August 2011 Flickr Group Critique

Our Flickr group was outside a lot in August. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

Our Flickr group was outside a lot in August. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

Each month we use one post to look at some of the photographs submitted to The Discerning Photographer’s Group Pool at Flickr. The goal is to provide the photographers with some feedback that goes beyond the usual Flickr ‘Great capture!’, providing the chosen shooters with a bit of constructive criticism. I’m hoping you’ll study these images, read what I have to say, and add your own thoughts in the Comments section below. It’s through YOUR participation that we get a conversation going!

This has been a month of landscapes and outdoors photography for our members. Many, many of the fine images that were submitted for August were shot outside, and that is the theme that we’ll explore here today. Let’s get started:

‘Manhattan Bridge,’ by KBT Images.

'Manhattan Bridge,' by KBT Images.

'Manhattan Bridge,' by KBT Images.

KBT is a British photographer who spent some time in the U.S. over the summer, resulting in some interesting images. Here’s one of them. I like the cropping here, KBT. I think the composition is greatly enhanced by the ‘pano’ crop that you’ve put on this photograph. Plus, you had the good aesthetic sense to get out there when the light was nice. Tell us about the processing: how much did you do, in what software package, to achieve this result?

‘Hotel Project, Never Finished,’ by Florian Gradwohl.

'Hotel Project, Never Finished,' by Florian Gradwohl.

'Hotel Project, Never Finished,' by Florian Gradwohl.

There’s a post-industrial, apocalyptic quality to this image that I find appealing and disturbing at the same time. Sort of a bit of ‘Bladerunner’ feel, you know? Also the orange and blue are vibrating off of each other nicely (see my June post about color theory  if you missed it). What does everyone think? Does this image work or is it missing an element to make it truly successful?

‘Totaranui Estuary at Sunset’, by Andrew Duncan.

'Totaranui Estuary at Sunset', by Andrew Duncan.

'Totaranui Estuary at Sunset', by Andrew Duncan.

The clouds are fabulous, of course. The reflection is nicely composed. But for me, the thing that makes this image work is the interest point created by the driftwood in the shallow pool. It gives my eye something to grab onto as I then scan around the image. In his comments in the Flickr post, Andrew says he spent about two hours scouting and working out the location. Nicely done!

‘1 Centre Street, Manhattan Municipal Building’  by Mick Leconte.

'1 Centre Street, Manhattan Municipal Building'  by Mick Leconte.

'1 Centre Street, Manhattan Municipal Building' by Mick Leconte.

Shooting straight up like this is devilishly hard to do, especially without a right angle viewer of some type (or articulated LCD screen, one of my favorite new innovations that’s appearing more and more on cameras). If the lines are off by much, you’re dead. So this one works pretty well. The two buildings don’t line up perfectly, but that doesn’t bother me. I especially like the clouds overhead as well. Hey Mick, tell us about shooting this image? Did you lie flat on your back to line it up? I’d be interested in the exposure information as well…

‘ The back edge,’ by Joe Chan.

' The back edge,' by Joe Chan.

' The back edge,' by Joe Chan.

Joe has shot this wind farm before, or a similar one. I gave him a hard time previously about the composition, thinking a tighter crop might improve the overall result. What do you guys think about this one? The light is beautiful of course, and the stark, dark silhouettes are great. I think I wish the placement of the central wind mill were a bit more off center, to the left, to increase the tension in the frame. Joe? Your thoughts?

‘Up, Up and Away!’ by Kevin Barry.

'Up, Up and Away!' by Kevin Barry.

'Up, Up and Away!' by Kevin Barry.

The flight of this cormorant is beautiful indeed. The motion in the wings tells me that Kevin was out experimenting, working to find the right shutter speed to create just the right amount of ‘magic’ in the wings. Is this correct, Kevin? Or was this simply a lucky grab?  The only distraction here for me is in the credit, which really draws my eye away from the composition. But I understand the thinking on that, even if it probably won’t stop a determined thief.

‘Cornes Du Chamois,’ by Justin G.

'Cornes Du Chamois,' by Justin G.

'Cornes Du Chamois,' by Justin G.

Not to beat up on Justin, who submitted this beautiful black and white landscape from an Alpine trip, left. But I was so disturbed by the muddiness of the submission—which contained no true black or white in the image—that I felt compelled to open it up quickly and adjust the levels histogram in Photoshop. The result is the same image, right side. Hope you don’t mind me singling you out for this Justin! This is a fine photograph that just deserved a better toning job.

“Rain on Leaf,’ by Sean Garrett.

'Rain on Leaf,' by Sean Garrett.

'Rain on Leaf,' by Sean Garrett.

No, it’s not a landscape, but at least we’re still outside! I love this image: composition, lighting, tonality. Sean, please tell us about shooting this fine photograph! Is it natural light, of did you do this in the studio?

That’s going to wrap up this month’s selection of images. Please take a few moments to add your thoughts about what you liked, or didn’t, in the Comments section below, and thanks!

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. Or subscribe to our Facebook page or our Twitter feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Posted in: Gallery

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

14 Comments on "August 2011 Flickr Group Critique"

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  1. Sean Garrett says:


    It was shot outside in the rain – but with a speed light fired using a cheap radio trigger held out to the left.

    Thanks for the feed back. I find it very hard to get feed back on how to improve my photography.

  2. It’s a beautiful shot, Sean. What brand of ‘cheap trigger’? I would love to find a decent cheap one…

  3. Justin G. says:

    Wow, thanks for picking my image! I’m still working on my processing skills, I don’t mind. Actually it’s a real treat to see what someone with more skills can do. A similar suggestion had been made to me, and I took another crack at it, but I put the results up on my google plus page:

    (hope that works). The image was taken hand held with my nikon d40 and 16-85mm lens. I’m having some doubts about that lens, it seems to suffer from quite a bit of chromatic aberration.

    I’d love to hear what others have to say about my image. Any sort of criticism is welcome!

  4. Glad you took my input in the spirit it was given, Justin.

  5. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for choosing my image of the Manhattan bridge. The image was taken using an 8 stop ND filter I then enhanced the details using Viveza 2 and layered using curves.

  6. Thanks for selecting my image from Totaranui. Here is the caption: “The estuary at Totaranui in Tasman’s Golden Bay is mostly quite shallow, with the possibilty of great reflections off the water. The clouds were interesting and I knew there was a good sunset in the offing, but it took about two hours to find this location. As it turned out the light was spectacular indeed.”

    This image had very little post processing other than a slight contrast/saturation boost and noise removal.

    The temperature fell about 10 degrees C when the sun dipped below the hills, I left the camera and tripod in the river and dashed back to the car for more clothes. That didn’t save me from getting a cold, but it was totally worth it!

    Thanks again for choosing it.

  7. Sacrificing health for one’s art! Fantastic.

  8. joe chan says:

    Hi Andrew!
    Thanks for selecting my wind turbines at the sunset. I hardly feel that anyone is picking on me or giving me a hard time with their comments about my work. I appreciate them all. When I composed this image, my concern was not to cut off the ends of the blades, so I erred on the side of having more room to crop. And when I brought the image into post processing, I didn’t want to lose that larger, second turbine in the left frame and I also wanted to have as much rain in the distance as I could. And if I was to crop in, I would have had to lose some ground and sky, which I was not willing to part with. lol

  9. Sean Garrett says:

    Its a Blazzeo I got from dealextreme: probably not as capable as pocket wizards but $20 is much friendlier than the ~$400 I’d be paying for a set of those.

  10. Ana Matos says:

    Hi to all,

    fine selection this month and well welcomed 😉 My favourite this time is from Andrew Duncan. Also interesting is the one from Sean Garrett because of the duality between one part of the leaf and the other.

  11. Mick Leconte says:

    Hello Andrew, 
         Thanks again for adding one of my photos to the August 2011 Flickr Group Critique.  My second time in a row here and I’m really excited about this. I’m an amateur photographer and an average visitor of your website and to see one of my works here is pretty amazing!

         Shooting “1 Centre Street, Manhattan Municipal Building” was a lot more difficult than it seemed. Well for me that is.  I shot this with a Canon 7D and a 10-22mm ultra-wide angle lens. The Canon 7D doesn’t have an articulated LCD screen. I wanted to shoot this at ISO 100 with the least noise as possible and also create an HDR image. I mounted my camera on a SLIK PRO 330Dx-B tripod which does not allow me to face my camera up at a 90 degree angle. I unmounted my camera from the tripod head and balanced it from the back of the camera on top the small plate of the tripod head. I ran into another problem. I couldn’t look into the viewfinder or use the  LCD’s Live View Mode.  So the best I could do was to raise the back of the camera slightly to get a tiny glimpse of the LCD’s Live View Mode to frame the buildings.  I then lined up and manually focus on the buildings the best I could. I took a few shot just to make sure the buildings were straight and sharp as possible. Afterwards, I setup the Auto Exposure Bracketing to -2, 0, +2, shutter speed for 30 seconds, f-stop 8.0, the self timer for 10 seconds and then hit the shutter release button. Photomatix Pro is the software I used to merge the images and I used Adobe Lightroom for the finishing touches.  After looking at the “0” exposed version of the original 3 bracketed exposures, the HDR processed image of the above shot may have not been necessary.  The dynamic range of the scene was not high enough to justify an HDR image.  I could have easily processed one image to achieve a near identical image.

         Thank you for placing my photo among these wonderful photos of these great photographers.

  12. Hey Mick,
    Thanks for sharing the story of this image with us!. had a hunch it might be interesting and I was right!

  13. A very nice selection of photographs. Congratulations to everybody here.
    While I am late (again) I just wanted to let you guys know about two images.

    “Up, up and away” by Kevon Barry. I love it, it’s so simple! But hell hard to do, I guess
    Here comes more to mind. I used to have a credit in there too, but recently I removed it. I am a big fan of simple frames, please see for an example.
    Andrew, now a question to you: Does a credit make sense at all or a frame? I guess, everybody tries to protect his images from unwanted use. Basically, would it be enough to have the metadata fully there? I was even thinking putting my images into a CC license, but haven’t made up my mind yet. What’s your opinion?

    Cornes Du Chamois,’ by Justin G.:
    I can agree with you in adjusting the histogram. My observation is that the image gets more clear, but it does not necessarily reflect the real mood, if not done properly. Generally I like just adapting the white and black point.

    Cheers, Bernd

  14. My honest opinion is that anyone who really wants to steal the image, and has any skill with Photoshop, will usually be able to do it, even with the watermark there. I only upload 72dpi images in my public Flickr space for this reason. The Getty licensing thing that Flickr offers is interesting, although I don’t know what type of money anyone’s actually made from this option.

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