Dark fantasies

Richard McGuire PRO 9:00pm, 9 May 2010
I hesitate to post this one because I know some of you are going to hate it, but it's had an interesting reaction elsewhere, so I'll try it out.

Again, I was going for kind of a fantasy look with a shot of tulips and the Canadian Parliament buildings. This time there is a bit of a political statement -- I had in mind the Franz Kafka book "The Castle" in which the centre of bureaucratic power sits in a foreboding castle upon a hill.

This is NOT an HDR. It's not even heavily processed with one exception -- I combined two exposures as layers in Photoshop so the buildings would appear as silhouette. The buildings are from a shot that was underexposed by two stops, and the rest of the image was underexposed by one stop in camera, with a bit of exposure then added to the RAW file.

Otherwise, the colour in the sky was all done with graduated filters (one black, one mauve), and other than tweaking the levels a bit, the tulips are not processed.

Fire away.

Dark fantasies, Ottawa
ramseur78 8 years ago
I love it. I like the bold use of black. The color does seem over saturated but I think it fits the look you were going for . Don't take this the wrong way but it has a Disneyesque feel to it. I would say this would straddle the line between photography and illustration.
archiescat PRO 8 years ago
LOL and ROFL. Where's Joel when you need him? Richard, I LOVE IT.
Sheina Maydela 8 years ago
I agree, it looks like something between photography and illustration. But that doesn't take away from the cool effect of it. I like the contrast of the happy colorful tulips with the darkness of what looks like a sinister castle and moat.
Hannu_E_K PRO 8 years ago
Hmm... Personally, I have just got comments that I oversaturate my images - from a friend. Here you go at least one step beyond that ;-)

It truly is a bit away from what i would call a photo; too saturated generally and then the very black shadow/silhouette.

Did you try it with less color and details left in the shade?
Anthony4u 8 years ago
I think the anonymous building works as a reference to Kafka. It looks dark and forboding as you suggested. I think the tulips work fine in the comp but not as a Kafkaeqsue image or sentiment. The colours look oversaturted but as it's a fantasy attempt that's ok. So it's a nice image and interesting idea but rather garish. Maybe kafka goes to disneyland.
Richard McGuire PRO 8 years ago
@ Anthony: "Kafka goes to Disneyland". I love it!

The comparison with Kafka is limited, because if it were Kafka it would probably be a rainy scene in Prague or somewhere. The tulips aren't very Kafkaesque, as you say.

Actually, I was having a bit of fun with this picture, because I work at "the castle."

I've had a number of comments about this and some other tulip pictures that the tulips look "too saturated." Actually, I think it's just that tulips are very loudly colourful, and shade tends to make them look more saturated than sun. I didn't crank up the saturation.

Below, just to show this, is the original file of the main photo unedited and straight from the camera:


As you can see, the tulips are pretty much as shot except I've boosted the exposure a little, and the sky is the result of filters rather than processing. Only the buildings were taken from a different (darker) exposure.

This picture is probably a bit on the tacky and garish side for a discerning bunch of photographers like those in Critique 2. It seemed to have some mass appeal though, as it made it onto Explore.

Thanks again all.
Carsten Saager PRO 8 years ago
Recalls the old hand colored postcards - the only thing that bothers me is the color of the water compared to the sky - perhaps caused by your mauve grad - besides that the Frankenstein composition has an undeniable appeal
Lomodachi 8 years ago
There's something magical about this!
dmkdmkdmk 8 years ago
I like the composition and the idea behind your image. It's very artistical and interesting. But I don't like the colors. They doesn't look natural, especially in the sky. Maybe you'd use some less color saturisation?
jrosswog 8 years ago
The colors are too saturated for my taste. I'm not a fan of the color of the water or the sky. I think the composition is great idea. If you were to re-shot, I'd consider trying a time of day where you can get a good exposure of the building and the flowers.
Anthony4u 8 years ago
Well done for making Explore. I must admit though I'm a big Kafka fan and have read much of his work. One thing I noted about his work is that he hardly ever alluded to the natural world and certainly not in a sentimental way. This gives his work a claustrophobic feel which he is well known for. Anyway, that's why I didn't feel the colourful tulips felt right. The castle though is perfect in relation to Kafka's story "The Castle" with it being dark, vague and distant, and probaly more importantly, inaccessible.
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