PHOTOGRAPHY CRITIQUE & ADVICE

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[FORMAL CRITIQUE] O MADONNA

BYRON BYRON 12974 posts

This image was posted for critique by JOANNA BIELBY


F I R S T – I M P R E S S I O N S:

  1. Bright.
  2. Busy.
  3. No faces.

E Q U I P M E N T

Brand / Manufacturer: Canon

Model: 500D DSLR

Lens: not specified


S E T T I N G S

Aperture / F-Stop: f5.6

Shutter Speed: 1/40sec

ISO/ASA: 3200

Focal Length: 55mm


T E C H N I C A L

Exposure: Basically even. No badly exposed areas [except the beam at the top of the image], the black regions are not as deep as they could be. Overall the image is brighter at the top and darker at the bottom.

Lighting: Very flat and directionless. Was this indoors, or did it have over-head lighting.

Colour Saturations: Excellent, considering the 3200ISO I am surprised at how clean this image is. Colours really leap out and grab you.

Focus / Depth of Field: Focus seems squarely placed on the man in the grey shirt with his back to us. Which is a shame, since other more interesting elements are out of focus.

Sharpness: Sharpness is good on those areas in focus. But the lack of over all focus is destracting.

Score (out of 10 points): 5


I N T E R E S T

Aesthetics / General appearance: I like the way the flags/banners frame the image, although they are a bit tight and cut out a lot of the scene.

Emotional Content: Its hard not to feel the excitement in this scene. Whatever the event is – the participants seem to be getting right into the spirit of the occasion!

Storytelling ability / Creative communication of a concept or idea: I think you have communicated a lot of energy here. I have no idea where this is or what it is about, but it does seem exciting. The lack of any faces is really detracting from any real communication of emotions.

Originality: Group shots of the back of people’s heads is very common [and not terribly exciting], so this is not a very original crowd shot.

Score (out of 10 points): 4


C O M P O S I T I O N

Framing / Cropping: The frame is very tight. This is even more pronounced because of the flags/banners. With a shot this tight it is very hard for your viewers to get a real sense of place.

Simplicity of Design: Its a crazy-chaotic bit of composition, but then its a crazy-chaotic scene. Simple Design is not really applicable here. It is about showing us the energy and emotion of the event, and I think this works, from the people down below, to those above watching them.

As mentioned earlier, I like the way the flags frame this image, it gives a nice edge to the image, and keeps our attention squarely on the action.

Points of Interest: The man in the grey shirt, and the statue.

The man has his back to us, and we can’t see his face. The statue is out of focus and thus lacks any detail or significant impact as a POI. I am not sure what you want me to look at here, other than the over-all scene. I find myself wandering around this image looking for something interesting, but ultimatley feeling let down because there is no clear focal-point subject-wise.

Rule of Thirds: not applicable

Lines & Diagonals: not applicable

Balance / Use of Negative Space: not applicable

Score (out of 10 points): 4


G E N E R A L

Joanna, this is a bright, bold image that has lots of energy. But it needs more, it needs impact, and it needs to connect with the viewer in some way.

Your image really suffers from a lack of a clear subject/POI. The backs of people’s heads are about as un-interesting as you can get. Heads are round and and they have hair… I think it would be difficult to have any clear focal-point/POI considering your situation here, and it would be almost impossible to utilise any other compositional “tricks” [Rule of Thirds, Diagonals & Lines, Negative Space…], so you really must concentrate on compensating for this somehow. – You need to concentrate on faces.

In crowd shots like this, it is common to get the backs of people. At a greater distance this is fine since you wont see any faces. But at this distance we need to see faces! It means being a little bold, – get in there and get those faces. We want to have a connection with these people.

Faces are the most interesting aspect of anything ever. Our brains are programmed to recognise and respond to faces and expressions. Not being able to see any faces, we don’t share the emotions of the people in the image.


In festival / event photography there are three aspects to consider:

1. The overall representation.

This is a wide-angle shot, showing us lots of scenery, giving us a real sense of place. You will be so far away that the orientation of the people in the scene is irrelevent. What we get is the overall impression of the event.

Look at this photograph by BRAE LEBREN

This image gives us a real sense of place, and the excitement of the crowd is obvious, yet the faces of the crowd are not important to communicating the feel of this image. The energy in this image comes from our sense of place, of our understanding of the environment, as opposed to understanding the people within the image.

2. The close representation.

This is a mid-distance shot, it gives us some sense of the environment, but is more about the people within the scene. It is close enough for us to connect with the people. We understand the event by understanding the people participating in it. This type of shot can convey emotion.

Look at this photograph by CWITHE

Here we see a closer representation of the event, we can see the people’s faces and feel their emotions, as well as their energy. They have been isolated from the background by excellent use of Depth of Field, which keeps our focus on them.

3. The detailed representation.

This is a close-up tight shot of some small detail of the event, we get no sense of place because there is no scenery included in the shot.

Look at this photograph by MICHELLE WALSH

We don’t have any sense of place here, but that is not important. What is important here is the fabulous detail in the hands. This image speaks of culture and tradition, without refering to any particular event per se


Joanna, your photo is a good record shot of a time and a place, but it lacks a lot of punch due to focus issues, and lack of connection. Its like you haven’t quite decided if you wanted to do an overall or a close-up representation. You have aspects of both in the one image, the result is that it feels a bit disconnected and undecisive.

This is nothing to feel bad about. Taking pictures in these environments is very difficult because it requires you to be brave and bold. You have to get in and almost participate with the action, and being an “outsider” in a large group of people can be very intimidating for any photographer.

Good effort, I really look forward to seeing you try more images like this.

Total Score (out of 30 points): 13

Joanna Beilby Joanna Beilby 33 posts

Thanks Byron. Excellent review.

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