also think you need to be more aware of why you want to shoot the pictures you do, think about what it is you want to tell, and then focus on this aspect.

    The night shot is fine, but it’s a little unfortunate that it isn’t completely sharp. Stuart Hide recommends to use a tripod. I would consider that twice though. It really comes down to what kind of person you are. I hate to use tripods. I find they limit my way of shooting more than help. Instead I shoot night pictures during twilight, which has the great advantage of bringing some life into an otherwise completely dead and black sky. Night photos should generally not be shot during the night, but during the time when the sky still holds some blue. You will immediately see the difference when you try it out. It has the advantage, too, that you can shoot handheld and still get sharp pictures. But of course if you want the effect of light trails that Stuart writes about, you still need to use a tripod. Otherwise there are lot of good intentions with this night shot. But I would crop a significant part of the lower, left and upper side of the picture. It will make the picture much stronger.

    Now to the Marilyn memorial I don’t have much to add. It’s a nice photograph, and particularly the intensity of the roses is making the picture speak strongly. I might have included a bit more of the top of this picture though.

    The picture of The Cafe at the Getty Villa in Malibu is the one feel you are most unclear about what it is you want to tell. It doesn’t have the focus that it needs to be interestingly enough beside being a nice graphic shot. But is it the architecture you want to show? Is it the atmosphere? Is it the people’s interaction at the tables? Is your own delight of being at the place? Here you really need to find your focus point (Hope I am not too harsh here – you wanted my opinion after all. It’s a nice picture, but you haven’t gotten the potential out yet).

    The picture of La Sagrada Familia is one I like very much. It has washed out colours and low contrast and is not sharp, but that’s exactly one of the reasons I like it. It makes it different and gives it a touch of post modern feeling. I am somewhat bothered by the blue sign in the middle of the picture. It draws too much attention. Now after the fact there isn’t much to do about it, except lower the saturation. I would also crop of quite a bit of the street. Don’t need the x-ing for instance.

    I hope this has been helpful thoughts, and not too tough. I like your shooting and you come up with many great pictures, but I also see a great potential for further improvement. Best regards.

    • Dear Otto,
      Thank you very much for your comments – the tougher the better πŸ™‚ I appreciate you spending the time on this post and your feedback is so helpful.
      I am very much of the ‘handheld’ school of photography (if there is such a thing) and am grateful that there is a way to work around night shots. In this case, I had no choice as it was enroute to the airport though I know now what to look out for. That said, I do own a tripod and might hold off on investing in a new one for a bit. I do have a closer view of the Records building but this was the sharpest of the lot.

      yes, the Marilyn one I agree – more information to the left could have also helped.

      The Getty Cafe one was a shot inspired by the architectural photographer, Julius Shulman. I wanted to show the architecture. How would I make that more known?

      The Sagrada Familia was taken with my Cybershot and I am glad you like it. I wanted to include the crossing to showcase its size and perspective from a typical street. Do you still feel it doesn’t work?

      I feel that with photography, there is room for improvement. I like that challenge. Thank you so much!

      • It’s hard to say what to do with the Getty Cafe since I haven’t been there. But maybe focus on one of the more prominent structures instead of trying to reveal it all in one picture. I still don’t think you need the crossing the picture of La Sagrada Familia, you will still have the street in the picture, and there are more than enough other elements to show the scale.

      • good points. I love urban scapes though understand what you mean about having too much distraction. Thank you Otto – I hope you’ll continue to provide feedback on my photos in future as they’re helpful!

  7. Pingback: Inspired: Black and White Photography | Marina Chetner

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