Photo Critique - Mike Fuhl



Right, I figured that the best way to illustrate the proposed new feature on Photocritic – proper photo critiques – would be to show off what I was planning to do with the feature. First up is a long-term reader of Photocritic, who submitted two photos.

Photo 1:

Dear Mike, There is a lot that can be said about this particular photo, and a lot of it, I’d have to admit, isn’t particularly favourable. Not because it is a terrible photo, technically, but because it does leave a lot to be desired. The main problem I have with it is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on. There is a lot of sky, and a little bit of plant and buildings, but none of it seems to complement each other or strengthen a message.

Technically, the photo is very dark, and could have done with a bit more contrast – pulling out the blacks in the levels tool in Photoshop would have thrown the plans and buildings into complete blackness, making them silhouettes. This would have been much preferable, but then theere isn’t enough of them to warrant to show them all that much.

To improve this photo, I would go back to teh drawing board. You see those plants down the bottom left of the photo? Make them your foreground. Let them rest along the left third of the image (as in the rule of thirds), and make sure that your focussing ensures they are pin-prick sharp. Then, expose for the sky behind, so the plants in the foreground are completely black. This would create a more interesting silhouette – see this photo for an example of what I’m talking about.

Finally, the picture has a lot of grain in it – I would suggest using the lowest ISO setting your camera has (100 on most dSLRs, 50 on many compacts), a tripod, and set the aperture to around f/8 or f/11, to make sure that the plant in the foreground would be wholly and fully in focus. Then, use a long shutter time (you are probably looking at 15-20 seconds, judging from the brightness of the photo) to expose the sky correctly.

Photo 2:

hjk1.jpgYour second picture is immediately a lot more interesting – the sky is more dramatic, and there is more of a foreground to enjoy, and there is a lot more contrast in the image. Instantly more appealing, but there’s still a lot to be done. A lot of the same commentary as above applies, but personally, I would have loved some people in this photo. Perhaps a silhouette of a person being sad, happy, or silly – expressing some sort of emotion (think iPod adverts, if you want to be cheesy), or perhaps a couple interacting… I did a quick mock-up (see to the right here)

For ideas on silhouetting people, try Silhouette or A Lesson in Life. For landscape silhouette, see if you can draw some more inspiration from this landscape photo.

I’m sorry these critiques couldn’t be more positive, but I hope they will help you in the ‘right’ direction. Good luck!

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