Picture Critique

The picture Critique is closed for now, but will open up again, probably next year. It will be announce on my blog.

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 online workshops (for more on these, look up Blue Hour Photo Workshops). 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)—as a thank you to me? 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.

74 thoughts on “Picture Critique

  1. Otto, you’re amazing … I hope this site will keep you pleasantly busy. What a fantastic idea.
    I have just joined Gurushot.com – even if I haven’t received feedback as such .. the votes the images are getting will tell me which photos that are better than others. Been a member for 2 weeks and gone from newbie to challenger.
    I will be back for feedback from you, only have to decide which image. Good luck and thank you so much for doing this.

    1. I really enjoy being able to give feedback to other photographers, whether it’s in my various workshops or here on this site. I hope you will post a photo here, too (or more precisely, a link to a photo).

      1. Otto, two of my friends has done one of your workshops … and they really enjoyed itand said they learn a lot. But you know me … only a happy Rookie. I have joined Gurushots .. fund live photo challenges. I’m doing okay … moving slowly up the ladder.
        I have to do some thinking … what image I will link up to you with!!!!

    1. This is nothing but a stunning photo. First of all, you have capture an enchanting ambience with the moose looking out over a river and a rolling landscape partly appearing through a vanishing fog or mist. Secondly, the use of the black and white tonal range enhances this captivating atmosphere. Just capturing the moose as it is coming out of the woods is quite an achievement to being at the right place and the right time. It’s a perfect photographic moment, profoundly albeit not profusely. The moose looks so stoic and majestic as it raises its head and emerges clearly for the viewer against the brighter fog behind it. The use of gradually brighter tones as the eyes move from the dark tree in the foreground to the almost bleached out hill in the background is an exemplary illustration of how to create a feeling of depth in a photo. You use both the tonal range as well as deliberately placing elements in the foreground, middle ground and the background to achieve this sensation of three-dimensionality. A few thoughts to heighten the visual strength of the photo even more: I would consider cropping off a tiny bit of the foreground below the moose. It will lower the positioning of the moose just enough not to make it almost coincide with the horizontal mid line. In doing so, you increase the feeling of serenity and the visual stability. The right side of the photo is significantly brighter than the left, where the moose is standing. There is a little danger that the eyes will move towards the right edge—because they are always attracted to the brighter parts or spots—and then leave the frame. This can easily be remedied by darkening the right corners and the right edge just slightly—enough to stop the eyes, but not so much that it becomes unnatural.

      1. Thank you! That is wonderful praise coming from you. I do see how cropping up the bottom half would help, and I hadn’t thought of the eye following the lighter parts. That all makes perfect sense though. Thanks!!

        1. Isn’t he amazing? I would never have considered those suggestions because the photo looked perfect to me. But when I consider Otto’s input, I see what he means. So much to learn.

    1. In many ways this is a classical abstraction of an object that at first look may be conceived as unattractive or maybe not even worthy a photo. However, by moving in really close and use colours and textures that are part of a larger object and create an abstract photograph, you have elevated the image to something beautiful and eye-catching. In am not sure what the object is—maybe a corrugated barrel—and I don’t need to, either. I can just enjoy the visual, pleasant looking and striking expression you have created. It doesn’t have a story per say, instead it spurs an emotional and imaginative response in the viewer. The framing is strong. You have used textures and structure to craft a balanced and captivating appearance. The groove to the left is important as a counterpoint or juxtaposition to the more unruly scratches, wear and tear to the right and the lower part of the photo. Moreover, those scratches bring about a liveliness that is not present in the otherwise static object. I really love that faded emerald colour that plays along the upper part of the photo in various shades. It’s gorgeous and almost a complementary colour to the rust or corrugated metal that the scratches reveal, again creating a strong visual dynamic.

      1. Thank you, Otto. This photograph is part of a series of photographs of dumpsters—large trash bins often seen on construction sites and in alleys in back of downtown buildings. Your critique encourages me to continue my series, though I doubt I would stop even if you said the photograph had no merit whatsoever. (It’s too much fun.) Your “forgiveness” for the photo having no story is helpful. You seem to say that “an emotional and imaginative response in the viewer” is a worthy goal in itself. This is good to know. I will continue with more confidence and increased intention to create an emotional and imaginative response in the viewer. Thanks

        1. The thing with storytelling in photos is important, but it doesn’t have to be a tangible story. Abstractions invite to viewer to read his or her own story into what is. In the end, what matters is to be able to create an emotional response in the viewer. I wish you good luck with the continuation of your project.

    1. It’s not hard to find something positive to say about this photo. 🙂 I really love it. Its energy, its mysterious feeling, the tight framing and the puzzling position and movement of the girl. There is really so much to like about it. The close framing. The use of a longer shutter speed to capture the motion in a blurry and captivating expression. It’s all about the little girl and her suspension in the air—or at least that is what it feels like she is. Anything else is either omitted by the tight framing or otherwise by the burned out brightness that encapsulates the girl. Only in the lower corners of the photograph do we get a hint of background or of a world existing outside of the girl’s strange, soaring reality. That reality is an enigma for the rest of us. How can she be suspended in the air like that? Did she jump and turned around in an almost impossible acrobatic movement? Or did someone throw her up into the air? Is she falling or is she ascending? It’s all a puzzle, a beautiful mystery. The blurry motion also turns her head into something very cute and tiny. One just has to adore her little stump of a nose that is visible. The same goes for the bit of her one hand that pokes up into the air. Her skin is very delicately render and is contrasted by the darker and more textured jacket she is wrapped in. It looks like a jacket too big for her and thus makes her look even littler. Finally, her forward leaning head and the lifted feet at the opposite end of the frame makes her suspension feel so real and at the same time out of this world.

      1. awwwww!!!! you DO like the photo!!!! (frankly so do i haha just thought nobody else would lol) shall i let the mystery be? or tell you whaaat’s goin’ on? she was wearing her dad’s big jean shirt… she had her little tiny legs stickin’ out, and i left them out… her and her mom were making freezer jam that day after strawberry picking.. she is just taking a break, but i won’t tell you if she’s flying or not lol… hang on, i will get another pic from that day, taken moments apart…

      2. https://totallylike.me/2011/08/10/while-i-kiss-the-sky/ i know you don’t like over processing but there was a time that over processing was my joy! coz i was a film photographer for most of my photographing years, and i thought digital was somehow cheating the process, so turned to photoshop for my ‘challenge’… my little niece pictured here is now 16 years old, and a photographer herself 🙂 i would like to think that that has something to do with me!

        Anyway, Otto, THANK YOU SO MUCH, for saying sweet things about my photo!! i wubs you!!! xoxoxoxox

        1. Well, to over processing, in general I don’t think it’s necessary, but I am not against it. Particularly when it works and enhances the idea behind the photo, such as in the photo of this little dreamer. I am sure your niece got the interest for photography from you. 🙂

          1. yeah, she even wants to be a writer!! i know i influenced her… lol she was always over at my place! she IS a little dreamer 🙂 thank you, Otto… you are sooo kind xoxox

    1. I don’t agree with you that the pictures lacks vibrancy. Yes, the deer is somewhat camouflaged in the clearing, but for me that is the story of a photo. This makes it much more interesting compared to if you had been able to get closer and not achieve that same feeling of go at one with the nature. However, the photo you have place on your web site has a very small resolution (or size if you prefer), so it makes it hard to evaluate all qualities it contains. As the photo appears here, it almost looks like it has a painterly quality, particularly if one looks at the grass in the foreground and the brighter foliage above the deer. This might only be due to the small resolution. Although I usually don’t fancy this kind of post processing, it works very well in this case—if indeed that is what has been done with the photo. For me the four (or maybe it’s five) trees in front of the deer with their beautiful foliage add stillness to lovely and peaceful tableau. Colours are mostly subtle in the green to yellow spectrum of the palette. The deer is hiding in the darker shadows of some coniferous trees and some higher grass, which creates a necessary visual contrast. One way to make the deer more noticeable in the photo is by using brightness and darkness to lead the eyes into where the deer is resting. Bright areas always attract our attention. In this photo the surrounding grass and in particular the foliage of the trees in front of the deer are much brighter than the deer itself. Thus, I would make these areas darker by dodging or adding local adjustments. Furthermore, I would also consider cropping off both some of the grass in the foreground—which is mostly empty space, anyway—and most of the spruce to the left. Doing so will lead the eyes in more towards the deer. This much said, I would really have loved to see this photo in a bigger resolution.

      1. Thank you so much Otto, I truly appreciate your ideas regarding this photograph. I am going to take this through shop and follow your suggestions, work on the resolution and create more visual contrast, crop the forefront which of little interest. I appreciate your time and keen eye and expert advice. Sending my best.

    1. You just got a smile and enjoy the view of this character and the way he stands, arms crossed and one foot raised, leaning up against a wall all while watching the street life in front of him (presumably). He seems to be a tad bit sceptical—or pending—to whatever is going on outside of the frame. His whole posture gives the impression of one watching from the outside but still being totally at ease in his own environment. The beard, his attire and posture all says a lot about the guy. I like the deliberate placement of him far over to the left, almost leaning onto the edge of the frame. That opens up a lot of space in his viewing direction. It’s positive use of negative space and brings balance to the composition. Visually he stands out from the wall by the fact that shutters behind him are brighter than he is and not distracting. The colour palette is perfect for the story of the photo, consisting mainly of only two colours, gray (although technically speaking not really a colour) and carmine red. It’s a unruffled photo, well seen and captured. One thing I personally would have liked is being able to see more of the street scene itself. By that, I don’t mean to say that I want to see what the man is actually watching—I like making up my own story—but just open up the space more in front of him or down the street. I often think of the scene we photograph as a stage in a theatre. As such, I like to feel the space extending backwards and brought alive by backdrops or sets. In this case, you can achieve that feeling in two ways, either by including more to the right of what is now the right frame of the photo, possible making it into a horizontal rather than a vertical photo; or you can move yourself more to the left and in so doing, turning the camera the opposite way to open up the view down the street. Of course I don’t know what is outside of the frame, and it could be all messy and not worthy of including within the frame.

      1. Thanks Otto. I really appreciate your feedback. It was a busy street, lined with shops and full of people so I liked the idea of isolating him in the shot. I take on board the point about opening up the shot and will try out some horizontal photos when next I’m out. I’m getting equally useful feedback from your comments on the other photos submitted, so thanks again for reopening your critique page. Best wishes, Mary

    1. Of course it doesn’t matter that this photo is on the same site as the previous. After all, it’s two different photographers.  This one is another street capture with some structural similarities with the previous one. It shows a guy up against a wall, placed to the left within the frame and looking at something outside of the right frame. However, this is a black and white photo and shows a craftsman—a shoemaker—at work at his little stand on the street. Once again it’s a photo well captured as well as an important historic photo as it shows something that is about to vanish in most parts of the world. The old crafts aren’t kept alive these days and certainly not practised on the streets. The conversion of the photo into a black and white feels right for this reason, adding to the feeling up times almost gone by. Also, from a purely visual standpoint, the black and white expression gives focus more to what the story is rather than being distracted by some random colours. Maybe I would have liked to see a little bit more contrast in the tonality, particularly extended towards more brightness. However, this is not a major objection, and also something easy to take care of in any photo editing program. I like the photo, its simplicity and nothing messing up the main story, just a shoemaker, his table, a couple of shoes, his tools, and then the vegetables on the ground that he will bring back after being done with his work, a little detail that adds to the story. Talking about working, I would have liked to see his right hand do more explicit work, maybe with the hammer close to his hand, just to further enhance the story. That is all about awaiting the right moment. I would also have liked to see his entire workbench included within the frame. It feels a little randomly chop off by the right edge, as it is now. By including more to the right, we would also have seen more of the framing maybe of a doorway that is just about visible above the table. I think it’s always dangerous to place something just within a frame. It feels distracting and by that takes the attention away from the subject. Either include enough to make it part of the photo or exclude it completely. Since I mentioned for the previous photo that I would for that one have liked to have more of the open street scene visible, I just want to add here that I think it was a correct choice not to, since it’s such a clean expression as it is and including more of the street scene would most likely have done nothing but add clutter and distraction.

      1. I really appreciated your feedback Otto. I agree that the photo was rather too cropped, but I looked at the original and the right side was full of rubbish. At that point I judged a crop was in order but I’ll reflect on that in future. Your point about waiting for the right moment to take the picture was a fair one. I was anxious to capture him unawares, but again I will watch this in future. Regards, Terry

    1. Here is another photograph with classical qualities. When looking at it I think of Paul Strand, the American photographer who in the beginning of the 20th century with his strong black and white images helped establish photography as an art. This image here has both stillness and contrast at the heart of its expression, both literally and in the manifestation, it conveys. There is something about the dichotomy between the manmade structures and the natural environment—although appearing to be both pleasing and peaceful—that is disturbing. Those silos seem to be left behind in a world that once was or on the verge of perishing. And isn’t that what happens to much cultivation and farming these days? No human beings are visible in this photo, adding to the feeling of desolation and abandonment. At the same time, it’s a beautiful landscape, captured in the late afternoon sunshine—or at least lit by a low hanging sun outside of the frame to the left—instilling serenity and harmony. It feels like a warm afternoon with only a few scattered clouds in one end of the sky. They balance the photo together with the group of trees to the right as a counterweight. In addition, they are important to the balance of the tonal range of the photo. Whereas the rest of the black and white photo is made up of tones in the darker half of the spectrum, the clouds add highlights and glow to the landscape. The post-processing is excellent. Interestingly enough the compositional placement of the silos goes against most convention of composition in that they are place in the centre of the frame. Here it works entirely, infusing the before mentioned calmness, yet at the same time adding a feeling of disharmony to the expression of the photo. Thus, it only goes to show that there are no compositional rules to obey or at least not needed to be followed. Important, however, is that the horizon is not place along the horizontal midline, but rather low in the frame, enhancing the feeling of vastness in the landscape.

      1. Wow. Holy cow. I sure didn’t see all those elements in this image. I need to learn how to critique images, not just my own but also the ones I see. Thank you Otto!!!!

      1. OK, thank you. I’m back, and it’s hard to choose which photo I’d most like feedback on….but here goes: Fall leaves, intentional camera movement (it was windy so I went with it!) and processing in LR to increase contrast, decrease clarity, sharpen and reduce noise, and vignette.
        Thank you again!

        1. There is such an expressive energy in this photo. I am not sure whether it’s caused by the moving plants and flowers due to wind or the movement captured by the camera due to a handheld longer shutter speed—or a combination of both. It doesn’t matter, really, as the result is extraordinary beautiful. There is a ferocity of movements and flow contained within the frame. The photo is like a painting made in an impressionistic style. It brings out the inherent splendour of the plants of flowers—without revealing their form or shape in any literal way. The expression is more like a poem than prose. Soft and luminous and yet with strength and directness. What I find most attractive is the colour palette. The colours are subdue and radiant at the same time, with splashes of pink and orange against the green of the foliage. I also like the gradient of wildness along the lower edge of the frame spreading towards a more unambiguous appearance of the white flowers in the upper right corner. It’s simply a photo to fall in love with. I don’t see much need to change anything. Maybe just darken a tiny bit—but carefully not to overdo it—the green splash along the lower edge as well as the left corners, both the upper and the lower one. This is just to contain the eyes within the frame. Whenever brighter parts run along the edges there is always the risk of losing the eyes.

          1. Your reminder about the eyes wandering out of the frame is a very good one to keep in mind. I would typically use a vignette because it’s quick, but it can darken the whole image too much, so I’m going to remember to try just darkening where it’s needed more often, instead of vignetting. It was a windy day, and I did use camera movement along with the wind’s movement. The colors weren’t changed at all – I happened on a really beautiful tree with many different but harmonious colors, so I took advantage of it. I like the flowers there too, but I have to admit, I wasn’t thinking about them much when I took the photo – lots of luck is associated with my ICM photos! It was taken with a 45 mm prime lens (on a micro 4/3 camera) at 3/5 sec., f16. The clarity was reduced a lot and contrast increased a lot, in LR. Thank you so much for this critique, and have a good week!

  2. Monica Amberger sent me a photo by email to have some feedback. It’s a photo of a gorgeous sunset in an open landscape and some amazing cloud formations stretching out to what feels like infinity. The atmosphere is serene and sweet. It’s almost like a musical symphony in light and deep colours. Sunsets can be difficult to photograph because when we see one, we often become blinded by its explosive visual nature. However, a sunset on its own never really makes for an interesting photo, it can never convey the intensity of the real thing. So when photographing in the light of a setting sun it’s necessary to make it about more than the sunset itself. And that is exactly what Monica has done in this photo. This landscape photo could have been beautiful not only in sunset, and tells the story of a pastoral countryside regardless of how it’s been lit. Of course, the setting sun adds to the mood in the photo, and not the least the clouds lit by the sun brings drama into the photo. The use of a wide angle lens brings out the depth of the landscape. There is a distinct foreground with the grass up front, a middle ground with the water and the trees to the side and then a small church and the big sky in the background, all creating a three-dimensional feeling. It would maybe have been nice to have some tufts of grass in the lower left corner where the copyright notice is now, just to close the composition. However, it’s not a major objection. The composition works really well. Monica tells that she has tried to open up the photo to bring out more details in the shadows, but felt like it would destroy the atmosphere of the photo. I don’t feel like we need more details in the shadows. On the contrary, I like the deep darkness of the vegetation, particularly along the opposite bank of the lake. It adds mystery and mood to the expression. One thing that could enhance the visual impression is simply to brighten the church steeple in the background, to make it shine a little bit and thus, visually become more prominently in the photo. One last thought: The horizon is almost placed along the horizontal midline of the photo, which makes the composition a little bit static. By including more of the dramatic sky, a lower horizon would have added a feeling of even more stillness and calmness to the photo.

    1. Isn’t she just an adorable girl! Those big eyes, looking out through the window, are the first that catches our attention. We can see the wonder and gaze in them, her curiosity and awe. You really captured the girl in a little, big moment. I love the tight framing, just her by the window, her wondering eyes, only a hint of the environment she is in and not really showing anything outside the window. The close composition makes us focus on her radiance and marvel. Furthermore, the room she is in seems like it could be quite cluttered and thus take the attention away from her if you had included more of it within the frame. This photo is an excellent example of the beautiful light coming from a window. However, it also shows that it sometimes can be problematic to handle, particularly when direct sunshine flows through the window. Direct sunlight will burn out anything it hits, as can be seen in the girls hair, a bit of her forehead and her arm. It can also create light that with higher contrast. I notice that you have struggled with finding the correct exposure. The highlights are overexposed and don’t show any details. You have tried to take down the brightness, but this is always hard to do seamlessly if you are not shooting in raw. In this case, I would consider lowering the contrast in general. One more thing, about the framing, I would have loved to have you included all of her hand that now is cropped off by the lower edge of the photo. In the end, this is really a lovely photo, the story being all about the wonder and awe of this adorable kid.

  3. Hi Otto! This is a photo taken in a cafe´in Lodz, Poland. I loved the colours and the people there, but how do I make the best of it? Thank you for taking your time and skills for this!

    1. This is a fun photo, playing with forms, shapes and colours—both natural as part of the room we look into as well as indirectly and as a juxtaposition in the mural on the wall in the back of the room. I think your framing is enhancing the playfulness in the room. You have a frame with in a frame by looking through a opening between two rooms, and not the least you have included a tiny bit of a red box to the right—probably a piece of furniture—and the blue seat to the lower left. It ends up being a composition with primary colours (from a traditional painters palette and not the additive primary colours), respectively yellow, blue and red. In contrast to all these geometric shapes, we have the organic forms of the people sitting in what is obviously a café. In fact, there is a hint of a fourth person around the column to the right. I like the smiling expression of the face of the woman obviously in conversation with this fourth person. It’s a little pity that the woman behind her, all the way towards the rear wall, is in her face, so to speak. Some separation between the faces would have made both of them stand out more clearly. You could have accomplished this by moving to the left, but then you would have left the bit of red furniture to the right out of the frame. The best thing would have been to await the situation, wait until the two faces had moved away from each other (but then of course you might have lost the smiling expression I mentioned before). One more detail: I think I would crop off a little bit of the yellow support in the upper part of the photo. Give it a try, at least this is easy to accomplish. In the end this is another captivating photograph.

      1. Thank you, Otto, for your critique. I should have been more patient…I have to practice that. But She smiled beautifully…I will follow your instructions, and have posted your critique as well.

  4. I’m beginning to move a little farther afield than floral macros, and this is an example of that movement. It’s a grave marker at a family plot located on the grounds of an historical Texas plantation. I desaturated the color slightly, and cropped it a bit, which seemed to help balance the marker with its surroundings. Thanks so much for taking a look at it!

    1. This is a great example that shows there is no such things as rules in the photographic approach. We often hear that we shouldn’t place the main object dead in the centre of the frame—and I often prophesize that myself. It’s a useful guideline that tends to break most inexperienced photographers’ tendency to place everything in the middle. But in this photo, the centred composition works perfectly. Not only because the tombstone (or maybe it’s rather a monument) is placed right in between an opening in the wall behind, but it emphasizes the balance and peacefulness of the tableau the photo depicts. It stabilizes the mood, so to speak. In fact, the whole composition is symmetrically around the vertical midline with two stately trees stretching up towards each corner above the before mentioned wall, and with the wall itself symmetrically positioned with the opening in the middle of the photo. I like the overall symmetry because it not only signals tranquillity but also adds an eerie undertone to the whole image. It feels like a place where those for whom the monument was made, may still find their way back. It doesn’t feel haunted, that’s not what I mean, just more like it’s a place they don’t want to leave. The dense field of white flowers that flows from the foreground, stretches behind the monument, and into the opening of the wall adds to this feeling. It’s a field of flowers I would have liked to lay down in myself. It feels lush, soft and like a thick carpet. The post-processing of the photo is done with the aim to bring attention to the uniqueness of landscape and quiet the colours. There is really only one colour, the green in the grass and the foliage—and a hint of maroon in the bricks of the wall. It’s beautifully done. The contrast is also somewhat increased, taken into considerations that the photo was captured on a soft and overcast day. The added contrast brings out the details skilfully. There is really only one thing I would like to point to: It’s that the photo is a tiny bit skewed. The photo is slightly slanting to the right. However, this is easy to remedy in Photoshop or Lightroom or any other photo editing program.

      1. I’m so pleased that you’ve affirmed my own feelings about the photo. Your comment about it being a place the former residents don’t want to leave seems just right. The plantation is the home of a former Texas Governor and early colonists. It’s owned by the State of Texas now, and this is the resting place of its first owners. The spot is isolated, and it’s not hard to imagine it looks much as it did a hundred years ago, given the age of the trees. I’d be happy to rest there, too.

        I smiled at your comment about the skewing. I fussed over that, tweaking it this way and that. I finally figured out that the little rise in the ground on the left was helping to cause a sense of unbalance. My mistake was using the very bottom of the marker, where it meets the grass, as my place to line up the grid. When I went back and used the three parallel sections of stone near the base, I found that I was a little off. It didn’t take much — I adjusted to the left only 0.19 cm (or whatever that measurement is) but I think it was enough to take care of the issue.

        Finally, I laughed at your comment about not placing objects dead-center. I’ve never heard that rule — at least, that I remember. The irony is that my own sense of what’s pleasing usually leads me to off-center objects, or to look for diagonals. In that sense, the framing of this one felt unusual to me, but I thought it worked, too.

        Thanks again for your time, and for such a great, detailed response. It was a confidence builder, for sure!

        1. Just a last comment about the skewing. I don’t oppose that at all – generally. I do it a lot myself. But if doing it, I suggest to apply it with conviction. If it’s just slightly off, it feels like it’s been done arbitrary.

    1. This composite photo raises a lot of questions, or thinking I should rather say, by the viewer. It’s challenging the viewer to make his or her own story or reflection out of the visual content. It’s a boy with almost closed eyes and music notes filling his space. Is he falling asleep to the music? Is he playing himself? Or is he devoted to the music he is listening to? Or is he modern time depiction of Mozart? I almost feel the latter myself. I could see the boys as a musical wonder boy, maybe even composing the seemingly quite elaborate music showing on the notes (I am no music expert myself, so I have no idea what the music could be). I really like the emotions and thoughts the photo evokes in me. It’s not the usual kind of photo, but rather complex and poignant. The general tone is quite dark, with almost black corners, darkened sheets of notes and the burgundy pique shirt he is wearing. Only the boy’s face is bright, and it’s almost as if it shines in comparison to the rest of the photo. Makes me think of him as a little angel. He certainly has an angelic look. His curly hair adds to this impression. Of course, his expression is important. One eye is closed, while the other is just about to close or open. He seems a little absentminded, as if being absorbed by the music, whether he listen to it or plays it himself. The angelic look is partly achieved by the use of a flash. Often flash light makes for rather cruel and harsh light, but in the photo it feels just right and increases the before mentioned angelic look. It’s a fascinating photo, a photo that is open for interpretations, which is something I always think makes for more interesting photos. I only have one note for improvement for this photo. To the left side of the boy’s head there is a funnel of light distracting the attention. It’s so bright that the eye inevitably will be drawn to it. However, it’s easy to do something about, since the tones around the stream of light is almost black. Just make the bright spot as dark as the rest around, in any photo processing software.

      1. I saw that light, I just thought it was a spirit, or an angel as you say 🙂 it’s gone now lol you’re right, it could have been a poltergeist haha… https://totallylike.me/2016/02/06/sleeping-prophet/
        Thank you for the lovely review on what is potentially an awful photo lol but i kind of liked it, now i know WHY 🙂 what a perfect eye you have and SUCH a beautiful way with words to comfort a timid heart 🙂 xoxoxoxox

    1. This is a photo of a detail on a historical building, a gargoyle with quite an impressive facial expression, which is the focus of the photo. However, what makes this photo more than just a pure reproduction of what already exists is the bit of roof that bents down from the upper left part of the building. The slated roof segment connects to the back of the gargoyle. It creates an illusion of being the tail of the frozen creature on the wall. The bended and curved nature of the “tail” generates a dynamic visual movement through the photo. It’s as if the gargoyle has just about jumped off the wall. The tight and elongated crop emphasizes this feeling of forward motion. It’s often hard to make a building detail high up on a wall stand out. But this “tail” helps doing so. In addition, the deeper shadow under the figure helps separate him from the rest of the wall (to me it looks like a he). Generally the light is soft and still directional, and thus brings out the details, both in the gargoyle and the stonewall. I was discussion with myself whether I would rather have the corner of the wall to the right cropped off or not. The blank sky is drawing the attention away from the subject, although it has been darkened by vignetting and for that reason doesn’t draw on the eyes too much. On the other hand it might feel like it’s too obvious of a processing technique. However, I have concluded with myself that I do like the extra building details on the corner of the wall that add counterpoints to the gargoyle and thus insert tension and interest in the composition. The one and only objection I have to the framing is how the foot of the creature is cropped by the lower edge. It seems a little arbitrary. I would rather have it be fully included or cropped off even more. This is just a minor detail, though.

      1. wow! 🙂 I just can’t find words… you have a “trained” eye to notice the extensive detail in an image 🙂 and again Good eye about Tail 🙂
        >”I have concluded with myself ” Love this! lol
        Sorry for his foot, I will try to find the original photo, since it was about a “free shooting”… Amazing photo critique. Un Grand Merci Otto!

    1. A photo full of exuberance, a delightful moment captured with presence of mind. We can feel the joy of the trampoline jumper, who gives way to the feeling of weightlessness and free fall. It all shines through by the hand gestures and the overly bent backwards head as well as the expression in the face (which is a little hard to decipher, however). The photographer had to react instinctively to capture this moment—no time for deliberation or reflexion on how to shoot, compose or leverage technique. The photo lives in its spontaneous expression. It doesn’t matter that the light is a little bit harsh. It doesn’t matter that the background and even the foreground is a little messy, since the moment and the content—the story—is so strong. In fact, I really appreciate the juxtaposition between the jumper’s arms reaching up into the sky and the masts of the sailing boats in the background. They play up against each other, and add depth to the story. It’s as if the boy is sailing away on the freedom from gravitation, for a split second at least. One thing could maybe have strengthen the visual component of the story. If the photographer had bent down in the moment of capture, the feet of the boys would have been cleared from the bushes along the shoreline. It would also have increased the feeling of height from the jump itself. It might have made the connection between his arms and the masts stronger as well. But again, this is a spontaneous moment and that is what makes the photo stand out. It’s not easy to get it all perfect then—and maybe perfection isn’t even desirable. On the contrary, imperfection enhances the spontaneous feeling…

      1. Great thanks Otto! I particularly appreciate your critical points and your observation about the jumper’s arms and the masts of the sailing boats. Yes, I could have bent or even lain down to clear the feet off the bushes. I didn’t think of it then, but what you say gives me a lot of thoughts of how I can work with my own position visavis the object.
        And yes, of course this was as spontaneous a moment as could be. At the same time I have had this picture in my mind for years. Ever since I saw the 2500 year old rock carvings at Tisselskog a few miles from where I live – picturing two acrobats making somersaults in a religious procession. But I never thought I’d come across this phenomenon like I did!

          1. A little bit of luck and a little bit of presence of mind. It’s been a great pleasure and very useful having this conversation with you! I’ve published your feedback on my blog with a link back to yours.
            Best wishes

  5. A big thank you Otto for opening up your picture critique once again. I am sure I am not alone in gaining lots of benefit from your wise words! I look forward to the next time you welcome photos for comment.

  6. I enjoy reading your critiques, Otto. Thank you for doing this. Learned a lot from this.
    For some reason, I thought we would receive a notification when all the critiques were done. Apparently that was a bad assumption 😉 That’s why I am late coming here. I wonder how many people had the same thought.
    Have a wonderful day.

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