“Writing a useful critique that gets to the point without being upsetting is truly an art.”
One of the best treasures a photographer can ask for and give, is effective image critiquing. It is an instant educational tool to access and improve one’s work.
Even if you don’t wish to get or give image feedback, if you started reading images that have been critiqued, you can most likely improve your own photography.
Getting the Treasure
You have to “ask for it.” Decide if you want your image to be critiqued and be prepared to receive it with an open mind. I’ve found it helpful when posting my own image to include a few critique points regarding my own shot taking.
Remember, you are getting someone’s personal opinion about your image. You will get feedback stating they like your image “as is” while others will point out certain technical or artistic qualities of the image they do not care for.
Worst Mistake => Starting a debate about the critique.
Your photography is very much a personal endeavor! Poorly written comments can be easily misunderstood as an assessment of the your ability (or lack thereof) vs honest feedback of the specific image. However, you can ask for clarification on any issues.
Giving the Treasure
Take time to study the image and form an opinion of what you like about the image, both technically and artistically. When I critique an image, I usually limit myself to about 2-3 issues. It is a misunderstanding that a photo critique should only point out what is wrong.
Look at the specific technical qualities of the image (lighting, color, contrast, composition, depth-of-field, background, and focus.) that you like or don’t care for. It could be nothing more than a cropping issue. Or a suggestion about shooting at a slightly different angle or location.
=> One of my top issues I look for when critiquing are ”distractions.” With the viewer finder to your eye, look around in a clockwise direction, and then back the other way, asking: “Is there anything that takes away from my main subject?” Now, snap the picture.
Pick qualities that you can most effectively communicate about how you feel the change may help or add to the image.
Look at the artistic qualities of the image by describing any emotional response the image imparts. An image can have technical flaws, but jolt you to a strong emotional response. The opposite is true was well.
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Now, I’d like to share a few thoughts regarding the opening image at the top of this article.
It Started Here
The above image is what I saw while driving. Moving to the old garage door, I found numerous shots, within the shot. I wasn’t happy about the section I was focused on being in the shadows. I usually think: ”Start big and reducing the final image to the point of a full frame final shot” depending on the main subject. Be mindful of the background vs your your main subject.
If you scroll down, you’ll see the original image as shot before any post processing. The amount of post processing performed varies from image to image. It ranges from 2 minutes to 10-15 minutes. What I liked…
- Lines, peeling, cracking paint, and exposed bare wood
- Door handle
- Color of the window pane
- In camera cropping of windows. Personal choice. Sometimes I like to create a shot where part of a window (or door) is partly showing. Can create a sense of adventure, a wondering what is behind that?
Shooting Details - Shot in manual mode using a NikonD300, 18-200 zoom lens, SS /125, f/11, Focal length 32mm. Remember…
- Take lots of shots.
- Use the right (series) f/stop for the shot. I used f/8 to f/22.
- Use a tripod.
- Always try to get the shot right in the camera instead of thinking you can fix “it” in post processing.
Post processing - I use Photoshop Elements and Google Nik Software. With my image I started with ”Color Efex Pro” using the “Bleach by Pass” filter. Next, I switched to Viveza adding some specific color control points to add structure (Think, pulling out more detail.), brightness, contrast, and saturation. I put the image aside, but when I came back to it, something was missing. Here’s what I played with…
I went back into Color Efex Pro and used the ”Reflector” filter. You would be right when you read “Reflector” filter to think of the professional (collapsible) disc used by photographers, like seen here: Reflector discs. Inside Color Efex Pro, the “Reflector” filter allows me to use reflective light of gold, soft silver, or silver. I can choose the intensity, position, source of direction, and more from the filters slide bar controls. Pretty amazing!
Thanks for visiting!