Flickr Group Critique: The sun as a photographic element

Flickr Group member Ana Matos brings us this month's Criitque: using the sun in your photographs. Bravo, Ana!

Flickr Group member Ana Matos brings us this month’s Criitque: using the sun in your photographs. Bravo, Ana!

Editor’s Note: Our Flickr Group Critique today comes courtesy of Ana Matos, a talented longtime member of our Flickr group who posts under the handle ‘fiuinha.’  Ana wrote and told me how much she enjoyed the critique, and wondered why I had let it lapse: could it be that I was tired of it, too busy with work or other projects, or what? The truth is the last two reasons, and when Ana asked if she could host the Critique this month I enthusiastically agreed! Let’s see what she has come up with, and please, as always, add your comments about these photos in the Comments following the post. The goal of the critique is always to help everyone improve artistically as photographers, so share your thoughts!–DiscerningPhotog

The Flickr Group Critique is back! Since it´s been off for some time the theme this time emerged from dozens of photos before October 2012. And the theme is “Photographing against the sun” with the sun/sunlight having a major focus in the photos. You will see how the direct sunlight through the day affects the photos.

‘Gold Sun – Rua das Regadias – Pombal – Portugal’, by Vitor JK.

‘Gold Sun - Rua das Regadias - Pombal – Portugal’, by Vitor JK.

‘Gold Sun – Rua das Regadias – Pombal – Portugal’, by Vitor JK.

Vitor usually plays with low points of view and this photo is a good example of that. Here the blown-out highlights from shooting in direct sunlight makes for an ‘against the rules photo’. Do you think that breaking the rules like this example makes sense to achieve a more dramatic and unusual picture? This  photo is rich in detail but I´m not so sure about the final saturation. Vitor, what was your inspiration here?

‘_DSC5852_edited-1.jpg’, by Cindie M…Lakeshore Photography.

‘_DSC5852_edited-1.jpg’, by Cindie M...Lakeshore Photography.

‘_DSC5852_edited-1.jpg’, by Cindie M…Lakeshore Photography.

A very simple seascape with a silhouette and a sparkling flair. It is possible to see the rays of light from the sun which is nice too. I  like the reflections on the water. Maybe the foreground is a bit dark? Do you think the photo is well balanced in composition? Cindie, do you want to talk about the capture of this photo?

‘Le Dôme de Florence’, by Mathieu GUY.

‘Le Dôme de Florence’, by Mathieu GUY.

‘Le Dôme de Florence’, by Mathieu GUY.

Architecture is not easy to photograph but here I think Mathieu adds an interesting detail. The direct sunlight and the flair created in the cathedral gives the image a spiritual feeling, doesn’t it?  The low foreground is a bit dark but I think this is a straight-out-of-the-camera shot. Mathieu, tell us about taking this photograph.

‘Panorama of the Ötztaler Alps with the Similaun peak in the center’, by belimbach.

Panorama of the Ötztaler Alps with the Similaun peak in the center€™, by belimbach.

Panorama of the Ötztaler Alps with the Similaun peak in the center€™, by belimbach.

A panoramic landscape including direct sunlight showing how much higher the men have to go. I think that it’s valuable detail in this photo and makes sense. But on the other hand I believe that it competes with the main subject. The author, at flickr, has two notes about the sun and the flair, he comments  about this with some humor. Belimbach, was it intentional shooting this panorama including the sun?

‘Drakensberg Gardens Sunrise’, by Julian Schroeder

Drakensberg Gardens Sunrise, by Julian Schroeder.

Drakensberg Gardens Sunrise, by Julian Schroeder.

Partial rays of light from a sunrise and a green line that leads the eye to the sun. It´s also possible to see the golden light in some rocks of the river. I think the spirit of the morning is well represented in this shot by all the elements of nature represented here. Julian, did you try out other points of view or was this the only angle?

‘Foggy dawn 2’, by Enivea.

Foggy dawn 2€™, by Enivea.

Foggy dawn 2€™, by Enivea.

Enivea has other three photos at this location; I choose this one because of the composition. The fog and the available light do give a mystic feeling to this picture. This photo speaks for the simplicity but still I would do some editing to it. Enivea, this a straight out of the camera, right?

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

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

9 Comments on "Flickr Group Critique: The sun as a photographic element"

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  1. ‘Gold Sun – Rua das Regadias – Pombal – Portugal’, by Vitor JK:
    Love it, but I am still a bit undecided if the blown out highlights are a bit too much.

    ‘_DSC5852_edited-1.jpg’, by Cindie M…Lakeshore Photography:
    Not sure if moving the sun a bit more towards the center would make it better, I guess it would be very dark on the right side of the image then. Disturbing are all the little water droplets on the lens. But I must admit, I had to learn that also and still on occasions I have them on my images too.

    ‘Le Dôme de Florence’, by Mathieu GUY:
    After opening the original flickr image, I saw a much more focused image. It’s not my style of photography, even that I might have some similar ones hiding somewhere in my library. 😉 Very difficult situation from the light point of view, at least for me. I was wondering if the image would look like when the sun would have been placed between the center architecture and the right tower? Any attempt to remove the flair in post?
    Mathieu, please check your lens and your sensor, it there are lots of spots in the sky.

    ‘Sunrise’, by Steve Tucker Photography:
    Very lovely! I would be interested also how the result was achieved. This is an image I would frame and put on a wall.

    ‘Panorama of the Ötztaler Alps with the Similaun peak in the center’, by belimbach (that’s me):
    Surprised to see this image here, but thank you for choosing Ana!
    To respond to your questions, yes the sun was intended to be included in the panoramic image. Looking at it right now, I most probably would crop on the right hand side, there is no useful information for the scene. This would push the group out of center. Also I removed in post spots of dust, water and lens flair except the “orbiting space station”. This form I liked very much and decided to keep it in. I also wanted to see the rays of the sun at the aperture of f/11 (surprised about that one 😉

    ‘Drakensberg Gardens Sunrise’, by Julian Schroeder:
    Wondering if HDR played a role here? Honestly, not sure at all! Nice one.

    ‘Foggy dawn 2’, by Enivea:
    Love it too! Nothing more to say here from my side.

    To Ana, thank you very much for approaching Andrew for a new episode the Flickr Group Critique and choosing one of my images.

  2. Ana Matos says:

    No need to thank Bernd… This is what I like and missed, constructive comments and other points of view about the same photo. You have pointed out important things, such as:

    ‘_DSC5852_edited-1.jpg’, by Cindie M…Lakeshore Photography: I´m not sure if that are droplets of water, at a first look it seemed to me also but lets wait for Cindie… I actually like that 😉

    ‘Le Dôme de Florence’, by Mathieu GUY: You are right, Mathieu should check out his lens and sensor.

    ‘Panorama of the Ötztaler Alps with the Similaun peak in the center’, by belimbach: Yes, a crop would be interesting.

  3. Enivea says:

    I really appreciate this opportunity to learn more, especially about using the sun. Many thanks Ana, for choosing my Foggy Dawn2 image, and yes, it was straight from the camera. I took many shots that morning, and as always, find it difficult to decide which ones are keepers…..Very keen to know what changes you’ll suggest 🙂
    Great to read Bernd’s comments too, particularly about blown out highlights – it seems there’s not really a right or wrong in this but more a matter of personal taste perhaps? 🙂

  4. Ana Matos says:

    Hi Enivea, as the blown out highlights are a matter of personal taste so does the process of editing or not a photo. In your photo I would try to add some contrast and clarity, and perhaps a graduated filter on the down foreground, but it´s just an hypothesis. As I said before the photo is simple and clear just as it is 😉 .

  5. In the end many things are of the nature of a personal taste from my point of view. I still believe that blown highlights or shadows should be avoided. Every rule needs to be broken at some point in time.

  6. It was a blend of two exposures, to avoid blowing out the sunrise while still keeping some detail in the grass/trees.

    I did try a few different angles & focal lengths, but this was my favourite one 🙂

    Two of the others can be seen here

  7. Ana Matos says:

    Ok Julian, you did well, nice work 😉

  8. Dear all,
    Thank you for chosing my extreme image ‘Gold Sun – Rua das Regadias – Pombal – Portugal’
    It reflects perfectly my identity of “Freedom Photography”

    Sunday afternoon, there was a rainy day.. instead of staying quite at home looking tv or movies like normal people! i prefered to make a short driving tour around at secondary roads where nothng special is expected…
    I achieve my target when stoping the rain and try to find the first small swiming pools 🙂 on the road and lets play with the water mirror… few minutes around there and other driving people looking at me and thinking about what is doing this crazy man taking photos there…!!! :))

    Edition is exagerated i know 🙂 it was the freedom ou my mouse pushing more and also to get the atention for the people that knows this road,,, they stop looking to that and when we meet outside they ask me how is that possible to make that image on that stupid place…!!! 🙂

    Thank you all,
    and very special Thank You Ana 🙂

  9. Ana Matos says:

    Thanks Vitor for your description 😉 You really succeed on making a different and edgy photo from a trivial scenario.

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