Welcome to week 1 of “Critique Me!” A couple of notes – if you get anything at all out of these posts please send in photos yourself to guarantee they continue to happen. There were only a few of you who sent in photos (6-7 I believe) and I am tipping my hat to your bravery! ; ) To the rest of you don’t just be consumers! Also, if your photo did not get chosen this week that does not mean I won’t use it in future weeks so hold tight and in the meantime feel free to send in additional pictures if you’d like.
And, because I can never stop – I’ve decided to leave all artists anonymous. It’s just easier.
Annnnnnnnnnnd, HGTV scheduled our makeover/shoot dates – May 9-11 – EEEEEK!
The artist of this photo said that this was taken in a garage with a simple, black background and the light coming from the outside (i.e. all natural). First note, this is a fantastic idea and can be done anywhere. Whenever I am wanting to take a quick snapshot of Charley with decent lighting (‘cuz let’s be honest – it ain’t happening in her bedroom, the bathroom or much anywhere else in our house most times of the day) I always position her a foot or so away from either our back, sliding glass doors (like I did here yesterday) …
… or our front, storm door with an adjacent large window.
When I’m in clients’ homes I am always looking for large doors and/or windows to put them in front of. This means that there are all kinds of shoots I do where we move furniture around! Like think couch moved from living room to a foot away from the back, glass, French doors. It’s always worth it.
Now that we have that out of the way let’s chat about this photo …
It’s a lovely one. It’s a simple head shot (love those!) that is perfectly exposed. Also, it says a lot about the artist because the subject has a relaxed, genuine smile with eyes that are making a strong connection with the lens (and therefore us, the viewers).
The only thing that is missing from this shot is the focus. It is soooo easy to miss, but if you look closely you will see that the focal range fell closer to her hair then it did her eyes. In photography having the eyes sharp in a shot like this is pertinent. I would assume that the artist did not shoot with a super-wide aperture which is why the missed focus is not that obvious, but still – to my hawk eye ; ) I see it. So, when you are taking a picture *nailing* the focus on the eyes is sooooo important!
I’m not sure if this image was edited, but either way it doesn’t need much. It was done so well SOOC (straight out of camera) the needed editing is minimal. The only two things I would do is to crop the awkward empty space to the left and top of her (to balance out the closeness of her on the right edge) and dropping the red a bit in her skin tone (specifically her ear).
ALERT, ALERT! I’VE GOT SOME GOOD NEWS! Having too much red in skin tones in photos is SO common. And, in the summer – does it not seem like everyone’s ears turn a bit red from the heat? Well, I use an action aaaaallll the time for situations like that. It’s made by Life. Camera. Actions. and is called “Red Sucks”. The good news is that the first 5 people who purchase the set, Life. Camera. Workflow. using the code FIVEOTHREE get it 20% off! Click here to purchase. Yay! Thanks, Brett!
Ever-so-slightly edited photo (cropped and red reduced on ear and face using “Red Sucks” action):
I know having it always snow can get old, but snow photos never do! I love me some bundled-up babes frolicking in the snow. And, this shot is no exception – it is just adorable. The angle this artist chose allowed us as the viewer to really appreciate how small this little person is and what all their surroundings looked like to them. I appreciate a well-done filled-frame shot (where the subject fills the entire frame, leaving none of the surroundings in the frame), but I think sometimes we can be so obsessed with them we forget to take pictures like this. What a story this shot tells, you know?!
Now, after discussing the eyes in photo 1 can you tell what is wrong with this shot? Yep, it’s the focus. Little person is obviously the focal point of the photo (meaning the thing our eyes are instantly drawn to), but he is not the sharpest part. This is because the focus fell on the road, not him. Boooo-hoo! Nailing the focus is what? So important!
One more thing when you are taking a picture of someone pay close attention to what is right behind them, specifically right behind their head. Notice the house in the photo – it is actually quite distracting since it looks like it is growing out of his head. I mean, of course, we know it’s not, but if you can eliminate that kind of stuff do it! Get down lower or in this case, moving a bit to the left would have put baby’s head to the right of the house. This would have allowed the house to remain a part of the photo and the story, but not have been distracting.
Lastly, when I turn an image to a black and white if it is a bit lacking in contrast I give it a little boost using curves or levels. It can be subtle, but make a big difference. In the photo above note how the snow looks a little drab and gray. A little boost in curves makes the snow more white and sweet baby stand out all the more.
Woh. I would love to know the story behind this shot! I mean seriously? Was this planned for days or did the stars really align and that beautiful little child just sit there with her sweet smile and bedroom eyes, the light poring in like sweet heaven and the angelic dragonfly softly landing there to create a beeeeeautiful photograph??! This is the kind of image that leaves me staring for several minutes, losing all track of time and space (which is the #1 reason why I don’t follow the blogs of talented artists. My baby would never get fed.).
I love a subtle edit to make the eyes more captivating, but it can be a slippery slope. This edited photograph is not the case, but I so often see people who way over-edit the eyes in images. Honestly I think we’re doing our clients/friends/family a disservice by changing the way they look for the sake of “beauty”. Now, this does not include allowing the colors in eyes to live to their fullest potential and in this photograph I think the artist has done just that.
I am very happy to see the eyes on the upper-third line (when considering the rule of thirds), but I wish they were more on the upper, far-left axis point. This way we could have seen more of her hands and legs.
Now, I’m about to get all this-is-just-my-opinion-so-take-it-or-leave-it, but the way it is now with just a bit of her body in the shot is not giving much to the photo. The strength in this photo lies in the girl’s face and eyes and the dragonfly. So, sometimes even though we’ve nailed a shot thinking of a creative way to crop it can make it all the more stronger.
Again, this is just my opinion and if the artist was all “I totally like my original better” I would be so happy that she was an individual doing things the way she wanted to I would never fault her! I’m just trying to show a point in the fact that sometimes a simple crop can drastically change the look of a photo.
One last thing – the DOF (depth of field) in this image is quite shallow (with her body and background blurring away), but still her face is totally sharp – eyes, nose and mouth. It is of utmost importance to have the eyes sharp, but having it all nice and sharp is just icing on the cake!