Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Very Basic Guide to Critiquing Images

Having spent a number of years as an administrator of a photography forum, I know there are a lot of people that might like to take a stab at commenting on images they see, but feel they don't know enough or are unsure where to start. I, too, was nervous about doing this, but I've found that by studying the images of other people and analyzing what I see, I've been able to improve my own photography with self-critique. It's really a great learning process!

Here are some of the things I look for when I critique a shot. Of course, not all things apply to each image and there are always exceptions to "the rules".

1. Is it in focus? This is actually a more complex question than you might think. Sometimes an OOF shot is what the photographer is trying to do (such as showing movement), but generally the subject should be in focus even if the surrounding area is not. Notice the depth of field and see if it is working well for the image. Would it look better with a narrower or wider DOF?

2. What is the subject? Is it apparent when you look at the picture? Are your eyes drawn to it, or are you asking yourself why did they take this shot? If it has to be explained, it probably is lacking a purpose.

 3. How is the composition? Are there extraneous areas that are not adding to the overall effect? Is the subject lost in a sea of background? Not getting close enough to your subject may be the problem. Maybe cropping will save the shot. Maybe changing from horizontal to vertical would make the difference. Is your eye moving easily around the image from subject to secondary subjects (visual rest spots) in a visual path or are there abrupt stops? Would following the "Rule of Thirds" improve it?
4. Does it have impact? Are there any interesting elements, such as perspective, dramatic angles, leading lines, colors, textures, shapes, etc? What makes this shot stand out from the usual? What grabs your attention? Anything in the shot that helps set the mood?

5. How is the lighting? Are there blown out highlights or areas so dark you can't make out details? Has poor lighting created shadows that distract? Can some post processing help? Has the direction of the light hitting the subject helped or hindered?

6. What is the mood it evokes? If you still feel uncomfortable commenting, particularly on a technical level, mention how the shot makes you feel. Discussing it on an emotional level is just as valid and important. Remember, technical or emotional, it's all opinion anyway.

7. Offer a solution to the problem if you can. Do you know some editing trick that could help? Can you give a suggestion that would fix the problem next time?

I usually start out by saying something positive, and there is always something positive, about the picture, and then pick out something that I think could be improved. If I can, I explain what they could do to fix it or what to do next time so the problem won't happen again.

And a few rules for people asking for a critique:

1. Include pertinent information: camera and lens used, camera settings, time of day, perhaps what you were trying to achieve.

2. Asking a specific question, such as "How can I improve the lighting?" and explaining what lighting you used will get you the precise answers you need to improve.

3. Saying "I love this picture! What do you think?" will not get you the help you need to improve.

Hope this is helpful!

315-366 chocolate

315-366 chocolate, originally uploaded by saralonde.

314-366 fall baking on the horizon

313-366 "big leaf, little leaf"

313-366 "big leaf, little leaf", originally uploaded by saralonde.

Looks as if the big one is going to eat the little guy ;)

312-366 barn door

312-366 barn door, originally uploaded by saralonde.

311-366 possibilities...

311-366 possibilities..., originally uploaded by saralonde.

310-366 fuji x10

310-366 fuji x10, originally uploaded by saralonde.


309-366, originally uploaded by saralonde.

308-366 rose

308-366 rose, originally uploaded by saralonde.

Same rose as the other day. I simply ran out of ideas for today!

307-366 candycorn cookie cutter

307-366 candycorn cookie cutter, originally uploaded by saralonde.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

307-366 "final rose"

307-366 "final rose", originally uploaded by saralonde.

Last rose from the garden. After several days of really cold weather, we had a few warm ones and it popped out!

Fun to have a little autumn surprise :)

306-366 "homemade beef vegetable soup"

Really good on a cold day...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

305-366 "Kayt's pumpkin tart"

305-366 "Kayt's pumpkin tart", originally uploaded by saralonde.


304-366 "suburbia encroaches"

304-366 "suburbia encroaches", originally uploaded by saralonde.

303-366 end of corn season

303-366 end of corn season, originally uploaded by saralonde.

302-366 a church once stood here

and all that's left is the sign.

301-366 "against a darkening sky"

playing in photoshop...

300-366 "Happy Halloween!"

300-366 "Happy Halloween!", originally uploaded by saralonde.

Still feeling the remnants of Hurricane Sandy, so Trick or Treat has been delayed in our area until Saturday. Probably good that the little ones don't end up in school the next day in a sugar coma!

299-366 farmhouse laundry

299-366 farmhouse laundry, originally uploaded by saralonde.