General Question

kenmc's avatar

Will you please critique the linked photograph?

Asked by kenmc (11746 points ) April 11th, 2009

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenmcqueenphotography/3428607888/sizes/l/

How’s the color? The composition? The subject matter?
I’m looking for a critique on anything.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

37 Answers

chyna's avatar

I’m not sure what I am looking at. Is that a person or an animal under there?

willbrawn's avatar

Looks like a typical tourist shot

mangeons's avatar

That’s pretty cool, in my opinion.

kenmc's avatar

@chyna There’s neither… You’re supposed to be looking at the graffiti.

@willbrawn What would make it better?

willbrawn's avatar

The lighting. Taking a picture in the middle of the day is not creative. The same image. Around sunrise or sunset would add more character.

chyna's avatar

Oh, sorry. Yeah, maybe less light on it would make it better. It appears to be in full sunlight.

Mr_M's avatar

It doesn’t really say anything other than “Here is an example of graffiti”.

Kelly27's avatar

I like the message and I like the photo. I do think the sky is a little too blue and it draws my eye away from what you want the focal point to be. I would try it again at a different time of day and try taking it from different angles to see which looks best. :)

Dutchess12's avatar

Interesting, boots! Did you take it?

kenmc's avatar

@Dutchess12 Yes, I took it. If you’ll look around on there, you’ll find a link to my flickr page.

Dutchess12's avatar

I like it…I like the startling blue of the sky in contrast to the green graffiti, and texture of the white sand. I see people suggesting it be taken at a different time of day, and I’d like to see that too….Can I come live where you live? Sniff. I don’t think we have anything like that in Kansas, but I’ll go look. ‘Scuse me for a minute…

kenmc's avatar

@Dutchess12 That’s about 900 miles from where I live. I was on vacation in SC when I took it.

Dutchess12's avatar

Oh, well, never then! BTW….I’m back. There are no beaches in Kansas. Sigh.

veronasgirl's avatar

It’s a pretty cool photo, I love what the graffiti says. But the composition isn’t 100% fantastic. I would like to see you put it into Photoshop and play around with it a bit.

Jeruba's avatar

I liked the way the top of the pier is aligned with the ocean horizon. Also the shot is very crisp and clear, and the color is excellent.

The choice of subject is interesting. It appears that the words fade toward the water, perhaps because at high tide the lower words are more exposed. So someone has gone over the last two words to reinforce them. Don’t let “LOVE” fade away.

My son is a very fine amateur photographer. I am trying to imagine how he would have taken this shot. For one thing, I am sure he would not have centered the subject like this because he said there is a 1/3 – 2/3 rule in art photography.

Also I am imagining that he would have taken it at a much more extreme angle, so that the words were really foreshortened and you needed a second glance to make them out. He might have taken it from the upper end, so that “LOVE” was very small and the pier pointed at nothing. Or maybe at a solitary silhouette off center at water’s edge.

Or, depending on what was on the beach above this, I can imagine him taking it from below. Picture this: point of view from the seaward end of the pier, with “LOVE” large and blurry, distorted by the angle but still readable, in the lower right corner, and the phrase narrowing toward the vertical 1/3 mark in the upper left quadrant. “ALL” is very much darker because of the weathered gradient, so you can still read it, and your mind can fill in the rest with the prompting of the shapes. Standing on the pier (or sitting at the edge) is an adolescent girl wearing a bright pink silk scarf that billows in the ocean breeze. Behind her is the boardwalk, or tourist-trap dives, or a factory and telephone poles, or whatever is there. Merest glimpse of perfect blue sky above.

Then you would have a picture and not just documentation.

Dutchess12's avatar

@Jeruba Oh!! Good thoughts!! Excellent! What is the 1/3 2/3 rule (I’m an amateur photographer myself.)

creativejuices's avatar

where is SC, charleston, myrtle beach? I live in SC.

jeanna's avatar

@creativejuices It was on Folly Beach. I also live in SC, Florence to be exact. You? Boots does not live in SC.

Jeruba's avatar

Can’t tell you exactly, @Dutchess12, because I am just going on my son’s comments of some years ago. He used to submit work every week to the DPChallenge (digital photography contest) site, and sometimes I would sit with him while he paged through the week’s postings and critiqued them. I was fascinated to hear him explain what was good or bad about each picture and why the winners won. It took him several years to work up to scoring 10 points for his pictures, so he was studying them hard.

As I understand it, it has to do with the proportions of how you divide up the space in your composition. You do it in thirds rather than halves or quadrants. For example, the horizon should be 1/3 or the way down or 2/3, not 1/2. This can be accomplished by cropping, of course. Maybe someone who is actually a photographer here will explain this better than I can. There are many other factors to consider as well.

Studying winning photos such as at DPChallenge, where photographers rate each other, and analyzing what makes a winner is a good way to gain skill.

creativejuices's avatar

@jeanna: I used to live on Folly!! ahhhh I miss the hell outta it!! I live in the upstate now.

Dutchess12's avatar

@Jeruba Thank you very, very much! Srsly! ;)

Bagardbilla's avatar

I agree with @jeruba, 1/3 @ 2/3 rule applies here well.
I would have shot this from a higher angle, so that the pier becomes a “base” for the composition. I would also move to the right a bit so that the words start just at the left edge and extend to about 2/3 of the way into the frame.
So now you’ve got a solid base, lots of beautiful ocean & horizon and 2/3 of the frame full of sky. More sky and ocean because it visually ties the message to the etherial scene/background. Also it looks like it was shot about 4 in the afternoon… I would have waited till say 6 or 6:30 maybe even 7 for that golden hour of light (assuming it was shot in the last few weeks). One last thing, a human/alive element in images really completes it, so long as it does not compete with the subject, so something like a couple walking (barely visible on the extreme right side, or a seagull in the upper right corner, maybe even a sailboat out at sea (again on the far right side) would really compliment the messege on the pier.
My 2¥

Dutchess12's avatar

Good stuff, huh boots!!

Curious404's avatar

Good job! I would suggest adding an element to help define scale.

Mr_M's avatar

There would have been so much “drama” going on with the waves and the ocean, I’m surprised you didn’t take more advantage of it.

What IS the message you wanted people to take away?

kenmc's avatar

@Mr_M I was trying to pick up on the graffiti and scenery to get people wanting to go to beaches. That, in this picture, was secondary to it’s actual appearance, though.

I did get a few shots of the ocean, but they appeared flat. The best one I got imo is here.

Mr_M's avatar

I LIKE that shot of the water, actually. I picture that same scene (with a little less sky) and the graffiti acting like a CAPTION on that picture, (the idea being “if you want to experience this, all you need is love”. People could interpret it any way they want).

Generally, people consider graffiti as a NEGATIVE on the environment. Not really something that would attract, however. There are some that would say the graffiti ruined that spot.

Poser's avatar

The rule of thirds goes like this: divide your frame into three equal areas, by “drawing” two lines both horizontally and vertically (two lines each—think of a tic-tac-toe board). The subject should be placed at at least one of the intersections of these four lines. A human form, for instance, would normally be placed along the left or right 1/3 of the frame, a horizon at the top or bottom 1/3. Avoid centering your subject unless you have a valid reason to do so.

As far as this shot goes, I’d have to agree with Jeruba that this shot is merely documentation. A snapshot. Aside from not fitting the rule of thirds (lots of empty space up in the sky, not really serving any purpose), the subject is kind of bland. It doesn’t really say anything. Well, it says something, but it doesn’t really speak anything. The sentiment in the graffiti is a cliche, and thus, so is your photo.

As a general rule, anything shot with a normal focal length lens from eye level is going to be a boring shot. It’s the same perspective we would see if we were standing on that beach. You have to show us something we wouldn’t see if we were standing there. Something to contrast or reinforce the message in the graffiti. Different angles. Play with depth of field. Get people in your shot.

But, as others have said, great clarity and color. The empty space in the sky might not necessarily be bad if the shot was to be used in a magazine or something similar, where there needs to be text.

Looks like you’re on the right track though, looking at some of your other photos (I especially like Fire Escape and Back Door Open). Keep shooting and seeking feedback.

I hope this critique is taken with as many grains of salt as needed. I have been in photography for a while, and, while I was a professional by definition, I am by no means an authority. I’m just giving my honest assesment.

Ivan's avatar

It’s generally good to avoid having huge areas of one sold color in your photographs.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks, @poser, for expounding on what I knew only minimally. I understand it better now too.

I do have to differ just slightly with the advice to get people in your shot. I find that people in a shot are often annoying. Not that I necessarily want to see a seagull, which in its own way is more of a clich√© than a line from a Beatles song. People in a shot are more than just a contrasting element, a perpendicular in a horizontal landscape or a form of the familiar in the wild. They grab the focus and shift the point of view. Or else they are unnecessary intrusions. I’d say include people if there is a point to including people, but otherwise there is just no need.

Poser's avatar

@Jeruba I should have elaborated more. I agree that people should be included in a shot only if they serve a purpose (as should everything else in the shot). In general, however, people enjoy looking at other people. So if you can include a person/people in your shot, it will often add to the appeal.

Jeruba's avatar

@boots, I’ve looked at some of your other pix now. I like “Fire Escape” too, and I really like “Jeanna,” which is very well put together (great that it’s in B&W—much more interesting than color would have been) . “Beach Goers” really captures the feel of the Pacific, even though everything is so centered. And the twisted tree is a great subject. You are doing some good looking and finding, and the quality of your images is great. Seems like composition is the thing to work on.

kenmc's avatar

@Jeruba Thanks!

If you’ll look above, you’ll see a user here named Jeanna… That’s her.

lazydaisy's avatar

I’m late to the party…..

I like the pic. quite a bit.

I think the composition needs some tweaking.
I think I’d like the pier in the bottom 1/3 of the pic. and more sky. I also think it would have been cool if you were standing closer to the pier and shot it along the length. But some things you just can’t photoshop.

SeventhSense's avatar

What Jeruba and more specificaly what Poser said expresss a basic rule of composition. Immediately the rule of 2/3 to 1/3 and off center should apply.
Beach 1
Beach 2
Now in the first photo the balance has been established but the implied line of the cement draws your eye away from the focal point (the message) towards the sea. Yet there is an interest in that there is some activity from waves. In the second picture we also have a balance and a stronger focal point and the texture of the sand mimicking the textured surface of the cement. Furthermore the strong vertical metal supports add counter motion to the implied line of the cement wall and the sliver of sky. But overall it’s still a weak picture. The bright daylight does nothing for the value(RANGE OF LIGHT TO DARK) It adds some strong shadows but kind of washes it all out. Overall there’s really not enough in the image to create interest. Maybe the second picture would work better if there was a piece of driftwood with some interesting spacing or a plant growing through the cement.

My solution add interest through creative tweaking. Flip the photo so the implied line of the cement leads your eye upwards as you follow the text, yet creates tension through an unusual downward slope. Eliminate color at all since it doesn’t add anything to the piece. Pick up the highlights, shadows and tones to really bring out the rock and make a very dramatic impact with the text and sand. COMPLETELY DO A 180. The focus is clearly the message but now it has an overall mood.
LENNON BEACH

Pol_is_aware's avatar

I like it. It’s a good picture whether there’s too much sky or not.

CMaz's avatar

For the most part, composition is very good. Except the horizon line needs to go up or down depending on what you want to do with the image. As purely a static picture, I would have brought the horizon line up. So not to cut the picture in half. Might have changed the angle of the shot so the “pier” is coming out of the left bottom corner jutting out to infinity.
If you could of had someone pose as a bum laying on the sand or leaning against the structure, it would have made a greater impact, since the verbiage is part of the mood you are trying to convey.
As far as lighting goes, it works. All your colors pop. If you would have waited for the sun to go down a bit. You could have had the underside lit better. That Shadow is a bit distracting. And, you would have added some more texture to the shadows casted by the sand.

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