Friday, November 7, 2008

6th and last online class assignment Critique: Walk around the Block.

1 CRITIQUE: Linda Jeffers
Walk Around the Block

For a photo in which it appears
you did a lot of things "wrong,"
this looks pretty good! :-)
The lighting is bright and sunny,
which is not surprising for the
desert, but it appears early/late
enough in the day that it's not
overwhelmingly bright. There are
long shadows that make things
interesting rather than having the
sun straight up, creating a
shadow-free zone.
The horizon line is centered, dividing your picture in half. Normally this isn't the best choice for
us, since putting the horizon line dead center tends to create a static composition, where our
eyes go right to the center of the frame and aren't encouraged to go elsewhere. What you did to
create a composition with movement to it (versus a static composition) was put the willow tree
off to the far right, have it close, and have it create a sort of frame through which we look at the
scene. So yes, our eye goes to the middle of the photo (where the light-colored building can be
seen off in the distance), but then the tree moves our eye over toward the right; the overhanging
branches then encourage our eye upward and over toward the left, as does the water in the pond.
What also creates interest and movement in your photo are the reflections of the tall palm trees
in the water. Without those trees, we'd have just a blank expanse of water. The shadows create
up-down movement as well as texture. The only thing that's definitely not working for you is
that green wooden stick coming up from the bottom of the frame. If you were to make a print of
this photo, I'd definitely clone it (and its reflection) out of the shot.
You created a very good shot despite challenging lighting. Well done.


You come close to greatness with this picture. First of all, let me commend you for spotting it to
begin with. And then let me commend you for exposing it as beautifully as you did. What's killing it is the land/rock in the lower
right corner. Heavy sigh. The rest of
your photo is fantastic. Here's why.
Moody, dramatic lighting. The dark
sculpture, the dark trees reflected in the
water, the deep blue of the water, the
golden glow in the upper right corner,
and the way the sculpture is sidelighted
— absolutely wonderful.
The earring. The way you seem to have
metered off the brightly colored earring
is great. As a result, it's properly
exposed while everything else goes
dark. And that's the perfect effect for
this picture. The way the earring echoes
the golden tones upper right is superb.
Without the earring, your photo would
still be good. But WITH the earring, it's
cranked up a notch and becomes quite
mysterious and artistic.
The complementary colors of blue and
orange create a lot of drama.
And finally the angles of the sculpture as it swings into the photo create lots of movement and
encourage our eye to move along with those angles, running on a diagonal from lower left to
upper right. Wonderful.
If only there had been more blue water where that bit of land is on the right. Not only would
your sculpture stand out even more than it does, but it would simplify your photo considerably,
thereby creating more drama and tying everything together. The land blocks up the picture and
interrupts the feeling of movement. Alas.
Still, you handled the shooting challenges incredibly well and composed the photo perhaps as
well as you could given what you had to work with. It's easy for me to say "lose the land" when
I wasn't there to see what you had to deal with. In a perfect world there'd be nothing but
glorious water and reflections behind this sculpture. Ah well. You should still be pleased.

3 SPRINKLER RAINBOW (I lost this photo when my computer crashed. It wasn't great anyway. Imagine a shot from the condo looking at the sprinklers watering the grass of the 15th fairway creating a rainbow in the water from the early morning sun hitting the water. Beyond the fairway is the lake, then far away condos that Carol refers to in her critique, then palm trees and San Jacinto.)

It's these little miracles of light that, to me, make photography so
rewarding at times. Your rainbow is very pretty and I like the overall
scene. Your greens are good, the water's a good color blue, and I like
the strong shadows you've got in among the trees as well as stretching
across the green in front of us.

What's not working for you are
the brightly lighted houses and
mountains across the way. When
the picture first comes up, my eye
goes immediately to the lightcolored
houses and then up to the
background mountains. Only then
do I return to the rainbow. But
you took the photo BECAUSE of
the rainbow, and to have it
become the third-strongest
element in the photo means it
doesn't quite work.
What could you have done
differently? Probably nothing! It
would have been great to maybe have nothing but trees across the way, or an expanse of
something really dark so that the rainbow would stand out very colorfully and strongly. So is
there a way in Photoshop that you could achieve this same look? Is there a way that you could
create a second layer and, on that second layer, darken down the mountains and darken down
the houses? I'm sure there is, but would it really be worth your time? Nah, I don't think so.
Luckily, there will always be more rainbows in your life. :-)
Thanks, Linda, for posting these shots. Your sculpture photo is by far the best of the bunch. It
might even be worth a re-do sometime to see if you can change your shooting angle somewhat
to get rid of that little piece of land on the right. The lighted earring? Brilliant.
Carol Leigh
November 7, 2008

In an email I wrote back to Carol:

Thanks for being so kind Carol. I was really afraid you were going to rip me a “new one”. I didn’t spend much time on taking these photos and regret that.

I love your around the block photos. Thanks for sharing them. Wish I’d seen them before though. I need help on ideas. I’m not very creative…..YET!

Great online class. You are the best teacher!


Then Carol wrote back to me:
You know what? I don't really care if your photos are bad (well, I
sort of do, but bear with me). What I really care about is that YOU
know your photos are bad! Knowing when your pictures are less than
wonderful is a HUGE step in our photographic process. Sure, our
friends, our parents, etc. are going to tell us we're wonderful, but
WE really need to know, down deep in ourselves, when our stuff's good
and when it ain't. And that comes with practice and with comparing our
work with excellent photography.

I could tell that you were rushed with the golf course shots . . .
Maybe you should take up butterfly photography -- you seemed to do
really well with that! :-)

Carol Leigh

In order to understand Carol's reference to my taking up butterfly photography, there was a mixup. Carol thought she was critiquing my Around the Block photos when in fact they were another student's Around the Block assignment containing a butterfly photo!

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