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Everyone?s a critiquer


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Everyone’s a critiquer

3 Jul 2020 10:19AM   Views : 253 Unique : 143


Today, I’m going to ask you to do the hard work, while I relax.

I provide for you one image, and I seek your constructive comments, of the sort that the Critique Gallery thrives on.

You don’t have to like the picture, or think it’s good – but you have to say clearly why something about it works (or doesn’t) and suggest ways to improve it.

To help you on the technical side, I’ll tell you that it was taken in natural light, 800 ISO, Aperture priority with +1/3 stop compensation, 1/25 second at f/2.8 with an 85mm lens.

On the aesthetic side… Well, part of your task is to work out how I arranged the lighting, and whether I made good choices.

And you may want to consider – all issues of quality aside – whether the image has impact.

While I always welcome contributions from fellow-members of the Critique Team, I hope they will leave the field open to others.

It doesn’t matter whether you are experienced or novice, whether you take pictures of pretty girls or not. Please wade in and assess carefully – and write it down!

The second image is a Nik Efex conversion to monochrome – same picture. If it looks different, it may be interesting to think about why…



Howard2 4 3 4 United Kingdom
3 Jul 2020 11:45AM
For the colour image is for me spoiled by what I see as the colour cast, and this "fault" is not evident in the mono. conversion. So that has my preference.
I like the lighting - main source being the window on the model's left shoulder, but reflected off the wall paper on her right.
You say you used natural light, so guess there is a reflector, to fill in her face and give catch light to her eyes.
I like the pose - the right angled left wrist with her chin resting like that frames and draws attention to her face, the frame complimented by her hair over her right forehead.
I may have cropped some of her knees out, then to maintain aspect ratio the sides and top of frame.
The model is looking direct into the lens - as if saying 'What is there not to like!' Answer - nothing.
An attractive model like this one is, broadly well handled photographically, cannot fail to have impact.

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mistere Plus
7 6 3 England
3 Jul 2020 12:49PM
Arrrggghhhhhhhhh. So annoyed. I just spent ages trying to wright a critique, the interpipe went walkabout just as i was finnishing off and i lost the lot. Bugger.
I'll have another go later. Although Howard seems to have covered pretty much everything i had said SadSad
saltireblue Plus
10 10.9k 63 Norway
3 Jul 2020 1:09PM
Random thoughts on the colour version. Her pose - her left knee is too prominent, it would balance the frame better if it was the same height as her right one.
The bg behind her head consists of three areas; lit patterned wallpaper, the same in shade, and an area of bright pink. Too distracting. Her left shoulder is also blown. I would also clone out the wooden chair arm, bottom left.
All minor details in themselves, but combined, they detract from what we should be concentrating on, namely her face, eye contact and smile.

All of the above negative points are rectified to a great exrent iun the conversion - apart from that knee. I would also have been tempted to raise the shadow on her face a tiny bit as the b&w conversion makes it appear to be in darker shadow than the original.
4 31 1 United States
3 Jul 2020 1:29PM
I think the issue is over saturation as well as color cast.
She looks very harsh, in soft lighting.
I desaturated the image a bit and, to my eye, the image improved significantly.
1- I tried backing off the red and it just didn't have the same effect.
2- This led me to desaturating all channels.
3- I then looked at the Magenta channel and adjusted down it's saturation a bit.
This led to a much softer image without the distraction of the background colors on the wall or the "magenta cast" in her knees.


dudler Plus
17 1.2k 1682 England
3 Jul 2020 2:21PM
Thanks all.

To respond, and maybe give information that I should have given earlier (people in the Critique Gallery often fail to mention stuff that would be really, really useful to know!)...

There are red/pink net curtains at the windows, and they provide rather awkward light. There was direct sun that day, and that leads to the very high contrast, only partly reduced in processing. The light wasn't actually soft, and the saturation is pretty much as seen. So I should consider reprocessing, and addressing those issues in the RAW conversion.

I did not use a reflector, but it's not a vast room, so there's good reflection back from those (also pinkish) walls. It's a well-made point that I could have dodged the face area (particularly in the sepia version), and reduced saturation.

The knee provides a really interesting question... Yes, levelling it with the other knee would make the image more balanced, but there are three considerations:

1 I didn't spot it at the time;
2 altering it would have spoiled the flow of poses in the session as a whole; and
3 changing that would almost certainly have altered other things as well, and rearranging them would not have achieved the same pose with one difference. Alicia Black is a very good model indeed, but she's not an automaton.

I suppose that's one of the things with working with models (the 'Partnership' blog earlier this week refers) - occasionally, everything works perfectly, and you get a marvellous shot: usually, most things work and you get good images. I'm not sure I can overstate how important the flow is to me: I know some photographers micromanage the pose to get exactly what they want, but my feeling is that they usually take so long doing it that they lose spontaneity and the vital spark in the model.

Thank you, all.
mistere Plus
7 6 3 England
3 Jul 2020 3:31PM
I knew the curtains were a possible issue, and the direct sun light. I thought you'd used a reflector because of the catchlight, something caused it. Plus the intensity of the colour cast on her arms.
The wallpaper is quite light though so that makes sense. I think i'd picked up on most of the other things that have been mentioned. I must have been paying attention after all.
One other thing. The conversion has accentuated a couple of blemishes here and there. Something that your magic 'spot healing' tool would have dealt with quite nicely.
Still annoyed that my first attempt was lost though. I would have been in pole position. SmileSmile
JuBarney Plus
9 33 4 United Kingdom
3 Jul 2020 5:49PM
Much prefer the mono as the bright pink is distracting, and the mono has a timeless feel and the lighting looks softer.

Re. the knees she probably wouldn't have been able to rest on her hand if her left knee was lower!
altitude50 16 19.3k United Kingdom
3 Jul 2020 6:57PM
I do not photograph people very much at all and even less in formal poses. The only thing that I tried was to mask off the knees completely to just above the left elbow, level obviously, I think that is OK. What do you think?
dudler Plus
17 1.2k 1682 England
3 Jul 2020 7:33PM
I think that's an interesting idea, Richard - possibly with a square crop, or a less elongated format than the original.

I think Ju's right: with more complex poses, if you alter one thing you end up with lots of collateral damage elsewhere, in many cases.

Dave - spotted. Literally, and you're quite right. That's just what the spot healing tool is designed for (and careful cloning can also work pretty well!)

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