[C&C] Alright, I'll ask for a bit of critique (or, be careful what you ask for :) )

Discussion in 'Photo Critique' started by carlb, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. carlb

    carlb All-Pro

    Feb 6, 2013


    With edits:

    wetland grass by cbmn, on Flickr


    1) Is the resulting image something you'd be happy to have captured/edited?
    2) Would you have done something different, i.e., cropping or other editing?
    3) Is there something that you might have tried differently while getting the shot?

    Critique doesn't have to be limited to the above.

  2. wt21

    wt21 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    Faster shutter speed. I find the blurry grass in the foreground distracting. It competes to be the subject. Edited colors are nice, though.
  3. carlb

    carlb All-Pro

    Feb 6, 2013
    Yes I could have opened the aperture for more light, to get a faster shutter (light was pretty low). Probably would not have affected DOF with the small sensor size. Thanks!
  4. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    I'm not a good enough photographer to give good constructive criticism. But the edit is certainly better. I think the scene is a bit ordinary. Are some of the highlights blown? I might have dropped the exposure a bit and tried pulling stuff out of the shadows. Totally blown out skies can never be recovered. If there's some blocking up of shadows in the trees, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Just my 2 cents and tale it with a grain of salt
  5. Yeats

    Yeats All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    I enjoy scenes like this.

    I think the overall photo could be darker, as its an evening shot. I think I'm sometimes guilty of making photos too bright, too.

    I think you made the foreground too bright relative to the sky, and as a result those 2 elements are competing for the viewer's attention.

    I think I'd like to see more of that colorful sky.

    I think I'd be interested in seeing this shot taken with a slower shutter speed, so the tall grass is blurred, instead of frozen in motion. Don't know if this would work aesthetically, but it might be interesting to try, IMHO.

  6. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    I opened it up to work on it a bit. I was surprised how much latitude there was in the files. I would probably go for something like this. It's a pretty static scene and to me the subject is the natural rainbow in the scene, but everyone sees something different in it.....
    P1000188-HDR by Lukinosity, on Flickr
  7. carlb

    carlb All-Pro

    Feb 6, 2013
    Yes, there was detail in the foreground that I wanted, at the same time I didn't want to blow-out the sky ... If the scene is ordinary either perhaps I didn't capture the warmth I saw in it, or perhaps there wasn't enough really there ... Thanks Luke.

    Nice edit of it Luke! There really is some latitude in the LF1 files. :)
  8. demiro

    demiro Serious Compacts For Life

    Dec 15, 2011
    Nicely done Luke. I spend 5 minutes editing it as well, but after seeing your take I hit Delete.
  9. carlb

    carlb All-Pro

    Feb 6, 2013
    Well, yes I'm reasonably happy with the second ... The first was straight from the camera, I thought it had some potential which I could pull.

    Don't hold back Jim, tell me what you really think. :) I don't know ... I like something in the scene. I'm wondering what might get me closer to what I was trying to capture (a sense of peaceful warmth), so I'm asking for ideas. The colors bit could partly be a difference in my monitor to yours, and perhaps I just need to pull the color back in general (balance is always subjective, I don't mind a bit of color and don't *think* this is overdone).

    Neat! It's different than what I was trying for, but definitely cool.

    That one has an "old west meets horror movie" feel. I do like it! :)

    You bet. It's very fun, and gets me out and thinking about what I'm looking at in a much different way. Thanks Jim!
  10. stratokaster

    stratokaster Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Kiev, Ukraine
    I think expecting to find stories in landscape photographs is a bit... weird. Even Ansel Adams couldn't pull it off.
  11. carlb

    carlb All-Pro

    Feb 6, 2013
    That's probably true ... I need to ask myself what is the most important element of the scene, and have everything support it. Crud, I like the sky but I like breeze in the wetland grass too. :)

    That idea might work as a composite: foreground with a multi-second exposure to capture the movement such as some do with running water. Background faster so as to not have a blur in the background trees or in the clouds.

    Thanks Chris. :)
  12. carlb

    carlb All-Pro

    Feb 6, 2013
    Most often not a story, but often a definite feel and maybe even a slight vignette (the scene-sketch type, not the type with dark corners. ;) ) when done really right ... At least for how I see, anyway.
  13. pdh

    pdh Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I don't normally post at this length, so apologies to anyone who dies part-way through ...

    One of the questions I ask myself now when I take a photograph is ... "Why am I taking this photograph?" ... what does this scene - whether it's a landscape or any other scene in the world - do?

    What a photograph does might be to convey a mood, or maybe it's a snapshot to remind me "I was here"; it might tell a story, though this is quite difficult without doing a series, and anyway seems to me the least important criterion for judging an image (unless in a particular instance it isn't of course :smile:). Or maybe its one or more of hundreds of other things. Other people use the language of "intent" or "vision" when talking about this, but I like the practicality of "what does it do?"

    You don't have any control over how the viewer will see and respond to your photo (you really don't - an horrific scene might be sexually arousing to some viewers, a babe-in-arms could provoke disgust and fear, or perhaps either will be uninterestedly noticed and then passed over).

    Accordingly, I think it's important to make your photographs for you; if other people like them (perhaps even if they provoke a strong reaction of any sort) then maybe you've achieved part of what you wanted. On the other hand (there are several hands here of course), you may want to make photographs that please other people (in which case you have a job on your hands, as there's 7 billion of us to please)

    Anyhoo ... When I looked at your original, I immediately wondered what it was you wanted from it. You'd taken the trouble to stop at this place, frame a photograph and then after you'd looked at it, post it for public critique. That suggests to me you wanted something specific, but that you weren't quite satisfied with it (of course, I may be completely wrong and you might just be trolling, or bored and had nothing better to do, or whatever).

    I sometimes take scenes like this; when I look at yours, I experience a suggestion of quiet lateness, a calm, the sense of something coming to an end. I also notice that the light is very flat - the sun has already set- and when I look at your Flickr 'stream, that you seem to favour (at least recently) photographs taken in late, flat light, and thus scenes without much contrast or shadow play.

    I find that kind of light hard to manage successfully, but it seems to work best if I treat the scene Impressionistically. I'm not suggesting one tries slavishly to make one's photographs into bad Monets, but just holding in mind that I don't have to try and pack everything into a scene, and that detail and sharpness are grossly over-rated as criteria for good photography.

    More directly, the original version doesn't work for me - it's simply feels too flat; my response to it is a bit "meh ..."'; your tweaked version is what begins to suggest something and is thus more compelling to my eye. I think this is because the foreground starts to have a bit of "life" in it. You could experiment with lifting it a bit more, but I wonder how soon that would jar or appear artificial (as we can see that the light is behind the trees and not illuminating the foreground), but again what matters is what you want the photograph to do, and you may want it to jar, and you might not care whether anyone notices the way it's processed, so long as that's in the service of what you want it to do.

    My most personal response is that the composition leaves my eye constantly pushing off to the right hand side (RHS as viewed I mean), and I feel a bit irritated that I can't see what was off to the right; the curve of the grass exacerbates this, so the left hand third of the picture becomes superfluous (cropping it doesn't seem to help, I still end up feeling irritated!); But then I didn't take the photograph, and my cognitive (and aesthetic) responses are mine alone ...
  14. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    May 13, 2013

    Thank for allowing us to think with you. I also view this as an opportunity to learn myself. Fortunately for me it is easier to criticize than to take the shot. ;-)

    Like pdh said, the most important thing is to make the photo for yourself. I also wondered what you wanted to capture and convey. What I've learned from landscape photography so far (and admittedly do not execute well yet) is that you first choose your "main subject" or theme, such as a specific mood, and build your composition around that (lines, angles, colors, contrast etc.). That's hard because you can't always get the shot you want, the light is not exactly what you expected it to be, etc.
    If your theme is to communicate the mood you felt when you took the photo, e.g. because of the colors, the grass in the foreground is distracting. If your main subject is the grass in the foreground, make sure that is sufficiently exposed and let the rest support this. Although in wide-angle shots an object in the foreground can work very well in this case the grass distracts. Perhaps it would indeed have helped to zoom in.

    In terms of processing: I prefer the middle ground here. The original is a bit too flat. The second is a bit too saturated for this particular scene).

    Just my 2 cents.

  15. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY

    I really like this version. The sky is so much more interesting, but then I am a sky freak anyway.

    I receive outdoor photographer magazine, and they tend to run a lot of heavy HDR photographs. Many of them are so well "lit" that they look like computer-generated images that are obviously unreal.

    I think you have hit just the right balance. Put a Gold Star on your chart!

    Cheers, Jock
  16. carlb

    carlb All-Pro

    Feb 6, 2013
    Saying what I was trying to do with the shot would have been helpful when I started this thread. In my present life, there is more than enough stress, feeling I have to do so much to just keep up. With many of these evening photo walks, it's about me taking time to be in the present, and hopefully capture the relaxing feel of what I'm seeing. That's what I wanted to convey: a calming feel, an image enjoyable and peaceful to look at.

    That's partly because of the time when I can get out to take the pics after work, partly because to me the light is more evocative at that time. Whether or not I can do anything with that light is another matter. :rolleyes:

    Yes, the original was definitely too flat - I was worried about blowing-out the skies and so took the photo exposed toward that. I figured I could pull the foreground in post as needed.

    I do like the notion of trying "impressionistic" for this time of night, not worrying of detail too much. I wonder what I could try toward that for taking the shot, and/or in post?

    Ah shoot, now that you mention it, the grasses blowing right toward ... something you can't see is a bit distracting, heh! If I could have framed having the blowing grass in the left part of the frame, that might have been the main point of interest, with green to the right suggesting a calming resolution. I don't think that shot was available, but hopefully I would have grabbed it had it been there.

    When posting this for critique I felt the edited shot somewhat achieved my intent, but recognized it definitely left room for improvement, heh. But I couldn't think what those improvements might have been while taking the shot or editing the shot. So, I stuck my toe in the "ask for critique" pond. :biggrin:

    Thanks much for taking a bit of time for this, Polly. :smile:
  17. carlb

    carlb All-Pro

    Feb 6, 2013
    I was definitely trying to convey a calming notion, an inviting resolution. The grass in the foreground (especially the motion-blurred tops) is a distraction, and as Polly noted partially because it's blowing off toward ... well, what? I can definitely see that now.

    Yes, I couldn't quite get what I wanted for light/dark or saturation balance in the edited shot either - another reason I posted was to get ideas for that. Luke did a great job with it. I'll need to see what he did differently. I might desaturate the foreground a bit from what he had, probably in line with your "the second is a bit too saturated" idea.

    Thanks Pete!
  18. carlb

    carlb All-Pro

    Feb 6, 2013
    All, thanks so much for your ideas. This shot wasn't really bad (at least to me), yet it definitely wasn't one of my best. But I couldn't quite say why, so I thought opening it up for critique might be informative.

    This sure has been, heh!

    For any who are interested, here is a set of what I do think is some of my best: http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157631899776485/

    Before commenting on those, keep in mind that being an amateur I'm probably only ready for "Oooohs!" and "Ahhhhs!" on those. :biggrin:
  19. lcsolla

    lcsolla Regular

    Sep 5, 2011
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Luis Castro e Solla
    I did not read the whole thread, so sorry if somebody already said this. First, photos were manipulated since the dawn of photography, and at least dodging and burning were common tools of any serious photographer. People tend to forget that untreated photos seldom look like what we saw, because our eyes and brain, working together, do not see like a film or a digital sensor: we have a much higher dynamic range, everything seems to be in focus, and verticals do not converge markedly when we look up or down (when they do, we have vertigo). We rarely see blocked shadows, for instance. On the other hand, our eyes are not static, they constantly scan left and right, and the brain than does the necessary mixing. This is one of the reasons that certain street paintings cannot be photographically replicated, irrespective of the lens.
    Manipulation can be a way to bring back what we really saw, or a deliberate artistic choice. There is nothing wrong in it. Either it works, or it does not. Photographers like Cartier-Bresson and SebastiĆ£o Salgado carefully selected/select their printers by the way they develop (i.e., manipulate) their negatives.
  20. Yeats

    Yeats All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Heh, no excuses Carl! :tongue:

    I spent some time perusing your Flickr. I guess I would say that many of your shots are "my kind of photos". There's much humble beauty to be found and well as the more grand and majestic, and I enjoy both equally. Judging by your photos, it appears you do, to.

    The "coolest" shot is the one where a dragonfly appears to be shot in flight... although you do provide the explanation in a comment. I hope you don't mind me linking it here for folks:

    dragon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!