Monday, March 23, 2009

Critique on Assignment #5 - Spirals

CRITIQUE: Linda Jeffers

Hmmmm . . . I'm thinking that
maybe you were a bit rushed
when photographing this, or your
head wasn't quite into it. This isn't
up to your usual standards, is it?
I'm not being snotty nor
condescending, but, knowing you
and how you work and what your
skill level is, this just isn't "you."
So shall I rip this photograph to
shreds? Yeah, why not!
First of all, let's look at the
composition. The focal point is
the dark center of the mat. Why? Because it's big and it's contrasty. The dark center against the
much lighter-colored coils really stands out and catches our eye. Where does our eye go from
there, however? My eye went up to the light spot at the very top of the frame. There wasn't
much to see there, so I began looking again at the center of the coil. It's hard to see inside that
coil because it's so dark, so I follow the repeating coils around to the lower right corner, where I
can see more of the mat, but not really because it's also dark there.
My point is that the focal point is weak, there's a competing focal point, and I'm not sure where
else to go in the scene. You're not alone, however, in doing this. I create a lot of photos that go
absolutely nowhere. I just don't show 'em to anyone. (Ha. Or maybe I DO and I just don't
realize how bad they are!)
Your concept, Linda, was great. Roll up a straw mat and photograph the end
of it. What did you in was contrasty lighting in the very center, which ruined
your focal point. Toss this one out. (Or, you could do what I used to do when
shooting slides -- I'd save the bad ones and call them "teaching slides," what
NOT to do!)

Your subject has strong, bold lines to it. Your lighting is rather dramatic.
Your background is a rich red. Your
exposure is good and so is your focus. You
did everything right. You shot this well. So
why isn't it a super wow sort of photo?
I think it's because once we see and
appreciate the strong form and the color, we
don't know where else to go. There's not a
strong focal point where we would begin and
end our visual journey around the picture.
There IS immediate impact when we first see
your shot, no question. We notice all three
highlights on the metal. We appreciate the
spiral form. But there's nothing else to keep
us hanging around. We take in the photo in
one glance and then we decide to move on.
This is a good depiction of what happens to
all of us sometimes. We see something
interesting, that has a strong shape, has color,
and we create a technically wonderful
photograph of it. But overall it lacks oomph
and substance. Remember your broom
photo? That had substance to it. Your cement
fish? Major movement and swoopiness (and
that was a monochromatic shot).
As an exercise, your photograph of the candlestick is wonderful. As a photo with staying
power, nope, doesn't work. But that is OKAY. We're here to try out different things, to exercise
our seeing capabilities, and to just become better photographers. No pressure. No competition.
So thank you for posting both of these. Now go delete them!
Carol Leigh
March 23, 2009

Here is the email I wrote back to Carol and the Class Group members (We all see each other's critiques.):

Well Carol, my father used to say, “When you are right, you are right.” I do take direction. The photos have been dumped in the trash, permanently.


Sure glad I didn’t have to critique my photos. That must have been tough What a job you have. I applaud you.


Carol was correct. I had not had time to shoot for the class this last month. No excuse, just the facts.

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