The Wailing Woman of the Waters

Water moving slowly through a narrow ravine in Korea was covered with foam and some autumn leaves. When I rotated this 90deg CCW I was at once struck by the eerie shape.

Specific Feedback Requested

First, the focus is not too good - this was 12 years ago, I only had my long lens with me, and it was impossible to view from above, only alongside. This is the color negative converted to B and W, as I liked the effect of the dark cloak. I wasn’t sure about the 2 leaves covering her face - but they add a bit to the mystery.

Technical Details

D90 + Sigma 150-500mm (@500mm) 1/400 f8 ISO 200

Topaz Denoise; converted to Color Negative in PS Curves and then to B and W. Topaz Sharpen.

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Mike, the sense of a 2 tone woodcut print is very strong here. There’s also a fine sense of movement with all the vertical lines. Even in the largest version, I don’t think any softness is noticeable. While I think the vertical panorama is interesting, I wonder about cropping some off the bottom. For me, that emphasizes the Van Gogh “starry night” swirls along the top edges.

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Hi Mike – This is a great subject and I love all the shapes. It is full of mystery and wonder. I also like the stark black and white presentation. I see your acknowledgement about the sharpness so I will not spend much time on that but agree that one of the edges looks a little out of focus (not a deal-breaker at all for me).

From your title, it seems like you seeing a woman in the foam is important to how you presented the photo. In my own work, I never see metaphors or representations like that and am instead just drawn to the shapes. So, I do not mean to take away anything from your interpretation but I did have fun rotating it so see what it might look like flipped around. After some experimentation, I decided on the orientation below because I like the flow a bit more than in the tall vertical presentation. I also think a minor crop could remove some visual distractions and inconsistencies along the edges. I like this because it is full of movement in a way that feels more harmonious for me compared to the vertical.

Sarah, thank you so much for your critique. I do think like you that to be truly abstract one should concentrate on the shapes. I also agree that the horizontal view has more flow to it (as it did in reality), and I like very much how you have improved the details with your cropping. I’m learning so much from your other critiques too, so thanks again for this.