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30/04/2014 - 3:37 PM

General

GeneralHi there, I see you're still relatively new to ePZ and your uploads have so far been only in the Critique Gallery. When you upload to the CG, it implies you want tips to improve your work, and we (the Critique Team) are glad to provide such tips. There are however two preliminary issues that you have to keep in mind to get the most out of this gallery.

1) Indicate what kind of feedback you want - where do you want to improve? What difficulties did you find, are these of a technical nature or more in terms of composition/mood? The description accompanying images in the critique gallery should ideally be accompanied with your concerns or desired effect so that others can comment accordingly and answer any questions you put forward.

2) Your EXIF is missing here, and I see this was also the case with another of your uploads. It would help if you add the data as sometimes images have noticeable issues that stem from wrong settings. Without the EXIF data, it wouldn't allow the person offering to critique to properly discern the source of the issue. So upload EXIF if you can, thanks. Smile

With those two provisos out of the way, allow me to comment in a general way on this. I think you have created an image with a nostalgic/calming mood here, and the overall orange toning gives this warmth. I do however wish to have seen a bit more from the person's faces, as I would be able to connect with the subjects better. As it is, there's very little "emotion" perceptible to me, and much of what I take from the image is down to my perception of the scene only. This makes this a bit more abstract than what maybe you had in mind for it. Correct me if I'm wrong, though - what "moment" did you wish to capture? Father/son bonding? Reflection-time? Contrast in characters?

What I like in the image is the way the diagonals direct the viewer's attention right towards the faces of the man and child. That helps make this more pleasing to watch. You also seem to have obtained a good exposure here, with very little (if any) / negligible clipping in highlight areas (ex. on shirt) and good detail in the shadows, (ex. hair, beard). Also, despite the monochrome approach, there is good enough contrast, although I think you can actually push this upwards ever so slightly to make the man's face pop a bit more from the ground underneath. You could possibly burn the ground-areas a bit whilst slightly dodging the faces. Don't overdo this though as it would ruin the image instead of help.

Pending any further queries from your end, this is where I'll end my critique. Feel free to ask further questions and I'm sure we can revert with answers! Keep them coming and thanks for your participation in the Critique Gallery!

Alistair
Springtime bluebells in the woodsWillie anticipated me, the +1 compensation would indeed have made this worse. I think my tendency would have been to actually go for an underexposure compensation here, to keep the image a bit darker and achieve better saturation and realism in the colours. I think it would have been more representative of how you were seeing the scene with your eyes as well. For instance, there are areas in the image that are completely blown out, like the edge of the branch and the girl's shoes and parts of her clothes.

That said, I think the image holds a certain charm regardless, although a crop would help - I'd agree with Willie there again and in fact I like his mod better.

If you had an opportunity for a second shot of the girl, I would have shifted more towards the right and crouched, shooting upwards to compose with the girl against the tree and the flowers showing slightly more prominently given the lower viewpoint. The position would also help you achieve a bit more contrast as it seems it would have put the source of light (the sun) towards your right hand side, as opposed to almost directly in front of you. It seems in this shot it was coming from your front-right direction. I think this didn't help as it contributes to lowering contrast for you and clipping some areas as explained above.

Finally, you ask about the overcast sky and exposing for it and this baffles me a bit - why would you want that when your subject is NOT the sky but the girl in this beautiful environment? My tip is to focus on what your subject is and the mood you want to create, and then focus your artistic effort on those elements. You didn't need the sky to be perfectly exposed here - it wasn't the subject. This kind of scene would have probably required an HDR approach to fully record the full range of colours, given the very bright sky and the substantial detail to be recorded in the shadow areas (ex. under flowers and tree trunk). However, HDR here would have been impracticable as the girl is clearly moving, and properly getting multiple exposures required for an HDR image would have been impossible.

Hope this helps!

Alistair
24/03/2014 - 8:14 PM

ANGER OR DESPAIR

ANGER OR DESPAIRHi there, you have three very interesting images here and they are all different subjects and convey different messages. I humbly recommend you upload these separately as it makes offering critique a much harder job. Also, your question "good or bad" is a bit too generic - so the replies will be generic. I hope my comments help you determine whether they're good, or bad, for YOU. Something is good/bad relative to what you wanted to achieve with it, keep that in mind. Smile

So, one by one now...

IMAGE 1: I like this a lot. It's well-taken and I like the textures that are visible; on the model's skin, the cloth covering her face and her hair...I also like the clarity and the contrast in this image. Those make it "good" in my eyes. What I think can improve is the composition, and the negative space around the model. On the left it seems that there are some "grey" areas that you could easily clone out to retain only the model in the image. I would also add some space up top to put her head closer to a third and give her space to "look into", (despite her eyes being covered). I'll upload a mod later to explain this visually.

IMAGE 2: I like this as well, it's an interesting subject once again and I feel like the b/w adds to the image by "throwing the viewer" back in time, in a way, to the days were jazz was all the rage! I also like how the character's hat, on the other hand, contrasts with the jazz mood. This all adds up to the interest in my view. What I find distracting is the tilted verticals at the back of the image. I would have preferred these to be straightened out. Depends on how much canvas you had available. The straightening out of these verticals would likely also result in giving a bit more space to the left of the saxophone, which I feel shouldn't be so tight and close to the edge of the frame. I feel like the circle formed by the bottom part of the saxophone could have easily created a point of interest from which the viewers' eyes go upwards to meet with the musician's face. As it is, though, I think it doesn't work well. One final comment on this, the "face?" in the background is also hauntingly attractive, and detracts a bit from the main subject. I think trying to clone it out won't be an easy job but I'll try it in the mod later.

IMAGE 3: Haunting. Scary. Right out of a horror movie... That's what I thought upon seeing this. I think it works well in a confusing and disorienting way. I like this and the processing helps as the absence of colours makes the viewers focus on the faces and the weirdness of the scene. There are some elements that I'd try to crop or clone out though, for instance the MERCHANTS wording and possibly the men in the background (in the suit, high-visibility jacket and the one carrying the placard). These seem to jar from the medieval feel of this image. I think doing this in post would be very time consuming, so maybe waiting for them to walk out of the image would have been an easier solution. You possibly have an image where these distractions are not there, if you took more than one image. Consider a similar processing on an image with a bit less "distractions" in the background and I think you'd have a better final image.

Hope this helps you determine just how good or bad these images are. Keep up the good work,

Alistair
24/03/2014 - 7:41 PM

The shadow

The shadowHi there, I like this image for its potential and creative aspect.

I have prepared a mod to the photo that probably makes it even more abstract than it already is. I cropped to a square photo by removing the shadow at the bottom. I feel the image should be more about the shape and texture of the wall/floor and my mod reflects this. In my mod, I placed the larger, pebble like object on a third intersection point to attract attention to it. In your composition, I feel that the most "attracting" elements are either too central (the pebbles) or too low (the shadow). The mod addresses this by placing the pebble on the third, as already stated, and eliminating the shadow accordingly.

Alternative compositions can be taken from this photo by cropping out / leaving elements accordingly. With abstracts like this, I think composition plays a much more critical role and I feel you can work out several other variants using this photo. Have a play with it using different orientations, proportions and "subjects". There's plenty to go around with here.

Finally, I think you have some good work in your portfolio which you should maybe put up in the normal gallery as well. I'm confident you can land some awards too in the process! It's clear that you're developing your own style and several of your images are immediately recognisable to frequent visitors on ePHOTOzine. Keep it up.
14/03/2014 - 8:15 PM

PEOPLE PERSON PIC

PEOPLE PERSON PICHi there. You ask how you can improve this, and I think I can offer a few pointers for you to consider.

V1 - It looks a bit flat to me, it's a "grey" image, as opposed to being black and white - it needs a bit more blacks and a bit more white to have more contrast and punch. You can easily fix that with some dodging/burning of some areas or by using preset "contrast" effects if you don't want to take a lot of time. I also feel like the eyes look a bit "dead" without a catchlight. A bit of fill-in flash would have probably helped here but I don't know for sure if this was a posed, "candid-style" shot or a properly candid shot. If the latter case, I think the flash would have "alerted" the person of the picture and you would have risked being told off or something.

V2 - I like this but once again the lady's eyes look a bit flat, again due to the absence of some light in them. I also find the other legs on that drum to be distracting. I wonder what they lead up to and that distracts from the woman, whom I presume was your subject. I also find that maybe a composition that was a bit wider would have given the image more context, as it is, I find it too tightly composed. I also wonder what she's holding in her arms, is that another photo? Of what? Maybe changing your angle and including a bit more of the image would give more story - and that (story) is what documentary / reportage shots are typically about. In this one, there are more questions than storyline for me.

V3 - I love this the most. The colour popping works for me here isolating the subject from the rest of the crowd, with the exception of the man behind him - why didn't you desaturate that figure as well? I think selecting only the man in the yellow top would have worked better. Also, I would either give more space up above the wording "BUCHANAN STREET" or clone the wording out. It attracts attention away from the subject, but if you want to retain it for context purposes, I'd give it just a bit more space rather than keeping it very tight against the edge. Finally, I like the range in this - there's detail in the shadows, mid-tones and the highlights here. I like that.

---

Hope you find the critique helpful and keep them coming. Thanks for uploading to the critique gallery.

Regards,

Alistair
12/03/2014 - 7:08 PM

FORK UP

FORK UPYou ask if this works in your description, and you point it's a fun shot taken at high ISO, so my commentary will primarily start off from that.

I can see the "fun" element in this, in particular in the way the composition turned out, it's as if this was set up rather than taken on the spur of the moment. "The decisive moment" comes to mind, well done.

Compositionally, I like how the cups in their hand form a sideways ">" sign, and it's immediately noticeable that there is a sort of ">" orientation even in the persons themselves. The processing is interesting and masks any noise that could have been generated by the high ISO setting, giving this image a "painting" like effect. Given the subject, I think it doesn't detract from the image's key elements, rather it makes it more minimal and focused on the quirkiness of it all. My only qualm is that I think you shouldn't have cut off part of the topmost dude's head. Seeing the original, this could have easily been included I guess.

Finally, I didn't get the FORK UPS at first, but then I associated it with "FOUR CUPS" as I was writing this and I think that's what you intended. Otherwise, it's serendipity. To me "FORK UPS" at the bottom adds to the fun element, it's as if it's FOUR CUPS but misspelled. I'm likely missing a pun here though, given that maybe I'm not acquainted with the culture/setting where FORK UPS is used as slang or a common phrase. I'd appreciate your insight here.
12/03/2014 - 7:07 AM

shop keeper9(shoe maker2)

shop keeper9(shoe maker2)Hi there. You have an interesting image here with a lot of details that combine to provide a powerful insight into the person photographed and his profession. I also like the use of shallow depth of field here to emphasise the working area and the shoemaker himself. Moreover, the framing is also strong, with the row of shoes up top and the workbench with more shoes on it on the bottom. These elements combine to make an interesting image.

There are however some elements that, in my opinion, could have been worked out better. Firstly, the image seems to be distorted and tilted to a side. I tried playing around with it to straighten it out as I think the effect of the tilt+distortion doesn't really help the image. I am using an old version of Paint Shop Pro and applied a right-hand rotation of 5.5 degrees, and a perspective correction of -15 points. I'm not familiar with the corresponding figures you need to dial in in other programs, but if you start with a rotation and then try some perspective adjustments, you can probably arrive to this on your own quite easily. That's the beauty of digital I guess! Wink

Also, I feel like the shoe maker could have been better "positioned" in the scene - if you could ask him to move, you could have probably improved on the image if you placed the shoe maker closer to a third, ideally covering that white, rectangular object (Looks like an LED light on top of a gas canister to me) that sits next to him on the floor. I think covering that portion of the image would also reduce the amount of background, sharp detail competing with the shoe maker for attention. Finally, it would also make the image more about the shoe maker in his element, as opposed to a setting with a shoe maker in it. The shoe maker would be better "surrounded" by the shop elements, as opposed to being on the side of it all, as if removed from the context.

Finally, I love the desaturated feel of the image, I think it suits the image perfectly but maybe a bit more sharpness on the person and a bit less on the background would have helped. This could be a result of your settings (slow shutter speed & motion blur), bad focusing, post-processing or a combination of all these elements. If you can take this again, rack up the ISO to say 400-800, and it will give you a quicker ISO under the same lighting conditions (and aperture value). It should be around 1/30 or 1/60, depending on whether you opt for 400 or 800 respectively. At those ISO settings, you can expect a little bit more noise but you would reduce the risk of motion blur significantly.

I've uploaded a mod that is heavily cropped from your original and loses a bit of the setting, but my focus was on straightening this out whilst retaining as much of the context as possible. I've also sharpened the shoemaker a bit using USM.
18/02/2014 - 6:38 AM

So long....

So long....I won't repeat what was said above, but I'll suggest a different kind of edit with this given your "train station" feel, and building on Moira's interpretation. You could consider introducing a mild "zoom blur" effect start from the door further back - see if you like the effect it creates. It would give another feel to the image for sure, but it would possibly also be more in line with what was on your mind.

You might already know this but you can of course also create the zoom blur in-camera by going for a long-ish exposure (ideally on a tripod) and zooming in/out while taking the photo.
13/02/2014 - 7:23 PM

A leap of faith

A leap of faithHi there. It seems you're relatively new to the site so welcome to EPZ. You have uploaded an image to the Critique Gallery which implies that you wish other members of EPZ to provide constructive critique on your upload. I shall take the liberty to do so accordingly.

First off, this is an interesting subject - shots of animals typically attract a lot of attention and there was potential for such interest here as well. However, a number of issues are evident in this image that indicate that some things went wrong. Immediately, it becomes a bit problematic for people to offer constructive critique here since very little information is provided with respect to settings you were using when you shot this. Still - with the little there is available, I'll hazard some suggestions.

1) There is evidence of a very high-ISO setting or heavy post-processing. Noise, particularly in the dark or shadow areas is very high. You can see what I'm referring to by looking at the shadow on the stone, or the black patch on the bird.
2) The image seems like a very small crop from a larger image. This tends to result in an image that has a low resolution and low amount of detail. Considering you had a zoom lens on you, with a maximum focal length of 200mm (that's 300mm in equivalent full-frame focal length), I'm guessing this particular bird was too far off to be captured in sufficient enough detail.
3) The image also seems to be too soft - probably as a result of the comment in (2) above, a result of noise-reduction attempts, bad focusing, or a combination of all these factors.
4) It seems you shot in JPEG format, which typically results in a lower quality image than if you had shot in RAW and converted to JPEG from a PC. This is because processors on cameras have to work much faster and typically sacrifice quality to speed of execution. Thus, it is generally better to shoot RAW and convert to JPEG on PC later. This also gives you greater control on the final product, as RAW files can handle post-processing much better given the increased amount of data stored for each RAW image as opposed to JPEGs. Alternatively, you can shoot RAW+JPEG and discard/retain what you need following the shoot... (given you have enough storage available on the camera - RAW files tend to be much larger in size).

Hope you find the critique helpful and keep the images coming. On behalf of the Critique Team, welcome to the Critique Gallery!

Alistair
29/01/2014 - 9:55 PM

The Mallard Duck

The Mallard DuckA good shot. Sharp and relatively well exposed. There are some burnt highlights on the duck's tail however, which are probably indicative of the wide dynamic range in the scene. It seems that the duck was mostly in an area that was not as lit as the area where the tail was. Given the fact that the tail's area represents a small area when compared to the total image, the settings used (or metered by the camera) where ideal to properly expose most of the image at the cost of this small area. Exposing that clipped area properly would have most probably ended up giving you a substantially underexposed image.

Finally, if this was taken in RAW, you could have also tried to fix the chromatic aberration on that tail as well - there's a clearly visible green line running along the edge of the tail. With RAW you can typically fix this very easily in Canon's Digital Photo Professional. (In the Tool Palette, go to the LENS tab, and click on Tune. One of the sliders relates to Chromatic Aberration. Tune as needed to fix the error).

One last comment on composition. My tip is to be careful where you "place" the subject's eye in the composition - it's a bit too close to the edge of the photo for my liking.

Regardless of all the comments above, I'm sure you'll do better next time though. Keep it up mate and looking forward to our next photo walk! Wink
19/01/2014 - 6:13 PM

Light Up

Light UpI do think that almiles' comment has some valid points, however I do not agree with the suggestions put forward. I think the foreground rocks act as stepping stones to the viewer and they too help to create a zig-zag across the image if one starts from the foreground and works his/her way up towards the clouds. As regards the dark foreground comment, I don't mind it at all, as I think it adds contrast to the rest of the image which is relatively composed of highlights.

The only comment I can make to improve this is to maybe tone down the sharpening a little bit - to me there seems to be a bit of an over-sharpening halo on the small pointy rock in the middle which is a tell-tale sign of such over-sharpening. This is not a big thing though and I absolutely love this regardless. Well done.

Finally, given that this was most probably shot on a tripod, I would have given this a go at an even slower shutter speed to make the water smoother and avoid distracting waves - I think the sea should have receded in the background a bit more here given the beautiful sky and its relationship with the distant foreground, possibly using an ND filter to get 2 - 3" exposure times or an f/16 aperture to use 1/6th second if you didn't have an ND filter on you. (The latter option would probably still not smooth out the crest of incoming wave on the left though).
16/01/2014 - 6:11 AM

Going to......

Going to......Uploaded two mods taking into consideration Moira's comment about the bottom right issue (had also noticed it, this must be an oversight for sure); and cropped to different sizes.
13/12/2013 - 7:06 AM

A simple sunset II

A simple sunset IIThis is a nice shot!

My only quibble: maybe there's too much sky up top and signs of banding showing - I'd crop off a bit from the top and change this to a 4x5 format. I think it would suit the picture more.

Other than this minor quibble this is very well taken and fulfills my oft repeated "simple and effective" formula! Well done!
13/12/2013 - 7:04 AM

Beach Huts

Beach HutsRefreshingly different - I like this. Nice tones and a "different" approach to composition here, breaking the rules in a nice way. There's rhythm with the huts, a nice diagonal to follow left-to-right by "hopping" from tree to tree, and a very nice blue in the sky to keep us positive and wanting to go out and be there.

Well spotted and taken!
13/12/2013 - 6:46 AM

Norman Bates

Norman BatesI like this image, it has a nice mood to it and an air of suspence as others have already commented.

I also like this for its potential - there is some processing you can do on it to get more out of it. The noise or specks all over the image are a bit annoying - if you can try reduce the noise to keep the black areas totally black as opposed to mottled with white specks. That's something I would do at least - consider it.

Secondly, I agree with the need to crop here - the RHS can be cropped heavily to keep the figure in the bottom right hand side of the image and create some "travel space" ahead of the person in the empty path ahead of him.

Finally, for an even stronger image, I suggest you consider mirroring it horizontally, to have the person walk left-to-right - it's a stronger composition in the Western hemisphere given that we read left-to-right.

Regardless of the above, I still feel the image works in the current state. My suggestions are simply to get more out of it.

Well done!
10/12/2013 - 9:31 AM

Christmas Balls!

Christmas Balls!A wider aperture would have made the DoF a lot shallower, so if you wanted more depth then the choice of f/11 was correct - the choice of setting, be it shutter speed, aperture or any other controllable aspect will always influence how your image turns out. In this case, I think your conscious decision to use f/11 was the right approach.

What I think you could have considered is going for a slightly lower ISO to reduce the chance of noise creeping in. That said - I don't see evidence of any noise here, (Nikon cameras are good at that!). A lower ISO would have also implied the need for a slower shutter speed, but the tripod would have helped there - so long as the place was relatively air-tight and the bauble was still.

Finally, I think this shot gives you some freedom to play around with composition - you can try going for a square crop from the RHS, placing the small bauble at the top left corner, and the image would take on a slightly different colour. A b/w version could also work well, with some adjustment in levels to bring a bit more contrast into play (have to agree with Moira above here). Finally, I also agree re: the light bulb; I don't think it adds much to the image and I feel it is a bit distracting here.

All in all, however, I like this and believe it holds more potential!
10/11/2013 - 10:09 AM

remember

rememberNice idea here, simple but effective to send across a "rememberance" message. I even like how the poppy is not upright and sort of simulates the "fallen", at least in my mind.

There are a couple of things I think could be a bit better. The first is the use of the shallow DoF. Maybe I would have tried to get a bit more of the poppy in focus and a bit less of the wooden plank (or whatever) part in front of it.

A second issue I have, but it's very minor, is the green stem from the poppy seems to have a shadow around it that is looking a bit unnatural to me. But I'm nitpicking here to be honest.

Another nit-pick, I would have cropped a bit tighter from the right hand side to eliminate the "triangle" of brown that can be seen in the bottom-right hand side of the time.

The rest, especially the composition and the way the poppy is lit, are very nice in my eyes.
30/08/2013 - 4:18 PM

Ladybird 2

Ladybird 2Is this your only shot of this ladybird? I think you focused a bit too back - ideally focusing should be on the eyes. This had potential - a little bit more careful focusing and you'd have a cracker of a shot I think. Still - nicely spotted and attractive. Keep them coming!
27/04/2013 - 10:32 AM

Not big enough...

Not big enough...MOD ADDED. Played around a bit with this, turned to b/w to retain attention only on the ducks and capture the movement better, the colours are secondary here and the message gets across regardless of the presence of colour.

Also tried to clean up the grass where possible, and extended the canvas with some heavy cloning (it shows).

Finally, tried some sharpening to get as much detail out from the ducks, plumage, face, etc, but there's so much you can do if the image isn't in focus at the start.

Still, it's a fun shot and the message gets across, well done!
24/04/2013 - 10:20 AM

Old Spey Bridge

Old Spey BridgeI like these, both mono and colour work fine for me. I think I prefer the mood in the colour version though, kind of fits more in my eyes.

My only suggestion is to revisit the place, and try retaking the shot by including a bit more sky and little less foreground. Would have wished to see the tips of the all the trees here. Some have their top area cropped off and in my eyes this is a bit "off", so to speak. Would have rather had the top part of the image close off with just the sky. Given that you were on the widest focal length, it seems you opted to compose using the rule of thirds guideline of placing the horizon one-third down from the top, but I think here you would have gained more, compositionally, by placing it slightly lower and giving the sky the whole top part of the image and including the top-part of all the trees that were showing.

Regardless, I reiterate that I like this image and it's well taken irrespective of the above. I keep returning to your work and liking what I see. Keep it up!