•  

Critiques

Photo Review – The Drop that Refreshes

Photo Review – The Drop that Refreshes

Today we start a series of photographic reviews. I’ve had a lot of questions from people asking for more examples of what makes a good photo.

The first review is of an image by Dennis Gay of Australia called The Drop that Refreshes.

[Note: I reviewed this image a few years ago. Sadly, Dennis has since passed away. I have left this page here as a memoriam to him and his wonderful work.]

Dennis said:

Taken at the Town Green fish cleaning point in Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia. Someone had left the tap dripping and this gull took advantage of it. I was very close to it but thirst must have overcome fear. I had enough time to experiment with shutter speed and exposure to get catch the drips. I thanked the gull after I took the shot.

I love a lot of things about this shot. The colors and light are vivid, the depth of field is great, it’s an unusual subject, and tells a story.

The image looks to have been taken in the “Golden Hour” – in the time just after sunrise or before sunset. This hour at each end of the day provides a lovely golden light with long shadows that makes a spectacular setting for any photo. If you want to take advantage of this light, turn off your Auto White Balance setting, as this will wipe out the light effect.

The depth of field has been set so the gull is in focus, but the background water is out of focus. This allows the background to stay ‘out of the way’ and puts more emphasis on the photo’s subject.

An interesting subject and a good story is essential to a good photo. This image has both. Just by looking at the image, you can see the gull is thirsty and trying to get some fresh water any way it can. There’s even some irony in the mass of sea water in the background that the gull can’t touch. It seems also that the photographer is as lucky in getting the shot as the bird us for finding the running water!

Finally, the image name – The Drop That Refreshes – conveys the story of this image without over dramatizing.

What could be improved? The gull seems a little out of focus. Take care to ensure that the main subject of your image is in crisp focus. Use a faster shutter speed to ensure you get a crisp shot.

I’d like to see a better angle and composition too. The end of the dirt is unfortunately right behind the gull. I would have moved the camera lower or higher to ensure more of the gull is either against the blue background of the sea, or the brown dirt.

The sloping ground is also a distraction from the final image. It’s hard to tell if the camera was vertical to take the shot, because there is no horizon but I would have preferred to see a dead straight ‘ground line’.

I would have zoomed in a little more as well, to ensure the tap and gull completely filled the frame.

Still, it’s a great photo, and one worthy of a high rating.

Dennis, thanks for your many conversations via email. You will be missed.

Photography Critiquing: Giving And Getting Advice On Your Photography

Photography Critiquing: Giving And Getting Advice On Your Photography

One of the best ways to get better at taking pictures is to get involved in it with your friends. Critiquing one another’s work often gives you a perspective on your own photography that you might not have considered before. As creators, we often get so invested in what we’re doing that we fail to see the little (or sometimes big) things that can make or break a photo. If a friend can point this out to us in a tactful way, it can lead to some major improvements in our work.
Continue Reading »

Photo Critique: How To Make Your Baby Portraits Come Alive

Photo Critique: How To Make Your Baby Portraits Come Alive

Yvonne Day sent in this wonderful little portrait, and there are so many things I love about it. From the expressive smile to the soft pastels and bright background, this photo is everything a parent could want from a baby portrait. Yvonne even got the catchlights and the focus on the eyes just right! I wouldn’t change a thing about this photo.
Continue Reading »

Photo Critique: How To Get Lush Green Landscape Photos

Photo Critique: How To Get Lush Green Landscape Photos

We’ve been talking a lot about what makes a landscape photo truly come alive lately. For those who haven’t been tuning in, there are several important elements that, when put together, give the viewer a true sense of scale and purpose. Whenever you can find something the viewer can relate to, you will undoubtedly create a compelling landscape photo. That’s what this next photo critique is all about.
Continue Reading »

Photo Critique: No Rest For The Weary

Photo Critique: No Rest For The Weary

It’s time to critique your work, and this week I am happy to switch it up again and get back to wildlife photography. The following rare shot was sent in by Tony Thundal from Denmark. He managed to capture this telling moment with his Nikon D90 in aperture priority mode with an aperture of F5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/250s. The lens he used is a Nikkor 18-200 VR II, presumably shot somewhere in the telephoto range.
Continue Reading »

Photo Critique: Macro on a Point-And-Shoot

Photo Critique: Macro on a Point-And-Shoot

With as much discussion as we have been having about the difference between point-and-shoot cameras and DSLRs lately, it is only appropriate to continue our theme and explore some more pictures you can easily take with a point-and-shoot camera. A lot of people think that because they do not have a macro lens mounted on a DSLR, they can’t take good macro photos. This simply isn’t true. If you have a miniature tripod and an eye for framing your shot, you can create some amazing macro photos without owning a macro-specific lens.
Continue Reading »

Photo Critique: A Point-And-Shoot Sunset

Photo Critique: A Point-And-Shoot Sunset

This week, I challenged you to deliver some of the best point-and-shoot photos you could muster with your setup. The entire purpose of doing this is to convince you all that you do not need a high end camera to have an eye for photography and to produce great work. This photo, sent in by Clifford Spangler, is one such example. He told me he used “a 2002 Nikon Coolpix 4300 that is being held together with tape” to take it. It’s no less than impressive and a great reason for you to spend more time taking pictures and less time worrying about your next camera setup.
Continue Reading »

Photo Critique: Flying In Formation

Photo Critique: Flying In Formation

There has been a lot of recent talk about digital SLR cameras, lens modifications, and whether you need to go out and get a digital SLR right away. Sometimes the best arguments for getting the most out of your point-and-shoot system come from seeing what can be done with them. Usually, this is enough to convince people that the art of photography is not in the camera but the person behind it. This week’s photo critique is centered around that idea. What can and cannot be captured with a point-and-shoot camera? The answer: Almost everything can. It just takes a little more time and a quicker eye.
Continue Reading »

Photo Critique: The Jumper

Photo Critique: The Jumper

Last week, I did a two article series on how to create a composite sequence photo with a digital SLR camera and some photo manipulation software. I have received some excellent examples of photo sequences, and I would like to share and critique one of them with you. The following image was sent by Jack Bivins, and it is a prime example of an action sequence. You get a true sense of motion and a subject who is visibly thrilled to be jumping over 30 feet into the deep blue.
Continue Reading »

Photo Critique: Out On A Limb

Photo Critique: Out On A Limb

This week, we are treated to a photo taken by Stephen Miller. Stephen describes the picture as a “lucky shot,” and indeed it is. Photographing wild birds can be incredibly difficult, especially because they move so darned fast and they spend a lot of time in the air. While it’s sometimes good to have a picture of a wild bird in mid-flight, these pictures usually don’t have enough reference points to tell a story. Stephen’s picture is the rare instance in which a photo of a single moving bird can maintain a viewer’s interest.
Continue Reading »

Photo Critique: An Evening in Riga

Photo Critique: An Evening in Riga

It’s always a good idea to critique photos and to have one’s own photos critiqued. You don’t need to be a professional photographer to develop an eye for great photography. You just need to sit back and think about what appeals to you in a photo. Oftentimes, this is some combination of color balance, composition, and subject matter. True photography magic happens when all three come together perfectly.
Continue Reading »

Photo Critique: A Dusting

Photo Critique: A Dusting

Photographers often learn by example. None of us who get deep enough into this hobby have made it where we are today without seeing something we like and taking note of it. Good techniques are copied and put to use in future photos. That’s why it’s important to step back and critique our work and the work of others. The more we notice what we like and don’t like about certain photos, the better we get at creating more of what we love.
Continue Reading »

Photo Critique: Stepping Over The Rainbow

Photo Critique: Stepping Over The Rainbow

Critiquing your own photos and those of others is a great way to improve as a photographer. You will really start to understand the important concepts of composition, color balance, and subject matter when you discover how other people use them. A truly great photo always has these three elements working in its favor. Let’s have a look at how the next photo brings it all together.
Continue Reading »

More Photo Reviews

More Photo Reviews

Professional reviews of photos are one of the best ways to improve your photographic skills. By studing what works and doesn’t work, you learn to shoot more ‘winners’ yourself.

Curtis Routh has kindly agreed to review the following photos for me. Curtis runs a photography business called LeaveTheCamera.com and his insights are very valued. Click on the photos to comment on the image, or rate it yourself.
Continue Reading »