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Composition critique?

Mary Bull

New member
I prefer Aaron's original image and have since 11:00 a.m., 9/22/06

Aaron, I would have replied to this post of yours sooner, but I was dealing with a storm front passing through Middle Tennessee this afternoon.

I just want to state unequivocally that I greatly prefer your original image.

The old red light which at first seemed to be shouldering me out of the scene is actually the entranceway to the picture. I experience the image as a narrative: old light, new light, gathering gray cumulus clouds on the sea's horizon--the lights, now, as then, protecting the unseen ships at sea.

I came to understand how the image works as I made my crop. And, if anyone had read unhastily what I said in the text which I posted with the crop, they would know that I no longer found the red at the top left at all jarring. I came to love and appreciate the picture, even as I tried different crops. I don't think I would have come to this understanding as quickly, without the permission to study it in this way. So again I thank you very much for that, Aaron.

I do know the sea in all its many moods, from experiencing the Gulf of Mexico in my youth and childhood. What can seem a routine build-up of storm clouds can quickly escalate into a hurricane.

Hurricane Celia all but destroyed my home town, which lies eight miles from Corpus Christi Bay, in August, 1970.

I am very sorry to hear that the hurricane that made landfall at Cancun last summer may have taken out this lighthouse. All the more reason to keep your picture exactly as it is, I think, Aaron.

I do believe that it would make a beautiful print, if you had the time to do that.


Mary Bull

New member
Ray West said:
To me, composition refers to layout/format/position of objects. With a scenic view, you can normally only arrange things by moving your position or focal length, maybe erase stuff in pp. Aaron took this a few years ago, so I thought it was outside his request to suggest re-taking it. So, the only thing left is cropping or pp. Not much to play with in pp wrt moving things around in this image.
Yes. I do take your point. And especially, as Aaron has just informed us in his latest post, in a vacation shot taken several years ago.

However, if composition includes the general colouring/appearance of the image, and so on, then I would like to add, as well as my suggested crop, a darkening of the storm clouds, and possible darken the shadows of the white woodwork to a blue grey, perhaps to pickup the colours of the new clouds. Maybe paint in some more interesting storm clouds, although these are OKish, maybe posterise it.
While he's playing with it, I do hope that Aaron will carefully preserve his original image.

I like it best, and I wouldn't mind having a print of it to hang on my own wall, myself.
Finally, a 'moving gif' to give the beacon a flash, every five seconds or so.....
I know you have just got to be kidding, Ray! Dry British wit, and all that!
At any rate, you made me laugh out loud.

This really has been a wonderful thread and a wonderful learning experience for me.

I go back to playing with my own problematical image files with a lighter heart, from having been here tonight.


Aaron Strasburg

New member
Another view, mostly for testing my pbase account:

This was taken minutes from the image that started this thread. A completely different feel, not a whole lot of feeling, actually. Mayan ruins and a bunch of sculptures on the point.

Looks like the link is working.
Last edited:

Mary Bull

New member
I see it fine and I like it well.

For me, it does have the same gritty drama as the other shot, but it tells a different part of the story.

That point full of Mayan structures emphasizes what rocks lie in wait to poke holes in the keels of unlucky ships.

Again, the big red-framed light is trying to shoulder me out, and asking for space to be top dog--this time not against the modern light, but against the strong white x-es of the fence structure.

Well, the professionals and long-time amateur students of photography may disagree with me, but I think this is a strong image and the undercurrent of menace remains for me with it, as much as in the still more dramatically composed other shot.

Thanks for sharing, Aaron. It has pleased me very much to get to see this.


Aaron Strasburg

New member
I'd wanted to post this the other day when the discussion was going, but Flickr wouldn't let me. Let's try again. Pbase seems more friendly and quite speedy so far.

The lack of the storm takes away much of the menace, but the waves on the rocky bluff do replace some of it. It surprised me how far from the tip of land they put the lighthouse. Seems somewhat self defeating.

Completely off topic, but somewhat amusing since it wasn't my boat, but at the very north end of the island where our hotel was a sailboat had run aground on the reef at night. One should not sail near land at night if one doesn't understand marker buoys....

Thanks, Mary, for your kind comments.