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Which photo is better?

***UPDATE*** So the contest is officially over (has been for a couple days) and I promised I would explain my take on it, so here goes: I obviously had a hard time picking between the two pictures because I like them both and I’ll tell you why. PHOTO 1 (or A or Left): I love the mood of this shot. When I went out that day I told myself I wanted an abandoned barn or house with a moody sky. Check and check. I love how the path leads you to the house but the gate keeps you out. Overall, I think this is a decent stock photography picture or something you might see in the “prints” section at your favorite big box store. Kind of a what you see is what you get type of picture. PHOTO 2 (or B or Right): There’s a mystery to this photo. If you saw this photo independent of the other you might have to guess a bit at what the foreground even is. I am huge fan of using things to frame my subject and strong lines in the picture, and this photo has both. I see this photo as less of a “popular” level photo, more arty and more of an aquired taste. For these reasons, this photo ended up being the one that I will hang if/when I ever get the chance to display some of these. Thanks so much for playing along and giving me some insight into why you like one photo over the other. Remember, art is subjective and there is no right answer and that’s why I love it! Based on it looks like Kristen from Five Dot Design is our winner and I will get in contact with her to get her new book out to her. Thanks again everyone! ***END UPDATE*** I recently photographed a few scenes along Route 52 here in Southern Ohio. I was driving through these tiny towns when came upon this abandoned house on a little vineyard. I loved the scene but I couldn’t decide how I wanted the picture to look. After going through the shots these are my favorites and I still can’t decide. If you’d be so inclined I would love your feedback as to which you think is a better photograph and why. After a week or so I’ll tell you which one I like better and why. I’m really interested to hear what you have to say. Just click the tiny little comment button at the bottom of this post to leave your comment. Oh, and I’ll pick one commenter at random to win a copy of Sebastiao Salgado’s amazing photo book “Africa”. He is one of my favorites and if you have never seen his work you are missing out. A couple details: only comments given before April 7, 2011 on this blog (not Twitter or Facebook) will be eligible for the book.

17 Responses to “Which photo is better?”

  1. Anne Bresnahan Polak says:
    I like the photo on the left best because the house in the distance provides a focal point between the dark clouds and the lighter road and fence. I also like how the fields/ property seem to frame the house.
  2. I like #1. pulling out and seeing i can get around the gate makes me want to go further inside the picture. It also leaves me with the feeling of what else is there. you can see the stuff to the left and I want to keep exploring it. #2 is a great shot but it gives me the feeling of… Stop! this is as far as you go.
  3. lexi says:
    I like the second one. The railing almost frames the house making it the center point of the image. You can also still see the dark sky giving the abandoned home a even more mysterious feel to it. I feel like the first one shows too much so your eye is wandering around the whole image instead of focusing on the main point.
  4. KBL says:
    Haven’t done this since college! But, I’m not going to say one is better than the other, but I WILL tell you which I would prefer to have hanging in my house. :-) I’m going against the consensus, here. I find myself asking more questions about the photo on the right. I gravitate toward shots where I don’t have all the information, but just enough to make me ask questions. I find the elements in the photo on the left too accessible. I can just walk around the left side of the gate and walk right up to the house or over into the field- I feel like I know too much or could find information out too easily. The photo on the right restricts me from exploring the surroundings which only leaves me more curious about the significance of the house and the property. It offers more mystery and it feels like finding out more information would be a challenge. It’s more dramatic. I’m also a huge fan of keeping the integrity of the slant of the bars on the gate as it adds a nice tension with the tree line and compliments the line work in the photo overall. The photo becomes less of a natural landscape and lends itself more to an industrial feel, in a sense, which is a great contrast to the subject of the photo. The tonal range in the second photo is much more appealing to me, as well. I get a nice sense of depth with the foreground being lighter and the space around the house heavy with rick blacks and grays- and I appreciate how that is mimicked within the gate, too with your heavier tones at the top of the photo (contrasting nicely with the sky) fading into the lighter foreground of the image. You almost get a sense of things get better as you get further away from the house, as if a burden is lifted. Yeah, I’m not really known for short and sweet answers. :-) Nice work!
  5. tough call… like them both but at 10:51 pm (14 hours into my work day), I’m liking the “back-off” vibe of #2. I like the way the bars are close and in my face. Adds a layered effect that feels kinda like I’m peeping through the blinds into the photo. :)
  6. I like picture #2. Having the gate right there in my face makes me wonder about the house and what secrets it keeps. When developing my own photos in the darkroom, I tended to develop on the dark side and picture #2 reminds me more of the look of photos and crops I would have developed for.
  7. Kristyn says:
    I think they are both fantastic photos, but I like Photo B the best. The close up with the gate gives me that sense of prison bars isolating myself and the house from each other. After looking at the first photo I like it even more because you can see in photo A the isolation around the home which is emphasized in Photo B because all you see is this house behind bars, as if it’s abandoned and rotting because no one could get out of it or to it to save it, much less whoever was inside. The size variation of the gate is also a cool element and the length of the road seems greater which makes it even more isolated. So haunting. Makes me think of the books I’ve read about places like Kansas in the dust storm days. Just my thoughts. Either one though is great!!
  8. Nick says:
    Both are great shots, but I am liking #2 more right now. It feels a little more foreboding than the first. Not to be redundant, but the slant of the bars, the color palette, the higher contrast of the second photo all work together to make it more interesting for me. The first photo makes me think the house is just an old farm house. But my imagination kicks in for the second photo and I assume it’s an old farm house inhabited by a family of serial killers.
  9. Brenda Pottinger says:
    They both are wonderful images. I love the first image because it really captures the story! The road leads the viewer’s eye to the home and the darkening clouds are moody and give a great tone to this piece. What a great image!
  10. heidzillas says:
    i prefer the one on the right because I like that i have to infer there is a gate and there’s more of a no trespassing feel. I also like the detail of road, and the lack of the looming clouds in the photo on the left.
  11. James says:
    I’ve thought about this for a few days now. My first inclination was the first one “looked” better. As time passed, however, I’m more and more drawn to the second photo. The bars on the gate are impeding progress on the road. What keeps giving me pause is if the gate is keeping those outside from getting in, or the people within from getting out. I know it sounds cliche, but whatever. The simplicity of the house in general against the amazing sky is also great. Also, cutting off the context of the gate post and space around it makes the home look even more isolated, adding to the impact of the photograph in my opinion.

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