View Full Version : please critique freely, thanks!

15th of January 2002 (Tue), 14:31

15th of January 2002 (Tue), 14:43
OK, here goes...
What's the objective for this image? What are you trying to communicate, or what is being communicated (intentional or not)?
Why is the young man in the photo? Why is he placed low? What is his relationship to his surroundings? Is this a portrait, or a landscape?
The image does not have traditional or formal composition. Not that it is a requirement, but if you're going to compose non-traditionally, then there should be a good aesthetic reason for it. Only a master of composition can break the rules of composition (modified Miles Davis quote.)
I would have cropped the person much, much tighter. But I'm a tight cropper all the time (too tight sometimes!) Usually the background is only included to the point that it provides some context to the subject. In this case it dominates.

Just my thoughts, and please keep sharing!


15th of January 2002 (Tue), 14:50
Overall I like the picture but the white stone in the foreground seems to be too different from the darker stone in the background. It makes the boy appear to be very pale.
With that being said, I am by no means a professional (yet) so take what I say with a grain of salt.

15th of January 2002 (Tue), 18:10
Gandini's comments are great.

They've inspired some thought for me.

Just what are the rules for composition. Though I've tried to take "portraits" of my family, and though I sometimes have them taken for me, I really don't know if I'm taking or buying something of value if I don't know the rules.

Not that I want them posted here, I'm sure they are available in a book somewhere.

And his point of knowing the rules is great. I know a little about page design, and I know you only break the rules if you are breaking them for a reason.

16th of January 2002 (Wed), 10:00
Gerry, you're right about "rules of composition" being available in books, and probably on line these days. With regard to the photo presented for our critique, I would have cropped much tighter such that the boy's face was quite dominant--maybe 1/3 - 1/2 of the frame. If you notice, he is currently in the lower center of the frame--even putting him off to the right side to catch the "rule of thirds" line would have made for a more traditional and perhaps pleasing composition.
But more importantly, my comments were intended to make the photographer think about the image as message, the image as communication. Since every image (and every word, and every action) "says something" even if unintended, we have the opportunity to influence what is said--hence a more conscious expression through photographs.


16th of January 2002 (Wed), 11:01
The rule of thirds was the first rule I learned regarding composition.

Divide the photo with into thirds from top to bottom and side to side with imaginary lines. The action in the photo should take place at one the intersections created by the imaginary lines.

16th of January 2002 (Wed), 14:57
I suggest cropping just to the right of the boy, and leaving it otherwise unchanged. That makes the boy more prominent (his handsome, upturned face draws your attention), gives you the majesty of the rock and some background, and the diversity makes the photo more interesting. Having the boy off-center provides some priority to the background. Uncropped, its got too much background for my taste; demeans the foreground too much.

Don Ellis
16th of January 2002 (Wed), 18:28
First, an apology for touching the photograph. It's the first time I've altered someone's photo and posted it -- but it will save me about 900 words.

In answering a couple of Philip Ganderton's questions, I decided it was a boy in a landscape, rather than a landscape with a boy. It's also aspirational. He is looking up and forward -- to the future, to setting new goals, to scaling new heights, to overcoming obstacles in his path (I do go on).

So I would crop him vertically to accent the upward direction of the photo:


In general, you lose the large expanses of background and throw the focus on the subject. Specifically, you lose eye-catchers in the immediate surroundings of the boy (circled in red).


The result is a fairly uniform, textured background that frames the boy without distracting from him. And you've left some of the rock as a metaphor, but not so much that it becomes the subject.

If you want less green and more boy, the square aspect ratio produced by medium format cameras is also pleasing.


Both keep you more or less within the rule of thirds boundaries -- the vertical one not quite so much, but I didn't want to crop his elbow to meet the specs, or increase the height of the picture to include more landscape.


Those are just two ways, of course. It's a good shot or you wouldn't have received so many responses. Keep it up.

16th of January 2002 (Wed), 19:00
Yup, I have to agree. Don, you hit the nail on the head. Your cropped version of the pict is much better. IMHO

21st of January 2002 (Mon), 20:49
Criticism is great; without it we would not know where to place our target the next time we try.

Don, you have passed from criticism to remediation. To me, remediation is where you not only show where the target must be placed, but take the next shot yourself to show the mark can, in fact, be hit! Fantastic job, Don.

And, DoctorMoth, thanks for sharing. I have learned and remembered much about composition from your post. My first knee-jerk reaction was "nice shot!" until the folks here started bringing the pieces together. Keep it up!

2nd of February 2002 (Sat), 11:06
Don, this is an amazing critique. I hope this is only your first of many. And I should be lucky if I'm the receipent of such a complete analysis in the future. Thanks. Jim