Posts Tagged ‘Photography Tips’

Image Critiquing: A How-To

May 16, 2014

Summary – There are lots of ways to critique. Regardless of how you do it – learn to critique. If you don’t know what is & isn’t a good image, how can you hope to ever make one?

I Critique using the “4-C’s”


Do you know how to critique an image? No, not -

WOW! I like that!“.

That’s not a critique. That’s a Flickr comment.

Supportive but not useful if better photography is the ultimate goal.

Even the most well-intentioned critiques can be hard to take – ego’s need to be put aside.

One of the most common reasons given by newbies for not entering club competitions is fear/embarrassment because of criticisms.

A typical image has both good and bad points. Both should be recognized – the good acknowledged and constructive criticism offered for the bad. To be useful, the praise and criticism must be specific, not general – even more specific than

“There’s a problem with the focus”

What & where specifically and why do you think this happened so the maker can avoid the problem in the future

“The background is more in focus than the subject’s eyes. Your focal point was wrong for the shallow depth of field you used.”

Knowing how to critique images is a key step toward becoming a better photographer.

If you don’t know what makes an image good – and bad – how can you hope to make good images?

If you can’t recognize problems when viewing a displayed image, how do expect to see them when looking through your viewfinder?

The most important critique is self-critique of your own images


I use a structured method for critiquing images built around what I call the 4-C’s.

Take a look at this blog’s subtitle at the top of the page

The subtitle is there because I firmly believe that

Mastery of these four elements is key to Photography Improvement.


The 4-C’s

  1. CRAFTSMANSHIP – Using your camera to control exposure, focus and color for a technically perfect image or for the creative image that you want. Key message – putting you in control of the camera & not vice-verse.
  2. COMPOSITION – Making aesthetically pleasing two-dimensional images
  3. CREATIVITY – Making your images YOUR images (and not like everyone else’s) by building on craftsmanship and composition skills
  4. COMMUNICATION – Inserting emotion and feeling into your images. Great artists believed that art sprang from emotion. (A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art. Paul Cezanne)

The list above is in the order that the C’s should be applied in an a critique.

The list begins with the most basic skills and progresses to the most difficult to master

Good craftsmanship should be a given even for a relative beginner – especially with today’s cameras

Communication on the other hand is very difficult – especially since it’s so viewer dependent

In another sense the list progresses from “objective” criteria through to “subjective”

Craftsmanship elements, color for example, are very objective. Unless the maker is making some artistic statement (see creativity & communication) we all know what color the bride’s skin and gown should be – it’s not a subjective thing.

Communication, on the other hand, is nearly 100% subjective. What “sings” to me may be “nails on a blackboard” to you.


To round out the story, the list is exactly in the opposite order I use when making an image rather than critiquing one.

Making an image begins with Cezanne’s quote – A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art. If I can see the potential for an image that sings to me, I’m 90% of the way home toward making a good image.

We can’t begin with an everyday scene, craft & compose it in a creative way – and then “glue emotion” to it at the last-minute. It doesn’t happen that way.

Note – “good image” here means one that is good for me. I really don’t care about what others think. Depending on where you are in your photography development journey, you may (or should) care.

Now that I’ve found my singing image, the rest is straight forward. Starting with creativity I try not to make the presentation of my “song” routine & predictable – I want to be creative. My ingredients for creativity are the first 2-C’s (and treating them as the “RULES” of composition and craftsmanship probably won’t get the creative job done – but you do have to know them before you can break them).

The final two steps are relatively easy.

Usually the most difficult composition task is simplifying the image.

Craftsmanship is easy (or it damn well should be else it’s back to the drawing board for you). You HAVE TO reach the point where craftsmanship (using your tools – camera/lens) is instinctive and your camera is an extension of YOU.

If you have to think about it, even for 5 seconds, you’re not ready to be the best photographer you can be. This where practice, practice, practice comes in….

Craftsmanship errors are inexcusable

This is one reason that Craftsmanship comes first in a critique (especially in judging where 75% of all entries must be eliminated; if you can’t do the basics, there’s little reason to go further)

Craftsmanship is essential in terms of making your camera do what your vision requires for this singing image, including bending & breaking rules in the name of creativity


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OnOne Software’s $99.95 Perfect Effects – FREE

May 8, 2014

Summary – For a limited time you can download OnOne Software’s $99.95 Perfect Effects 8 for FREE

 

test rename

Nature Trail Walk – open spaces & bright sun

Big mistake – I’m susceptible to sun-poisoning

Today I feel like a truck hit me

Aches & all – like a bad case of flu

No way to feel while on vacation

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Perfect Effects is one piece (of 8) of OnOne’s Perfect Photo Suite

Recommended

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Read all about this free download here

[11AM EST 5/7/14] Be patient trying the link

For some reason (site busy?) it doesn’t always work

Not only this free download, but the entire site


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HDR – How it Works & How to Use it Properly

April 16, 2014

Summary – The clearest explanation of how HDR works I’ve seen. Also uses that explanation to demonstrate why many HDR images look so, well HDR-ish (as opposed to natural).

Another great post

by Ming Thein – a good photographer who is

An even better writer

To be expected if you attended Oxford at 16 ;)


I won’t dwell on my feelings about HDR (not all positive)

Ming pretty much says it all

(BUT – if you really want more – here are my 60 HDR posts)

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Read his excellent article by clicking on this image

(and learn about dynamic range & zone system at the same time

2014-04-14_9-18-19© Ming Thein

 

 


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Your Image – When is “Good” Good Enough?

March 11, 2014

Summary – I once wrote a post with this identical title. The answer to the question is still the same.

If you missed that post or

You’ve forgotten the answer

Read it here.

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My wife does newsletters, websites, posters, etc.

For community organizations

When she goes to meetings

She uses a simple 6-year-old point & shoot for photos

Auto-everything, jpeg, low resolution

Good enough for on-line under 800 pixel long side images?

You bet!

When she makes large (24×36) posters & programs

She brings out the big gun

That would be me and my D800E ;-)

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I’m the tech guy around here

When she brings home an image

I do a 5-10 minute post-processing job

And the result is more than good enough

For internet low-res display

Case in point – what I just finished for one of her newsletters

Modern post-processing tools are magical

Before & After LR5

DMC-FZ28-_140224_203752_P1040855_orig-1

Good Enough

Click image for 1600 pixels wide (the above is 450 pixels)

The actual version is 3,648 wide

Better than good enough for this small-scale web display

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Free eBook – Craft & Vision, TEN MORE

February 26, 2014

Summary – The 4th in a series of free photography eBooks. I’m freeing up time in order to finish my abstract photography project.


Click on this image to go to the download

2014-02-18_12-43-09

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Enter the International Abstract Photography Exhibit

Entries close March 31st; it’s free

Entry details are here

The gallery is here


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