View Full Version : I've been out for a long time

08-12-2010, 10:01 PM
I entered my first PPA competition while I was still in college, back in 2001. I was lucky enough to merit 3 out of 4 that year. The next year I entered again, meriting 1 out of 4. I haven't entered since. It used to be that I didn't have the money (prints alone cost me $600 back then), but now I think I am just afraid of entering. Not to mention I went from having a full time studio, to working for someone else (and not being allowed to enter prints), to choosing to be a full time mom and a part time photographer. I hardly even get to shoot anymore. It has been so long since I have even been to a competition, I don't know if I even have anything close to stacking up. Back at my last competition, digital was just starting to show it's face. I know things have changed dramatically. Anyways, I was wondering if I could post some images on here and get some critiques and maybe a guess on whether I would have any kind of chance to not get laughed at and maybe even get a merit.

The bear pic has a sepia color wash to it, but I have it in color also. I have more images than these two, these just happened to be ones I was working on today. If you are really bored, you could also check out my website at www.MomentsToRememberPhotography.com

08-14-2010, 02:33 PM
It looks like there has been a lot of views, but nobody has replied. I swear I won't get mad with harsh reviews, just give me your honest opinions

08-16-2010, 12:00 AM
I like the images but I don't think you want to hear the parts I like but rather the parts I feel could be better so here goes.

The Bear image to me is just that...a lot of bear and a little of kid. A separation light behind the child may have helped to draw the viewer's eye to the child and give the image a bit more depth.

The little girl is composed well using the rule of thirds with her gaze going across the photo as opposed to out of the photo but I get the feeling of looking down on her. I usually prefer to shoot images like this from their level or in many cases from below their level to add a more dramatic feel. I might also consider getting in close and using a wider angle lens to bring in a bit more of the background to better tell her story. You might even consider tweaking the exposure and saturation up a bit to make the colors snap.

Please consider all this as just a personal opinion. I am by no means a judge but I figured any input is better than no input at all.

08-17-2010, 03:50 PM
Oh if only I could shoot that girl again. Too bad that was on a medical brigade in the middle of Tanzania back in 2005. I was shooting as a reference for the organization as opposed to shooting for competition. I guess I was mainly asking if the images (and I might add some more) would hold up in competition. I know they are not going to be loan prints, and are no where near perfect. I would hate to enter something and get really low scores, especially considering when I entered 10 years ago straight out of college I merited 3 out of 4. I appreciate all opinions, good and bad (well don't make me cry or anything)

08-21-2010, 09:10 PM
Here is my take on these images.
Boy oh Boy it's a Bear
Cute subject! Good composition but look at this image reversed, see how putting the boy on the right hand side uses the boys arms to hold you into the composition, leading you back to the bears and then back to his face again? I do feel that this could have been stronger by using a short lighting pattern on the boy. Using your original image as the guide here, have the main light come from camera right.
Now thinking of this image for competition, I would dupe the layer, turn off the new top layer and in this case use Saturation to darken the layer. This will keep it from shifting color. Next turn on the top layer and erase the bears out of it so that they come through from the bottom layer. This will still keep the story of the bears but lessen their perceived importance within the image and make the boy have more impact. This is an above average image. I do not feel that there is anything you could do to this image to make it into a merit worthy image. I know that with your history of entry that you might be disappointed with the results. I would try changing the lighting and maybe control how much light hits the bears originally so you do not have to do all the artwork.
Lisa gave me permission to work on these a little so here is a sample of what I am suggesting without the lighting direction change.
Looking at it here on the forum, I may have darkened the bears too much but it was a real quickie job.


The Girl -
This is very similar to a famous image from a few years ago from National Geo or Time or Life . . . I don't remember which one it was. Anyway there is a strong dynamic because of the color of her scarf played against her skin tone and background. We read into images from the upper left to the lower right. In this case if we flip the image we read into her face and her gaze pulls the viewer back into the image and the story as opposed to leading out of the image. I slid the wall in closer to her and stretched the background to the left to give her more space. Crop some off the top to bring the drama of the image more strongly to her (I also think this helps to lessen the feeling of looking down on her so much) I do think the look slightly down does work here adding to the story of a young girl. Next I used a technique I learned from Helen Yancy. Set your history state to this current point, then dupe the layer. Next select the history brush and sent the mode to screen (to lighten an area). I choose about 30% opacity if memory serves me. I lightened the highlight side of her face and the mask of the face. Go over it a couple of times if nesc. The beauty of this tech is that it does not globally effect the the original image like using the dodge and burn tools. This is too low res of a file to work her eyes but they would need to have a little work and make sure the catch lights look natural and are some what stronger than they appear here. I extended the background just a little and then added a stoke from a shadow area of the scarf as a slight accent line (don't let it get too big or strong that it distracts from you subject) to finish it. Remember you do not have to be at 16x20 anymore so you can choose the size that is right for the image. I would caution people against making images too small as it will effect impact in most situations. Here is my example.
Good Luck Keith


08-24-2010, 07:19 PM
Yeah, I agree the bear is out. I think I was blinded b/c it's my son, so I love it. I love what you did with the second image. Can you tell me how to bring the wall closer to her, and how to stretch the background w/o distortion. I am self trained in the little photoshop I know, so any info would be helpful. Thanks

08-27-2010, 03:40 AM
Moving the wall. First I selected the area that I wanted to move (I faded the orginal layer to demonstrate better.


Next copy and paste selection onto a new layer and move it into the new position allowing a slight overlap.


Next erase the edge with a large soft edge brush to create the blend line.


Merge layers and use the patch and healing brush to finish the blend and then crop off the unwanted area.


08-27-2010, 03:59 AM
Expand the background
Start with as large of file as you can. Note there is a limit to how far you can go with out distortion. First dupe the layer and do all work on the copy layer. Image Canvas size and expand canvas in the direction you need to go. Select the area to be stretched.


Edit - Transform or CTL T and grab the side and pull. View the image at full size to see how much the distortion shows. Go back and redo more or less depending on what you see.


If you need some detail of orginal scale to add back into the stretched area to make it appear more normal you can copy them from the orginal layer and paste and blend them into the new image. I did not need to do so for this image though.

Finally crop as you would like and flatten the image.


Hope this is helpful... I do not recomend distorting an image that could be done in camera correctly but you can somtimes save and image with work.

08-29-2010, 05:08 PM
I thought that was how to do it, but I wasn't sure if that was how you did it. Thanks