Picture Critique

The picture Critique is closed for now, but will open up again sometimes later in 2015 or beginning of 2016.

Welcome back to a new round of picture critique. Post a picture here and get my honest opinion about it. Read further for more information about how it works. Hope to see your picture here!

My picture critique page is open for submissions again. Do you have a picture you would like some feedback on from a professional photographer? Please take this opportunity to post one on this page. It can be any kind of photograph – as long as it’s been taken by you. As soon as possible I will then give my thoughts and opinion about the picture. My intension is to be somewhat critical but not discouraging. I believe in positive feedback – as long as it’s a valid reaction. I will give my honest view and perception of your picture in what I attempt to be constructive and meaningful critique. My hope is that the feedback will be helpful for you to develop your skills as a photographer – whether you are a family shooter or a professional photographer. We all need that feedback to get an idea of how others perceive our work. And that feedback might bring about new ideas and make us see our work in a different light. And help us develop into better photographers.

In many ways this is a small taste of how my regular workshops work – whether a workshop taking place somewhere in the world, like the ones I am teaching in Cuba or Spain this autumn – or one of my eWorkshops. The difference is of course that my regular workshops are much more in-depth and personal, as well as I teach various photographic subjects in addition to the picture critique. Whether or not you want to sign up for any of my regular workshops or not, give it a try here. No obligation what so ever.

How do you submit pictures? Just put a link in a comment beneath to one of your pictures already out on your blog, your website or somewhere else on the web. I will then pick it up and post it here for everyone to see the picture. But please, I would be very happy if you don’t link to a high resolution picture. I don’t know how many pictures will be put on here, but with large pictures it can easily make the site hard and slow to download. And maybe I may also ask you to post about the picture critique on your own blog when you submit a picture (or have received the picture critique)? This way more people will get to know about the possibility.

Remember this is not a competition. Submit a picture you need feedback on, a picture you are unsure about, a picture that is different from your usual style or just a picture that you want to know how to do better. One request, though: May I ask each one of you who want feedback to limit yourself to one picture?

I look forward to seeing your picture.


85 Responses to Picture Critique

  1. marysmirror says:

    Hey there, I saw you did picture critique when you closed the last round and wanted to take part… Because I am not that seasoned in photography and just starting to improve… Well, my picture is here: https://brightpigments.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/dsc4325.jpg
    And I’d be happy if you could tell me something on how to improve it… This was my very first try on street photography, so I am happy about any kind of comment…
    Yours, Mary

    • For being the first attempt on street photography I think you did very well. You have captured a moment when the soap bubbles are at their biggest and brightest. Also the posture of the street artist is important. Even though he shows the back to us, we can feel his concentration and how he focuses on the creation of the bubbles. A small, but important, detail for me is also the backpack in the background and just to the right of the «bubble man». I read it as his, and for me it shows he is a travelling street artist. Another nice detail is the colour rainbows you have captured in each and every soap bubble. You ask for possible improvement, and for me one thing would be to be able to see a little more of the street artist’s face. I don’t need to see him from the front, but if you had stepped a little over to your right and then waited until he had turned his head more towards you, that would have been enough. In addition by moving a step or two over to the right you would have created a little bit of separation between him and his backpack. As it is now the lower soap bubbles and the backpack blends too much into each other. One more thing: Unfortunately the background right behind the «bubble man» and the soap bubbles is a little bit too disturbing. It’s not really messy, but it’s taking the focus away from the main subject. You did the right thing by creating a feeling of a blurred surrounding to the sides of the street artist. This makes the element in this area less eye catching and helps the eye focus on the artist. But behind the artist the background is quite sharp and this is almost impossible to touch up after the fact. The only thing you could have done was using a larger aperture at the moment of capture to limit the depth of field (i.e. using an aperture with a smaller number). That would have thrown the background out of focus.

      • marysmirror says:

        Thanks a lot for your really detailed comments and critique, I’ll definitely will go back there, when I visit Berlin next time and redo this shot (or at least try it) according to what you’ve said…
        I had the same Impression according to the background and tried to fix it in post processing (which has not worked as well as I hoped)… When looking through the images on my camera it felt alright and at home (400km away) I had no chance to change it…
        Thanks again, for your critique, it is that comprehensive, detailed and professional… I will definitely improve my style with this in mind. Thanks for your time,

  2. hbhatnagar says:

    Hi! It always sounds like an imposition,asking someone you don’t know for a favor. 🙂
    I had submitted three pics for a citywide competition last month, Chandigarh in April. While none of these were selected, I would like to get some critique on any one of these as to what I could have done differently. The link to the post is – http://wp.me/p1yn2L-hT . Thanks!

    • I picked out this one out of the three you had submitted to the competition. For me it’s the most interesting of the three. The two others are very nice, too, but not as special as this one. This shows a unique perspective and approach as well as having a good graphical structure. I really like the way you used the sculpture to frame the group of men behind it. The hand has a very soft and organic shape and gives associations to friendship and an outstretched hand. This is repeated in the relaxed attitude of the men behind the sculpture. The fact that the main guy is sitting right in the middle of the hand is graphically important. And story wise; being able to see the face of at least one of the other men gives the viewer something tangible to hold on to. In contrast to the relaxed atmosphere is the cold, shiny surface of the sculpture itself. This contrast emphasizes the peaceful and casual feeling otherwise in the photo. I like that the reflections in metal surface have different colour tones, cold blue to the left and warm orange to the right. So how could you have improved the photo? It is in the small details, but often it’s the details that make the difference, particularly in competitions like the one you participated in. For instance the one face we see through the hand. Part of the cut through hides the upper part of his head. If you had lowered yourself you would have been able to capture all of his head. Then you have the man standing next to him. He is almost not adding anything to the story of the photo. If on the other hand he had been sitting down next to the man we see the profile of, then he would have been more in line with this relaxed atmosphere of the photo. Of course I understand that you have to take whatever is available when shooting on the street, but what I am saying is simply to wait out the situation for its optimal compositional and content wise moment. One more thing: I think I would crop off a bit on the left side as well as on the top, so only the inside of the sculpture is showing within the frame of the picture. Now we are able to peak above it and that draws the eye away from the main story.

      • hbhatnagar says:

        Thank you so much for the very insightful review. You picked my pick of the three as well. It was an accidental shot, I was about to leave after a couple of hours wasted trying to get a good shot and this scene just happened to unfold before me. I know I didn’t think so clearly and lucidly about the composition, I just felt it would make a nice shot and I took my chance. I can see now how cropping the shot would make for a tighter construction, I wish I’d paid more attention to the men in the background, I was too focused on the mam sitting within the hand. That’s go you so much for the pointers, I’ll definitely pay more attention next time. Thanks again, I really appreciate it. ☺

  3. Rich Lewis says:

    Thanks so much for offering to critique our photographs. Here is mine. I’m a landscape photographer but have started to find an interest in people. I have recently started a personal project to photograph war re-enactors and here is one of the first of that series.


    Again, Otto, thank you for taking the time to do this.

    Rich Lewis

    • If this is among your first attempts to shoot people, I would say that the result is very impressive. Judging by the photo and the way you captured the war re-enactor’s character and facial expression it looks like you are already a savvy people photographer. He feels real, and small details add to this feeling; such as the smoke from the cigar, the way his mouth is holding the cigar, the glimpse in his eyes, the open jacket and the open strap of the helmet. In addition the use of a limited depth of field cleans up a disturbing background and makes the viewer’s eye focus on the main subject. The light is beautiful as well, coming from an overcast sky from the right, being soft and accentuating the forms of the re-enactor. I don’t know if you particularly worked on the reflections in his glasses. They are not hiding his eyes, but are still visible enough to show that they are real glasses. Finally the composition is good with the head placed in the upper right corner and counterbalanced by the rifle over his shoulder. It’s a great photo. If I should suggest some improvements it would be to look for a counterpoint to make the soldier play up against. I see two elements within the frame that could possibly have been used. You have another re-enactor in the right frame and yet another in the lower left corner. Either of these could have been used to add another dimension to the story. Take the guy to the right. If you had moved yourself more to the left of the character you have captured, you could possibly have captured the second guy between the rifle and the head and in doing so brought in a relationship beyond a plane portrait of the re-enactor. You would have had to make him follow you and turn more to his right as well, so you wouldn’t shoot the side of his face. Does this make sense for you? Of course it might not have worked, but the idea is still to look for counterpoints in a photograph. This is something I always encourage.

      • Rich Lewis says:

        Otto, thank you so much for your critique and your intriguing idea. While l liked the way this guy had his rifle slung over his shoulder I did feel there was too much unused space between the guy and his gun. The idea of placing a second re-enactor in that space never occurred to me and I wish it had. The time you spent looking at this image and your suggestions are greatly appreciated. I’m going to start to look more for these relationships in my images. – Rich

  4. Dear Otto,

    I’m not sure should I ask for a feedback because I’m not a photographer, moreover I mostly use a small digital camera while travelling, because it’s the most convenient and safest for me. But I always use manual settings on my camera and try to take nice pictures…

    So here it is, one picture from my blog, from my favourite place – the Falklands:
    ( http://travelingrockhopper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/20_falklands_small_w_logo.jpg )
    (and this is not a high resolution one, as you asked).

    I have always have difficulties when selecting my “best” pictures, I like them at the beginning, maybe because of the memories, but later I’m a bit disappointed… Of course I cannot get as good quality pictures as they are from DSLR cameras, but…

    Anyway, thank you!
    Maja (Traveling Rockhopper)

    • Editing your own pictures are difficult. It always helps having someone else to give their opinion. However with practise it becomes easier, although some photographers never really become able to edit their photos, simply because it’s too hard to separate the emotions invested in a photo at the moment of capture and an «objective» evaluation of the photo afterwards. Anyway, your selection of a photo from the Falkland Islands is a good choice, taken I don’t know what else you have captured there. In itself it’s a beautiful photograph. It conveys the harsh weather conditions on this southern island. One can really feel the tough wind and the cold temperature. It’s almost amazing that animals can survive in such a climate. There are a lot of elements that makes this photos stand out. First of all you have captured two different species of penguins and have separated them into two groups by the way you have composed the picture, or more like one group in the background and then three individual penguins of the other species walking in front of the group. The low flying snow is adding significantly interest for the viewer. In particular I like the two individual penguins to the right. They are visually well separated from the group behind, nicely place toward to lower right corner and have a distinctive expression that goes to the harshness of the environment. Another very expressive detail is the lack of colours with the exception of the muted colours on the beaks. Two things I think could have improved the photos. The first of them goes to the last individual penguin to the left; it would have made it stand out even better if there had been more visual separation between it and the group in the background. In addition the highlights are a little underexposed or rendered. I would have liked to see the snow more white than gray as it is now. It’s quite easy to fix, though, in any photo editing program.

      • Thank you, Otto! I really appreciate your comments!!!

        I also realised that I should better describe my pictures, it’s actually not snow, but sand, and because of extremely strong wind everything is so grey – the dust particles were everywhere…(painful to my face and definitely not good for my camera…). On sunny days, the beach looked like that: http://travelingrockhopper.com/falklands_24/ .

        Thank you once more!
        Have a nice day!
        Maja (Traveling Rockhopper)

  5. yessrob says:

    Hi Otto,

    My friend introduced your page and the picture critique to me 🙂 very cool! Thanks so much for reaching out and helping other photographers out there!

    Here is my link to a picture I would for like you to discern:


    Looking forward 🙂


    • You have captured a very dramatic scene. I am not exactly sure what is happening with the water buffalo. It might just be the moment of capture and the situation maybe not dramatic at all, but without any further information it looks like a gruelling fight for survival. The whole expression of the face, the frightened, intense look and the fierce movement in the water all indicate that the water buffalo is struggling for its life. The open-ended story makes me think of a crocodile or another underwater predator that has caught the big animal. To the left a calf is looking on – and in my mind that is the offspring of the struggling buffalo watching the dramatic situation. The picture is very captivating exactly because of the intensity of the situation. It builds around the moment you have captured. Timing is perfect with the expression of the buffalo, part of the head turning towards the water and the horn splashing water from the fight. The muddy water splash and drops in the air are important elements in telling the story of the photo. The exposure time is just right, freezing the drops in the air and at the same time capturing the fluid flow of the splash in the water itself. I also think the almost monochromatic colour palette adds to the dramatic feeling the image conveys. If I should wish for one thing, that would be that you had framed the subject a little differently. I would have loved to see more of the calf in the background to the left. That would have accentuated the dramatic story even more. In addition it would have brought more of the back part of the struggling buffalo into the picture. As it is now, the framing feels a little arbitrary. One more thing: If you darken the water towards the lower edge and towards the right edge; that would focus the eye more towards the struggling buffalo.

      • yessrob says:

        Hi Otto,

        Many thanks for your detailed response and critique to my submitted photo! Very much appreciated!

        Your advise regarding the framing i completely understand and agree with… I didt even realize that there was a baby right behind that guy when I shot it!! And that was because right behind that guy are around 20 or more other buffalos all huddled together! they are in fact very peaceful and tamed buffalos… I live in somewhat of the countryside and cross paths with them often.. so I enjoy to stop photograph them and say hello. This particular watering hole is their common place of rest around sunset, a cool down bath at the end of the day.

        Thanks again for your tips 🙂 I am definitely keeping them in mind for future shooting!


    • This is a subject I know very well – since my love one is a massage therapist – and thus I know how difficult it can be to captured the feeling of wellness and relaxation from such a situation. In this case light is everything, and you did very well. You lit the photo beautifully and softly from the left. It almost feels like the body is illuminated from a window letting through light from an overcast sky, but it could also be artificially lit by softboxes. However you lit the person, it’s ideal for the subject. It’s soft but still has direction and brings out the organic forms of the body, the texture of the towel and the sharper but still rounded shapes of the strong hands. I also like the tight framing, focusing only on the main part of the story of the photo; the back of the person getting massage and the hands of the massage therapist. The bit of towel to the left is important for the compositional balance that otherwise would have tilted to the right. Another important detail is being able to perceive that the massage therapist is on her or his knees. All in all it’s an excellent photo well captured and well processed in black and white. Two disturbing details – in my eyes: The rug or carpet we can just about make out in the upper left corner is a little too messy. The patterns is catching the attention of the viewer and dragging the eyes away from the main subject. The best would have been to capture the whole situation on a single coloured rug, but as it is now, I would make it darker and by that sort of hiding the pattern a bit. The other detail that is easy to remedy is the lower arm of the person getting massage in the lower left corner of the photo. It’s almost white and again will pull the eyes away from the main subject and pushing them out through the frame. The remedy it simply to darken the arm as well.

  6. leecleland says:

    Thank you Otto for your generousity in offering these critique sessions. Hopefully the link is below

    My image is 2 shots – I liked the simplicity of the rose stem but it was an image anyone could have taken. I added a background I shot the same day and would welcome your thoughts.
    I am trying to simplify my images but also make them my own.

    • First of all; the joining of the two photos are very well done. It’s seamless and feels natural – and I didn’t discover it by a first look. In addition is feels right, the background adds to the atmosphere, emphasizes the wetness and the rain of the photo. I think part of this is because you shot the background on the same day and thus captured the same light with same qualities as for the main subject. Considered as a whole the photo is beautiful. Of course the backlit thorns on the rose stem are what catch the eyes first because of their intense colour. Then the eyes move over to the round, glittering droplets on the stem itself. The backlight is working very well for the subject, enhancing the colours and adding sparkles to the droplets. A very nice close-up. As already mentioned, the background adds to the feeling of wetness and spring rain. The blurred streaks probably comes from a longer exposure and moving the camera while capturing the photo, but it almost gives the impression of being falling raindrops – which is why the composite and layered photograph feels right. Choosing to frame the rose stem in an angle so it forms a diagonal makes the composition pleasant and well defined. I don’t really have much to object to, I think you did very well with this close-up. The only thing may be to create an even more forceful composition by moving the stem further to the left. It’s almost – but not quite, which is good – placed in the centre. Moving further away from the centre will increase the strength of the expression.

      • leecleland says:

        Thank you again Otto for your astute critique. It is much as I though, a competent and pleasant image but I need to work on finding that elusive something that takes it past that and holds the viewers attention. If my computer skills allow I will have a link to this post on my blog tomorrow (Friday 19 June)

  7. leecleland says:

    OOpps, looks like I sent the image, sorry Otto, I’m not very computer literate and thought I was only sending the link.

  8. shoreacres says:

    What a delight to have this opportunity again, Otto. I’m rather fond of this one, from the Courir de Mardi Gras in Louisiana.

    • This is a photo with a lot of energy and momentum. I love how you have stepped right into the crowd and captured the carnival people as they walk right by you. The wide angle lens is perfect for capturing both the energy and the mood. I think the first thing that catches the eye with this photo is the bold framing. It’s quite unconventional with the pink, young lady barely visible to the right. At the same time the focus is on her, which in a way makes her the main subject. Still, the ways the guy on the horse and the girl in green beneath him are framed in the middle accentuates their importance in the image – and make them the main subject as well. In particular I find the guy’s gesture and gaze drawing my attention. He really seems to be in total control and completely enjoying the moment. Technically you have made two interesting choices. First of all; the use of a longer shutter speed that captures the flow of moment rather than freezes the carnival people’s activity. Secondly; a limited depth of field, which forces the figures in the background quite out of focus. I like the bright exposure even though it burns out the sky completely. Maybe you have some more information there you could enhance in photoshop or some other picture editing program? I mentioned the bold framing. Personally I would have loved to see one eye of the woman to the right. As you have cropped off most of her and still have focused on her, I feel it’s a little disturbing. If I could only get connected with her left eye I would feel more like I get to know her better. Now the framing feels a little arbitrary. We are talking about inches between a great photo and a good photo.

      • shoreacres says:

        Thank you so much, Otto. I had a very positive feeling about this photo, and I’m glad to have your feedback. I completely agree about the image being stronger if I had captured a bit more of the face of the girl on the right. I was trying to do just that, but they were moving, and I was trying to find an opening in a crush of people: so much for perfect framing.

        As for the sky, that’s precisely what it looked like that morning. There had been a very heavy fog, and, as you can see from the trees, it hadn’t completely lifted. At the time I took the photo, the ceiling was only just above the tree tops. I’m not sure if there’s any way to deal with that other than to accept it.

        I will say that this is one of the last photos I took that day that helped me get over the fear of taking photos of people. For one thing, everyone around wanted to have their photo taken — Mardi Gras and a certain exhibitionism just go together.

  9. Deryaa says:

    Hi, i am glad if i get your honest opinion about my pic. 🙂 thanks

    • This is a classical executed documentary photograph with a lovely little story about a girl and her bike. The fact that it’s a black and white photograph enhances the feeling. I very much like the image; it’s well composed, has a clear intent, a well defined range of tones and is all in all captured with skill and empathy. Of course the girl and the bike is the main story, but there are so many details within the frame that adds to the visual expression and increases the viewers experience with the photo. Like the rundown door behind the girl, the worn brick wall with some torn posters, the weed behind the bike and the plant growing into the lap of the girl from the left. There is some sadness in the expression. It could be that I get a feeling of poverty when watching the photo, although I am not sure, because the girl’s clothes are well maintained. Maybe it’s only the setting that creates this sad mood. Or maybe even the sceptical look in her face. The look is actually a bit disturbing to me. I feel her uncertainty or doubt is related to the fact that she is being photographed. I wonder how many frames you captured of the situation. This is a setting I always recommend to stay with as long as possible. Simply keep shooting. At some point when you keep shooting people start to relax about being photographed and the situation turns into a mutual exchange between you and the subject. With this much said, I still think it’s a lovely photograph. Her look is actually a combination of uncertainty and curiosity and for that it works. As I wrote in the beginning the photo is very well composed with the two main elements place in opposite halves within the frame.

  10. Patrizia M. says:

    Ok ci provo anche io, ci tengo troppo al tuo parere!!
    Questa è la foto

    • I hope it’s OK I answer in English since I don’t really trust Google translate… In this photo you have captured a beautiful scenery. I like that you have converted the sunset into a black and white photography. It transforms the atmosphere and creates quite a different expression compared to the usual sunset we see from similar situations. By taking away the colours you make the viewer connect more to the landscape and the sailboat flowing through it. It’s a bold move since most people would expect to see saturated warm colours in a sunset vista like this, but I think it makes the image more interesting. Compositionally you also did very well by placing the sailboat away from the centre of the frame and towards the lower edge. The sun then acts as a counterpoint along the opposite edge. An important element is of course also the sparkling reflection of the sun in the water. The mist adds to the mood of the landscape – imposing tranquillity and harmony. In between the boat and the sun, we can make out a forest like landscape in the mist. In many ways this is an uncomplicated photograph which works exactly by its simplicity and the atmosphere created. It’s a delicate photograph. One thing I would have liked to see is a bit more contrast, particularly locally in the sailboat. The image emerges a little bit gray and by increasing the contrast you would be able to captivate the viewers even more. With higher contrast the photograph will have stronger stopping power. Another thought: Most of the elements are place around and to the right of the centre line. The surroundings outside of that line are quite empty. I like negative space in general, but then I would emphasize it even more. You could for instance move the sailboat even more to the right, either by cropping the photography or – during the capture – turn the camera more to the left. That would increase the visual mass of the empty space and create another stronger counterpoint to the sailboat. Yet another solution is to turn the photo into a vertical frame along the axis that is established between the sailboat and the sunray streaming through the photo. However, remember these are only suggestions as I see them. You should always do whatever you feel like is right for yourself.

  11. Monica says:

    Hei på deg igjen Otto.
    Ble så glad over å lese om muligheten for bildekritikk, og tar sjansen på å spørre om et uttrykk jeg har lyst å utvikle, men er samtidig veldig i tvil om jeg er på rett spor. Fargene er opprinnelig i varme toner, men jeg var i et blått humør da jeg gjorde disse. Og burde de heller vært i svarthvitt kanskje? Blir veldig takknemlig hvis du har anledning til å kikke på denne posten. Vet ikke om jeg har greid å aktivere linken ?
    Beste hilsen fra Monica 🙂

    • You ask if you are on the right track with these photos in the post you link to, of which I have picked one to showcase here. The answer is an undivided yes. Everything about these photos I love; the subject, the way you have rendered the subject, the technique, the colour palette, the composition. Most importantly is the emotional impact; you have created a dreamlike setting that asks questions of the viewers and spurs their imagination. The use of a long shutter speed and capturing a blurry sense of movement is the underlying element that is responsible for the emotional content and mood in these photos. And not the least the cool bluish tint toward the green end of the spectre and stretching into purple in some areas. You ask if they should rather have been processed as pure black and white images, and my answer is no. They would have been lovely in black and white as well, but the colour palette you have chosen enhances the narrative. It’s not a tangible narrative in any way, but one that stimulates the fantasy and the imagination. They are more like ethereal fairy-tales. It’s hard to pick a favourite among the photos in your post, but the one I have use as a representation here, might be my preference. Some of the others are even more dreamlike and intangible, which I like a lot, but I think for this one it’s the bold framing that makes me pick it. The way you have cropped of most of the head suggests a person not living in our world, accentuates the heart over mind, but it also offers a connection to the outside through the edge of the frame the woman is connected to. All in all really a lovely photo – as are the others.

      • Monica says:

        Thank you so much, Otto, for taking time to look at my photos, and it means a lot to me having your opinion about them.
        I have been so insecure about the style and edit etc, but after your feedback, I definitely will continue working with this kind of expression.
        Again, thank you very much, Otto!

  12. 1cruzdelsur says:

    It will be a pleasure to read your professional analysis, this photograph was shot on a secluded beach in southern Uruguay, suddenly appeared these girls riding on the riverbank.
    Greetings and feel the death of your beloved family.
    Cruz del Sur

    • What a lovely and serene scenery you have captured in this photo. There is a childlike innocence and purity radiating from these four girls riding along on the beach. It feels like an adventure; the kids are exploring new territory and discovering a new destiny. The colours are subtle and muted and build on the same sentiment. In addition the composition accentuates the tranquillity. It’s a quiet composition with few elements and a general lingering movement horizontally from right to left; only fire girls, three horses and a beach. A bit of wind from the right that catches the hair of particularly the girl in the front, brings some graceful dynamics into the image as well. Another nice detail is the position of the heads of the horses, one after the other a bit further to the left as the eye moves into the photo. For me this is a story about upbringing, about finding their way in life, the transformation from childhood to adolescence. I can feel their curiosity and bliss as they ride into new chapters of their lives. At the same time they feel confident and safe. They ride self-possessed and open-minded. I mentioned the gentle composition, where you have placed the main element, the group of girls and horses, to the right within the frame. I could wish that you have placed them even further towards the edge. As they are positioned now, the girls are place almost in the centre on a vertical axis. By adding more space in front of them, you would have opened up the photo and created a stronger forward movement. I might even suggest opening up above them, but that really depends on how the landscape would look like there. Another thought about the composition: I think it would be even stronger if the girls rode the other way from left to right. That would accentuate the idea of riding into a new destiny. Just try it by flipping the image and you will se the difference. I would also have loved to see a little bit more of the faces of the girls. As it is now we can only make up the face of one of them, the others are hidden behind each other and by the hair blowing in the wind. A last thought: I think I would have increased the contrast. It’s a delicate balance, too much will destroy the quiet atmosphere, but I think some will only bring out a better definition.

      • 1cruzdelsur says:

        Otto thank you very much for your analysis. It is very important for me to see the different points to consider. I like to read your note about it and so know the details to consider. I am grateful for your time.
        Again. Thank you.

  13. monica amberger says:

    Hi Otto,
    I´m so glad to have this chans once again.
    I would appreciate to have your opinion how to get the best out of the raw file. I want to keep the soft atmosphere but also have some saturation in the colours. I´ve tried a lot of times but it mostly end with to much contrast.
    The link will not be active, I will try again.
    Best regards

    • For her lovely landscape photo Monica has asked me how she can best process the RAW-file. She wants to give the colours a boost without losing the soft atmosphere that is an important part of the picture. Before continuing let me just add that Monica have cropped the photo on her blog, but I use the fully uncropped version here. Let’s move on to how I would process it, then. First of all it’s always a challenge to increase the colour saturation in a foggy or misty landscape photo, simply because fog by nature desaturates the colours. In the end it’s about finding the balance and of course a matter of personal taste and preferences. With Monica’s photo the mist is concentrated along the far end of the lake, which makes the approach a little easier. I processed the sky and the trees above the mist separately by using a graduate filter in Lightroom (the same could have been done in Adobe Bridge) boosting both clarity and saturation as well as darkening the highlight. I did the same for the area of the reflection in the lake beneath the misty part. Interestingly enough my processing ended up quite similar to the one Monica had done herself. I could have continued the processing in Photoshop, but instead I took a different approach. I have often found when I need an extra boost in a picture, actually using the cell phone app Snapseed does some magic. So I transferred Monica’s photo to my cell phone and opened it in Snapseed. There I used the filter Drama 1, which really gives the photo a visually pleasing contrast increase. At the same time, though, the filter desaturates the colours, so I increased the saturation to what I found pleasing to me. The result can be seen beloved. I think it does give the photo a nice looking boost, but the treatment did also destroy some of that soft atmosphere around the ducks by adding too much contrast in that area. So what I finally would have done was to add the original processed file from Lightroom and the one from Snapseed into the same file as layers in Photoshop. Then I would have masked out the birds and the mist, using the original processed file and then let the rest be taken from the boosted Snapseed file. I do not show how this could end up looking here, but only show the two different processed versions.

      • monica amberger says:

        Thank you very much for your interesting and creative processing Otto. I really like the result and the serious explanation step by steg. Easy to understand and inspiring. The coulors, clarity and saturation looks almost as I rememer this morning.
        I´ve learned a lot and will try to use separte processing and mask more often.
        I really appreciate your picture critique and like to read and try to learn from every picture.

  14. Elaine- submitted a photo for the picture critique on my post Let Me Give Your Photo Feedback. The feedback comes here.

    • As always you come up with a very interesting photograph. It’s not a plain and simple, straightforward image, but one that both requires attention from the viewer and stimulates the viewer’s imagination. At first sight the photo is «just» a car that seems parked under a bridge. But then the eye starts to pick up essential details that turn the story around, not to a linear or even tangible story, but more like a multi facetted, dreamlike and ethereal tableau. Is the man in the car real? Is he a mannequin doll? Or is he dead? Or is he some kind of humanlike spirit? The imagination spins in all directions. The dreamlike appearance is accentuated by the softened and blurry forms. And the forms contrast each other, in the metal shine and clean shapes of the car against the rougher and more tacitly contours of the construction surrounding the car. And against this sits the man – or whatever he is – in the car as an organic and soft profile. A white column to the left seems about to swallow the car – and from the other side and above falls a black shadow down upon the car. Is this about the fight between good and evil? Maybe the photo tells the story of man’s vanity, represented by the car, that is about to drag him into eternal damnation – or maybe he is about to be liberated from his climate devastating scourge. The imagination is encourage by the stark graphical contrasts where highlights are burned out and shadows sinks into the deepest darkness. In addition you have used a duotone to emphasize the surreal aspect of this fascinating photograph. It’s a photo I can look at again and again.

      • Elaine- says:

        you know what Otto? I think you just made me decide to not give up photography… you have an artist’s soul to be sure, but also a human spirit, and i wonder if it is a bit of Otto that you see in that car? and the questions you ask regarding the photo might be ones you want to revisit on your knees before God 🙂

        thank you so much for this beautiful experience you gave me.

        • You should never give up photography! With that talent, no.

          • Elaine- says:

            you know, i was thinking about it, after your critique and making the decision to sell my camera and give it up…. lately i’ve been seeing pictures i would like to take everywhere!!! you think i have ‘talent’? this comes as a shock to me 🙂 thank you, you are sweet!

  15. Pingback: A Critique from Otto von Munchow | Beyond Purgatory

  16. Also Angeline M asked for my evaluation of one of her photos directly in my post Let Me Give Your Photo Feedback. The feedback comes here: There is such a peaceful and joyous atmosphere streaming out of this photo – despite the heavy winds that are obvious by the big white caps on the sea we can see in the background and the seagulls hanging in the air. What first catches the attention is the girl running a long the beach almost as if she is chasing the wind. You can really feel her delight and sparkle as she runs barefoot on the wet sand close to the water. Her outstretched hand and the one foot lifted forward convey this joyous energy. As a contrast we see a flock of waders in the foreground, slowly picking food in the sand, not moving much and imposing a tranquil balance. Then in the background we have this dramatic seascape with the forces of the ocean slashing onto the beach. The white caps come roaring in and the spray and foam saturate the air above. The seagulls hanging in the air are important elements, which add to the atmosphere and confirm the location by the sea. However, while the one on the left side is compositionally well placed, it’s a little unfortunate that the other one is right in front of the running girl. Had it been captured further to the right, it would have strengthened the composition and not visually competed with the girl. In addition a dynamic, imaginary diagonal between the left seagull, the girl and the right seagull then, would have been created and leading the eye through the photo. Compositionally I would also have loved to see the girl not being place right in the middle of the frame. The natural position would be a bit further to the left, thus having more space in front of the direction of her movement, but I think that is entirely up to what you want to convey with the photo. One last thought. I feel that the photo is a little bit underexposed. This is something easily remedied in Photoshop or some other picture editing program.

  17. Pingback: So Many Great Photos! | In Flow

  18. loisajay says:

    Otto, I have gained so much information just by reading your wonderful critiques of all these great photos. I read your words, and looked back at the photo and thought, “He’s right!” Of course, you are right! Thank you so much for teaching me, when I am sure you had no idea you were even doing that!

  19. Hi Otto, a second request for a critique and again the subject is London! I just wonder what you think of this street shot along the Thames. https://chrisbreebaart.wordpress.com/2015/06/13/wpc-off-season-giant-soap-bubbles/

    • There is so much joy and excitement in this photo. We can literally feel the kids’ thrill having the huge soap bubbles flying in the air. They chase them; they stand there looking at them in astonishment, some a little more modest and shy – and even the soap bubble-maker is obviously having a great time. You have captured her at the right moment, just after she has let go of another round of bubbles. Her eyes follow the last soap bubble she created and at the same time we know she is aware of the kids’ delight. Even the colours play up to the joyous mood of the photo, with their bright, saturated and strong hues. Every face of the kids shows different emotions and different reactions to the soap bubbles, from the oblivious look of the boy furthest away to the exhilarated boy pursuing the bubbles in front of the bubble-maker. I like the way the kids surround her, that holds the eye within the action of the photo. I also like that we not only see the kids and the soap bubble-maker but also the surroundings. We see a cityscape with a riverbank, the river and a bridge crossing the river and we see other people enjoying the space and the day. Another more graphical element, equally important for the mood, is the bright exposure. You have exposed (or processed) for the shadows which brings out all the details and colours in the photo as the we are facing the shadow side of the subject (the sun light coming from left and behind). At the same time you have avoided burning out the highlights, so we can still make out the details in the brighter parts of the photo. Compositionally I could have wanted some more space around the action, most importantly to the right. The framing feels a little too tight, particularly with the woman to the far right who is cropped in half. More space to the right would also have opened up for the movement of the soap bubbles and the kids. One more detail: Behind the soap bubble make we see two ladies walking by. Unfortunately one of them is visually connected with the bubble-maker. Some space between them would have lifted the composition. This you could have done by either stepping to the left and thus created more space between them, or by stepping to the right and trying to hide the lady we partly see behind the soap bubble-maker.

      • Hi Otto, thank you so much for giving your feed back. The way you voice the image is the way I perceived it when I was walking into it. I do agree with your critique. I cropped the photo to get rid of some objects on the right that were hindering, but I also took out some on the right. And made the appearance of space smaller by doing that. And you are right, I should have kept space between the woman on the back ground. On the right in the foreground there is a fence, I could not move there. All in all I am very happy capturing this scene this way. But it was so fast and a bit much to take in on the subject and dynamics. I will post a series of the photos I took of the kids and her. To give some more background of the ‘creation’. And post a link to that post here as a reply. Ever again, thank you so much for giving your opinion and your expertise. It is all in the details!

      • Hi Otto, here is a post with the five photos I took of this subject. Among it the original not cropped photo. You are right about too much cropping taking away space. Thanks again for your time and hones opinion! http://wp.me/paGem-4m5

  20. Helen C says:

    Hello, Otto, every time you offer giving feedback/critique on our photos, I feel excited. What a great opportunity! But when I start looking through my photos trying to pick one to submit, I get discouraged… not sure if any is good enough to submit (even I can find several things to improve on them ;-), so I let the opportunity go. This time, I’m confused with the wedding photo – crop or not to crop, how to crop, black and white or color… (second one on the post) at http://helenchen.ws/2015/06/02/photos-thoughts-and-questions/ and would like to hear your opinion on this photo. Thanks.

    • First of all I want to say that this picture critique is not a competition. I want to look at all kinds of photos; they don’t have to be «good enough». As long as you would like to get some feedback I will do my best however the photo is. And honestly; a photo which is good enough don’t really need my feedback as much as a photo you are not sure about. So thank you for deciding to submit the wedding photo, Helen. Now, to the photo; you are not sure what to do; crop or not to crop, how to crop, black and white or colour. My first response is that you did the right thing to leave it as it is. The framing is perfect; we need to see the environment; that the wedding couple is walking down a regular street among regular people. And the colours are gorgeous. Of course the bride and the groom are all black and white but that doesn’t mean that everything has to be turned into a monochromatic expression. On the contrary: the warm colours of the wall and building provides for a visually pleasing contrast. It also emphasizes the blissful moment. So, yes, colours. In addition the light is beautiful; it has direction and a shaping quality, streaming in low from the right. And of course you need that person to the left that the couple have just passed by. She adds to the story, as an important element showing the special moment for the wedding couple set against an ordinary street scenery. She becomes visually and content wise a counterpoint to the couple. The words «KIX» – whatever they mean – are a second counterpoint. I love the spontaneous reaction from the couple, they have just discovered your capturing them and they give you (and thus the viewer) a delightful and warm reaction. As mentioned earlier the framing is excellent. You show a bit of a house behind the wall and to the left, you show a bit of the ending of the wall with some metal fences and pipes to the right, and that creates a feeling of depth. If you had only shown the wedding couple up against the wall (by for instance cropping the photo) it would have felt very flat and two-dimensional. My only remark, really, goes to the placement of the people in the photograph. Now the bride and groom are almost centred within the frame, particularly their heads which are dead in the centre. I would have liked to see them walk even further to the right, almost to the point where they touch the words «KIX». That would really have increased the dynamic of the composition. Of course you may have lost their spontaneous reaction, but maybe not. By delaying the shot (or more likely by keeping shooting so you wouldn’t have lost this first frame) you might also have lost the woman to the left. But maybe she would only had arrived closer to the edge of the frame, in which case it would even further enhanced the compositional tension – in a positive way.

      • Helen C says:

        Thank you, Otto. I really appreciate your feedback and I agree with every word you said. People say golfing is a mind game , which I have found out that it is true. And I also found out that street photographing is a mind game, too. Most of the time, after I took one shot of someone on the street, I would feel that I have had bothered the person enough and I should move on and leave the person alone. I felt that way even when the person had given me a permission to take his photo. After I walked away, quite often, I got upset with myself thinking I really should take a couple more shots. I am working on this and will be so happy when I overcome this problem.
        Thank you so much.

      • Helen C says:

        I am still thinking… one other big problem I have is: it used to be that when I take a photo all I see (focus) was my subject only. Now I managed to pay a little attention to the frame, but I still don’t see the rest in the photo. I am reading your feedback for Chris (bubbles), and I would like to ask: is there a good way to train myself to be aware of what else in the photo? If I may use Chris’ photo as an example, how to train myself so in the future I will see that lady who was visually connected with the bubble-maker? Should I ignore my subject for a while and only pay attention to the rest of the photo and hoping I eventually be able to pay attention to everything? Maybe by knowing I have this problem, eventually I will get better?
        Thank you so much!

        • It really only comes with practice and awareness. The fact that you think about more than the main subject (and not, you should not ignore) will make you take the surroundings into the consideration. Take your time when there is time, such as with static subjects. With street photography you don’t really have much more time than to react. But then keep shooting, don’t stop after the first frame. 🙂

  21. Otto, I am most grateful for the energy you put into such opportunities for picture critiques. And I admire it even more as I am struggling so much when it comes to speaking or writing about photograps – I find creating pictures so much easier than speaking about them.

    http://cdn2.markus-spring.info/files/2015/01/Garden_Court.jpg is the image I would be glad to read your thoughts about. Thanks in advance.

    • This is a very interesting photograph. It has a certain postmodern quality to it; the straightforward perspective, the almost muted and faded colours, and not the least deconstructing in many ways an ordinary scene and playing elements up against each other. For me this is a sad story of how we build our modern society, not taking care of what is, but rather building new on top of the crumbling leftovers. There is also a feeling of alienation and abandonment radiating from the photo. You use very few elements to build the story, yet, at the same time it’s quite a complex image. There is the wall that divides the picture in two. Already here we get a sense of what this is all about. A couple of garbage bags to the left – providing almost the only element of none-earthly colours in the photo – set up against a couple of bushes, as counterpoints, that does the best to survive in this unnatural and harsh environment. And then the maybe most striking visual element; the rust running down the wall with its barbed wire along top. We are left with desolation and agony when we see this discouraging city view. Maybe the background building, shining and new, could provide us with hope, but only for so long, because we know that too soon it will look exactly like the foreground. No people are present – as if no people can live in these surroundings. The photo has a very centre and static composition, which fits the subject perfectly: Even the composition doesn’t leave us much hope. The same could be said about the light; none-distinct and gray, coming from an overcast sky. The foreground is very two-dimensional but by adding the building in the background you bring depth and three-dimensionality into the expression. One suggestion to improve the photo based on what I see as too much emptiness: I would crop off both sides, about halfway into the mesh to the right and about one third of the empty space between the left edge and the garbage bags. In doing so you would also create a more square-like format which I think fits the subject better.

  22. What a great thread- I’ve enjoyed browsing through everyone’s great photos and the critiques/comments are all so positive and constructive it’s inspiring, think I’ll go out and take some more pictures. (Tonight it’s way to hot outside right now 🙂 )
    Here’s one of my favorites from last year, critique away

    • Night photos are always a cool theme, and you did very well with this one. You have captured a city from the point of view of changing times. In the foreground we see some relative older buildings that play up against the modern skyscrapers in the background. In many ways it looks like a typical US city (but of course I might be wrong on that assumption). This part of the city life has completely deserted. Is it because its people are seeking higher up and to the more modern part of the city? Many of the windows are boarded or bricked up. There is some sadness and throbbing radiating from the image. Only piles of garbage and empty houses are left as if people have been struck by a certain disaster and had to quickly abandon this part of the city. I like all the details we can pick up, from the before mentioned piles of garbage to signs announcing former, shady activities being housed in the buildings (and maybe still are), coloured lights, construction details, and spotlights here and there. I also like that the two visible walls of the main building are being lit from streetlamps. Without the light falling on the green walls, many of the important details in the photo would have been lost to dark shadows. Finally; the fact that we are still able to pick out clouds in the sky, makes that whole area more interesting, and not only a dead, black, empty space. Still, if I may, I generally recommend shooting night scenes like this a bit earlier, during the so-called blue hour, when the sky still has some dark blue light left from the sun sunk beneath the horizon. It will create an even more visually interesting sky. To the left you have placed another abandoned building, which is important for the balance of the composition. Still, compared to the skyscrapers to the right, the building’s visual mass is a little light. It can’t really counterbalance those huge masses of skyscrapers. If you could have placed a building rising above the one to the left – just a tiny bit of it visual – it would have made for a better compositional balance. And if no such building was available, another way to get around it was for you to move closer to that building and in doing so make it relatively higher within the frame.

      • Wow, I’m consistently amazed at the level of observation you apply to your critiques. I must admit I’m guilty of often just ‘Shooting what I like’ without a great deal of thought given to composition etc so this gives me an incentive to stop and think about my shots a little more. Thank you very much and I look forward to reading the rest of this thread. There’s some very interesting pictures showing up here.

  23. Brooke says:

    Thank you so much for this opportunity! This is a great thread and very helpful! https://tuesdayisthenewmonday.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/an-apple-a-day/

    • This is a minimal but very compelling still life, where only part of an apple cut in half is shown within the frame. Of course apples always have a seductive appeal and this one is lush and juicy on one hand but also somewhat sinister and looming. Maybe it’s the light that creates this dual feeling, being somewhat flat and non-modulating. The result is two-dimensional which allude to an optical illusion because we all know that an apple is not flat – even one cut in half. I like the simple composition and I like the fact that not the entire apple is shown within the frame. The apple is placed far over to the left, almost only showing the right half and the kernel of it. It leaves a big open space to the right, but the weight of this negative space itself generates a good balance, compositionally. The negative space is in and of itself creating an enigmatic sensation. Is this apple of hallow grounds or is it the opposite? Or is it only suspended in space? The tones are subtle in this image, flowing from light gray to almost black from right to left. It gives the eye a direction to play with. Also the arc or the almost heart shaped contour of the apple is helping leading the eye to the centre of the cut through. The photo has been processed as a duotone, with almost neutral tones in the highlights and a deep green tone in the shadow areas. Very nicely done. Judging by the noise, particularly in the darker area, it seems like that the photo was captured with a high ISO. For me the noise destroys a bit of the delicate feeling of the image. It’s clearly so-called luminance noise, revealed by the small white dots spread out in the darker area. I like the thought of a grainy expression for this photo, but for me camera noise is not very appealing. Maybe you can try to hide the noise by adding a layer of grain, the kind you found it old analogue films? As much as I myself hardly ever use a tripod, for this kind of photo shoot, I would still recommend using one. Then you don’t need to use a fast shutter speed, so instead of increasing the ISO, with the camera mounted on a tripod you are able to capture the apple with a long exposure time. By doing so you would have reduced the noise significantly. If you still wanted to have that grainy appearance, it would be much easier to add it afterwards with a much better result.

      • Brooke says:

        Thank you so much for taking the time to critique my photograph! Since this photo was taken with film would it be better to use a slower film and tripod?

        • That is really interesting, because they noise look very digital. The question is then of course, how you scanned the film and how much processing you did afterwards. And, yes, a slower film and tripod would reduce the grain.

  24. Hello! This is (one of) the picture I would love to have your comment on: https://my365to30.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/in-respect-to-the-world-water-day-em-homenagem-ao-dia-internacional-da-agua/ Thanks in advance!

    There are quite a few others already so please feel welcome and free to browse around my project! 🙂

    • You have captured a really sweet and delightful moment. The little child is fully concentrated on his activities with a plastic cup on a beach. We sense his concentration and commitment to the exploration of his little world. He (or maybe it’s a she. It’s a little hard to be certain since the face is partly covered by the arm) sits safely and trustingly between the parents’ feet (again an assumption on my part, but that’s nevertheless how I read the photo). We can feel a peaceful mood radiating from this little family. They have a quiet and serene day at the beach. Life is good, and there are no worries. Everything about this photo expresses this atmosphere – and does so beautifully. The light comes in from behind and the right of the boy, the sun seems to be sitting low on the sky, giving a soft quality to the light and brings out the warm tones of the moment. We look at the shadow side of the boy, which makes the skin softer than had it been exposed to direct sunlight. In the background waves gently come rolling in on the beach. The sunlight is reflected in the white cap, adding to the feeling of seeing a scene from a lovely beach day. Three elements I see may improve the image: First of all – and this is easy to accomplish – I think it would bring out even more of the serene feeling if you brighten the image. Particularly the shadows feel a little too dark. If you do brighten the photo, be careful not to burn out the highlights. The second element I want to point out I have already mentioned. The boy’s right arm is hiding his face, just enough that it is disturbing. If you had waited until his arm was lowered just a bit we could fully have enjoyed the expression in his face. The last thing I see could improve this otherwise lovely photograph is using a less tight framing. I would have loved to see the whole head of the boy, for instance. As it is now, part of it is cropped off by the upper frame. Sometimes it concentrates the expression to go tight, but in this case a more open framing it would rather emphasize the beautiful atmosphere. There seem to be another cup in the lower right corner. As we can’t really make out what it is, now it’s more disturbing than anything else. If you had included more of it in the photo it could have become part of the activity of the boy.

  25. Hello, I really can’t decide on one single images, so would love you to look at my blog and pick something, you think its worth a critique. http://www.corneliaweberphotography.wordpress.com
    Thank you in advance

    • You make it a little hard for me, to let it be up to me to choose a photo from your blog. I have chosen this one, as I like it, but maybe you would have had more value of my feedback if you had chosen one yourself that maybe you were uncertain about. Anyway, as I wrote, this one I really like. Of course what strike the viewer right away are the stark colours and the tight and effective framing. Part of the colour effect is due to the use of complementary colours on the beach chairs in the foreground – or almost complementary colours as true complementary colour pairs would either be purple and yellow or blue and orange. It’s nevertheless a bold combination that sets the tone for the photo. Part of the colour effect is the repetition of the purple colour in the parasols in the background, here in combination with a darker orange. We are placed in a scene in the middle of summer, but maybe not on an excruciating hot dat. The faded and distant sky suggests this, as does the fact that the deck chairs are all folded and no people are seen on the beach or in the sea. As I mentioned initially the framing is quite effective. I like the tight composition, that you only show part of the stack of beach chairs, but still give us a glimpse of the rest of the desolated beach to the right. The latter is important for keeping the interest of the viewer. I might have tightened the framing even more, though. If you crop off the stand the beach chairs are resting on at the lower end of the photograph, you would enhance the bold colour effect even more. We don’t need to see the stand, it only distracts the eye and it’s not important for the story of the photo.

  26. kuldeep71 says:

    Dear Otto,
    Many thanks for your admiring efforts to guide young photographers like me,
    submitting a landscape photo for your advise and suggestions.
    Best Regards / Kuldeep

    • This is an almost magical cityscape. There is something about the light and the colours that make it out of the ordinary. Maybe the green sky that brings out a feeling of looking onto an alien world of some kind. Or maybe the feeling of viewing a miniature tableau. I really like the way you have processed this photo, with the little off colour palette, the green tint, and the generally almost surreal, saturated colours. Particularly the primary colours around the windows in the house in the lower right corner are catching my eye. It seems to be a building made out of Lego – and maybe that’s why I feel like this is a photo of a miniature model. Anyway, those coloured window frames play so well up against the coloured spots from cars, other buildings in the background and other details. Compositional the photo is very well done, with a lot of elements distributed beautifully within the frame. You have the high rising building to the left balancing the «Lego» house to the right. And there is a visual pull between those two building because of the three dimensional feeling the rest of the city creates. Also the two towers to the right and behind the «Lego» house is important for the balance. It feels like a lively city frozen in an everlasting moment. Maybe that’s where the alien feeling originates from – or the miniature appearance. There isn’t much I see could improve this photo. One thing, though, is the horizon. As it is now, it divides the photo in almost two equal halves. You could either move the horizon somewhat lower within the frame and thus increase the amount of sky or raise it and bring more of the foreground into the frame. The only problem with the latter is probably the roof we see in the lower left corner. It’s almost more visible than needed already and by lowering the camera further would only bring even more of it into the photo. Then you would have to find a different standpoint. Another detail: If you look close to the horizon as well as to the left side of the high rising building to the left and a bit into the sky around it, you see some strange noise. I am not sure how this has happened, but I am sure it’s the result of some part of the processing. If possible I would try to remove it.

  27. My Heartsong says:

    janechese.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/pictures-056-2.jpg Well, this one is different for me. No birds in this one!

    • In this photo you have captured the summer spirit of city life, Jane. The photos shows the fresh water running in a fountain, cooling down an otherwise hot summer day (or maybe it’s more a hot spring day judging by the foliage on the trees), with people gathering around the fountain resting and taking pleasure in the chilling water. We see the stage is set in a park and further back the city itself is visible. The scene is nicely captured and the eye has a lot of elements to play with, in particular all the people behind the fountain. They insert visual flashes with their sparkling colours. The focus is on the fountain and its jets of water, both literally as well by the fact that it’s placed in the foreground and makes up the bigger part of the photo. You have used just the right shutter speed to capture the interesting patterns created by the jets, most visible to either the left or the right where we see them more in a side view. You could also have used a long exposure time to create a more fluid stream of water, but that would have changed the photo completely. The composition is vertically symmetric at least when we look at the water fountain. Unfortunately it seems like you have captured the scene just as the sun went behind a cloud. If you had waited for it to come out, the scene would have been lit with a crisper light, enhanced the dynamics of the composition and created a more playful expression. The sky is also a little dull and flat despite some gorgeous clouds. Maybe you overexposed it a bit, and then only if you captured the photo in RAW-format is it salvageable. A last thought: For me the before mentioned patterns of the jets either to the right or to the left are really interesting. I might have focused on them, used a telephoto lens to compress the jets. That would have also have brought the people in the background visually closer in the photo. As it is now, they are a little far away and a little too small to become a visually strong element in the photo. This is just a thought, but maybe if you try to crop the photo either to the left or the right and you can see how it changes the whole appearance.

  28. Pingback: The making of….. a Photo Critique | Chris Breebaart Photography / What's (in) the picture?

    • This is a very nice black and white photo. It plays with lights and shadows in a forest and display some lovely patterns and textures. Personally I have always been fascinated by this drama between lights and shadows, particularly in coniferous forests. It’s difficult to capture in attractive way, though, but you have done a good job. You use the heavy trunks as fundamental elements in the photo. They provide for the majority of the visual mass in the photo. But just as important for captivating the viewer are the smaller pines to the left and the bent and felled trunk a bit further into the backdrop. Finally the smaller trees fully in view in the background provide a visual boundary for the viewer. Then the streaks of playful light add another dimension to the photo, running vertically through the forest, of course a very important element in the photograph. All very nice and well done. I few remarks, though. One of the problems photographing this kind of subject is the harsh and very contrasty light that filters through the forest. I would have liked to see some more processing of this photo. Like brightening the shadow somewhat and equally darkening the highlights – and then increase the local contrasts in respective areas. That will bring out the texture and patterns in the shadow areas as well as the highlights. Furthermore I find the foreground a little empty. Yes, the streams of lights run nicely diagonally across the forest floor, but since most of them are outside of the depth of field and thus not fully sharp, it makes them less eye-catching. I would simply crop off a bit of that foreground close to the lower edge of the frame. By doing these two adjustments I think you will discover a strengthening of the visual appeal. A final thought: Instead of choosing the empty foreground as you did, I find the before mention bent and felled trunk in the background to be visually very interesting. I might have tried to build a photo around it as the foreground. Just a thought.

      • gaurav1729 says:

        Thank you so much. I agree with you that I made the contrast too harsh, and will look at fixing that. I appreciate you taking time on this.

  29. photojedi22 says:

    Good day Sir, I heard about your blog page on photo critiques and after reading a bit, I am very interested in getting your honest opinion. I am a fairly new photographer, and I am wanting to learn how I can improve. I have fallen in love with the old deteriorating barns from the NE Wisconsin area. Here is an example of one of my photos https://beyondthemindslens.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/old-barn-7/ I would be honored if you could take some time to share your thoughts and opinions with me. I appreciate any feedback you have to give.

    Thank you in advance!

    • I always find sceneries like this both soothing and compelling. There is something about capturing the basics of life away from the industrialized environment most of us find ourselves placed in. Maybe I am just a romantic who doesn’t know much about the hardships of farming… Nevertheless, I obviously like this photo. I like the rustic look of the barn, the connection to the lush fields in the foreground, the shapes and forms of the buildings, all under a beautiful sky. The earthly connection is an important conceptual value for this photo. Compositionally you have done everything right. Most importantly you have not placed the horizon along the centre axis of the photograph. To avoid that you have basically two options; either placing the horizon higher and thus display more of the foreground or placing the horizon lower and put more emphasis on the sky. You chose the latter, which I think is what I would have done as well. The field is pretty monotonous here and we don’t need to see more of it. The sky, on the other hand, contains some beautifully shaped clouds, so it makes sense to emphasize this area more than the foreground. In addition it adds to the feeling of vastness; underlining the wide, open landscape under an open sky. As mentioned, the foreground is a little empty; it would have been nice to have something in close that could have broken that emptiness, such as some flowers, a bush or maybe even some animals. It’s not a big deal, though, since you placed the horizon very low and by doing so don’t show a lot of the field as already pointed out. One thing I wish you had done, though: The light on the barn and the field in the foreground is a quite flat due to the sun hiding behind one of those lovely clouds. Look at the trees in the background how crisp they look all because of sunlight that has found a way though the clouds. If you had waited until the clouds had opened up above the barn,too, the same would have happened here. It’s not necessary with everything fully lit up, on the contrary; a combination of light and shadow running across the field and the building would really have sparked the mood of this photo.

      • photojedi22 says:

        Wow! thank you very much for taking the time to review my photo. This has been the first opportunity that I have had to get some quality feedback other than the occasional “nice shot” or “Well done” (not to say that those comments are not also appreciated. Being fairly new, the suggestions you provided make a lot of sense and reminds me to think about the photo before I just click and hope for the best. I have thought about taking some classes. However, I have heard mixed thoughts on the value of self instruction vs. formal classes. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject. Right now, I am just really enjoying myself and have been getting familiar with my camera. It’s also a great way to spend quality time with the family… Anyway, I cannot thank you enough for taking time to offer your thoughts. I look forward to viewing more of your photos and possibly having the opportunity to share another photo sometime. Hope you have a wonderful day!

  30. Pingback: Do You Have Any Grey Poupon? | pictures

  31. Ken Low, a former eworkshop student of mine, asked me to give feedback on one of his photos posted on his blog Ken and Agnes Photoworks. It’s a beautiful photo of a flock of pigeons (I believe) sailing across a deep blue sky. We see the birds from beneath as they pass right over our heads. There isn’t really much to say about the photo, besides is a delightful play with colours, forms and light. It’s really a visually stark and eye-catching photograph. But it also triggers some emotional buttons. Are the pigeons on a peace engaging flight? Are they just heading home from a long day at «work»? Or are they just circling over our heads and by doing so becoming some kind of hieroglyphs on the sky, trying to tell us something important that we need to decipher? Their flight pattern against the dark, almost gloomy sky brings forth a feeling of joy and excitement. They make me think about the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. There is but only one colour tone in the photo besides black and white. It’s the dark, very dark, and desaturated blue colour of the sky. It accentuates the birds flying across it and accentuate the feeling of harmony and freedom. Part of this is the fact that the sun lights up parts of the pigeons’ bodies. Some of them of them are directly lit by the sun and some are not, and this creates a beautiful design of light and dark. I can’t really see any improvements for this photo. What better way to conclude this round of picture critique.

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