April was another great month of images at The Discerning Photographer’s Flickr group, and here are my choices for this month’s discussion. Our shooters continue to experiment, take risks and push the envelope in the pursuit of great photographs. Let’s dive right in!
Wheat Field #12 by John Allen.
This is a beautiful image, although I have some questions about it. I like the intensity of the bands of blue and green, separated by the neutral tones in the center band of the image; but on closer examination, I see that maybe this was achieved purely in Photoshop? (Notice the semi-transparent band in the area where the green hill meets the neutral tone.) John, did you desaturate the middle area to achieve this? Or use some other technique? So I suppose the purist in me was a bit disappointed to realize this might be a heavily manipulated result, but I still like the overall image.
All That Remains, by C.J. Schmidt
What a beautiful image! Nicely composed (I love the ‘starburst’ effect in the clouds) and well executed. C.J. says in his Flickr notes that he achieved the 3 minute exposure by using a piece of welding glass as a neutral density filter! Ingenious. So I love this one: what do you guys think about it? Any suggestions on how to improve this photo?
‘Vespa—Photoshoot last week’ by Florian Gradwohl
Florian had an image that I included last month that also had a vignetting effect, although that photo appeared to possibly be an old Polaroid. This one is modern, according to his Flickr notes, and I mostly like it for the rich, rich black and white tonality. Anybody else?
‘Easter Lillies on Black,’ by John Nefastis
I tend to not dismiss flower photographs as trite or overused, since I do some of this work myself and know a bit about how challenging it can be. The title informs us that John has created a black background for this photo and I find the starkness of the result works well, really making the red/orange of the pistils pop out. Anybody hate this photo? Love this photo? Other ideas?
‘Deep Gaze,’ by KBT Images
We don’t get a lot of portrait submissions to the Flickr group, for whatever reason. KBT submitted three portraits this past month, all of this beautiful woman. This one was my favorite. The directness of her gaze into the camera combined with the warmth of the color temperature is simple and beautiful. Nothing complicated, just nice execution.
‘Scala ai Frari’ by Diana Quiroga
I like the use of the vanishing point in this image, placing it off-center is so much more effective, don’t you think? Diana has contributed a lot of images from Italy, beautiful stuff, although I’m not sure if this one is Italian. Where exactly is this, Diana?
‘Sea Lamp,’ by Sandy Biring
What do you think of this photograph? With the extremely strong vertical element in the middle, does it work? Personally I find this image very attractive, but I know not everyone will share this view. I think the monochromatic toning works here too, helping to emphasize the composition without the distraction of color. Other thoughts, anyone?
Two Images, Two Crops
The last two images I’ve selected this month are both fine photos, by Joe Chan and Gerg1967. They appear below:
In both examples, I believe the overall result would be stronger with a better crop. I’ve applied the crops here:
In the case of Joe’s nice windmill image, I feel like the composition will improve if the strongest element in the photo—the largest windmill on the right—were closer to the top right corner of the frame, creating more overall ‘tension’. I also cropped up just a bit from the bottom to help emphasize this as well.
Gerg1967’s moth image is a completely different photo but will benefit from similar treatment: in this case, cropping the left and top of the photograph places the moth closer to the top left corner of the frame, creating better ‘play’ against the bokeh lights at the bottom right.
Just my ideas, but I thought it might be helpful to explain the mental process. What do you guys think about these two? Would you not crop, or crop differently?
OK, that’s it for this month’s critique. Now please share your ideas in the comments below! This only works as a ‘critique session’ if everyone pitches in and we have a chat about it, so don’t be shy!
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog