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[FORMAL CRITIQUE] - FISHERMAN by Sarah Howarth

BYRON BYRON 10952 posts

FORMAL CRITIQUE REQUESTED BY SARAH HOWARTH


F I R S T – I M P R E S S I O N S:

Nice composition for a Black & White image.
Poor exposure – seems rather washed out.
Not a lot of detail in the water, clouds or rocks.


E Q U I P M E N T

Brand / Manufacturer: OLYMPUS

Model: E520

Lens: not specified


S E T T I N G S

Aperture / F-Stop: f7.1

Shutter Speed: 1/160second

ISO/ASA: 100

Focal Length: not specified


T E C H N I C A L

Exposure: It seems very dark. What time of day was it, and what was the lighting like? ISO100 is a low sensitivity setting for very bright conditions like a clear sunny mid-day. It seems very overcast here, and I feel that a more sensitive ISO like 400-800 would have worked better here.

Lighting: Lighting is very flat. I can’t see any shadows that would indicate the time of day. It looks like it is either overcast or the sun has set already.

Colour Saturations: not applicable.

Focus / Depth of Field:

Sharpness: At ISO100 you also have a very slow shutter speed [1/160th second]. Can you tell me what your zoom length was for this shot? either way 1/160th second is a bit slow when you have so much motion in the image. Not slow enough to create soft smooth water, and not fast enough to get a really sharp image.

Score (out of 10 points): 5


I N T E R E S T

Aesthetics / General appearance: Photos of fishermen always seem compelling. A man and the ocean, the struggle against nature for our survival. It is a very primal thing.

The sky has heaps of potential for really adding drama here. But unfortuneatly it is rather washed out and this bright region tends to draw our attention away from the subject, which is detrimental.

There is plenty of detail still available in the clouds, and in post production these clouds could be darkend considerably which would return the drama to the image and help keep our attention firmly on the fisherman.

Emotional Content: I like that we can not see the fisherman’s face – it adds to the impression of a man vs nature, as opposed to a particular man vs nature – which we would feel if we could see his face. There is an elemental feel to the image with this composition.

Storytelling ability / Creative communication of a concept or idea: I like the rugged look of your subject, he uses basic equipment, he is not interested in flashy or showy, but rather practical and available.

Originality: Reasonably so, but there are lots and lots of images in this style. To pull this off effectively you really have to do something special.

Score (out of 10 points): 6


C O M P O S I T I O N

Framing / Cropping: I feel the framing/cropping is just a bit too tight on the LHS. I would like to see the frame extend well beyond the rocks on the LHS.

There are two reasons for this:

1. You should never cut off part of a compositional element unless you are making a particular point by doing so. It looks untidy and unfinished – leaving your viewer with a feeling of incompleteness.

2. With more of the landscape on the LHS of the frame – your subject would have seemed even smaller in the frame, almost overshadowed by the environment, and this would have worked well to enhance the “man vs nature” feel of the image.

Simplicity of Design: Rocks, water. man. three elements, nice and clean, no clutter. Except for what looks like seaweed in front of the fisherman – this is very distracting and it breaks-up the shape of the fisherman.

Points of Interest: As above. Three POI’s are always a good thing in a landscape – it gives your viewer enough to look at that it maintains interest by creating movement from one POI to the next. At the same time there are not so many POI that it clutters the scene leaving the viewer with no clear idea of where to look.

However… The positions of the three POI is not as effective as it could be. There is no ’relationship" between them… one here, one there, they seem haphazardly placed in the frame.

I feel that the fisherman and the rocks on the LHS should have been seperated more – ie not on the same plane. The rocks in the foreground, the fisherman in the midground and the rock outcrop in the background. This would have created better movement from one POI to the next. At the moment your viewers will tend to look “all over the place” and this will create an untidy impression.

Rule of Thirds: Close. The sky takes up approx 1/3rd of the image, the ocean/water roughly 1/3rd and the ground also roughly 1/3rd.

Lines & Diagonals: not used. But positioning the three POI’s along a strong diagonal line would really help to create a clean fluid movement through the image.

Balance / Use of Negative Space: In this composition I feel the large rock outcrop on the horizon unbalances the image.

Score (out of 10 points): 6


Look at this image by FOTOMAIDEN

See how the sharpness here really makes for lots of drama. Also how the contrast in the clouds works to enhance drama too.

Fotomaiden has also balanced the image very well by placing the subject on the 1/3rd line from the LHS. This creates a subject-to-Negative Space ratio of 1:2 which is typically pleasing to look at.

Notice too how Fotomaiden has a full range of grey tones – and the whites ae clean and crisp and the blacks are deep and rich.


G E N E R A L

Sarah, your image is very grey. The whites are not clean, and the blacks are not deep and rich. These two elements are generally something you must get correct in any B&W image. This is easily done in post production by setting the Black and White Points [adjusting Levels]. If you are unsure how to do this, then let me know and either myself or Alison will explain this process further.

Again, I think you had the wrong ISO for the environment and this has resulted in a slower shutter speed and given the image a very soft look, I think a sharper feel [from a faster shutter speed] would add to the drama of the scene.

I would like to have seen more detail in the fisherman. It is just too much silhoette for my taste here. There is information there, and this could also be brought out in post production by using the BURN/DODGE TOOL. As before – if you are unsure about this technique then let me know and Alison or myself will explain that further also.

The same applies to the sky. Some careful selective burning here could really add contrast to the clouds and enhance the drama even further.

A good start, and I would like to see you try the post production I suggested. If you do – post the new versions into this thread.

Total Score (out of 30 points): 16

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

Thanks Byron. I haven’t much experience with B&W images, so all of this is really very useful. Thanks for taking the time to critique this image for me – lots to work with. I will play around with the post processing and post some other attempts in due course. Thanks again, Sarah.

SRana SRana 27 posts

Excellently critique Byron. Loved it and extremely useful. I’d also love to read few things about burn/dodge tool.

Cheers…Shane

BYRON BYRON 10952 posts

Ok Shane, I’ll check with Alison… she is our Photoshop Expert-in-residence. My experience is with GIMP – basically the same beast but different terminology etc…

BYRON BYRON 10952 posts

Sarah, do you mind if Alison and I do some post production work on your image to show you what we mean?

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

Not at all!! That would be fantastic.

I would love to hear about the burn/dodge tool and adjusting the B&W points as well – I have PS4.

As requested, some further information:
- conditions on the day: it was a very overcast, windy, cold day, no sunshine at all, photograph was taken mid-afternoon in wintertime (say around 3pm-ish) and to be honest, I was just lucky that it wasn’t raining!
- other settings: 14-42mm lens, focal length was 23.0mm (or 46.0mm on 35mm conversion), white balance was 5300k, no exposure compensation, no flash, no tripod.

In the meantime, here’s my first attempt at the post production – no burn/dodge tool used, just adjusting the tone curve. I totally understand what you mean about the image being too grey. I have tried to bring out more detail in the clouds and the sea, while darkening the sky to make it more ‘moody’ and trying to keep as much detail in the rocks in the foreground and the fisherman as possible. Let me know what you think …

Original:

Version 2 (tonal adjustments):

Glynn Jackson Glynn Jackson 854 posts

Certainly a more gloomy sky Sarah

LeeDukes LeeDukes 144 posts

Second version certainly tells the story of the shot better. There is a halo around the rocks in ULH though. To me if you clean that up you are well on your way to a great story telling shot. The fisherman’s body language is more pronounced. Like he’s almost ready to give up this challenge.

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

Version 3 (no halo):

BYRON BYRON 10952 posts

Nice worki removing the halo.

The sky has been reversed [negative] and then composited into the shot sarah?

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

No, just simply altering the balance of tones on the tone curve until it looked right!

(ps. I wouldn’t know how to ‘composite’ something into an image … I’m a newbie to PS …)

BYRON BYRON 10952 posts

Ok, you must have really pushed the levels because the bright parts of the clouds [and the waves] in the original are now the dark parts in the new version.

I am stil working on your file, and will probably post a finished version tonight or tomorrow.