BYRON BYRON 12078 posts

Formal Critique requested by RICKVOHRA

F I R S T – I M P R E S S I O N S:

Green, gree-eeee-eeen.

Oh, and a pathway.


Brand / Manufacturer: CANON

Model: EOS 40D

Lens: not specified


Aperture / F-Stop: f5.6

Shutter Speed: 1/30second

ISO/ASA: 200

Focal Length: 55mm


Exposure: It seems a little dark, but generally quite even. The sky is however very over exposed. I suspect this is because of the ISO200 and the 1/30sec [slow] shutter speed.

It looks dark enough that you could have used ISO400-800 and gone with a faster shutter speed.

Lighting: Very flat. There are no shadows as far as I can tell. It was either mid-day, or very overcast.

Colour Saturations: Well, its very very green, perhaps a bit too much so [but that may be my monitor]. The black trunks do look excellent as a contrast against the green.

Focus / Depth of Field: Everything is in focus, as expected with f5.6 and a subject at this distance.

Sharpness: On screen at this resolution, the image seem sharp enough.

Score (out of 10 points): 5

Look at this image by MIKKO LAGERSTEDT

Image used to demonstrate certain points only. No critique of this image should be inferred by its use.

See how the simple inclusion of a subject/POI [in this case a person] at the end of the road just makes you want to look at the image.

Mikko has also excluded all the elements that are un-neccessary to the composition, and by using a high contrast composition has clearly kept our attention on the road and the POI.

Mikko has used a strong diagonal composition to create depth, and has added balance to the image by excellent use of Negative Space by placing the visible parts of the image roughly 1/3rd from the right hand side of the frame. This also adds to long term interest by creating quite a dark foreboding feeling which really suits the subject/POI.


Aesthetics / General appearance: The green is quite captivating, and if this scene is actually from an overcast day, that certainly helps – especially with creating nice rich blacks [as seen on the tree trunks].

The burnt out sky is very distracting. It constantly drags our attention away from the rest of the image.

Emotional Content: I really don’t feel anything.

Storytelling ability / Creative communication of a concept or idea: There is no story here. Its a road thru some trees. There is potential here, but it just has not been realised.

Originality: A centrally located [within the frame] road is not at all original. Compositionally this is like almost every image of its type [including jetties, train tracks, etc] – so its not very original.

Score (out of 10 points): 4

Look at this image by LARSVANDEGOOR

Image used to demonstrate certain points only. No critique of this image should be inferred by its use.

While the roadway is centrally located, LARS has used symmetry to create a stunningly attractive image. The inclusion of the small flowering plants has created strong lines of green and white to expand on the shape of the road. The use of repetition with the tall trees and the shape the trees form [highlighted by the opening at the end of the road] creates a strong attraction for the viewer.

LARS has also used lighting to his best advantage, there are shadows and highlights here which add contrast colour and plenty of interest. Amazing lighting and composition is a hallmark of LARS’ work.

LARS chose a lower point of view here, which is interesting for the viewer because we don’t see the world from this perspective. This again enhances long term interest for the viewer.


Framing / Cropping: Rick, I think a portrait-format would suit your image better – it would follow the verticality of the road. The trees on either side really don’t add much to the image.

Simplicity of Design: Its a very clean design. Trees and road. The sky, as previously stated just doesn’t work and you could possibly crop it out all together.

Points of Interest [POI]: This is where your image is really missing out. There is nothing for us to look at. We follow the road and it leads us to… nothing. That is a bit of a let-down.

Someone or some thing on the road would have made for a good Point of Interest.

Rule of Thirds: not applicable to this image.

Lines & Diagonals: The road makes for a great compositional tool to draw our eye through the image. It also adds depth.

By using an S-curve you also add side to side movement as our eye go from the foreground to the background. This is the most attractive type of line/curve you can use and it really helps to add long term interest.

Balance / Use of Negative Space: By placing your road in the centre of the frame you have not made use of the Negative Space surrounding the road. Often we need somewhere else to look other than the subject or POI.

Score (out of 10 points): 4

Look at this image by MICMAC

Image used to demonstrate certain points only. No critique of this image should be inferred by its use.

See how the road goes from one corner to the other? MICMAC has used both an S-Curve and a diagonal composition to create a very attractive image.

Rick, when you don’t have other compositional elements like a subject/POI’s it is a good idea to use as many other compositional tricks [like diagonals] to maintain interest.

Also by removing distracting elements like the sky MICMAC has maintained our focus on the road and especially the end of the road which adds depth by drawing us through the image. Also by choosing to shoot when the leaves are changing colour we have more to look at other than a large block of green.


Rick, my personal opinion about landscapes is that a good landscape contains an interesting thing framed by an interesting bit of scenery.

You have some of the elements of an interesting scenery, you are just missing the rest of it.

Another problem is that images of roads, pathways, train tracks, jetties, etc are so very common that you really have to do something extra-ordinary to even get noticed. So while you have made a good start, you need to do so much more to really ellevate this image.

The lack of any clear subject/POI/Focal Point also doesn’t help. We need, hell we want more to look at. After the road and a quick look at the trees there is nothing here to maintain our interest, there is nothing to create any “return value” ie… no reason to come back for another look.

It looks as if you shot this from a standing position, which is common and predictable. You could have chosen a lower position and featured the texture of the road by tilting the camera down a bit.

As previously mentioned, I think a Portrait Format would have suited the composition better, and using this you could cut out the sky altogether.

As much as it pains me to say it – a vignette would help maintain our focus on the centre of the image, and would certainly suit the dark feel of this image.

Shooting later in the day, or at least when there are some nice long shadows would really help to add interest. Shadows are always a good thing… photography is about light and shadow.

Total Score (out of 30 points): 14

For more tips about Landscape Photography, check out my tutorial:


lucin lucin 39 posts

Your critiques are always such a teach. I wish I would catch them all. Thank you!

lucin lucin 39 posts

Thanks, Rick, for making this lesson happen for me.

BYRON BYRON 12078 posts

Your critiques are always such a teach. I wish I would catch them all. Thank you!

You can Lucin, you certainly can:


lumix lumix 7 posts

God that was harsh, I’m not professional but I totally understood where you were coming from on most things. Excellent critique :)

BYRON BYRON 12078 posts

Thanx Lumix, the “pull-no-punches” critiques are THE key feature of the FORMAL CRITIQUES FORUM. They can be hard to read especially for the artist whose work is being critiqued in this way, but there is no judgement – it is all about teaching and learning.

MalD MalD 401 posts

As always Byron… Informative, Instructional and Instrumental in my continuing learning. My daughter discovered the reality of a teachers formal critique on her current vocal abilities and although ‘harsh’ it only spurred her onto better and greater things, to a point where is now performing live with the very same teacher this Saturday evening. Same also with our Art … the more I review my images in the light of these critiques the more I find to improve and it too spurs me onto hopefully bigger and better images.


To Rick… Keep on keepin on.. and my father once said to me.
“Fear not the honest open critic … fear the uninformed cynic..”

Lawrence Crisostomo Lawrence Criso... 223 posts

byron was right the sky is over exposed. and i think if the sky is excluded and be recomposed just the road is the main subject looks cool.

rickvohra rickvohra 37 posts

Ah the legendary formal critic!

I guess the image got what it deserved (that explains its unpopularity!). I am glad to receive such a detailed and constructive appraisal/criticism. So Thank you Byron.

Thank you everyone else for your visit and kind comments!

I actually took this shot while driving, kinda popped my head out and took it. It was around 4 in the afternoon and the weather was quiet cloudy and dull. The original image came out a bit under exposed with (ISO200, f5.6, and 1/30sec), I did a bit of touch up on shadow/highlights to recover the image.

The reason I did not crop it is that I wanted to capture all the tall trees, removing the sky (along with the top of the trees) I suppose would make it even more dull. I could have tried a portrait though but I never stepped out of the car to try it. I do realize that it doesn’t offer a story, point of interest, or emotional content. I guess I was just fascinated by all the slender trees.

I am sure though that are many more creative ways I could have captured this place and will sure try again (keeping the criticism in mind) when I’m there next. :)


BYRON BYRON 12078 posts


I understand why those trees got you interested. The contrast of the black trunks and the green leaves is fabulous. Maybe this would have been a great location for some detailed photography… actually get in amongst the trees so all we see is trunks and leaves and nothing else.

Ahhh, the shots we could have got if only… I can’t tell you the shots I have missed because I didn’t stop [or more often didn’t have my camera!]

BYRON BYRON 12078 posts

Ah the legendary formal critic!

Oh, I’m famous, huh?

rickvohra rickvohra 37 posts

Legend has it that brave photographers quiver when the words “Byron’s Formal Critic” are mentioned! :P (only messing).

Yep I must try something with just the trees. Lazy photography doesn’t make good photography I guess!

rickvohra rickvohra 37 posts

Ok so I gave cropping a try and came up with two versions. I thought the colors were quiet overwhelming so I went with B/W.



Any better? I feel the bushes are very distracting and disturbing… kinda spoils A but are still a bit visible in B.

Glynn Jackson Glynn Jackson 854 posts

To my uneducated eye – having gone B&W has really brought this shot to life Rick. My preference is for B and it is because of the bushes on the left adding a more 3 dimensional look to the view and hence walking along the road in my mind is more of a “must do” .

LeeDukes LeeDukes 144 posts

Of the two B&W. I like B.

rickvohra rickvohra 37 posts

Hi Glynn, I believe uneducated eyes can have great potential…not being restricted by rules and stuff :) Thank you for your comment.

Thanks Lee, I kinda prefer B too.

BYRON BYRON 12078 posts

Actually I prefer “a”. I think it is better balanced. The B&W is definitely a great idea. Still needs some work to seperate the different shades of grey, but that is just a matter of adjusting levels, maybe try adding a “Red Filter” effect to it to bosst contrast.

Much better.

rickvohra rickvohra 37 posts

I came up with “A” first as it seemed appealing composition wise, but was soon put off by the bushes… I’ll try fooling around with the contrast, yet I feel that my LCD might not be properly calibrated.

Thank you for the feedback Byron.

FacetEyePhoto FacetEyePhoto 416 posts

I agree that the B&W is a great improvement. I also prefer A because I get more of a sense of depth from it. The foreground almost seems more toned downed in brightness than it does in B and that leads you further in to where it’s bright. I do think that moving the road a smidge more to the right might cut down on the bushes but still give you the great proportions and not have the foreground of the road overpower the image like I feel it does in B.

Well done and kudos for the B&W.

rickvohra rickvohra 37 posts

Interesting opinion FacetEyePhoto. I might actually return to the scene of crime soon and this time will try a good few shots! :P

Thank you for your comment.