WHChaikumultimedia                                                                                                           exercise #3
3                                                                                                                       comments/critiques

 Comments and Critiques
by Michael Dylan Welch


31. Another fairly literal representation. It's a lovely picture, but perhaps not as creative as some of the other presentations (though some are overdone). For the text, I think I'd bold the words, so they stand out better against the black background. The font choice is perhaps too delicate and fine to be seen well, though I like it otherwise. The colour of the text pulls out the corresponding colour in the photograph.

32. This is an amusing image, quite likely photographed especially for this purpose (thus I applaud the maker for this extra effort). The image could do with a bit more depth of field (to be sharper from front to back), but the colours are strong and the exposure is generally good. I think I'd also clean up the background so it's simpler, or perhaps shoot from a slightly higher angle looking down more (this would also help improve the depth of field). I like the strong diagonal lines and the variety of colours. As usual, fix that em dash! I'd also treat the name slightly differently (smaller point size, italics), and not have it so close to the border.

33. A pleasing painterly representation. I appreciate the simplicity of this presentation, which heightens the graphic impact. The flower seems to be a little too close to the left edge of the white border. I think the wide red border is effective in emphasizing the flower's colour, and the thin outer black border emphasizes the text. Note that the text is (presumably) handwritten, which gives this creation an engaging "human" tone. I'd remove the dot after the name, though, as that distracts me. And if I had made this, or had the time to remake it, I'd position the text slightly lower so it's not quite in the middle vertically. Lovely use of white space here, especially the use of white within the flower's bloom.

34. Some intriguing glows and shades here. I'm not so keen on the artifacts that muddy the edges of the text, though. Some of the text seems poorly kerned, especially the "v" and "a" in "festival," and the word spacing isn't wide enough either (and do learn more about kerning and letter/word spacing if these terms are new to you). As for the image, it's obviously an abstraction, and we are free to imagine what we wish while looking at it. It's not a flower, nor a car, but maybe it's a parking lot. The image's nonrepresentationality gives us free reign to enjoy the poem. Some of the images in this exercise have perhaps been too literal in their representation of tulips, but this one, by its abstraction, provides an interesting variation of what can be done with this poem.

35. Sharply dramatic colours here. I wonder what it would look like if each of the six flowers were rotated slightly, though, so it wasn't immediately apparent that the images is repeated six times, though with different colours. Or perhaps that didn't look right? I like the colour choices here (not your usual primary colours), which stand out well against the black background. I'm not keen on the use of all-capital letters for the text, and I also think the tone of the stencil-like font is too much like what might be stamped on a box or spray-painted on a wall or sign. As usual, fix that em dash . . .

36. Interesting experiments here. The repetitive pattern of the flowers creates a pleasing effect, and the reflected images in the water are enjoyable to look at. I'm not sure what the overall effect or intent is meant to be, though, since it's unclear to me why flowers would be imagistically repeat around a reflection of water. These elements are made unnatural by their use and juxtaposition, yet I'm not sure what new intent is created by doing so. The middle of the picture is a little hard to figure out, though the colours are pleasant enough. I notice that the maker has started the first line with a capital letter -- something I don't normally do myself.

37. This is mostly a graphic rather than photographic or representational creation. Indeed, it's mostly textual, with very little photographic or representational content. Though there is some creative gradations of colour through yellows, reds, and oranges, I'm not sure what the purpose is in doing so, nor what the intent is of the background. I don't care for the all-caps treatment either, and see how the two hyphens are in this font? A proper em dash might not have worked here either, so I think I would have just cut the hyphens. On a more general note, there's something that doesn't seem "poetic" about this presentation -- the text tends to not feel like a poem anymore. Still, this creation shows a more typographic way of representing the poem.

38. Here the maker indents the lines of the poem in creative ways, perhaps adding more dynamism to the text.  The image is fairly representational, yet altered in ways to make it intriguing. The background/border is also pleasing. The poem feels a little tightly bound on the top and bottom, though, and the name feels too close to the edge as well.

39. The embossed look of the main image suggests the metal pattern one sees on manhole covers (at least to me), which thus suggests the cars that drive over them. Or maybe that's a stretch? The graphic impact is strong here, especially with the colours and the strong diagonal line. The rainbow of colours applied to the text seems a bit over the top, though, and I think I would make the gradation subtler, with fewer colours, or try a treatment where the words seem "cut out" of the purple, with a slight shadow showing behind, as if one is looking through the cut-out words at a white background behind (white text would really pop out here). I like the fair abstract representation of a tulip here -- drooping down is different from most of the other depictions.

40. This is an effective photograph, especially with the one red car in the middle of the distance (though I think I might recolour the red car near the top-left corner so it isn't red). The curving diagonal lines in the picture help direct our eye and keep us engaged. I also like the creative background, which obviously took some thought (at least in the selection, if not creation), above and beyond a plain-colour background. The variety of colours in the background echoes the various colours of the cars. As for the text, I'm not sure why only "Dylan" is initial-capped -- perhaps an oversight? I like the font choice and its colour and the way it contrasts very well with the background. I think I'd move the text slightly to the right, though, so it's not to the left of the left edge of the photo. One other suggestion I'd make, too, is to crop the left edge of the picture so the 25 mph yellow sign isn't showing; it doesn't add anything.

41. Strong graphical representation and impact here. The cloth-like textures are appealing, though I can't say the same for the capital "T" and "F" used in the first line of the poem. The poem also seems, to me, to fight with the image rather than nestle into it or harmonize with it. I think this is because the text is a bit too big for the space it occupies, and maybe because of the colour choice. I also don't think it's necessary to say "haiku by:" though perhaps that impulse addresses the fact that the poet is given attribution but the artist is not. Perhaps both the poet's name and the artist's name should appear outside the haiga?

42. This flag image is sure to stir patriotic emotions for some viewers (there's even a Statue of Liberty-like image on the left). The hand of Photoshop (or similar program) seems too evident here, though; I could be wrong, but it seems that a simple preset effect was used here, without a whole lot of further interaction. The poem also looks too crowded in the space at the top. The use of two periods (instead of an em dash or even two hyphens) suggests that maybe this maker also made image #24. One thing I like about the use of this flag image (the flag seeming to be made up of tulips) is that it suggests the many "colours" of Americans and the diversity of this so-called melting pot.

43. Another high-key image, with a very dramatic contrast of the artwork against the white background. The scan of the artwork doesn't seem to be sufficiently clear (not as clear as the text, at least), and it's a bit too fuzzy. I would have enjoyed seeing calligraphy on this piece, though perhaps the white background typical of sumi-e paintings suggests my desire for calligraphy here. One other comment I might make is that there seems little interaction or relationship between the painting (smack-dab in the middle) and the text. In other words, I don't think white space or negative space is used effectively here. This could be improved by putting the image a bit to one side, perhaps, and maybe enlarging it a bit too.

44. The placement of the text around the border shows a new variation on how to handle the poem and name -- creatively done. The car, an older model, it seems to me, is shown in an abstracted way, as are the flowers at the bottom (though I'm not sure I like the implication that the car has driven over the flowers!). I see, too, that the poet has changed the poem's first line from "tulip festival" to "tulip time." The poem happens to be 5-7-5 syllables, something I don't usually aim for, and usually not wedded to, but I'll harrumph a bit and say that I prefer "tulip festival" to "tulip time," though perhaps the maker didn't remember exactly how the poem went at the time creating this photo-haiga. Notice the horizontal line that runs across the car's frame, above the wheel -- and notice how the text on each side is centered against the axis. Notice, too, how the name is placed in the bottom-right corner, the "end" of where we typically finish "reading" a picture.

45. A fun Photoshop effect here (or equivalent). It renders this flower into something that's not terribly tulip-like, though, so I'm not sure if it really suits this poem. The placement of the text also seems to compete a bit with the image -- both the poem and the name need a bit more space. And once again, fix that em dash! Also note that spacing can vary in treating em dashes; the *Chicago Manual of Style*, the standard for the vast majority of book publishers in the United States, treats em dashes without spaces before or after--like this--whereas some publishers put a space before and after -- like this. I usually put spaces in when I use two hyphens in email (can't do proper em dahses), but use no spaces when I'm able to typeset a proper em dash in PageMaker or QuarkXPress layout programs or in word processors. I believe the typography standards are different in England than they are in the United States, and may differ in other countries, and with other software as well. It's worth being aware of what is considered standard, however, as being unaware or inconsistent on matters of typography and punctuation treatment is as loud to type aficionados as misspelling "the." Take the time to do it right? (That being said, the full tools of typography are sometimes not available in some photo-manipulation programs, I know!)

Thanks for this pleasing opportunity. I have enjoyed reviewing each of these images and offering comments. I may have missed things in some pictures, or perhaps misjudged them. I envy you your ability to use your computer software so well. Though I've edited numerous computer books on Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and various other software products, as well as books on digital photography, I'm much less experienced at using the software myself. It's easy for me to sit here and say "do this" and "do that," and much harder to actually figure it out. So I offer these comments as ideas and goals, with the full realization that your software may limit you, or that your time and understanding of the software may keep you from doing what you'd really like to do. Still, these are creative, varied, and inventive haiga, and I'm deeply honoured that my poem has been some measure of inspiration for each of you. I look forward to learning who created each image, and to perhaps having a bit more discussion about these topics. Bravo to each of you for taking haiga into the computer age!

Best wishes,

Michael Dylan Welch


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