I had the idea a couple days ago that it might be interesting to see whether some of you, the readers, would like to have your photos critiqued. I can honestly say I was surprised by the outcome.
It wasn’t the amount of people that surprised me but the overall quality of the work, so much so that I half jokingly had to ask people to post bad photos too!
It’s nice to see the standard of photography out there and, hopefully, some of it will be the result of some of my teachings.
IMPORTANT: Before I get started, remember that photography is subjective. Just because I like or dislike something, it doesn’t mean I’m right. You’re entitled to your own opinion, which I’d love to hear, so please leave a comment and let me know what you think too.
The photo I’ve chosen to start with is from George Player and is a really good example of low key photography.
For those of you who don’t know, low key photography is where you take a photo of your subject, with everything (or almost everything) except the subject in black. It’s quite an easy technique to try and you can see how to do it by following the links provided.
A common problem with low key photography is the amount of dead space that often occurs in the image. George has managed to counteract this by adding some lens flare to the photo.
Overall, it’s a very good photo but I probably would have straightened the photo to the right slightly and cropped out some of the space above his head. It might also be interesting to see what the photo looked like in colour.
This second photo is also in black and white, from Even Ødegård.
This is, perhaps, a lot harder to look at than the photo above due to the amount of contrast between the black and the white in the photo.
There are so many different patches of white that it’s almost a strain on the eyes to look at.
I think that the contrast and perhaps a bit of the brightness could be taken down but there are still some very good elements to the photo.
The vertical lines of the trees make us perceive growth, uplifting and sometimes a sense of something spiritual. The trees also provide tension, pulling away from the horizontal ground.
The children running though the photo, plus the additional movement blur, reinforce the feeling of growth, complimenting the scene nicely.
It’s the blur of the children that really sell it to me; never be afraid to include motion blur in your photos – they don’t have to be pin-sharp.
I like the way the photo is framed with the subjects running out of the scene, towards an area of black (the tree). Personally, I don’t like the distraction brought by the leaves in the top right hand corner.
A small yet simple readjustment would have made this a better photo; often easier said than done when shooting photos of children.
This next photo comes from Melinda Napper Miller and it’s probably the most processed photo I was sent.
My personal feelings toward post production are that it’s usually essential but only for slight adjustments to brightness, crop, contrast, and white balance.
When you start to get into the realms of image manipulation, you’ve gone too far.
I’m not saying that I don’t like this photo, or that I don’t see the potential, I’m just saying that I don’t think it needs such a high degree of processing.
I like how the photo was shot into the sun and how the fence separates the child and the horse, especially with the girl reaching over. The trouble with shooting into the sun with the girl in the foreground is that the majority of her face is in a shadow.
They say never to work with children or animals and Melinda has worked with both here. To her credit, she’s done quite well – the ideal shot may not actually be possible with the subjects provided.
Both of the subjects are looking out of the frame which I don’t think works very well here; we, the viewers, follow the eye-lines and end up looking out of the frame too, causing us to lose interest.
A clear line of sight between one subject and the other, with the second subject looking elsewhere, would have made for a much more interesting photo without being that hard to achieve.
The forth photo is by Zach Browning. Overall it’s a pretty good photo but there are a few elements that I would improve on.
This is an example of shallow depth of field, used for creative effect, done right.
The whole point of the photo was to capture the bokeh of the dew on the ground and this has been done very well, even using the rule of thirds for the focus.
The problem that I do have with this photo is that there’s no clear point of focus – often the case when shallow DoF is used for creative effect. The focus is somewhere in a mix of grass but nothing really jumps out to you.
Had Zach focused on the tall grass, slightly off center, with the dew at the top (or on any of the many tall, dew soaked pieces of grass standing above the rest) the outcome would have been much better. This would have given our eyes something to be drawn to and enjoy, rather than having to search for something.
I would have straightened the photo to the right slightly, so that it was in line with the fence in the background.
Finally, I probably would have shot this photo as a portrait as the most interesting aspect is the grass leading up and away from the focus. By keeping the camera in landscape, he hasn’t maximised this viewpoint.
The final photo I’m looking at today is from Tom Flanagan. It’s a good example of dynamic tension.
When I first saw this photo, I didn’t like it… then I became drawn to it, more interested but, as more time has passed, I became unsure how I felt about it.
That’s one of the good things about dynamic tension: it confuses you. You’re left with multiple elements to view in a scene. Your eyes are naturally drawn down the sidewalk, then become torn between this and each of the eyes on the wall: of the human and of the snakes, all going off in different directions.
It’s an interesting photo but I think it would have been better taken further down the sidewalk, with the eyes of the human appearing on the very edge of the frame.
I also would have straightened the photo slightly.
I like the use of the trees down the left hand side of the photo; their repetition help to lead the eyes and the vertical lines help to strengthen the balance of the photo.
The pidgeon is a nice touch but, ultimately, a little bit weak. I think it would have been better to have waited for a person to walk by, perhaps even with the camera on a tripod to capture their movement slightly.
Overall, a very good effort.
I’m pleasantly surprised by the quality of the photography submitted. If I haven’t included your photo in this post, I will keep it on file and may use it next time.
I’m thinking about making this a monthly thing so, if you’d like to take part next time, make sure you press like below so that you can keep up to date with when I’m doing this next.