Just up- the critique from my teacher, Carol Leigh
on the 3 photos I posted a couple of days ago……. I haven’t been this nervous in a long time. I don’t know why it was so scary but I sat for 10 minutes with my finger on the upload my photos tab when first posting these photos to be critiqued AND viewed by the other students (many professionals).
What a terrific concept, a terrific idea,
and a terrific presentation.
Your colors are vivid and bright and
catch our eye immediately. You arranged
your pencils like the rays of the sun,
choosing to have the focal point — where
they all come together — in the upper left,
pursuant to the Rule of Thirds. And you
absolutely filled your frame with
repeating patterns and color, cropping in
just perfectly so we don’t have any pencil
“ends” in the shot to take away from the pattern.
Clever you, choosing yellow and purple paper for your background, and making sure the yellow
was on the purple and the purple was on the yellow.
What about the lighting? Is it too harsh? Are there ugly dark shadows and annoying hot spots?
Nope. Your lighting is bright, but it works well in this case. Yes, you have shadows, but they
add to the repetitive pattern that you created, and I think they create a lot of interest.
What about depth of field? You opted for relatively shallow DOF, i.e.
not much in focus from front to back. Is your depth of field too shallow?
Nope. Where the pencil points come together — your focal point — is
in focus, which is good. You’ve made sure that your focal point is sharp
so we know exactly where to look. The focus becomes shallower as the
pencils come toward us, but it’s not SO shallow that we don’t know what
Your first class with me. Your first picture. Your first critique. See? Not
so scary, is it? You should be pleased with this photograph. I wish I’d
thought of doing it. (Note to self: next time at Staples, pick up some
purple and yellow pencils . . .)
NOT BIRD BOOKS
I love what you did here. I like how the books look weathered and rich. I like the subtle colors
in the bird sculpture. I like the combination of the red and the green. Nicely done.
What about the lighting? It’s light and
bright and looks good. There’s a shadow
on the right (created by the bird) that
adds an extra dimension to your picture.
What the light has done, however, is it’s
created a little bit of glare on the spine of
the red book, which is just a hair
Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem.
However, look at your Wordsworth book.
Look at the book under the red one. And
look at the dusty colors of the bird. All
this adds up to a certain richness, opulence, oldtimey
feeling, like something we would see on a
shelf in one’s den or library. Such cheerful lighting
on such darkish, moody subjects can be distracting. I
think that if your red book had been a bit more
weathered, the spine might not have been so
reflective and so prominent.
I’m being incredibly picky here, however. You set
this up very, very well.
So what about the composition? I’m thinking that the
items of interest are the three books and the bird. But
it looks like there’s a lighter-colored book to the left
of Wordsworth. And there’s a fair amount of empty
space to the right of the bird. What if we were to
crop in a little bit, limiting your photo to just the
essential bits? Here’s what I mean (middle left). And
then, what if we were to darken the foreground green
area so that it adds to the dark, rich, weathered tones
in the rest of the picture? Here’s what I mean:
(To darken the green, all I did was take
the Burn tool and whiff it across the green.) I couldn’t load Carol’s cropped shot so I quickly duplicated what she had done to show me the difference .
Good picture, good set-up, good idea.
Yeah, I wish this
were me, too . . . The best part about this picture is the
combination of her golden leg against the blue water. That’s
where our eye immediately goes first. Then we look around to
see what else is in the shot.
This is where we begin running into
problems. Is the bit of fabric at the
end of the chair a dress, a towel? Is
she wearing the top part of her
bikini (speaking for certain
members in this class)? Is this
indeed a female? What’s the dark
thing in the sand in the lower lefthand
corner? Most of her body is in
shade and her head’s relatively
So although your photo has a beautifully lighted element in it, there’s so much other stuff going
on, so many questions that arise, that we’re distracted from the golden leg and it loses its
We all do this. We see a lovely form, beautiful lighting, great colors, and we don’t pay attention
to the rest of the surroundings, to the detriment of the key element in our shot.
Bottom line? Your first two photos, the ones that you set up, were your best. Your outdoor “as
found” shot turned out to be your weakest. Who woulda thought?! I think (based on your “gotta
go” signature and the photos I saw on your website, that you’re a zoom, zoom, zoom sort of
person. This class is going to slow you down a bit, but I think it’s going to make you a much
better photographer as a result. You should be pleased with what you’ve done so far. Thanks for