Pic and a Word Challenge #187: Seeing red

I’ve just returned from a week in Slovenia and this is the best I can do if you lend me a pro camera.

Seeing red

If I was one to see red
at what the internet thinks
this would be the moment.

I post a photo
that I really like
in a FB photography group
that showcases the beauty of Slovenia.

It’s only the fourth I’ve posted
since joining a while ago
but I lurk.

I see intense beauty,
terrible Photoshop jobs,
photos without any merit at all,
all of it,
as one does these days.

I can understand
how the word photographer as my status
insults the ones who do it for a living.

But I cannot understand so many other things:
what they say,
how they say it,
why they say it.

It’s their culture they show,
not (just) their opinion.

But I refuse to see red.
I see the greens,
oh all the greens
of the only half sunny day in a week,
and the beauty of Slovenia.

It’s the people who are ugly.
Out of focus.
  • Not all, never all. I got some lovely comments as well.
  • Also, I never count or remember likes but the fact is that this must be my most liked photo on FB ever. 133, and they keep coming.
  • The truth is that when I posted the featured photo in that group yesterday, I was in a hurry and the church was indeed left hanging to a side. I have fixed it by now.
  • You can see my original Facebook post and all the comments here but I don’t encourage you to keep commenting. Let it die. (Also, it’s all in Slovenian.)
  • What I find fascinating is how a photo like this can divide people. I guess people really love to be divided.
  • Fact I.: If you didn’t know, I only use a point-and-shoot Nikon for all my photos. It was my first time ever holding and using a pro camera: NIKON D700 with a huge appendix. Luckily I’m a strong woman.
  • Fact II.: I didn’t know where to set aperture so I didn’t. I also didn’t know that aperture is spelled with only one p (I put two in).
  • Fact III.: My eyesight is going so I struggled with manual focus. However, in this photo it is perfectly obvious (to me) that I was going for the grass. Isn’t it??
  • Ah, okay, I have the other photo too. With the church in focus. Do you wish to see it? Some preferred this one.
  • I have never used Photoshop, only the basic Windows Photo Gallery. A question for pros (or anybody, really): What would you fix in Photoshop in the case of these two photos? This seemed to be the fil rouge of the comments, that I should fix it, and I know that nowadays a photo is more made than taken. And this kinda pisses me off.
In focus: Saint Wolfgang/Volbenk Church in Zelše.

In response to Patrick Jennings’ Pic and a Word Challenge #187: Red

ADD-IT: Since Sherry Felix volunteered to post-process my photos to show me what can be done, I invite all of you to do the same and mail me results. She gave me permission to post her work so here it is with thanks. To see what she did, have a look in the comments. Anybody else? Be my guest!! I’d really love to gather here more attempts.

Photo: MMM. Edit: Sherry Felix


  1. I like both photos, Manja. The ‘out of focus’ photo has so much to see with the flowers up front. Whose to say which is best? You like what you like. And I don’t like people forcing their opinions on me. I use a Nikon point and shoot, also. One heck of an amazing little camera, isn’t it? I love it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Lois. Oh yes, it’s great. Sometimes I see that I could use a bit more zoom (darn flamingos hiding in the middle of the lagoon!) and sometimes I’m upset at the white sky in my photos but that’s my lack of skills. People seem to force their opinions most of all. :p


  2. Wow. People are really venting these days. Can we not jusy focus on they positive ay last in photography? After all, it is not the worst thing in the world if a photo isn’t perfect. Loved your incisive poem. I like your photo. Both of them. One of mire clearer than ther other but that is okay. The composition and subject of your photo makes it appealing. Welcome back from your trip. Is it good to be home?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Amanda. Yes, it is! But it was great to be there too. 😀 Even though the weather didn’t play along. What I find so strange is that I clearly stated that it was my first time with a pro camera and still some got so irate. But I liked how some “defended” me too. 🙂 All in all – just another mirror to humanity.


      1. Nope! I still use Apple’s (now discontinued) Aperture on the Mac, but most of the time I now use Snapseed on the iPad…I am getting lazy!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “Improper” photo of the church and meadows in the foreground could also be an illustration of the fact that it grows in large Slovenian lawn several different plants than in whole UK.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The first one is by far the one that captured me. For two scenarios: it represents my nearsightedness of most of my life (before cataract surgery and implanted long distance lenses, and ) I was much more severely nearsighted than this picture portrays, but I miss my old eyesight very much though I’m also aware without the surgery I would now be legally blind. And 2, I enjoy very much being a tiny creature at grass level and so aware of my closest surroundings like this. Thank you for the experiences.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Claudia. 🙂 Oh yes, eyesight is something that truly deserves keeping at (almost) all cost, I believe. Mine is slowly going and we’ll see how much it goes. For now glasses are working well, but in this case I didn’t have my glasses for near with me as I didn’t expect to need them. Generally my camera does its own focusing. 🙂 I’m certainly happy that your sight was fixed when it was.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, I miss seeing the way I used to do, but not seeing at all, well, I don’t even like to contemplate it. One aspect of my cataract surgery also is that I had to choose a focal length for my new lenses, either see well close up or far away. Weighing it, I chose far away, as safer for me in the long term, so I now need glasses for close up work too. I laughed in recognition about your struggles with the camera!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. First off… thanks for this post. It’s insightful, soulful and the most important things so many commenters on your FB post were not: generous and kind. So well done on that.

    <sigh> The quality of commentary on these groups — especially fb — is mixed at best. At it’s worst, many people are just downright cruel. Fortunately, fb does provide the ability to give these people the boot from your feed. You can hide their comments and posts. You can even block them from seeing your posts. I don’t do it often, but every now and again I turn off a “noisy” channel. Life is just more pleasant that way. 😉

    Critique — constructive criticism — is useful. (Well-formed and insightful critique is a gift.) Criticism and mean-spirited mocking is just not useful to anyone but the egos of those who would mock others, and that sad state is a reflection only on the mean-spirited person who mocks.

    Foreground focus is not just a valid technique, but also a potent one that can be hard to teach. I think your attempt here has the right idea — and I love the way the soft background still rewards the viewer with a flavour of the Slovenian countryside. The foreground focus makes this a more interesting shot — for me, at least — than the more traditional focus on the building at infinity like in the second picture.

    The aperture here is important, so it’s a good learning opportunity. Yours is set at 2.8, which is quite large making the depth of field quite small. As a result, there’s only a very narrow band of the foreground that is actually in focus. To get a wider depth of field — more of the foreground in focus — use a smaller aperture… say 5.6 or 8.

    For this photograph, there’s a bit of a tricky balance. Too much depth of field and the background won’t have that delicious softness (called “bokeh”) you have here. It will just look out of focus. But not enough depth of field, and there’s not really anything in the foreground in focus either, and we viewers really want to *see* the grass and wild flowers in all their detail.

    Even with the narrow focus, though, this is a pretty picture. 🙂

    Namaste, my friend.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Patrick! ❤ Oh yes, critique is always appreciated, especially when I have no idea about the matter as in the case of aperture. Is this something that can be fixed later? I suppose not…

      But when somebody tells me what I should do to meet the rules more or be more "likeable", I smile on the inside and move on.

      I'm really happy that you like the blurry picture nevertheless. I took many that day with this camera and have only dashed through them for now and this one stood out for me as something I'd love if I saw it in another's gallery (which is how I choose whether I like something or not – as if it's not mine).

      As for this group, or any other FB group – no worries, I remove myself as necessary and post in them very rarely. Too much mocking of anything and I start to see violet, not only red. Luckily I don't have unknown people leaving such commentary on my page, which is all I care about.

      I still have a question – if you were given these photos to post-process, what would you do? 🙂


  6. I like the photo as it is – the lack of focus (except for the grass) is its charm, its what draws you in. I quite agree about W.A. (see first blogger’s comment) I find it very hard to separate the man from the work but that’s not always the case because I can still enjoy “The Pianist” by Roman Polanski and the paintings of Paul Gauguin, I guess I’m a bit of a hypocrite?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Emma, we cannot be expected to disregard all works of art when its creator is a moron/creep/criminal/nasty piece of humanity. That would take too much out. Sometimes it shines through more often though, and this is the case in point.

      Thank you for your opinion. Always appreciated. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Here’s how I tackled your two images. I took both pictures into Photoshop and masked out the blurry grass to show the sharp grass. Then masked out the sky and put in one more suitable. Finally I enhanced it in onOne. I would love to show you one possibility. If you send me an email I can send it to you. My email here is sherryfelix@port4u.net. Hope you don’t mind me taking liberties with them. I won’t share it. You did ask 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  8. You remind me of my year studying photography in university.

    The final step of every photography assignment was a class critique. We all hung our work in the classroom and each photograph was subjected to critique from our classmates and the professor. My photography professor would sometimes get frustrated with us as a class during these critiques when we were being too kind, when we would side-step what we didn’t like about a photograph and only talk about what we did like.

    “If this was hanging in a gallery, and there was no one around, would you be tempted to steal it?!?!” he would ask, incredulous.

    Of course, we would all answer, “Ummm… No.”

    “Excellent! Now. Tell us why not.”

    Being too kind in a critique is just as bad as being too cruel. 😉

    I would probably only apply subtle adjustments to the exposure and colour of your photo in photoshop/lightroom. (A bit less adjustment than Sherry applied. In my opinion. Her image feels to me a bit too dark overall, particularly the sky and mountains, and it’s made the vignetting a bit too noticeable.)

    For me, perhaps a tich more contrast (In particular, I would use the shadows/blacks/highlights/whites sliders in lightroom to get a little more density — “blackness” — in the blacks while maintaining the shadow detail — but just a little.)

    I’d also play a bit with the saturation and luminosity of the foreground yellows in lightroom… make them a bit more intense and “present”.

    I might also isolate the sky in a photoshop adjustment layer and punch up the clouds a bit — give them more contrast and a little more overall darkness. (You could do that in photoshop with the sliders in the Camera Raw tool, or with a curves adjustment layer– the photoshop curves tool offers a bit more power and flexibility here, but there’s a steeper learning curve to using it.)

    I’d leave it at that, but…

    If you want to get a really wide depth of field, wider than that a single shot can provide, there’s a technique called “focus stacking” which will take multiple images, each with different parts of the image in focus, and blend them so that all the most in focus parts are in the final image. It can provide a more accurate blend than Sherry used in her compositing technique, but the best results are achieved with images purposely taken to use this technique.The tool would probably have a difficult time blending your two images: you shot these hand-held and the camera was in slightly different positions for each exposure which also created different framing. There’s a “focus stacking” menu selection in photoshop, and tutorials for how to use it on youtube if you’re curious.

    All that said, I still prefer the photo with foreground focus only. It’s more interesting to me as a story, and my eye isn’t made restless jumping back and forth between the twin subjects of the foreground grass and background building and mountains. My mind’s eye *knows* what the subject is, and my eye is free to explore that in detail while appreciating the context of the creamy soft background.

    *That* said, your framing in the background focus image is a little better because it has more sky and doesn’t chop off the top of the mountains. A more advanced project would be to import the sky and mountaintop from the background focus image into the foreground focus image. Using the blur tools, match the blurriness of the unfocussed background then blend the result.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like a most excellent couple of teachers, yours then and you now. 🙂 I realised before that more sky above the mountains is better but that’s about it.

      I’ve had no idea how much work goes into a good photo. As a natural born lazy-ass I thought that they just happen, you know? The truth is that when I post a bunch of photos as I do, I don’t think that they are all good, sometimes I know exactly how bad each is, but I STILL wish to show them to you all for a specific reason or a myriad of them.

      It’s a bit how I go to town. 😀 I’m clean-looking, my hair is brushed, a bit of cherry Labello but that’s about it. Hahahha.

      It still depends, the kindness and harshness of a critique, I feel… For example, I’d never ask for a critique of any of my poems. Certainly there are poetry rules too but I don’t care about meeting them. In my poems I tell what I want and how I want it. I don’t care if anything could be improved. Again, similar to my appearance. For example, it’s good to know a make-up technique for when I need to dazzle but not for every day. 🙂

      That said, I’m grateful and much obliged. You can certainly always tell me anything you wish about my work. I’ll always listen.


      1. 🙂 Thank you. You’re very kind, and I’m tickled that you found any of it useful.

        I often spend more time editing the photograph than writing the poem… though, to be more accurate, the editing process is part of my writing process. (Ideas percolate while I’m editing and I’ll often start writing while editing, going back and forth between image and verse.)

        Even the image just posted with Lens-dropping a Conversation, which seems a simple-enough candid photograph, required a significant amount of editing from the original. Its lightroom history lists about 50 tweaking steps adjusting exposure, frame and sharpness/clarity/texture. In photoshop there are an additional 5 masked adjustment layers. Four of these darken the big blurry guy on the left of frame so he doesn’t draw any attention from the eye. The last layer darkens the woman’s hands, which were a bit too bright as well.

        It’s a rare event that anything I post has gone SOC (Straight Off the Camera) to a post. In fact, I can’t recall that ever happening. Not everything requires as much effort in editing as today’s, but there are always exposure and/or colour compensations to be applied. On the other hand, there’s often a fair bit more work, for example Blues Transformed is slyly named to reflect how much editing was required to get to that image from the original capture on my phone.

        Now, all that said, I also can’t say I’m exactly tickled pink by every image I post. A fair number of posts are much more about the words inspired by a rather mediocre image.

        As for critiques… I’ve learned not to ask for these from family and friends who are not also committed to developing their own writing and photography skills. You just can’t get a valuable critique from them as much because they don’t want to say anything constructively critical as because they don’t understand the craft. FB groups and other unmoderated public forums are a mixed bag because a significant number of the participants are amateurs, many of whom believe they know far more about the craft than in fact they do, and all too many of these have no idea how to participate in constructive criticism.

        Peer critique, on the other hand, is an invaluable resource for growing as an artist. And, perhaps surprisingly, *giving* critique is at least as valuable as *receiving* it. I think this is largely a matter of learning how to “see” art and make the process of seeing *conscious*. We all have emotional, technical and intellectual responses to art, but we’re not always clear about the underlying and largely unconscious human traits which are significant factors driving us toward those responses. Successful artists have a deep understanding of how and why people respond to their art and know how to exploit technique and meaning to explore that understanding. Receiving critiques is useful in that other artists can help you understand how and why your own work succeeds and fails. Giving critiques is useful because it requires the person giving a critique to develop a conscious understanding how and why art works for themself, which is immediately applicable to their own creative process.

        My writing group meets once a month, spending several hours critiquing each other’s work. It’s invaluable, and always one of the most enjoyable days I experience in every month.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ll delve deeper into this comment tomorrow but thank you for including the originals!! In the case of the Blue one it’s amazing what you did, as for the last one… how can I say it kindly… you’ve aged the lady! 😮 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hah! Perhaps I did — or perhaps I restored her age? — as a result of sharpening and texturing. However, it also intensified both women’s expressions, and I don’t find either of them less beautiful for the additional maturity. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Fascinating what you say about the creative process, especially this: “Successful artists have a deep understanding of how and why people respond to their art and know how to exploit technique and meaning to explore that understanding.” Here is where I gasp because I recognise this exploitation when it happens to me in contact with another’s successful work of art. I’m in two minds about doing it myself: on one hand, I don’t want to exploit anybody, it sounds hurtful and fake, and on the other it’s just a hook and it helps your output find readers/viewers, which is something to aspire to. Tricky. 🙂 Thanks for this exchange!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. <grin> If you replace “exploit” with “utilize” the sentence has the same intent without the negative connotations.

        All art is language. And I mean that quite, well, literally. In pre-literate Christian societies, every illiterate parishioner could ‘read’ the sculptures and stained glass adorning the facade and interior of a cathedral, even the architectural structure of the building itself. All of these presented meanings and stories to teach and reinforce Christian faith. Our literate society has lost much of that particular dialect.

        As an artist, it behooves me to learn how to speak that language so I can effectively express myself.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I use to be a real fan of SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) images that had good composition, until I discovered simple editing a year ago. I found it could turn a wonderful photo into more of what my eyes actually experienced or beyond. Deeper colors that the camera missed, etc. Interesting conversation you’ve attracted, Mexi. The main thing in my eyes is to continue your love of photography your way. Knowledge can get a photo to the next level, but don’t lose your passion for capturing beautiful moments. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ohh, yes, Olga, exactly like this. 🙂 Thank you so much. The only thing editing is good for is to achieve the effect as it happened and the camera missed it. Passion always comes first, without it there it nothing left, just a bunch of rules. SOOC then, I haven’t even heard of this acronym yet. Good to know where I lean to. Always welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What were they saying then? Bad comments??? Why???? This is such a neutral photo, I don’t get how it can divide opinions. I love the out of focus one and of course it never crossed my mind that it wasn’t intentional. I have no idea what they’d fix in Photoshop. I was looking at the sky trying to see if it was burnt/overexposed but I don’t think it is, not too much for my liking. Weird.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, SMSW. I see this issue as just another thing in which people differ. When I leave the house, I don’t like to put make-up on, while some others cannot exit without full make-up. We all know where this can end: regular surgeries for maintenance. It’s a bit brutal but this is what I think of heavy editing.

      But it’s okay, to each what we wish and need and search for, unless it harms others.

      I was also quite shocked to see how such a photo can create fights but they happened. What you should focus on, how there should be thirds, how the photographer should learn this and that and use Photoshop to achieve quality. Their kind of quality.

      It’s like that thing about hairdressers that you know well – they make you look like them because to them that is pretty (quoting myself from memory). 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I like the out-of-focus one the best. It has a spontaneity that gets lost when you fool around too much in Photoshop. Not that Photoshop doesn’t have its uses, but in this case the original is much better to my eye. But of course I like surprises. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  12. It’s a lovely photo both ways. Although it’s very nice Sherry helped you see it differently and what can be done, I don’t necessarily think it needed a ‘fix.’ It’s an art, yeah? And people like this and don’t like that and that’s how people do. I don’t seem to have time to be hateful or hurtful when there’s so much beauty about, so many wonderful people to write with and things to do and learn… Certainly from you, and your way of seeing. I love the way you see and write ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Joey. Yes, I’m grateful to Sherry because I’m curious about the possibilities, if only to know what can be done. And yes, there is so much to rejoice over that all the rest can wait. Forever.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi MMMovie,

    Some people … Yeah, some people … There are tons of painters who have/had vision issues but incorporate their non-average images into some of the most treasured and valuable art pieces in the world. I can say the same for writers who see things differently than others. There are really too many to list. If all we had was normal sight, in the world and in the mind’s eye, what a boring place this would be. Of course the trick is to take those unique perspectives and offer them in such a way as to give others a beautiful appreciation of what is possible. I know my writing is not for everyone and unknown people blast me all the time. Fuck ’em … life is too short and we must do what we must do, there is no other way if we are going to keep breathing. Fuzzy or not, your photo brings me to that place, on that day, and it is really all about imagination anyway. Everyone has it, they just stop using it for various fucked up reasons. So keep on … the meter’s running. Thanks and love. Duke P.S. I agree with Joey. She seems like a very nice person.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Duke. I know all you say is true and have no doubt in my mind what needs to be done, on a daily basis, but sometimes I’m astonished at the level of hatred, bile, anger, entitlement etc etc that some people exhibit now that the internet allows everybody to do just that. Their lives have made them this way. Just sorry for them. And glad for you! Also, yes, Joey is all that.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Manja! I had missed this and Snow’s post today led me to this. I am so sorry that you had to go through that… but this post of yours was calm and dignified… I hope the naysayers learn something from you! I liked both the photos… the wildflowers are so pretty. I don’t understand why people are so negative and judgmental and just downright rude… art is personal and there is no right or wrong, at least I tend to believe along these lines. As you had mentioned once, taking pictures for memory and that’s all that matters. There are memories, stories attached to photos that we take and I think that is a crucial part of their beauty:) Sending some hugs your way ….I don’t need to say this but still will….you are a wonderful person😊😊 And I was inspired by Snow’s post to write a little one of my own along similar lines ( a couple of incidents that had happened a while ago.. I had almost forgotten!) and post some ‘imperfect’ photos .. hope that’s okay with you. You rock❤️❤️

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ahh, you’ve got many nice words for me, thank you so much for that, Moon. 🙂 I’m looking forward to your post. Snow’s post is so inspiring and thought-provoking. I was not really upset about that FB group reaction, I have come to expect the worst from the internet, except WordPress. People on here are such sweethearts, including you! ❤ And yes, I'm always taking photos for memory and am so glad for this platform so that I can share them with the world. Always welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Also here via Snow Melts Somewhere. I like the first picture best, because it’s something new. The one where the church is in focus is just too predictable. It looks like a postcard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still good, especially if you want to showcase Slovenian landscape. But the one with the grass in focus is more original. Also, people on Facebook are garbage (well, some of them).

    Liked by 3 people

I will not ask you questions at the end of posts to trick you into commenting. So when you do it on your own, it's that more appreciated. Thank you!

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