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03/03/2013 - 4:59 PM

Westbury White Horse Wiltshire

Westbury White Horse WiltshireA lovely shot and I just love those wispy cirruses in the sky.

Can I make a constructive suggestion? If you were to crop from the right to a square format, you would have much more of a balance between the real horse and the white horse. Although you might like the house, I think it's one element too many that distracts from the others - and, especially as it's so close to the edge of the frame and tending t drag the eye out of it and away from the other subjects.

Just my honest thoughts, great shot either way

11/12/2012 - 12:13 AM


ANTRIM COASTI hope you take this in the right spirit but there's a beautifully composed, balanced and well taken shot in here hiding behind the overzealous tone mapping. Just my personal suggestion, but if you took your processing as it is here on a layer, and faded the opacity over the original to 30-40% it might look much more realistic but still have punch

Best wishes

23/10/2012 - 12:07 PM

"An Honest View"

"An Honest View"OK you asked for an honest dritique so here goes...
you probably like it because there's a lot to like about it. The lovely autumn colours, the scene itself, the very well controlled exposure, the delicate hint of light.

What I see wrong with it, and what might be what's holding you back, is that the compositional elements doesn't fit together properly as a coherent whole..bear with me...

you've got foreground interest in the water and you've got the tree branches. Now I think the tree branches could serve one of two purposes..

a) as lead-in lines to draw the eye to a point of interest. Strong diagonals work well for this. In this case (and respect to Dave/Whiterose) , I think the lead-in draws the eye into the middle of the water, and not quite far enough to the point of interest.

b) as framing - for this to work the branches need to be around the edges and encircling but preferably not touching the points of interest in the middle. In this case I don't see any framing,

So I think it's fallen between two stools, with the branches neither framing or leading in adequately, but rather obstructing the eye's view into the frame.

It's hard to know if there was a way around this...walking round and finding a viewpoint which gave more effective lead-in? but it's possible it just wasn't there...only you know that, so maybe it's worth another visit. But soemtimes there's just "the one that got away.."

Hope that's honest enough Smile

04/10/2012 - 12:56 AM

Rain With a Bow....

Rain With a Bow....Rainbows rarely look as well on a pic as you remember them at the time, and IMO are very difficult to accentuate in post-processing without causing some disruptions or degradation of the image. At the time of shooting, one tip is to use a polarising filter, which does tend to boost the intensity.

A common fault with something exciting but fleeting like a rainbow is to concentrate on "capturing" the rainbow, but not paying much attention to the composition of the rest of the picture. I know this was from your balcony, so you were constrained with by what was in front of you and din't have much room to move around. Because of this the shot was nenver going to bemuch more than just a record of the beautiful rainbow (no harm in that though)

Hope that doesn't sound too negative, and hope you had a great time on your (holiday?) ... cherish the memories Smile

04/10/2012 - 12:37 AM

Hamrun Church Dome.

Hamrun Church Dome.I love the perfect symmery of this,,you must have taken great care to get it so exact.

Can't see much wrong except only to suggest a tiny boost in exposure and contrast just to give it a bit of punch

Nice one

05/09/2012 - 11:36 PM


Isolation...In answer to your question, I like the composition - there is a strong diagonal lead in from bottom left and following through into the branches top right. Going by your title, I can see the subject feeling isolated from the group who are walking away from him (her?), and the previously-mentioned flow goes against this, and in a way the group tends to draw the eye annoyingly away (which normally wouldn't be a good thing), but in this case I think fits with the theme.

Fair play for using your phone - maybe it was all you had on you at the time, maybe not? I can see it's rattled a few cages, but I'll try and keep my own phraseology more subtle and say it's an interesting and powerful shot, however it was taken. ...and while EXIF data may be useful in many cases for giving critique, and is always recommended where possible, if it's not there it's not there. Exif anyway has no relevance to composition that I can think of, and that was what your question was about.. so I look forward to seeing more of your work in the CG

12/05/2012 - 1:05 AM

test photo

test photoI really like this and I'm going to go against some of the others and say that the main point of this photo is in the sky, which has lots of interest, whereas the sea is bland and monotonous. For that reason and with respect to the other contributors I don't see the point of adding more of it to obey a "rule" which isn't really a rule. I think it has compositional balance which is the most important thing.

OK, that's the composition bit over. Re the sky, part of the cloud is blown out to white. Before shooting, the way round this is to check your histogram (or take a test shot and look a the histogram and re-shoot) making sure the highlights aren't clipped (there's no vertical line at the right end of the graph)..

Wille suggests an Nd grad filter would help and it would have relatively darkened the sky here, but a simple slight under-exposure may have worked . I agree also that the burnout in the clouds is not (generally and certainly in this cae) something that can be fixed in post processing.

I agree there's a strange colour cast in the clouds - try setting the colour balance with the middle of the clouds in the white dropper - may take a bit of perseverence but worth a try.

All in all it's a lovely shot and you are improving in bounds. I see this as a cloudscape rather than a seascape, but that's me Smile

Having received his winter electricity bill, Bert thought it was time for extra insulationI think it's a fine subject and it's good that you've captured the bird in the context of its environment...but the problem is that the background is quite overpowering in relation to the bird.It's a stop or more overexposed which makes for very bright distracting highlights, and the bird's head looks quite insignificant against these.

Hard to know how to get around this as it's mainly due to the time of day you took the shot and the harsh bright contrasty conditions - however, at some other time or in better light he mightn't have been there to get anty shot at all.

A slight crop to still include all the plant head but make the bird bigger in the frame might help

07/04/2012 - 1:33 AM


glenariffHi William,

you've had a good bit of input and good advice here, although I'm going to respectfully disagree with some of it and put my own slant on it.

Firstly compositional wise - I would rather think about balance than the "rule" of thirds. To me it's more about interest. Although there's more sky than sea, there's a hell of a lot more interest in the sky than the sea, so it deserves and can sustain being proportionately more than the sea. Having said that, as the sky although interesting isn't amazingly so, the ideal situation would be to have something of interest in the foreground rather than just an expanse of sea - because you can increase or decrease the amount of bland sea, but it's still just bland sea.

Now you might say "but there was nothing of interest in the foreground"... well that's grand, but sometimes you have to accept that a shot isn't going to work because something vital is missing.

Re the exposure: it's a bright contrasty scene with some dark shadowy areas and some bright just about blown out areas of white. It's the kind of scene which can't just be fixed by increasing or decreasing exposure, as the dynamic range is too great - so changes have to be done selectively, as some have suggested above - but the real answer is to shoot in less harsh conditions.

Re the settings - I agree with Focus man re using aperture priority for landscapes - and a wide aperture like F2.8 gives much too narrow a depth of field. In fact as a general rule for landscapes even F8 would tend to be too wide (too small a number) to take in the different levels of interest
and something more like F16 or 18 would be better for a fully layered landscape. However, as in this case there's not really any interest in the foreground, F8 would work quite well.

So it's a fair record shot of a beautiful place, but you need to be looking to raise it from "record shot" to "good interesting pic in its own right" and I know you'll get there..

Hope that doesn't sound too harsh, just my honest thougts

27/03/2012 - 1:03 PM


lakeA potentially good shot and a few good comments above - I'll just add my piece for what it's worth.

The sloping is a no-brainer really, and easily fixed. Bear in mind that in situations like this where there is no real horizon, the edge of a lake or a shoreline isn't always horizontal - but the line between a point (say the tip of a tree) and it's reflection is always vertical (allowing for ripples..). So going by the vertical is the best way to do your levelling.

There is always a trade-off between the three corner stones of exposure - aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Before setting each of these settings you need to thing what you want out of each one. Then if there is a problem with eg lack of or to much light for the ideal exposure, you need to do some kind of balancing act between the three of them.

If you want crisp clear focus throughout then you need a small aperture. I'd respectfully disagree with Frank here and suggest no problem going smaller than F11 (ie bigger number), but you should only go to the extreme of your lens's aperture if you really need that extra depth of field. F14 or F16 I's suggest would be grand here, though I'd agree don't go near F22 unless your need for full DOF is critical.

As for the shutter speed, the main things to consider are a) camera shake, and b) subject movement. With a reasonably wide lens as used here, it may be quite possible to use 1/50 without camera shake, and especially if you have some kind of image stabilisation/vibration reduction on your camera or lens.

However, even if you're OK with the camera shake issue at 1/50, then in this shot there might be a problem with a) the figures in the background moving and blurring out, or b) movement of the foliage if there's any kind of wind.

Having thought out your reasons for these two settings, the trade off is that there may or may not be enough light for these settings, in which case you can increase your ISO. It's at an ideal 200 at the moment, but most cameras can handle a fair few stops of incraese in this when needed, especially in bright conditions like this.

I hope that makes a bit of sense and you find some use in it

15/02/2012 - 1:48 AM

Cute dog

Cute dogA beautiful spot taken in difficult lighting conditions, especially..A bit of fill-in flash would have given it a wee boost, or you could still work on that in post preocessing as you've not lost any shadows or blown any highlights. A few tweaks and it'll be an even more special pic

15/02/2012 - 1:42 AM

Sunset over the Solway Firth

Sunset over the Solway FirthI like the prominence you've given to the sky with only the thin sliver of land. I do think that to do this a sky has to be really special though, and this is IMO only just creeping into special. Maybe a boost in brightness and contrast, but keeping the land as a silhouette, would help..

Just my honest thoughts, nice work anyway

29/09/2011 - 1:08 AM


sunsetSorry to butt in and respectfully disagree, but I think it's healthy that we critique team members don't always have to agree Smile. In my eyes there can only be one true vertical in a shot like this, and that's the line between an object and its reflection. Such a line will always be vertical (after allowing for some rippling in the water) - whereas a wooden bench could have been built crooked, or subsided at one end. If you apply a grid here you'll see that the bottom of the reflection lies about half the width of the sun to the left of the actual sun. That analysis also fits in with the sloping bank - and it's quite noticwable in the thumbnails of the three mods.

I agree as ususal with the rest of Willie's comments. It's a beautiful shot

27/09/2011 - 11:23 AM

Thames Path

Thames PathIt's a lovely scene, well composed and balanced, but something's wrong with the processing. To be honest it looks like some HDR type effect, or at the least a contrast reduction and mid-tone boost, been applied to the whole pic except for the top right quarter. Maybe go back to the original and take the steps a bit slower?

24/09/2011 - 3:38 AM

l o s t

l o s tIt's lovely and moody and evocative, and very hard to do. If you don't mind can I suggest a wee compositional tweak or two?..

a) cropping a little bit from the right to throw the tower off-centre, and

2) lightening/cloning or whatever the distracting dark patch bottom left.

Is that Lyra a third in from left quarter in from top??

and is the big bright thing top right third Jupiter?

Geat stuff, have to get off my bum and try something similar ..

18/09/2011 - 1:25 AM

Staring into the sun

Staring into the sunLovely simplistic pic David but I really think the logo kills it in this case. the cloud and the sun are balanced on a subtle diagonal but the logo just throws that all out. Just my honest thoughts, I know you can take it Smile

my fiancée got to see her first sunrise

is she a vampire or something? Wink

07/09/2011 - 12:19 AM


HazeI really like this, and love the inclusion of just the small slither of ground-based interest. I don't think the leaves top left add anything and might be best cloned away.

It works well in mono, but I'd love to see it in colour..

06/09/2011 - 2:43 PM


BUM SHOTI think the pic itself is quite interesting. I quite like the main mono, and the only main quibble I'd have woth that compositionally is that the chair and ship are on an equal vertical - would have been better if one was diagonally offset from the other.

The arrangement I'm afraid I have to say does absolutely nothing for me. If they had been three specifically different views or perspectives of the bench it might have worked, but these are nearly all the same.

I don't think mixing mono and colour inside a montage can ever really work unless maybe they are to convey a sense of the march of . And finally I don't think putting portrait and lanscape orientations on top of each other really works either.

I know this all sounds harsh but I also know you like to experiment and can listen to critique, so this is just as I see it. I think there is a potentially good single shot in here, but the treatments around it just aren't working

Best wishes

05/09/2011 - 11:54 AM

Anyone seen my mate?

Anyone seen my mate?You've used a very long focal length here so I presume you couldn't get any closer. The problem I see is that the bird is too small in the frame, and to make it worse its surroundings aren't too photogenic. Assuming you haven't already cropped, I think a tighter crop would emphasise the bird much better while still retaining a bit of the background context

04/08/2011 - 12:53 PM

Model study

Model studyI'm really no expert in portrait shots, so I hope someone can come in soon and give you some tips re lighting - I'll just give some quick comments on the comp. as I see it.

A beautiful model and a lovely natural smile, but I think there's a few things going on in the background which distract and drag the eye away..

the shoe on the left (her right) I think might be a useful part of the comp but only if it's included whole and not cropped. The othert shoe growing out of her head is definittely a problem, as is also the other wires and stuff to the right of her head. Maybe a good bit of painstaking wotk with the clone tool could fix this, though obviously finding an uncluttered background at the start would be better.

As I've said, just my honest first impressions, hope someone with more relevant expertise can add to them