View Full Version : Sunshine of Your Love

10-06-2009, 09:30 PM
This is one of my favorite senior images so far from the class of 2010. Although I love the shot, I'm not sure how well it'd do in competition. As you see it, it is retouched to taste, not necessarily for competition. I still have the unedited image so I could start from scratch if need be.


10-07-2009, 03:40 AM
Let me start by asking you a few questions. First off what makes this one of your favorite images? What do you feel is strong about it? Then ask yourself if someone who was not there at the moment it was created and does not know the subject, would they get the same feelings as you?

Next sit down with the image in front of you and a list of the 12 elements. http://www.ppa.com/competitions/international/12elements.php
For each element ask yourself how successfully you addressed it in this image. Also think about if there are changes you could make in processing, cropping, presentation, title, etc that would make this image stronger.

My last question for you is what is your goal in competiting? If you are wanting to learn and improve, this would be a good choice to get started in competition. If you are going to be dissapointed with anything less then a merit print, I think you could find a stronger choice to enter.


10-07-2009, 05:17 AM
My goal is to merit. I believe that I'm capable of meriting, so I won't be happy with anything less.

With all due respect, I'm aware of the 12 elements and I have thought about them. I was hoping for a more specific critique. If you think this image doesn't have a chance to merit, I'd like to know why. I think knowing that information would help me in choosing a different image. If it has a chance of meriting if certain things were changed, I'd like to know that information as well.

Thanks for taking the time to reply.


10-07-2009, 05:42 AM
Jessica, Thanks for submitting an image for critique.
I see a few issues that I think a panel would find distracting. There is a brighter area along the very top margin of the image about 2/3's of the way across towards the right side which tends to draw the eye upwards just a bit... easy to fix.
Secondly, the bottom cropping feels abrupt at the bustline and the outfit is a different color scheme and more vivid than most of the image so it also draws the eye down to that portion of the image. Generally, it is better to not have any bright areas near the margins of a low key or darker image since the eye of a viewer tends to go to brightness.
I think your subject is beautiful and yet I think a more directional light source on her face could accentuate her features even more.
I hope this is helpful. Please ask for clarity on anything we say here.
Sam Gardner M.Photog.Cr. CPP

10-07-2009, 06:15 AM
With all due respect, I'm aware of the 12 elements and I have thought about them. I was hoping for a more specific critique. If you think this image doesn't have a chance to merit, I'd like to know why.

Ok, you want specific so I will be specific. IMO this image will not merit. I brought up the 12 elements so I will explain how as a judge I would view some of them in this image.

Impact - the thing that causes a gut reaction. I am not experiencing an emotional connection to this image. There is nothing that makes me want to keep looking at it and it's not going to stick in my mind after viewing it on the turntable.

Creativity - there is nothing new or different here. An image doesn't have to be new, different or unique to merit so that's not hurting this image but it's also not helping and it's not tipping the scales one way or the other.

Technical Excellance - I feel it's too short of focal length. that combined with a higher camera angle and her slumped shoulder posture is making her head look too big for her shoulders. If you are going to have distortion in an image for competition, it should be as an obvious choice that enhances what you are trying to achieve. Here it does not add to the overall image, so it looks like a mistake, not a concious choice. There also appears to be some pixelating in the corners where it looks to be burned down.

Composition - Ok here, she has more room in front of her then behind her - space to look into - you easily read into her face but the light strip of sky at the top needs to be cropped out because it keeps pulling my eye up there.

Lighting - it's not adding to the image. It appears to be an overcast day with very diffused light and while you do have some direction, it's so mushy of light that you aren't adding any feel of dimension to her face or body.

presentation - I know this is not worked up for competition yet but as it is the dark corner vignette is a little too heavy

subject matter - good but not strong enough on it's own to outweigh some of the challenges to the image

center of interest - again acceptable - but does it outweigh the challenges? And the center of interest - her face - doesn not have an engaging expression to hold my interest or tell me anything about what she is thinking

color balance and harmony - the color of her dress is distracting from the rest of the image and is drawing my eye away from the center of interest Sometimes strong contrast can help the image. In a soft dreamy story like this one you don't want strong contrast

story telling - I know you probably see the story here but I don't get it. What is she supposed to be thinking about? Her expression does not hint at anything. The title - Sunshine of your love - whose love? her boyfriend? God? her parent? the viewer? her love for someone else? Imagine if the light had been more directional and a little stronger ratio - still soft light but not quit so diffused, so her face was glowing. Then if her face was turned a little more upward with a hint more smile turning up the corner of her mouth as a judge I would get that she was thinking about that love or feeling the light of God's love on her face. Right now her expression is blank and not conveying any thoughts or emotions.

The reason I asked what it is you like about this image is because if it's one of your favorites obviously it speaks to you somehow. If you can verbalize what it is that you like about the image or what it says to you, then maybe I can help you with a title or a presentation that would get that idea across to a panel of judges.

I know this critique probably comes across as harsh, but you did ask me to be specific. When I am judging a print I weigh what is strong about the image against what is not as successful. A print does not have to be perfect in all areas to merit, but what is strong has to outweigh what is not as strong and on this print I feel the scale would tip against the merit when everything was weighed and considered.


10-07-2009, 06:29 AM
You gave some very useful information, Sam. Thank you.

I believe I fixed the brighter area along the top. The cropping is SOOC, so I'm not sure if the cropping along the bustline can be fixed. I'm afraid that cropping anymore out would give a "naked" feel and I don't want that. :)

I desaturated the dress and even changed the color just a bit to help it blend a bit better. I know that there are white areas of her dress, so that might still draw the eye away.

I also deepened the shadows which I think help somewhat with making the light direction a bit more apparent.

I guess what I'm asking is...did these tweaks help it get closer to the merit category or should I scrap it and look for another image?

Thanks again.


10-07-2009, 10:23 PM
Thanks for writing back and making those changes! I hope people viewing are seeing how working on images for competition makes us all better at our jobs, if we make use of critical feedback. The changes you have made certainly improve the image significantly in my opinion, however I do not think it will merit from a regional or national panel. I think the detailed comments from Keith are typical of the observations most panelists will make. I say, scrap this one and start again!
This model certainly has great features and would make a worthwhile model for another attempt.

10-07-2009, 11:23 PM
[Moderator note] - sam + keith - when you reply, you need to "approve" the other comments. jessica's response (with updated image) is not visible to members at this point

10-07-2009, 11:25 PM
Thanks, Sam for your feedback. Looks like I'll be looking for another favorite. Once I pick one, I'll post it for critique too. That's the hard part though, I'm terrible at choosing my own images.