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alistairfarrugia

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17/04/2013 - 6:07 PM

Gold Chrysanthemums

Gold  ChrysanthemumsIt seems opinion is divided on the background, and I admit I'm torn about it myself as well. On the one hand I see it as a bit of a distraction, behind very similar in colour and very detailed for a background purpose, but at the same time it fits in with the theme being presented here.

The only other concern that I have are the numerous reflections on the vase, I think these are a bit distracting and possibly the use of a diffused light source and a closed window in the room would have helped here. Not sure what light sources you had but it seems a continuous light source was present as well as natural light. Consider the option of using diffused lighting in shots like these as it will result in a better picture in the end. You don't want attention to wander on the reflections, but on the subject proper.

Still - irrespective of these two issues, I find the presentation appealing and I love the touch of the petals on the sack at the bottom of the vase.
14/04/2013 - 2:55 PM

well

wellWell spotted here - nice picture. Allow me some critique however.

1. As regards the highlight comment above, I tend to agree with Lynne, they might need some toning down as the contrast is too harsh between the shadow areas and the highlight area.

2. Moreover, there seem to be areas where chromatic abberration is visible, you might need to check if you can fix this if you still have the RAW file for your shot.

3. Cleaning - there are some areas where a bit of cloning would have helped. There seems to be (white) litter in the bottom left area of the picture, that distracts a bit. I would clone it out, I don't think it should be a hard job to fix.

4. And finally, I think the image looks a bit over-sharpened, particularly in the details on the staircase railing. I think a slightly softer image would look better, but that's just my opinion here.

Still you get my vote for attracting my attention and making me want to write some stuff. Well done!

Alistair
13/04/2013 - 11:43 AM

Collision

CollisionAn interesting shot here Nathan. I have some critique though...

The b/w version is a bit dull Nathan - you need a bit more contrast in that version, with more true blacks and whites. As for the rest though, I like what you did here. You managed to create an image that has the "wow" factor in the form of a "what the..." reaction, at least from my part. That's impact. Irrespective what you used for this subject, it caught my eye and you managed to create something that evokes interest. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I think it's a good piece of art.

What I would possibly go for with shots like this is to try different angles and upload three or four angles on it, rather than three versions which simply present two colour options and a desaturated version. I'm sure you will take this critique positively and looking forward to seeing a 4th version, in true b/w with some more contrast. I'm confident it would look very good. Otherwise just activate mods and leave that to me Smile hehe! Would love to have a play with this one!

Regardless of the bad points I mentioned, you get my vote for evoking my interest, and that for me is the mark of a good image every time. Thanks!

Alistair
10/04/2013 - 8:35 PM

Up close

Up closeWell done on these images. This will be a lengthy post because I believe there's a lot of potential here. I understand you cannot carry out much post-processing for the exam, but do consider this critique if you want to revisit these images post-your exam. All the comments below will take this into account.

Starting from v2... V2 is my favourite, but John's critique above is spot on - I think the missing edge there, excuse the pun, is the edge of the leaf. The composition would have improved if we could follow the leaf from the bottom left, follow the diagonal till the edge of the leaf and then maybe travel back towards the starting point by following the out of focus areas. Without the edge of the leaf, our eyes "end" the movement on the frame, and I don't think this is something you should aspire to.

Also, speaking of the frame, I would probably go for colours that are a bit more contrasting, at the very least in the inner colour. For instance, I prefer the colour choices made for the frame in V1, as the white portion separates the frame from the image, whilst the green complements it. In V2, however, this aspect is missing as both colours used in the frame are very similar to the subject matter. Coupled with the "edge of the leaf" issue above, this might detract from the quality of the final presentation, in my opinion of course. I think if you retake V2 and ensure that the composition includes the leaf's edge (on RHS), and adjust the frame colours to say white (internal) and green (external) or white/black for instance for added contrast, then the end-result would be a much better photo.

As regards V1, it's a well spotted abstract. I would also consider going lower and aiming the camera higher, trying to get those curled edges to look more 3D. Some creative use of lighting might also introduce a bit of shadow elements that help make the image "pop" a bit more. The frontal view doesn't permit this as much. Moreover, this approach would probably eliminate the diagonal in the background - we tend to follow lines but that line isn't helping much being on the RHS, going from top to bottom, and leading away from the subject. I would have tried to avoid such a line in the composition so as to retain attention on the "comb-like" effect that you clearly wanted to achieve with this image. Regardless, it's still a nice abstract.

Finally, as regards v3, I think if you revisit this image and carry out some minor post-processing, I would clone out that black dot in the middle as it is distracting, and I would finish off by rotating the image towards the right by a couple degrees (as necessary) to straighten the middle line. Potentially, I'd go for a square crop and position the vertical on a third, left or right, for a more abstract look. I like the texture on this one, and how the lines move across the leave in a shape similar to waves.

All in all, there's a LOT of potential in these images, and they're all well taken. With a little bit of care though, and in a context where you could do some post-processing, you will end up with an even better set, and I look forward to seeing such a set if you take up these suggestions and revisit this work.

Regardless of the above, well done and good luck on your exam, and hope you didn't mind my critique. Take care!

Alistair
San Sebastiā, platxa de la Conxa, la nena es gronxa, les āvies xerren...The square crop wins it for me - there are diagonals starting from the left hand side that take you through the composition. I like this. You start off left and move right towards the little child, then there's another diagonal going back to the left to the two ladies, and then you see the area where the sand and sea meet and follow that line left-to-right and it curves again, right to left to underline the bottom of the hill, and voila, you've seen the whole picture.

More often that not, one can find these lines in images and these elements should be taken into consideration when determine the final crop to apply. With this one, the square enhances this movement across the picture to guide the eye in an otherwise very busy shot.

Finally, I think this was a high key image that required a bit of exposure compensation. The sand and sea's high reflectivity probably fooled the camera into under-exposing the end picture, which means the details in the shadows were mostly lost (ex. the old lady in black, foreground, and the hill, background. With beach shots on sunny days, it's best to try taking pictures with some positive exposure compensation. When starting out taking beach pictures, try the same shot with +1 and +2 exposure compensation and check your camera to see which result looks best, then retain that setting for the rest of the images. You'll likely end up with better range of colours that look more true to your eyes when you check the image later.
06/04/2013 - 12:38 PM

DAm to Doan

DAm to DoanHi there. I have to disagree with Neil above, after reading your narrative.

I think you needed to go a with a wider lens here, as the focal length used renders the foreground uninteresting, given it's very limited appearance. Judging by your comment, you wanted it to show to establish a certain connection between the dam and the mountains, right? In that case, you needed a bit more balance in the composition, you needed a bit more foreground, showing clearly the rocks that make up the dam, and then the background with the mountains showing, as is the case already.

When you have an objective "message" in mind, make sure the composition best reflects this by including/excluding elements that have to be or not be there, depending on the case. In this case, it seems you needed a bit more foreground, and I doubt you could have got that with the 55mm focal length you were on.

Still, this seems to be a very nice place that lends itself to some beautiful images, particularly if you go at sunrise/sunset and try to get some colours in the sky. Would love to see more images from this place! Good luck!

Alistair
04/04/2013 - 3:53 PM

Hawk of the skies

Hawk of the skiesErik's comment is very valid - I suggest you enable modifications on this one as I'm confident there'd be an upload by someone from the critique team to address this. I would also have opted for a slightly less central position, give some space for the plane to fly into.

Finally, consider turning this to a sepia or b/w photo - I think the colours in the background are a bit too saturated and take away attention from the plane here. They also alert us even more that it's a mock-up with a model, not a real shot. If you want to make it look more realistic, this second element (aside of the prop issue) should also be tackled.
04/04/2013 - 6:43 AM

Goldcrest

GoldcrestHi there. I just noticed thus picture and have some critique for you. I understand you didn't put this up for critique so disregard this comment if you would rather not have such comments on your work. Here goes anyway.

First off, the settings seem a bit strange to me - for the kind of subject you're shooting you should have opted for higher ISO, faster shutter speed and probably a narrower aperture. Your EXIF doesn't say whether you were on full manual/ aperture priority, shutter priority or some other programmed mode. Regardless, with the 7D, I think you should be comfortable going for manual and a high ISO, given its good performance in high ISO situations.

For this shot, you could have opted for a faster shutter speed of around 1/400 - 1/500 to compensate for movement and the 350mm focal length. This would make the image around three stops darker. If shooting handheld, narrowing the aperture to get some more DOF would facilitate getting the bird in the sharpest zone as you'd have more room to play. Let's say you go for f/8, that would darken the image by another stop. To recover these four stops, we then increase ISO by four stops, so 100>200>400>800>1600.

So with settings of 1/400-500, f/8 and ISO 1600 you would have probably frozen the bird better and obtain a good exposure. Hope this helps and keep shooting! Smile
01/04/2013 - 9:56 PM

Stormrise

StormriseSuperb lead-in here, well taken. Have you considered flipping this horizontally so the ice would move from left-to-right, rather than right-to-left? I think this would make this image even stronger as it would be more natural for the eye to explore the image by following a left-to-right lead-in, rather than one that goes from right-to-left. Unless of course you read from right-to-left, in which case the current approach would suit just perfectly. Given that most of EPZers are UK-based, I think it would be safe to assume a left-to-right reading approach is more predominant here, so a flipped variant might go down with the audience even better.

Regardless, I think this is superb whichever way you present it, my comment is merely aimed at trying to get even more of what's already a splendid shot. Well done! Smile
30/03/2013 - 12:39 PM

Garden Lights

Garden LightsStraightened a bit (1.6 degrees counter-clockwise), adjusted colours through simple brightness/contrast correction, added some sharpness after resizing, re-composed by placing the bulb on the top-left third intersection and added frame to close off the darker parts with a contrasting white line running throughout (frame). This helps "close" the image in my mind, whereas in your original upload the lack of frame made the image sort of "spill" across the page, enhancing the fact that the bulb was too centrally positioned in the original upload. With a frame, you strengthen the composition using the rule of thirds as guideline.

Hope this helps!
30/03/2013 - 12:19 PM

Garden Lights

Garden LightsHi there. I'll try be the first to offer some critique here. First off, may I congratulate you on the original subject. It's not often we see pictures of garden lights here. This, however, is the first element I'll tackle - what was it that made you take the picture? What effect or theme were you after? Did you want to send across a particular message with this photo?

One suggestion I can put forward is to maybe use a different angle on the light, maybe go for a much lower angle to show the lights as a taller object, sort of imposing on the surrounding flowers and leaves. You would get very low and aim high, position the bulb on a third intersection, and ensuring that the glow from the lighting would brighten up the nearby leaves, as was done with the above picture. The edges of the image would then be darker where the glow fades out, and it would form a natural vignette, once again, as is already the case with your original upload. I like that element.

One further element that you could try show more of is the pebbles on the floor. This would give you three different elements - the flowers/plants, the lighting, and the pebbles. At present, the pebbles barely show and it's an otherwise nice element that maybe should have featured more in the image.

I'll try my hand at a mod soon and upload.

Alistair
30/03/2013 - 12:06 PM

Play Time

Play TimeI think the black and white mod helps keep the attention on the eyes, where attention should be. In colour, your eyes wander towards the left area where there are some bright colours. Always mind the background in these kind of shots. Even though the background is blurred, the bright colours still draw some attention away from the subject.

One thing you could clone out is the button on the jersey - it's not really necessary and that red-dot on the button is also another bright colour that can be removed. It's not a big deal, but cloning it out would help as well.

Finally, I would consider going for a square crop and eliminating his hand entirely, I think it would change the image's character but would probably be a better composition overall.

regardless of the above, I like the original upload, it holds potential and attracts attention.
28/03/2013 - 6:34 PM

Hiding from nothing.

Hiding from nothing.Hi there, I hope you can understand English. I managed to translate your text to the following:
"This is my sister in the photo.
I tried to show that women do not need to be vulgar to be sexy."

You have posted this photo in the Critique Section, which is where your photos get reviewed and you receive feedback on its good and bad points, so you can improve your work. This is what I will do now.

First off, I like your message, (assuming Google Translate did a good job translating it from your language). Women do not have to be vulgar to be sexy, and in your image, at least to my eyes, you have managed to send across that message of sensuality without there being anything vulgar. The mystery behind the model's face is intriguing and the use of her hair to cover her chest area is interesting - it ties pretty well with your intention to avoid vulgarity yet transmit sensuality. Well done.

Now for the technical part - I think the image could do with a bit more light - it looks a bit too dark for me, and maybe lightening it a bit would help. We would get slightly more detail in her hair and the details on the veil itself. That would be better I believe.

Secondly,I think you could have composed this better by cropping a bit from the left and ensuring that both her arms showed in their entirety. I think it would once again improve the picture if her left arm wasn't cropped out of the picture the way it is now. Also, allowing a bit more space above her head would help, as having your subject to close to the frame's edge isn't ideal in most cases, and in this case, I don't think it is.

Regardless of the above, I think there's a lot of potential behind such shots, and you shouldn't hesitate to try and improve on it by keeping in mind these tips, if you agree with them, and any other that will surely be forthcoming.

On a final note, I hope you can follow English and I suggest you post your descriptions in English in the future, as it would enable us to understand what you're after in a better way for sure. Thanks!

Alistair
25/03/2013 - 9:13 PM

Three

ThreeUploaded a modification in b/w myself actually. I've forgotten to add a further detail. Cropped off a bit from the image as I tried to fix the tilting I was referring to by using distortion correction tools in Paint Shop Pro (vertical perspective correction). The lines look more vertical to me now so there's less of a distraction for those like me who nit-pick on these elements! Wink

Finally, I think this can work in a different composition too as Phil suggested, though I quite like this approach as it gives more information on where the three men were sprayed, whilst isolating them might lose out on this element. I don't know though - maybe a mod would help Phil? Wink
24/03/2013 - 4:42 PM

Calling Home

Calling HomeIt's a nice image you've got going here, well done. Some critique though. The image could do with a bit more contrast I think, there seems to be no real black here, it's all a shade of grey. I think adding a bit more contrast would help here, or adjusting white/black points, depending what you're more familiar with.

Secondly, had I not read the title, I don't think I would have managed to discern a phone in his hand. From what I'm seeing, the hand area feels like detail is lacking and I cannot really make out whether the hand is holding something or it's simply there to "hold" the head in place, in a "thinking" kind of pose. Could be just me though not seeing things properly! Wink

Finally, in terms of composition, the way the image is presented seems to "break" a rule for me - the person is looking out of the photo and you left very little negative space for the person to "look towards", so to speak. Placing him in the top/left third intersection has resulted in having a lot of "irrelevant" negative space on the right, where this could potentially be better placed on top, giving the man some space to look into as he's thinking/calling his loved ones, as you seemed to perceive of this. I would think placing the person on the bottom/left third would be more appropriate. You could also crop to a portrait format here, and clone some detail up top to simulate more sand higher up in the portrait image. Just my 2 cents though, others might disagree as after all beauty's in the eye of the beholder.

Regardless, I like this image. It communicates to me a pensive mood. The soft, white vignette is interesting and helps retain attention on the subject - I like that.

Alistair
24/03/2013 - 4:34 PM

Midfield Battle

Midfield BattleWith such action shots, what you can also try to achieve is to have an image that isn't entirely frozen in time, but rather shows a BIT of motion blur to make it more alive. 1/800 is a very fast shutter speed so the action would be frozen for sure - particularly given the available natural light.

What I'm wondering now is why you were on Aperture Priority mode. For such action shots, and what I presume was a handheld situation, I would recommend using Shutter-priority and setting a speed of around 1/320 - 1/500, slower for more motion blur, faster for less of course. If you specifically wanted to have a blurred background as well, you should have opted for Manual Exposure and used f/4.0 or wider and a shutter of 1/320 - 1/500 for instance, given your ISO setting. This would require a bit more fiddling and I know it's not ideal when you're in the thick of it - took some action shots myself recently and you can easily get carried away. This only makes having the correct setting and exposure mode even more critical I guess.

Regardless of the above though, I like this - it has drama and interest. What could be done though is to try and place that ball on a lower/left third, by adding a bit more space to the left as some mods did.
24/03/2013 - 4:20 PM

10 Completely False Facts

10 Completely False FactsHi there - you posted this for critique, but you didn't specify what you are after - what kind of critique are you after, so that we know what to tackle.

In the absence of any information, I'll give you my feedback on what I think of the image. First off, I don't get any particular message through this picture - not sure if you wanted to convey a particular message with this image, or whether this was simply experimenting with lighting and projection of images on a model. The idea is original, but the white, frontal lighting from the projector doesn't flatter the model and the aesthetic qualities of the image suffer for it - at least to my eyes.

Secondly, for a more pleasing composition, I'd crop off a bit from the right and turn all the background elements to pure black - there seems to be some curtains showing and on the left hand side these seem to "come out" of the model's head - I would fix that in post-processing.

Finally, I'm not sure if your intention was to frame the eyes and nose area with the blank spaces in the projection - for that you needed the model to be slightly more to the right and the nose and eyes would fall in the blank projection area, and the flowers would cover the rest of her face. I think that would have made it even better, idea-wise. Also, consider lowering the intensity of the projection beam (lower brightness maybe) so that you retain a bit more detail in the projected image. As it is, the white areas are almost burnt out completely and a lot of fine detail outlining the flower patterns is being lost.

Well done regardless on the idea - it's nice to see something different from time to time, it's just that I still don't get what your original intention was behind this, and I would love to hear from you!
23/03/2013 - 1:11 PM

Wet Night in Edinburgh

Wet Night in EdinburghIt's an interesting shot, but the first thing that bugged me was that the car seems to be tilting towards the right, maybe the picture (or that layer alone) needs a slightl counter-clockwise rotation.

Also, the couple might be a bit too sharp and they stand out a bit making the composite approach show through - not sure if you want this or not, but if you want to make it seem like this is straight out of camera, I think it's best if you blur the coouple slightly.

Finally, this could potentially also work as a square crop - eliminating the darker, left hand side completely and retaining the car, the couple and some of those bokeh lights.
22/03/2013 - 4:00 PM

The bird and the rose

The bird and the roseHi there, first off, well done on the thought you've put into this. Thing is though, there are some problems in execution that might belittle the effort you did here. First of all, if you want to give the image a "realistic" imagery (the bird is singing about the rose's beauty), then in my opinion the bird and the rose should be presented as naturally as possible, and that includes the proportions, pose of the bird, and the presentation of the bird itself. For starters, the effect to me only serves to make the bird stand out rather than put it in context. Moreover, it adds an extra "layer" in the message that is unrelated to your original thought. I ask, why is the bird presented in this way? And whatever the answer, it's unrelated to the idea of a bird singing about beauty. So I would probably not add that effect on the bird.

Secondly, the bird's pose would be more applicable for a perch, rather than a leaf. You positioned the bird on a leaf in the background and it looks very unrealistic. Again, this detracts from the message you wanted to send, same argument about realistic vs made up that I did above. In a nutshell, if my mind immediately tells me the bird is fake, I cannot relate to the message you want to convey.

And finally, I think the shadow on the bird was thought wrong, judging by the shadow on the rose. Try to include a shadow that goes in the same direction as the petal's shadow, not in another direction.

You should also take heed of Nathan's comment about the notes, and I think the picture would improve. Just my 2 cents anyway! Smile

Still, well done once again on the thought behind this. I can see such pictures being used in the context mentioned by Paul for instance.
17/03/2013 - 9:54 AM

"Let's talk..."

"Let's talk..."Welcome to EPZ and allow me to chip in by saying that you can expect such a response on your work pretty often. Particularly if you want this kind of feedback, use the Critique Gallery often and there will always be someone from the Critique Team to help out with feedback aimed at improving the image.

One feature that you seem to be using already is the "Nominate as Constructive Critique" link at the bottom of each comment. Whenever a critique is considered to be good critique in line with EPZ guidelines, then go ahead and click the link so we can "green" the critique and show it as good critique for others to notice these comments right away. EPZ is a learning community not just a photo sharing site. For this "greening" to work effectively however, not all the comments that are nominated are approved. If you want to learn more on what is deemed to be Constructive Critique by the Critique Team on EPZ, I suggest you give this a read:
http://www.ephotozine.com/faq/critique-gallery-108.

That FAQ section will explain the feature better, and it will help you identify what would probably make it through the nomination and what would probably be denied. The more people use the button effectively and when it really applies, the better for us all, as the most helpful comments will be more visible for all to learn. And on this point, I thank you once again for immediately using the feature and encourage you to read up on the feature and keep using it wherever applicable (in line with the guidelines of course).

Thanks!

Alistair

PS: I like the picture and I think it can work in more than one way, composition-wise. The mood it transmits is interesting and gives me a sense of "get away from it all". I like that, well done.