More Bicycles in the Snow

I find this image much better than the previous two. I read somewhere that if you cannot explain why something is good, you cannot repeat it, and as a “head person” I tend to agree. So let me try and critique this image and see if I can put into words why I like it.

Bicycles in the Snow

Even though this image is somewhat abstract, it’s very clear that it is showing us two bicycles covered with snow.  So without giving it much thought, I called the image “Bicycles in Snow.”   But the main subject are clearly the three red lights.  Like in real life their strong color causes them to immediately stand out  and draw attention to themselves.  Here however they appear as cheerful spots of color and not in their typical warning function.  If you are so inclined, you could even interpret them as signs of life within an otherwise cold and colorless image.

(So we already have a literal and an abstract interpretation and then the juxtaposition of warning and cheerful.  That’s enough for me to call the image a keeper and give it three stars.)

Looking a bit longer I notice the interesting texture of the snow and the nice contrast to the black frame of the bicycles.  Also the strong lines leading upwards and to the right, thus strengthening the notion of cheerfulness and optimism.  But there is also an ellipse that starts with the bicycle frame of the right side, follows the handle bars to the left, and then continues down along the mud guard of the left bike.  And there, while traveling along the ellipse, our eyes meet the three red spots of color again — very nice!

I approached this scene with my wide-angle zoom attached to the camera.  I knew immediately that the angle-of-view is too wide, but my fingers were too frozen to change lenses, so I got in closer and took a few shots.  That caused too much exaggeration in the lower-left corner, so frozen fingers or not, I mounted my 50/1.8 and took one last shot.  While evaluating the images at home I was immediately drawn by the tight framing of last image.  That image has the further advantage of being shot with a prime lens of normal focal length, so it has tons of detail throughout.

(Which accounts for the forth and final star.  But I won’t give a fifth one because the image lacks strong impact and memorability.)

In terms of editing I didn’t do anything special.  Other than a very slight crop from the right, I cloned a piece of trash in the upper left, I strengthened the saturation of the red lights and desaturated the yellows completely (there was a yellow sticker of the left bike’s mud guard that was visible despite the snow).  All of this took about a minute in ACR.  I then opened the image in Photoshop and run two actions: one produced the preview above and the other the large image that appears after clicking on the preview.

Now tell me please, do I file this image under “places / Hamburg” or “transportation / bicycle” or “seasons / winter”?  🙄

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