PHOTOGRAPHY CRITIQUE & ADVICE

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[FORMAL CRITIQUE] - GRAVEL ROAD

BYRON BYRON 11557 posts

FORMAL CRITIQUE REQUESTED BY SARAH HOWARTH

F I R S T – I M P R E S S I O N S:

  1. Wow, bright colours – excellent colour saturations.
  2. Humorous composition.

E Q U I P M E N T

Brand / Manufacturer: OLYMPUS

Model: E520

Lens: 14-42MM


S E T T I N G S

Aperture / F-Stop: F5.6

Shutter Speed: 1/160sec

ISO/ASA: 100

Focal Length: not advised


T E C H N I C A L

Exposure: Excellent. Good tonal ranges in all colours, no underexposed or over-exposed regions.

Lighting: Sideways – which is always a good choice – it creates good shadows. Not a lot of shadows visible here but the sideways lighting creates enough texture to create interest in the landscape.

Colour Saturations: Superb, simply stunning – RED, BLUE, YELLOW. Simple and bold use of colour!

The ISO and the shutter speed were both great choices here and have resulted in a slightly under-exposed image – which has resulted in the amazing colour saturations. Always pick ISO100 for bright well lit days like this!

Focus / Depth of Field: Everything seems to be in focus.

Sharpness: Image is nice and sharp in all areas where it matters.

Score (out of 10 points): 8


I N T E R E S T

Aesthetics / General appearance: The colours are the big attention-grabber here. The yellow sign against the blue sky is instantly attractive. But I have come concerns with the composition which I feel really lets the aesthetics down badly.

Emotional Content: Not a lot of emotion here, but that is fine, I don’t think this is really an emotional image. It is colder more stark and basic with the bold use of three primary colours and the desolate landscape.

Storytelling ability / Creative communication of a concept or idea: I get a sense of emptiness and loneliness since the sign seems to be there all on its own.

Originality: I have seen this style many times before, and it is difficult to really produce something that is meaningfully new and different. So in that respect it is not very original.

Score (out of 10 points): 6


C O M P O S I T I O N

Framing / Cropping: Placing the sign to the RHS of the frame is good – it emphasises the emptiness of the landscape and the loneliness of the sign. However I think you have done yourself a dis-service with the crop. It should be a much wider frame. I want to see a lot more space to the left of the frame.

With this crop, the shadow [the only shadow in the image] is cut-off as it runs out of the frame. This is a big big no-no. Never allow any part of your subject [including their shadow] run out of frame – unless you do so to make a certain point.

I also feel that the horizon line is too high in this image. It should be dropped to 1/3rd from the bottom of the frame. You can achieve this simply by tilting the camera up or down, or by moving the camera in the vertical plane. More sky would also enhance the feeling of the great outdoors!

Simplicity of Design: Clean crisp simple design. The road on the RHS is a bit untidy compositionally – it is distracting from the simple construction of this image.

Points of Interest: The sign, that’s pretty-much it really, and that is all that is needed. This image is about the stark empty nature of the outback. You don’t need to fil your frame with other elements.

Rule of Thirds: Having said that it is wrong for your subject to run out of frame – it does look ok that the post goes out of frame since we don’t really look at the post – rather we look at the sign itself.

However, I think this image would really be enhance by a stronger balance.

You could also frame this image so that the sign was 1/3rd from the RHS, fully visible, and evenly spaced from the top and the bottom of the frame.

Lines & Diagonals: not applicable

Balance / Use of Negative Space: This is the second big let down… there is a bad balance between the subject and the empty space [Negative Space] on the LHS of the image. Typically a pleasing balance consists of 1/3rd of the frame taken up by the subject and 2/3rds of the frame taken up by empty space [ratio 1:2]. You could possible even push this ratio to 1:3 to further enhance the feelings of isolation.

Score (out of 10 points): 6


G E N E R A L

Sarah, I think this image is quite good, but it has a few minor issues with composition and framing that just prevent it from being so much more.

After the initial WOW from the bold colours, there isn’t much to keep us coming back for more. The road on the RHS is distracting and adds nothing except to grab our attention from your subject and the empty space on the LHS.

The Negative Space is too cramped to really give you viewer any breathing space or to make them feel the emptiness of the landscape. I really feel that a lot more Negative Space would really have improved this image – even with the current position of your subject.

I do like the humour of your subject vs the environment – great choice of both subject and time of day!

The ground is a bit messy, but there isn’t much you can do about that.

Shooting the sign from below [as you have] empowers your subject by making it dominant to your viewer, and I think this was a very good choice on your part.

Check out the work of the following RedBubble Artists who are masters of the quiet empty scene:

PAUL VANZELLA Paul is a god when it comes to clean simple compositions. Study his use of the elements within his landscapes.

ADRIAN DONOGHUE Adrian has a very unique eye especially when it comes to Poin-of-View and perspective as well as his unconventional use of compositional elements.

BENSOUND Ben is one of the most exciting contemporary photographer on RedBubble today. Study the way he composes the elements within his landscapes.

Total Score (out of 30 points): 20

Sarah Howarth [ Photography ] Sarah Howarth ... 78 posts

Hi Byron, I’ve just read your critique through once, and it is so, so helpful. Thanks so much. I will need to read again, and re-read, to digest it all and take your comments on board for next time! I will also play around with the original image to see if there is anything I can to to enhance it as you suggest, in particular with respect to the crop. Would it be ok to post another version of this image if I am able to play around with it to see if you think I’m on the right lines with adjustments? Thanks again, Sarah.

SRana SRana 27 posts

wow, excellent feedback. i thoroughly enjoyed reading it. this is going to help my skills too. Thanks Byron

Shane

Zane Paxton Zane Paxton 1981 posts

Another take on this for your consideration.

I allways start with this inquiry:

What is unique or special about this place (in the higher level sense)?

I’d suggest that it is the mind-boggling vastness of this desert. That is the primary subject, not the sign. OK so how to express vastness (also applies to “Granduer”)? Notice when standing there that you probably had to turn your head to take it all in and scan the vast horizon. That is the first clue. Vastness and granduer are both extremely wide. Then it follows that the expressive strategy might be a panorama to present a very wide image that similarly requires one to trurn your head or at least scan back and forth with your eyes to take it all in.

The sign

We largely develop and perceive meaning through opposites. Or at least counterpoints if handy opposites (rough-smooth, old-new, bright-dark, kinetic-static, etc.) aren’t available. In this case something that is distinctly not “vast desert”. The sign then serves that purpose nicely as a handy Counterpoint rather than a primary subject. Here is an excellent example for you Vast Savanah with a counterpoint Also the rest of his galleries are well worth studying. So the image could be more successful if the scene was wider to capture the vastness and emptyness with the sign framed/composed/place further back to become a useful counterpoint. Again, the point (Primary subject) is really the vast/wide/empty desert itself. ;~]