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Thread: Help me learn?

  1. #1
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    Default Help me learn?

    This is my second year of print competition. Last year when I started prepping my images, I really started to see I had technical issues in a lot of my images. Even still, I managed 2 merits and one ended up in the showcase book (still can't believe that!) I learned a TON from that first competition. I had a clear direction and knew what I needed to do to improve so I focused on perfecting the technical issues all year. I had a solid case of images this time. Much more so than last year. I had a few photographer friends review my case before I sent it in and they were all stopped in their tracks by this image. I was really surprised to learn it scored 77. I understand that a 77 means "above average", but since I wasn't able to attend the judging I don't really understand where I fell short. Without a clear direction to work toward improvement, I feel like I've kind of wasted my time. Can anyone give me a direction to work toward?

    My own CC - his left hand is clenched too tight. This is a high school senior. After 1 frame he started laughing and said he felt so dumb. I never could get him back into the position without him loosing his composure. I knew I would probably get dinged for that hand but down to a 77?

    I could use some enlightenment

    Last edited by tnhillbillytoo; 04-01-2011 at 01:15 AM.
    ~Michelle Parsley, CPP
    Website | Blog

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Help me learn?

    I'm going to go ahead and include the rest of my case and the scores. Any suggestion of where I can improve is appreciated

    "My Peeps" scored an 81
    (This just happens to be the feet/legs of my babies and our dog ❤❤❤ I shot it on a whim the morning I submitted my registration for competition and pulled one of my other images at the last minute. I'm sure glad I made that call!)


    "Songbird" scored a 77


    "Dreaming of You" scored a 76
    Last edited by tnhillbillytoo; 04-01-2011 at 12:33 AM.
    ~Michelle Parsley, CPP
    Website | Blog

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Help me learn?

    Michelle,
    What did you title the senior boy? Maybe the title would help me. I don't understand what story I am supposed to get here. What I see is a photo of a suit not a person. And yes the hand does really negatively impact the image because it makes the whole pose look contrived. Look at "My Peeps" and see how much we know about each of those human subject's personalities just from their feet But the hand alone is not what held it back. Even though we only see the mouth in the suit image it could have an expression to tell us the story. If he was sneering or a slight grin or tight and angry - something but it's just bland. So I really don't understand what you were trying to say in this image. Next there are some technical issues. I feel like I am seeing a fine line around his back shoulder and arm - which would indicate either over sharpening or extraction. My guess is extraction because something funny is going on with the stool he is sitting on. His feet are casting a slight shadow but the stool legs aren't, so it looks like it's floating. Again that makes me think extraction.

    Songbird - She is broad lite. So you have flattened out her body by lighting straight into her chest and widened her face. Also I feel there is maybe a lens choice issue because her hand on the mike stand seems overly large compared to her face. I feel like the camera angle is too high and that emphasizes that she is a short girl which is not maybe something you want to happen on an image of a performer.

    Dreaming of You - Like we all told Greg on his similar image, an overly common subject in a pose that's been entered hundreds of times. Greg's response was well it's been entered because it does well. That's not the case. It's entered a lot because it did well for a few photographers when it was fresh and new and executed extremely well. So now it gets copied all the time. I don't understand why the realistic face and belly and then the draping behind her that's been PS'd to be more impressionistic. She is broad lite. And the whole idea of a maternity portrait is to show the curve of the belly and you have lite straight into it - essentially flattening the curve rather then skimming it with light to add dimension. Last her hands are not posed very feminine. It is almost always better to show the side of a female hand then the back.

    I probably would have been very close to the scores you listed here if I had been on the panel. Hope this helps. Keep going, you obviously have a lot of potential.

    Keith
    Last edited by Keith_A_Howe; 04-01-2011 at 03:54 AM.
    Keith A. Howe
    M.Photog.,M.Artist, Cr.,D.F.Ph.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Help me learn?

    On the first one I'm gonna guess the crumpled jacket front that's holding the tie back caused scoring issues. He could just have big feet but it makes it appear that you used a wide angle to capture it and therefore putting him out of proportion.

    In my opinion Songbird looks like a merit print but maybe they felt her right hand was a bit awkward.

    I entered a similar concept like your maternity image and mine got a 78 so Keith may have been right by saying that judges have seen this done too much.

    This is all just a guess but I figured I would throw my 2 cents worth in while we wait for someone qualified to judge give a good critique.
    Greg Yager CPP


    "Be prepared to lose anything you are not willing to share" - me

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Help me learn?

    It looks like Keith and I were typing at the same time. I didn't see his response until I posted mine. Here's the image we're referring to that I submitted.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Greg Yager CPP


    "Be prepared to lose anything you are not willing to share" - me

  6. #6

    Default Re: Help me learn?

    In theory, doesn't "Dreaming of You" have a face which benefits from broad lighting?

    What if the main were moved a little further behind? Would that help the rest of the image?
    Brian Dunn Photographic
    http://www.BDphotographic.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Help me learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian_Dunn View Post
    In theory, doesn't "Dreaming of You" have a face which benefits from broad lighting?
    There is a big difference between handling broad lighting and benefiting from it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian_Dunn View Post
    What if the main were moved a little further behind? Would that help the rest of the image?
    That's what I was referring to when I suggested skimming the body with light. Then there would be more dimensionality in both the tummy and the bust line. Look at how much more dimensionality Greg's images has where he has done just what you suggest. Though even with improved lighting Michelle's still has the challenge of the heavily worked drape behind her and the hand posing.

    Impact is one of the most important elements. It's what makes judges squirm in the chairs. When something has been entered so many times it's almost cliche, you don't get that impact UNLESS it is created by something else, like amazing technical excellence, perfect lighting, awesome color harmony, or some other aspect. This image has some nice things going on but not strongly enough to outweigh a very common subject matter and pose and lighting issues. It lacks impact.

    Michelle asked in her first post if a poor hand pose could really keep a print from meriting. It really doesn't work like that. If one aspect of an image is weak, that won't stop it from meriting if other aspects (think 12 elements) are strong enough to outweigh the lesser elements. If the most of the elements are just into the merit category then yes, one little thing might keep it from meriting. If the rest of or at least some of the other elements are strongly merit level, then they may outweigh the one or two things that are not at that level. Think of it like a scale where on one side we weigh the strong elements and on the other side we weigh the lesser elements. Perfectly balanced might mean a borderline merit. If it weights to the strong side it will be a higher merit and if it weights to the lesser side it won't merit. The individual aspects themselves are not the final determining factor, it's everything taken as a whole. Hope this puts it in perspective.

    Keith
    Last edited by Keith_A_Howe; 04-01-2011 at 01:26 PM.
    Keith A. Howe
    M.Photog.,M.Artist, Cr.,D.F.Ph.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Help me learn?

    Keith thank you SO MUCH!! This is what I needed to hear. All I had gotten from anyone else I had asked was "you can't merit with regular client work. Call in a model and shoot something special." I'm sure that is what some do, but I would rather merit with client work if I can.

    I probably over sharpened the senior boy when I saved it for web. It's not extracted (although I did soften the shadows on the floor because I was told they were distracting - obviously that was a mistake!) Choosing titles for my images is something that escapes me. I took a bunch of suggestions - Man of Mystery, Capone, Sinatra Remembered, GQ. I thought of Sinatra as soon as I saw it on the back of the camera so that's what I titled it. Poor choice again. This was shot with an 85mm lens.

    Songbird was shot with an 85mm lens as well. This was a total grab shot so yeah, she's broad lit. I had hoped the "cool factor" would carry the broad lighting, but obviously no dice

    On the maternity - funny thing is, I thought I was original on that set up. Call me naive, but I hadn't seen it executed like that before. I knew going in it was the weakest image in my case, but it was worth a shot

    Thanks again for the critique. NOW I feel like I have direction for this year!

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith_A_Howe View Post
    Michelle,
    What did you title the senior boy? Maybe the title would help me. I don't understand what story I am supposed to get here. What I see is a photo of a suit not a person. And yes the hand does really negatively impact the image because it makes the whole pose look contrived. Look at "My Peeps" and see how much we know about each of those human subject's personalities just from their feet But the hand alone is not what held it back. Even though we only see the mouth in the suit image it could have an expression to tell us the story. If he was sneering or a slight grin or tight and angry - something but it's just bland. So I really don't understand what you were trying to say in this image. Next there are some technical issues. I feel like I am seeing a fine line around his back shoulder and arm - which would indicate either over sharpening or extraction. My guess is extraction because something funny is going on with the stool he is sitting on. His feet are casting a slight shadow but the stool legs aren't, so it looks like it's floating. Again that makes me think extraction.

    Songbird - She is broad lite. So you have flattened out her body by lighting straight into her chest and widened her face. Also I feel there is maybe a lens choice issue because her hand on the mike stand seems overly large compared to her face. I feel like the camera angle is too high and that emphasizes that she is a short girl which is not maybe something you want to happen on an image of a performer.

    Dreaming of You - Like we all told Greg on his similar image, an overly common subject in a pose that's been entered hundreds of times. Greg's response was well it's been entered because it does well. That's not the case. It's entered a lot because it did well for a few photographers when it was fresh and new and executed extremely well. So now it gets copied all the time. I don't understand why the realistic face and belly and then the draping behind her that's been PS'd to be more impressionistic. She is broad lite. And the whole idea of a maternity portrait is to show the curve of the belly and you have lite straight into it - essentially flattening the curve rather then skimming it with light to add dimension. Last her hands are not posed very feminine. It is almost always better to show the side of a female hand then the back.

    I probably would have been very close to the scores you listed here if I had been on the panel. Hope this helps. Keep going, you obviously have a lot of potential.

    Keith
    ~Michelle Parsley, CPP
    Website | Blog

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Help me learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by tnhillbillytoo View Post
    All I had gotten from anyone else I had asked was "you can't merit with regular client work.
    Baloney. I got my Master's entirely on client work. Anybody that believes they can't merit client work is basically saying their regular work is not merit quality. I wouldn't want to publically say that about my work. Why would anyone else?

    Keith
    Keith A. Howe
    M.Photog.,M.Artist, Cr.,D.F.Ph.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Help me learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith_A_Howe View Post
    There is a big difference between handling broad lighting and benefiting from it.
    I think I've seen broad lighting a face sometimes recommended as being a corrective measure, and in the case of this particular face it seems to be a reasonable example where such might be desirable. Although this particular example is more of a split lighting.

    ( Ignoring the rest of the image for sake of discussion... )
    Brian Dunn Photographic
    http://www.BDphotographic.com

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