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Linda_Smalley
04-29-2009, 02:19 PM
Could I get a critique on the images I entered in SEPPA this past weekend please? My images scored poorly and I obviously need help. I want the truth so I can learn. I can take it. Thanks for the help.

John_Metcalfe
04-29-2009, 03:20 PM
Let's start with what we know...

You say they scored poorly. What were the scores?

Critiques:

I am glad you have you asbestos suit on, but critiques even though they are much appreciated (I'm sure) will often leave you with little to no direction.

We need to find your direction first, then make you battle worthy!

However, you have asked for a critique.

#1
I have run through the mill and changed it up formatted it differently amongst other things and my conclusion was? Wait for it... camera angle.

No matter where I put it on the board, no matter how big or small I made the subject it didn't get any stronger. (I just thought of BXW,didn't do that) Camera angle or should I say different camera angle would have helped make it stand out from the other portrait style images.

#2
The burn down really hurt you. The placement of your subject and the horizontal line is running the viewer out of the image.

#3
Squint your eyes and you will see that the bottom of the dress over powers the rest of the image. Don't see adding much more after that...

#4 I know who Bear Bryant is, but I imagine you weren't as lucky or remember for the next time that the viewers won't have access to what you are thinking or know the complete story behind the image.

You have the image and the title only. Play on what is in the image and pull from it from perspective of never have seen the image before.

Next, I seen from just the thumbnail - (toning issues). Not sure how sharp or over sharpened the image is, but it is my favorite of the group. I would like to see a larger version of this one.

Linda_Smalley
04-29-2009, 04:17 PM
Thanks. That helps.
The scores were:
My Momma's Pearls 78
Camera Shy 77
Peek a boo Bear 78
Fishing the pond 76


I have my masters so it was very humbling. But I want to always be learning and obviously have a long way to go.

John_Metcalfe
04-29-2009, 05:21 PM
Having seen your scores I will first let you know that is NOT considered doing poorly.

What they are lacking is a few technical things and impact.

I don't mean "POW" and "BANG", but I wish to direct you into thinking "ICONIC".

When you look up your title in the encyclopedia YOUR IMAGE should be beside it. When people hear the title after the judging they think of YOUR IMAGE.

Remember, your not trying to fit in, you are trying to stand out!

I took this approach 2 years ago and have never looked back.

Linda_Smalley
04-29-2009, 05:45 PM
Thanks John. I needed that.

D._Craig_Flory
04-29-2009, 09:11 PM
Hi Linda;

On image #1 I agree with John. I would have liked the child facing left but flipping it would have had the lighting coming from the wrong direction. I also see clothing that is standing out too much given the low key background. This has broad lighting too.

On image #2 John is right on target ... it is very apparent where you burned. Plus, the brightest area is not the child's face. The brightest area screaming "look at me" is the shirt.

On image #3 Once again John nailed the biggest problem. I also see too big a subject layer. I would have made that smaller.

On image #4 I agree ... I remember head coach Bear Bryant but younger judges, or those who don't follow football, will not. I see this needing a good one word title like "Styling".

mrbarton
04-29-2009, 09:29 PM
Hi Linda! I was at SEPPA for about 7 hours but was stuck in the EI room watching judging over there. (Sidenote: Great group of people. Worth the 2000 mile drive roundtrip). I wish I could pass along what I heard from the judges but here's my quick take that I think you will appreciate. Forgive me if I come off forward. That's just how I am.

You have 4 very nice images. They got 4 very nice scores. There is nothing wrong with what you entered on an everyday level. There are improvements that can be made. You appear to be losing shadow detail and there are few other posing issues, but that's not really the big picture. We can take these images and refine them but they'll still score in the same range. I am certain I'm going to get my butt handed to me for saying this, but you need something MORE in them. John hit it pretty well.

A merit print is by definition a print that is worthy of the level of a master. In short, the best of the best. You want an image that doesn't blend in and that the judges remember when the show is over. These are very nice and that's the problem. There's not much more to them. They need a story and a reason for people to go to bat for them. They also need to be images that people want to study, look at, and be inspired from. There needs to be an element of "how did they do that?" in there as well. Portraiture is tough as people say subconsciously "I could have done that. 78." Give a different point of view and make people think. Think of looking at 600 images in a row. You get to remember a handful. Are these 4 on your list in comparison to what else was entered?

The cool part is if you can do that for a judge how does your client feel?! Pretty special to have someone create something unique that earns the praise of other photographers. Ever heard the expression "photographer's photographer?" It worthwhile to work on being one.

I hope this helps!

Linda_Smalley
05-05-2009, 03:30 PM
Thanks guys. I really appreciate the advice. I think I need to work hard on my impact. So I'm not going to give up. Just means I have more work to do.:)

Rick_Massarini
05-06-2009, 05:24 AM
Linda,

Since you already have your Masters, you obviously already know what it takes to create a great image, so all I can say is that in the last bunch of years since the advent of digital, the bar has been raised - and raised a lot !!!

Images that would have merited 5 or 6 years ago now seem to end up in the non-accepted pile due to minor technical issues that could have been corrected in post production. Last year at the National Judging there were some really awesome images that were sent back to the makers unaccepted. Back when it was all done on film, there were certain considerations given to the limitations of film, and the degree of difficulty it would take to correct those issues in retouching - now, since all that is now digital, the bar has gone up on these things and the jurors expect that those issues would have been corrected before being submitted for judging.

Nice work and respectable scores - but with the bar where it currently is, the jurors are just expecting more now...

Keith_A_Howe
05-08-2009, 05:06 AM
Linda
Sorry I havn't posted sooner, been a bit busy.
First off it is very hard to CC on the small images. I see the things that have been mentioned - agree with some - some are not a real concern to me.
#1 Camera Shy - Nice above average image. Look at your light direction. the highlights should add drama and direct the viewer to the impact of the image. Here we are being told the dominate part of the image is the collar and because his face is turned to the point that it is, the emphasis is on the back half of his head and ear. Secondly I know you were trying to keep the attention on his face but there is quite a bit of difference between his bare legs and his face. The legs have lost dimension, they feel flat and muddy at least on this small image. I love the pose and camera angle so imagine the main light coming from camera right, feathering across the front of his face. This would have given a short light on his face and let shadows softly fall across his body and legs giving a very nice dimensionality. I believe this would have given a real chance of taking it over the merit line.

#2 Fiishing the pond - Again a nice above average image. This one I feel was taken at the wrong time of day. I see a soft light coming in from high frontal - pocketing the eyes. When toneing down the background, it went blotchy and left a key hole effect around the boy, I also see the reflection on the water in front of the boy as bright from the open sky and the rest of the waters highlights appear to be gone (might be the small file). I like the diagonal of the stream and bank a lot. I like that the fishing line shows (though in the real print may have been too bright). I would have liked to have the fishing line further out creating more of a diagonal and less of a vert line. I feel that this needs a lot more room around the boy in the image (not just smaller on the board).

#3 My Momma's Pearls - Really hard to get into shadow detail on this small image. First thing I see is the bright area in the background above left of the girls head. Currently the skirt becomes the primary subject and it is busy. Once again look at your lighting direction, impact of the eyes and the skin tone between her face and her left arm - to me the lighting is the dominate issue with this image. Lastly look to the bottom left of the image, how the brightness there pulls your eye away from her beautiful little face down to the bottom and then I see a glowing area around her feet (again may be the small file) that tends to point to burning issues.

#4 Peek a Boo Bear - This image has nice light on the baby. I know you really like the tye into Bear Bryant but it is too much of a stretch in this image to over come the distraction of the hat. I this case the hat - because of size and pattern - has become a second center of intrest dividing the viewers attention. This image and the reference to the Bear, needs a background of football stuff subtlely worked in, maybe even an image of the bear himself...

JMO Keith