#1269. Photo critique: Golden Bentley

By pascaljappy | How-To

Mar 02

Introducing a new type of post. Here is a photograph, with my explanations about it. Please tell me what you think. What you like, don’t like, would change …

The selected photograph doesn’t have to be a particularly great one. It only needs to be intentional, so comments can establish whether the original intention shows through. Here goes.

Golden Bentely

This is a car park in Nice airport. This bright coloured car obviously cought my eye and I grabbed my phone on my way to my own, parked a bit further out. Not a Bentley, I’m sad to report πŸ˜‰

I grabbed a few snaps that included the very interesting architecture of the terminal and overhead roads, then moved on to another position where the car’s number plate wouldn’t appear, so I could publish the photos without spending the rest of my life in a high-security prison with serial rapists and mass murderers.

This scene appeared. The beauty of the architecture, which complements the curves and design of the car in other photos was absent here, but this actually felt better. To me the brutalist grey pillars contrast with the curveous and colourful Bentley. Utilitarianism meets hedonistic luxury.

Ideally, I would have prefered to have no other car on the left, to oppose the Bentley to the more mundane vehicles to the right, and should have taken a lower stance, but this was a rushed shot, and the red car intrudes a bit. It’s no biggie, though, and might actually be better.

What I did notice is the blue spot on the pillar. In the final square framing, much later, I chose to leave it whole, to create a chromatic opposition with the car and show the photo to be as much about opposition as about the stunning car itself. Less of a photo about beauty and design and more of a photo about photography.


This, above, was my first instinctual shot. The square photo at the top is my end-result.

What do you think? Which do you feel is the better photograph? Why? What would you have done differently? Please chip in. Do let me know πŸ™‚

Also, if there are any other photographs you would like to see discussed, yours, mine from other posts, or someone else’s online, share those and we can repeat this exercise on many other examples πŸ™‚


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  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    Hi Pascal,

    I am no expert but might you not have been able to isolate the car against the utilitarian architecture – reducing extraneous clutter of other subject matter – by for instance composing directly from behind in portrait mode and almost filling the frame with the rear of the car ?

    Would that have worked / not worked to accomplish the vision of – Utilitarianism meets hedonistic luxury. ?

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Or possibly slightly obliquely from the rear ?

      • pascaljappy says:

        So, this is possibly the best from this series (they are all displayed on the post or in the comments, now). I didn’t write about this one, because I think it kinda works, with the shape, colour and thematic contrast with the bus. So there was probably less to say about it, in my mind. What do you think of this one?

        Cheers, and thanks a lot.

        golden car and blue bus at Nice airport

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Ian, a bit like this?

      It’s a nicer looking image, but doesn’t say very much, at least I don’t feel it does. What do you think? Thanks for the comment πŸ™‚

      • Ian Varkevisser says:

        Hi Pascal,

        That is along the lines I was thinking as it simplifies the composition and contrasts the subject against the utilitarian background.

        But from a slightly lower angle and more of a portrait crop I was originally thinking.

        I understand we all have our subject views



  • John Wilson says:

    Pascal – a few points.
    Colour photographs are by default about colour and the contrast of colours, whether we like it or not. In this instance it is essential to the image regardless of what else we may think of the image. I tried converting them to BW but no amount of “adjustment” produced anything other than a boring mess.

    Essentially you’ve achieved the intent of “Utilitarianism meets hedonistic luxury.” The sheer fact that the shape and colour of the car contrasts so starkly with the surroundings, we can’t fail to notice the difference however we may initially interpret it. I also understand that these were done “on the fly” without time to really study the scene for the best angle(s). This is a problem I’ve faces constantly in cars shows where everything is crammed in cheek by jowl.

    Aesthetically, I’m not happy with either image. The second image speaks more to me than the top one.
    But I would do some judicious cropping in both cases. I would crop the top image almost down to the top of the blue dot and the bottom up to the bottom of the column on the left side – that gives the car more separation from the surroundings while still retaining enough of the “utilitarian” aspect of the surroundings. It also strengthens the interplay between the dot and the car. As it is, my eye wants to wander around the background wondering why am I looking at all this uninteresting stuff, eventually comes back to the car, but then get’s distracted by the background …. I quickly becomes annoying; I get it!!! Now can I please just look at the car. As for the red car, I know how and why it’s there but I still want to blow it up … it adds no information of value for me but keeps distracting me. Don’t know if it would have been any better, but I’d like to have seen this shot as a 3/4 view from the other side of the car.

    I’d crop the top of the second image almost to where the overpass starts to curve to give the car more prominence. But again the angle is “sub-optimal” and the block protruding from the column on the right is annoying … I REALLY want to just look at the car. I actually removed it using the pen toll and content aware (a bit messy and time consuming to get it right) but it is a quantum improvement.

    That’s my 10cents worth; for what it’s worth.

    Interesting exercise.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks so much, John. It’s a shame I didn’t recognize a good photo opportunity at the time. We were busy with cases. I had my camera with me but just grabbed the phone for a snap. It’s only later that I realized the potential of the scene. Silly, silly me πŸ˜‰

      Anyway, I agree with your top crop and would probably rub away a tiny bit of the bottom as well. The red car is the main issue to me. Visually, it disturbs the whol “luxury” vibe. I might try some photoshop on it, though it’s a been a long time since I did more in LS than brush paint the number plates.

      There is a photo from the left, below, that doesn’t have the distracting block. That shot is more elegant but I find it more boring as well, less of an opposition between the hectic buzz of an airport and the chilled luxury of the car.

      Oh well, all those frustrations triggered the idea for this sort of post, so there’s that, at least πŸ˜‰

      Thanks again, Pascal

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    Hi Pascal

    My 2c worth – I feel you missed an opportunity to get a shot from the left of the car. The gap in the pillars would have been in the back ground and the concrete box which is distracting in the 2nd pic would be hidden.
    I agree with Ian’s comments also.
    Always difficult with a striking subject in an awkward place.
    Thanks for sharing – a good idea.



    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Peter, here is a photo from the left, though not framed as you suggest. I see what you are getting at. This is probably a less distracting version, though it could probably be cropped better. It just feels a little bit empty for me, but it’s a much better ‘fashion’ statement, that’s for sure πŸ˜‰ Thanks for joining in πŸ™‚

  • jean pierre guaron says:


    Not one from the front – is that because of the kerb? – did it get in the way? Or is the front of this beast just less interesting?

    Personally I would have shot lower, and tried for 3/4 rear, not 7/8. At 7/8, you don’t get much of an ida of the side of the car.

    The ones that appeal to me have that blue – either the dot or the bus. And yes I know that old colour wheel mix & match is done to death, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. A luminosity slider is supposed to bring up the blue in the sky, which might help one or two of them.

    And call me “picky” – but i generally straighten up the verticals – one or tow of these are “under processed”, in my book.

    Having unloaded all that bilge, the one I like the best is the second one. Especially if a jab with the luminosity slider will bring out the blue in the sky – but I’m a bit dubious about that one – having been told it works,, I spent a couple of hours TRYING to make it work on one of my photos, this afternoon – alas, nothing – it brought up something totally unexpected instead. Maybe I should “do” these software merchants, for false advertising!

    • pascaljappy says:

      Ah, none from the front because we were walking behind and those were grab and run shots. No time to get the proper camera out or find the best angles.
      This also explains why the verticals are not straight. Those are from Google Drive, with no time spent in Lightroom πŸ˜‰

      Regarding the luminosity slider, my guess is you need to bring the blue DOWN not UP, if you want more colour in the sky. Does that work?


      • jean pierre guaron says:

        Luminosity – I think so, yes – but I can’t get the damn thing to work in my copy of LR. Not that I care – I’m not a great fan of Adobe’s programs.

        Verticals – I’m old fashioned – I’m entitled to be, I’m over 80. And I ALWAYS correct verticals, unless I’m doing the opposite for some kind of artistic effect. So don’t mind my question – nut cases like me never know what it feels like, to shut up about their pet manias.

        “Grab & run” – I’ve often wondered, when staring at some of the greatest photos of all time, just how many of them were “studied” – and how many were completely spontaneous, lacking any possibility of planning?

        I know what we’re told that WE should do. But I’d be prepared to put money on it, that a lot of those “best ever” shots was a “snatch and grab” job! Or as you put it, “grab and run”.

        My other pet mania is colours. Having been swept off my feet by digi, and the chance to wallow in colour – taking & post processing – for the first time in my life, I can skip a lot of other “rules”, but I do like chasing the colour matching ones. Which is why – with a subject like the golden Bentley – I’d always chase after some kind of blue. A round spot – the sky – the side of a bus – anything will do.

        It’s also why that article about the 9:3:1 composition guideline for cine wedged in my head. As I stared at samples, it became apparent that a very large number of cine “scenes” have a dependency on the yellow/blue thing. Possibly because the shadow areas are blue, lighting historically was yellow, and they’re kind of used to doing it?

        There are, of course, other colour matchings. So one could be rude and tell Hollywood to try some of the others – just occasionally!

      • Ian Varkevisser says:

        If the sky is the main subject matter by all means increase the saturation and drop the luminosity.

        If you want the sky to disappear from the focus I find dropping the saturation considerably and upping the luminosity a little helps increase the subject matter focus.

        My 2 cents worth LOL

  • Jaap Veldman says:

    Hi Pascal,

    I think your square shot is the best although those three cars in the background are disturbing.
    I considered a lower standpoint. But then you would loose the swing of the three flowing lines above the car (2x viaduct and the curved shape of the edge of the other side of the road)
    These lines in relation to the car make the shot.
    You’d better first gone to your car, pull away those three cars and then make the shot πŸ˜‰

    • pascaljappy says:

      πŸ˜† Why didn’t I think of that, Jaap !!

      You’re right though. Particularly about the red car on the left. The other two don’t bother me because they are part of the utilitarian vibe, but it would have been nice to have had the Bentley on its own.

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