<<< o >>>queen of the castle 32 comments + add yours

This is the first of two portraits of my wife and our dog, and as usual I've posted my least favourite of the two first.

As for the dog: regular visitors will realise they've not seen it before. We've had him for about two months and he's now 14 months old (I think). He was previously owned by an elderly couple who couldn't manage to look after him so we gave him a home. And I would have posted a shot of him sooner but, whenever we take him out, he acts like a hyperactive kangaroo on crack; i.e. leaping around in a way not really conducive to good portraiture ;-)

As for this shot: when I first produced it I really liked it, but since then my wife and I have had a slight difference of opinion about it so I'd welcome your usual thoughtful commentary. One thing that would help: what does the image evoke for you? Or, maybe, what thoughts/feelings do you think are going through my wife's head? The issue here is that my wife, IMO, is reading the picture on the basis of something that I don't think the picture conveys ... if that makes sense. Anyway, let me know what you think.

capture date
focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
1.19pm on 5/12/04
Canon 20D
EF 17-40 f/4L USM
40mm (64mm equiv.)
shutter priority
3x2 + people
comment by Etan at 10:45 PM (GMT) on 5 December, 2004

I definetly don't see her as being happy. Beyond that I can't put myself into her head.

comment by maze at 10:49 PM (GMT) on 5 December, 2004

The dog doesn't seem happy neither. But, after all, the beauty of a photo doesn't necessarily lie in the happiness of the people it shows.

comment by m at 11:12 PM (GMT) on 5 December, 2004

:) Pic
Before reading comments saw "Wife: concentrating whilst midly amused at the dog as it prepares to launch!" After reading comments thought .....

comment by Ecru Emu at 11:37 PM (GMT) on 5 December, 2004

Nice colors, unusual perspective, but what makes it is the dog pulling away, in combination with lighting that makes them both look 2D.

It would have been better if she looked *less* happy.

comment by photographer52 at 12:08 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

It looks like your wife is thinking..."hurry up and take the %$##@! picture........I can't hold this dog much longer!!
Anyway, for what its worth, I really like the image.

comment by amit's photolog (link) at 12:39 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

Beautiful framing. And your color, as usual is surreal. One to print.

comment by Jay Bussiere at 01:28 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

my dog used to love tall grass. tick heaven but he didn't care. looks like your dog behaves the same way by the taught leash.

i see the photo as an upper level and lower. the dividor being the grassy level that peaks at the center of the image (focal point). The clouds reflect the wife's unhappy stare, moody and grey and not the nice white fluffy stuff on a blue skied day. the angle of the dog's head is in line with the grassy plain and the percentage of his body in the tall grass vs sky further eccentuating the grassy plain as a dividor.

both members have something different on their minds. the photo is a good reflection of that moment.

comment by Alec Long [Shutter And Pupil] at 01:39 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

The light is stunning. Wonderfully dramatic.

Yes, I agree...your wife appears to be a bit distracted by that canine rocket about to topple her off the hill.

comment by LunaSol at 01:39 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

I love the way the picture is composed. Your wife , however, looks likes she's thinking " first it was the kittens, not\w it's this huge dog" and the dog looks like he's thinking." wish i could get at those kittens"

comment by Max at 01:46 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

I like the photo except for one thing. It dosen't follow the rule of thirds and for somer eason in this photo it bugs me. I think it would look nicer if it was more off center...

comment by Frank at 02:07 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

I like this shot. I like the contrast between the whiteness of the dog, the beige of your wife's jacket, against the grey skies. I also like the tension on the leash, and what looks like a sense of control on your wife's face.

It's a very intimate shot, in the sense that the emotion doesn't seem superficial.

comment by Maxine at 02:14 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

The photo has surreal components, great colours...the reading I did about the photo was: (sorry), your wife is going to kill the dog and the dog knows it (sic!)

comment by picturegrl at 05:41 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

I love this photo. It looks like a magazine advertisement, perhaps for the jacket she is wearing or something. Her expression is fine, although since it does look like a fashion spread I wish she were looking elsewhere, perhaps a little to the left in further opposition to the dog's stare. I agree that the grass is absolutely surreal and tack sharp, which is almost unsettling because it looks painful to stand in! But the moody sky adds to that too. I like the centered composition as well. I guess the only thing that bothers me (if anything) is the slight blur of the hair, which appears to be more a ghosting effect (perhaps she moved her head?) than blur from the strands themselves blowing. Since the grass is so sharp and the shutter spead is reasonable, I'm guessing that this is the case. Fabulous photo though. Not sure why your wife doesn't like it.

comment by picturegrl at 05:46 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

I just realized that I didn't answer your specific question about what the image conveys...to me it conveys a sense of power as well as privilege, maybe even a bit of arrogance or defiance in her expression. Perhaps that is what your wife doesn't like? I think it's okay though. It doesn't bother me. Whatever the case, it definitely has a very UK feel to it.

comment by nathan at 05:47 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

overall i love the shot. i love the colors and the composition. however for a portrait - it would seem to me to have your wife and dog take up a bit more of the frame and have her appear more relaxed. it appears that the dog is trying to run off and she is holding her back. it seems a bit tense. (very slight bit of tense though)

comment by travis at 06:04 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

I think I agree with picturegrl. When I looked at it, I thought that your title, "Queen of the Castle" was very apt. To my American eyes, she seems to have what I would imagine as a rather "royal" expression -- a privileged disdain. There's a smile... but not quite. Something more is hiding behind it.

Actually, the breed of dog adds to that monarch-esque feeling, too.

Overall, I consider this a great image.

comment by Sharla at 06:14 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

A very nice pic! It is contrasty but that gives it strong definitions. The ight is strong enough to give good colors and soft enough to give good range, and the darkened, cloudy sky is a perfect backdrop. The geometry of the grassy knoll is perfect and interesting.

The dog obviously wants to be moving and is straining its leash (and probably its holder).

Your wife looks uncomfortable, as if holding a white dynamo is not fun, as if trying to stand for your husband's picture is not fun.

No one is having any fun it this picture.

Of course, the less than comfortable projections by both subjects is what makes it seem real and (practically) unposed.

It feels real and the technical aspects are all wonderful.

comment by Noel Lopez at 06:37 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

this photo makes me think about contrasts. contrasts in people, animals and the environment they're in. first if i could talk about the symmetry of the photo. theres a a dome of dirt that the grass is growing on, the soft dome of the dogs head, your wifes head and the clouds. my eye liked traveling vertically through those shapes. the contrast between the pointed grasses, the softness of the poodles fur, the dark black of the womans hair and the gray clouds. i think the textures, shapes and colors all work in harmony.

emotionally, the dog and the woman dont fit together. to me, the photo captures a dog and a woman who are uncomfortable with each other. the dog with the moment or place or the loss of interest in this particular spot, she with the moment where she has to take control of the animal and is captured in that split second. a role she's not comfortable with or more accurately she has temporarily lost control of the animal as it tugs on its leash and wants control again. she looks as if she was captured in an exposed moment-i dont think its about happiness or sadness but control.

comment by aurora at 06:52 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

Your wife stands tall, defiant, almost proud and the control she has over your dog helps convey this. I like the tension between the two (it causes the eye to jump back and forth between them) and the way they stand together convey a sense of strength. My only criticism is that I think your wife needs to be a little more at the front of the picture. Her legs are cut off a little too much. She needs to be a little more in front of those long blades of grass, rather than behind them.

comment by travis at 07:01 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

After thinking about it some more, I just realized something I had missed. (Which may be at the center of the disagreement you two have on this picture):

Which one is really the "Queen"?

You may have originally been referring to the dog. However... without the commentary you gave above, I would (and did at first) assume it was your wife.

Like aurora pointed out, the tension is great, especially now that I just caught on to that dichotomy. Whether or not people agree on who is really the queen here, it works.

comment by steve at 08:07 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

I like it. Here eyes seem to be saying... "who's walking this mutt... us or just me!"

comment by Jerome Pennington at 10:04 AM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

Hi, I've decided to merge with your journey at this point after viewing your first 30 posts, and the most recent 30 posts, and a few in between, so... since you asked:

"what does the image evoke for you?"

Freedom and companionship jump to mind.
"what thoughts/feelings do you think are going through my wife’s head?"

Seems to me that what's going through her head has to do with something that's not in the picture, so it's tough to say. Maybe, "Put that camera down and help me with this beast".

This image reminds me of "Boxslide Hill" near the house where I grew up. Long grass + flattened cardboard boxes + gravity = hours of outdoor entertainment.

comment by miklos at 12:26 PM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

This does look 2D .. I'm not sure I like the combination/composition of colours, and her hair (the two strands around the outline of her profile) make it look like it's a Photoshop blur gone wrong.. Wait.. i think it is. Also the dog looks like it's suffocating with its front legs off the ground.. If your wife was the one giving this a negative rating, I'd have to agree with her :)

comment by djn1 at 01:09 PM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

Ok, mixed reactions to this one then ;-)

A couple of points: my wife was quite fed up in this shot – the dog had been barking and misbehaving for about half an hour at this point – and its her expression that she wasn't too keen on; i.e. she though she looked miserable.

As for the couple of comments about her blurred hair: oddly, this has nothing to do with motion blur or Photoshop filters (none were applied), but is a consequence of quite a dramatic increase in contrast which, at this resolution, has removed a lot of the detail in this area of the shot. The full-res' version looks better, but I couldn't get this one quite right without making it look unnatural.

comment by jane at 01:12 PM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

I love this pic. It feels dramatic yet earthy. To me it speaks of agendas and attention. Each character has completely separate ones which enhances the drama and makes for a striking image. I like the title and as mentioned above, either could be Queen......

comment by picturegrl at 02:19 PM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

One thing about everyone's comments that the dog could be queen --- David refers to the dog as being male in his comments above....so the queen reference would have to refer to his wife.

comment by wookiee at 03:31 PM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

Poodles are the spawn of the devil.

comment by Phil at 07:31 PM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

Reminds me of Monet's Woman With a Parasol, only this is Woman With a Large Poodle

comment by S at 08:10 PM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

I really like the composition of this photograph especially the contrast of the yellow/green grass with the sky. I don't think your wife looks miserable. I think she looks determined and in control. The dog however doesn't look blissfully happy.

comment by djn1 at 08:51 PM (GMT) on 6 December, 2004

Thanks everyone.

wookiee: as a statement of fact I suspect you're exaggerating, but in this instance you're probably right ;-)

comment by billy at 01:19 AM (GMT) on 7 December, 2004

I like this shot more of the two you posted of your wife and your dog because of the lighting in this photo. the contrast between the soft light on your wife and the hill she's on and the ominous clouds in the background makes for a very striking picture

comment by MG at 03:20 AM (GMT) on 5 April, 2006

Hi, wonderful image, great contrast! How did you meter this image? Did you use a grey card? If I tried this my sky would blow out or the opposite.