Thursday, May 24, 2018

Critique 101

Way back when, I decided to take a photography class at our local Junior College, just for fun.  I actually had a great Nikon camera, but no clue about how to take good images.  The AUTO button was my friend.

After two classes and many months, I became good friends with the instructor, Jeff.  Pretty soon we were taking road trips all across the country to find new things to photograph.  As time went on, he began inviting a few of us to come critique his current class.  It helps to have another person's opinion because everyone doesn't necessarily like the same things in photographs.

Armed with three bags of candy, three of us from the old fogey group showed up to help the students with their portfolios, a requirement of the Advanced Class.  The Bail Bondsman shoots amazing Hispanic weddings and landscapes, the Prison Guard (who has recently switched from all Nikon gear to the new mirrorless Sony brand) also shoots weddings, and then there is me, the animal/landscape queen.  Two weddings was more than enough for me.  We have a great time encouraging the kids in their work.

Unfortunately, I can't show you any of it because they are all copyright protected.  So here's a few of mine just to show you what we did last night.

Not a bad image, but a little too dark.  Angles in photography are always good ... try to get to a spot where no one else has taken that picture.
This is what we call a pretty harsh transition between a bridge and a deer.  If you shoot wildlife, try to get something other than the deer just standing there, like him licking his back foot.  Remember the rule of thirds ... centered images are okay, but usually look more pleasing to the eye if they are in the right or left third, depending on which way the subject is looking.
Nice reflection.  Definitely something you don't see every day.  WOW ... that blood looks REAL!!  We had one guy who will definitely get a job in the horror movie industry.  Can you pass the Reese's peanut butter cups please?
NO flowers.  Flowers are a no-no.  Everyone has shot tons of flower pictures, which I personally LOVE, but you don't really want them in your portfolio.  Do I show them on my blog all the time?  Of course ... because they are pretty!!!
Your dog, cat or grandchildren are NOT good images to put in your portfolio when you are looking for a job.  It's another harsh transition from the flowers above to the tiger here.  Not a bad image though, since you can see his face.  Those images we looked at of the tiger laying in the grass with his back turned to the camera, looked just like they were taken in the afternoon at the zoo ... which they were.  Show the face up close ... much more interesting.
If you are lucky enough to travel to Bandon Oregon to pet the babies like Tatiana here, spend your time photographing her instead.  Yes the trainer is cute, but cut her out.  It's the tiger we want to see.  Can you pass the M&M's please?
Again, the picture of the lion's butt with no head visible, is a no-no.  No butt pictures please.  Zoom in on the face ... it's those animal eyes you want to see.
There were lots of ocean images ... pretty water and nice waves.  To make it more interesting, always show something in the foreground ... like the beach or rocks, then the water and the horizon.  Feel like you are tilting to the right?  

It's very hard to shoot perfectly straight images unless you have a level on your camera or tripod.  This one needed to be fixed in post production so the horizon line would be straight across.  Many images last night definitely needed to be tweaked.  I think I have a permanent crook in my neck.
Sunsets pretty much represent the end of the day, so they work really well as the last image in a portfolio.  Without the bird however, this would be a pretty ho hum sunset.  
Hyped up on sugar from all the candy we ate, we swore we would meet up again for a road trip.  There's nothing more fun than a group of crazy photographers looking for something to shoot.  Unfortunately, everyone's schedule is so different, it's hard to come up with a date.  

It was another fun class ... except for the bloody images of shootings and hangings that gave me nightmares ... meaning he did a REALLY good job!!  To each his own.  It always makes me want to get out there and photograph something.  No telling what you will see in the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully it won't be just quilts!!!


  1. I too love photography and did classes way back in the 60's. Had a nice 35 Mm camera completely manual with an extra 300 Mm zoom lens. Built a dark room and developed my own film and prints all black and white back then.
    But over the years found I did not use it much and went to a point and shoot, then digital. My photos are now memories to look back on.
    It is a fun and rewarding hobby.

    1. I have two really nice film cameras in my closet. It was such a shock when the digital ones came out ... and now the differences are amazing .... except I rarely put anything into print and never go to my computer to look at old pictures. Sometimes new inventions aren't always the best.

  2. I love the photography and yet never took classes. Mostly, like George, now it is just the enjoyment of it. I try to see things the way you describe and place birds off centre. I have fun with my selfies, with no worries of those who judge. Call me vain, whatever, I have fun and that is important. Thanks for the tips, I will remember those as I point and shoot. Also mostly on AUTO.

    1. You have natural talent Patsy ... a good eye, as they say. Photography is all about having fun and capturing the "light". You do that quite well!