View Full Version : Critique, please. Really.

01-23-2007, 02:13 AM
All right. With a newly informed understanding of how critique works here on the forum, I will try again. Thank you for any comments.


01-23-2007, 02:16 AM
Outstanding attitude, Sue Ellen!

As for critique, I am not one to give an in depth critique but wonder about the 'fogginess' of the gentleman's glasses. That could be fixed easily.

01-23-2007, 02:28 AM
HI Sue Ellen,
As this is in the comp section, I will give you my thoughts as a comp print.

I love the expression of the girl. THis look is a personal taste for me, but many of my portraits have this, and her eyes look great. The fogginess was already mentioned, but I think why the judges would hold this back fro the 80+ arena is the clothing choice. Her dress, a pattern combined with his solid, a bright color make the eyes do a dance on the bottom of the frame. Also I find his eye cut a lot towards the girl. I know this is probably intentional, but the judges might not see it that way. Another problem is the lighting on dads? face. It is flat and non directional, which is not really the case on her. I think an image of just her in a less busy dress would have a better chance. Keep them coming!

01-23-2007, 02:35 AM

01-23-2007, 02:38 AM

A learning question here:

If the clothes were right and the lighting not bad, would a title save this one with the man looking in that direction? I've seen images with this mood and the title would make it relate and be acceptable.

I attended a seminar in Oklahoma where Dave Swoboda spoke on Comp prints and recommended using the name to bring attention to the negative, therefor making it a positive.


01-23-2007, 03:05 AM
Hi Linda,
Looking at the image Sue Ellen reposted in mono, has brought out another issue with the image. Now that the clothes are not as much an issue of color, my personal problem is that the heads are parallel to each other.

To answer your question, I have seen images with a good title hang, that might not if the title didn't work. If you can get the judges to laugh, you are usually in the range of a hangable image. I think this image just would not hang. On a state level it would probably score a 77, and would not go blue at national level. I know it is hard. When I watch judging I can pick the score within a point on over 90% of the imges....unless they are mine.

Dave Swoboda says that impact is first, and this image has impact, in the girls eyes and expression, but in my opinion it does not have enough for the judges to overlook the other points. Keep going though Sue Ellen!

01-23-2007, 03:41 AM
Sue Ellen,

For me, the subject here to focus on is the girl. Grandad is actually more of a distraction than a help in a storytelling capacity. But, man! Do you have a great subject in the girl! Do you have any images that just feature her?


01-23-2007, 04:48 AM
Hi Sue Ellen - I am not a good judge for print competition critiques but I will offer you some advice on B&W conversions.

Often when we simply Desaturate a file ( to me it looks like that is what you did here ) we end up with a dull - flat looking print. The reason is when in color we see color - the color separates the different elements from each other and makes a distinction. Once the color information is no longer there - if you had two different colors that were the exact shade and density when converted they will appear as a single shade of gray....thats how you loose alot of detail.

What I do is convert using my Gradient map set to pure Black and White. Then if I need to lighten the skin tones more I go to curves and just pull up on the light side of the scale until I get the look I want.

I did this for you to compare. Hope this helps.


01-23-2007, 04:55 AM




01-23-2007, 04:56 AM


01-23-2007, 02:34 PM
Sue Ellen
I will give it a try, Jeff and Jane Ann both gave great advice so I will not repeat what they have said. The next to the last image with the girls arm hooking around grandpa is a nice image, I would have liked it better if she had pulled her head in till it just bumped with his. I feel this would have given that extra spark of energy. As it is, it appears to have just missed the optimum moment. These are a "slice of life" type of images.

There is one image that I want to ask questions about. The 2nd one in on the 2nd set (girl in chair with the red throw). How did you photograph this image? It feels like a jpg with maybe auto white balance or maybe flash white balance. Reds really effect the white balance of an image, especially if the exposure is even a bit off. I can make suggestions to prevent this problem in the future but before I continue making assumptions I would like to know how you photographed this, if you see the color crossovers and if you even want to hear my opinions.

01-23-2007, 03:04 PM
Hi Sue Ellen;

I approached your 1st image 100% differently. I made her the focal point and made her grandpa represent all males ... throughout her life. I made him very soft to represent guys throughout her life ... a blur. I call it Heartbreaker Thru The Ages.
I've put her on the 3rd quadrant and made the background much lighter to reflect the image tones. I've also cropped it to more of a slim-line.

As I said before, I've approached this as if it was an image of her with no particular person beside her. For clients we need to keep all people important. In competition, the judges have no idea who anyone is unless you tell them.

I hope this helps open your eyes to other possibilities when you look at your images.


01-23-2007, 03:13 PM
Thank you to all who have commented so far. I appreciate the feedback. And I have to say that there indeed is a difference in the benefit when the focus is on listening (me). :)


Yes, I absolutely want to hear what you have to say.

A little background...these shots were taken late last July before my studio officially opened...it was a spontaneous shoot...a neighbor's granddaughter was visiting. While walking the small dog I stopped to visit and the little girls spark went straight to my heart and I persuaded the grandpa (and later the father) to bring her over for an impromptu session...hence all the "color" - what they happened to be wearing combined with stuff I had on hand in the studio then.

Other than telling them where to sit/stand and placing them in a direction, I more or less let them just "be together" having a conversation that I photographed. (the first image is grandpa telling a very scary story; he has her full attention). I say this because for the first several months I was open, this is the way I operated...loose...without a lot of posing. I've since started working more on posing...have a ways to go, I know. (part of it is mental...having to get past posing being ok...I'm such a "genuine" fan.)

As far as details of shooting...at that time I was shooting jpeg automatic and used a Larson soff box 4 x 6. My studio is painted entirely white - up, down, side, side.

These days I still shoot jpeg (tried raw, just don't get it) but typically use aperture priority and ISO 200 unless I need more sensitivity.

I've probably said too much... I'm listening now.

01-23-2007, 03:17 PM
I do like this effect...in a way, that is why I chose not to clear up grandpa's glasses...because he isn't the focus.

I have an alternate crop of this image that I'm going to try to find...see what you think of it.


01-23-2007, 04:04 PM
Sue Ellen


What I am seeing is the cross over of color caused by the red. If you look at her skintones you can see they have gone orange with hints of greenish yellow in the highlights. This is very common with jpg images with auto or flash white ballance when close to a dominate color. If you want to stay with jpg thats ok but use a custom white balance with each different situation, even clothing changes as the reflected light will make a difference. RED is the biggest cause of problems with white bal that I have come across. There are several methods to do a custom white bal. Different cameras are different so to find out how to set the camera (unfortuantely I don't know all brands) read the book. You can use a kodak grey card, a true white (alot of whites have blue in them so becareful useing any ol white), or an expodisc. The expodisc attaches to the lens and you photograph from subjects position back at camera so all light is the same. Then you program your camera to use that white bal. This way you neutralize any reflected color from clothing, props or backgrounds.
I know you said that this was when you were first starting up but watch the color harmoney between backgrounds props and subject clothing. Good luck.
I hope this might help.

01-23-2007, 04:12 PM
I do like this effect...in a way, that is why I chose not to clear up grandpa's glasses...because he isn't the focus.

I have an alternate crop of this image that I'm going to try to find...see what you think of it.


Sue Ellen ... just imagine how your crop would look in a print 20" X 16" and how huge her head would be. My rendition was partly meant to make her look small as a child should look in an image.

01-23-2007, 06:51 PM
ok, Keith....does this help?

outside, with white balance cloudy


in studio with white balance flash


in house by window light with white balance cloudy


01-24-2007, 08:00 PM
Sue Ellen
These targets are what I am talking about using. This side is used to give you exposure when in JPG to make sure your histogram shows all three peaks (black, grey and white) and to use as a click white bal option when photographing in raw. Once you have the exposure set in the given setting, flip the target over to the other side, I believe is grey or white depending on the brand. Photograph it at the exposure set with the first target. Then depending on your camera you would select the solid side image as the example for the camera and set the camera to custom white bal. Then any thing you photograph in this area should be this same color setting and be nice neutral colors. I know I got a bit descriptive here but I had no way to know if that is how you were useing this or not. I did not mean to offend in any way. Good Luck