Sunday, July 12, 2009

My photo critique.

These are the photos from the first of six assignments. This assignment is "Blue".
Carol Leigh is my teacher. Unfortunately she will no longer be offering these online photo classes I've been taking since January 2008.

Carol will be offering workshops and teaching where she no longer has to sit long hours at the computer typing. Check out her daily blog where you'll also find her other web sites.

CRITIQUE: Linda Jeffers

The first impression I get from your
picture, Linda, is ZOOM! Why? Because
of all the diagonal lines you've got going
on. The white line on the highway, the
angle of the truck, and the electric lines
above the truck combine to create a
strong feeling of movement. In addition,
your truck is big, and it begins close to us
there on the right and then diagonates
boldly inward, giving your picture depth
as well as movement.
Just as an aside, for future reference:
Look at how the diagonal line of the truck creates three (three!)
triangles. You've got a triangle in the sky, a triangle in the shape
of the truck, and a third triangle in the road lower left. We've
got a lesson coming up in triangles and once again you're ahead
of the pack!
I like your blue colors — the darker blue of the truck and the
blue of the sky. More than two-thirds of your photo consists of
blue. What makes the blue look even better are the little bits of
red along the length of the truck as well as at the back end. Blue and red are primary colors and
work very well together to create impact and boldness.
You chopped off part of the back end of the truck. Usually I point that out as being a
compositional no-no, but in this case it works. Instead of us wondering what's become of part of
the truck, wondering why it's been amputated, the gist of your photo is "forward movement,"
and so we get the feeling of the truck entering the frame. We also get a feeling of movement.
Those two concepts make us feel more comfortable with having part of the truck lopped off —
it hasn't finished entering the frame. We don't necessarily expect to see all of it.
There's a certain softness and glow to this picture that I'm not sure works. I sometimes will use
the Orton Effect in Photoshop to tweak a picture. That involves applying a heavy Gaussian Blur
to a duplicate layer in Photoshop and then choosing a
blending mode of Overlay or Soft Light. I tend to use the
effect for photos that have a feeling of nostalgia to them or
on flowers or sometimes on nighttime scenes. I use it to
create a sort of ethereal blur or glow. I wouldn't think of
using it on a truck. Why? Because trucks are hard, gritty,
tough, dirty, metal, MANLY things! That's why we see so
many subjects like this done in HDR — high dynamic range
— that emphasizes dirt and texture.
I'm rambling. What's my point? I'm thinking that if you added a glow or something similar to
this shot, maybe it wasn't quite appropriate. And if you did NOT do anything to this shot in
post-processing, then what the heck do I know! Disregard everything I just said!
Bottom line? This is a strong, bold image that conveys the color blue and the concept of motion
very well.

You indicated that your husband named this picture. Ahem.
Well. The first thing I'd do is rotate the image 90 degrees to
the left. Look at what you have now! Instead of a mildly
pornographic image, we've got a southwestern, Monument
Valley-ish mildly pornographic image!
What I like about your shot is the combination of dusty
terracotta colors and dusty blue and grey colors. There's a
definite southwestern feel to it. And then when you add the
strong vertical element and the shadows and the mesa-like
shape behind it, to me the composition screams to be a
horizontal rather than a vertical. But why?
I believe our brains are programmed to try to make sense
of what we're seeing. We look at your strong vertical
segments in the photo and wonder what this is. The picture
is so abstract that we're confused. And so our (my)
inclination is to wonder if maybe it's hung on
the wall wrong! Maybe this is a landscape. I
mentally tweak it, then physically tweak it,
and aha! There we are.
Your composition, whether vertical or
horizontal, is strong in that there are welldefined
shapes and colors and look at where
you placed the focal point — perfectly in line

with the Rule of Thirds, which encourages us to
put the center of interest NOT in the center but
rather up or down or right or left as you can see
I like your shot a lot. It might be too spare and
sparse and plain for some people, but I'm drawn to
it -- definitely more as a horizontal, however, than
as a vertical. As a horizontal it all makes sense to
me. As a vertical, well, go discuss it with your

Hmmmmm . . . It's quite coincidental that you
would take this shot because I'm putting together
a lesson for my photomotivation series called
"Art From Art" and was trying to create a little
piece of art from an overall mural on Thursday. I
wasn't successful. You did better with this
picture than I did with my mural.
I really like this color combination of blues and
oranges (which are complementary colors) as
well as the texture. What's not working for me is
that I'm not seeing a focal point, a particular spot
of interest, something to tell me what I'm supposed to be seeing first.
So okay, there's no focal point. Sometimes we don't need one. In which case, we need some
strong lines or some strong shapes to lead our eye around. And I'm not seeing them here.
If you were to tell me this is a shot of a galaxy in outer space, I'd be impressed because those
shots are hard to take and who would imagine a galaxy could look like this? You could get
away with not having a focal point nor a strong design. But as a photograph or a painting, I
think a center of interest or some direction is necessary for the image to be interesting, to hold
our attention for an extended amount of time.
Overall? You did a good job. You were out there looking for blue, exercising your vision, using
your camera, practicing, practicing, practicing. That's what this is all about. Some photos will
work, some won't. And it will be this way the rest of your photographic life. Will you ever
arrive? Nope. In the words of Gertrude Stein (in reference to Oakland, California), "There's no
there, there." It’s just one long destination-less journey.
Carol Leigh
July 11, 2009

1 comment:

Carol Leigh said...

Thanks for the link to my blog, Linda. Very much appreciated. -- Carol Leigh