Photo Critiques: A General Guide

11 08 2008

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Critiques: A General Guide

A. Technical aspects

1. Exposure – underexposed or overexposed?
If yes, any idea what caused it? And always try to give a suggestion on how to overcome the problem. Eg- should he/she meter another area (or use a different metering technique), or maybe set a different shutter speed/aperture or use the exposure compensation.

2. Sharpness/Focus
– Is the subject in focus? Is it sharp enough or it should be sharper? (There are some other varieties, for e.g soft focus is widely used too in portraits and landscape so dont confuse this with blurred photography due to handshake, etc)
– Do you think the focus should be somewhere else? If yes where and why?
– If the photograph isnt sharp are there any suggestions to improve it? For e.g, higher shutter speed or use of tripod.

3. Depth of field
The DOF shallow or wide? Which is more suitable in that photograph and what would you to improve it.

4. Lighting
Look at the photograph and see whether the lighting used is appropriate. Should there be more lighting or less? If it’s outdoor, is the lighting too harsh or too dark? Suggestions like choosing a better time of the day, use of reflectors to fill in the shadow, using fill-flash can be stated.

5. White balance in digital photography
Do you think that the white balance is set correctly? Is there a colour cast in the photo?

6. Post processing
– The use of Photoshop and other similar software.
– In this area, you can suggest some post processing technique to improve the photograph. For e.g, using Unsharp Mask (USM) to help sharpen the image, or converting the photography to greyscale (B&W) to give better mood, etc.

B. Composition

1. Subject position
– in the center or the used of Rule of Thirds. Or is the subject somewhere else in the frame. Do you think the composition worked? Or is there a better placement of the subject in your opinion.

2. Converging or leading lines
– Did the photographer include any of these? If he/she didnt, is there elements in the photograph that the photographer can use to give a better impact?

3. Cropping and framing
– So is the photo cropped/framed properly? Are there distracting elements in the photograph? Similarly, is there an element which is cropped off that shouldnt be.

4. Overall
– what other suggestions do you have regarding the composition? For e.g should the photographer include more space around the subject or crop off the extra space? Is the scene too busy, or too empty?

C. The aesthetic/artistic impact

This area is pretty much subjective. Aesthetically/artistically different photographs affect different individuals. Some may get offended on certain genre of photography while other enjoy it. Try to have an open mind while dealing with this area of photography.

1. Mood
– So anyway, the first question would be “How does the photograph make you feel?” What kind of mood did you interpret from the photograph? Do you think that the mood is what the photographer wants to convey?

2. Story
– so does the photograph have one? If no, what suggestions you have that can give a better story? You can link the suggestions with the technical side of it, like composition, lighting, DOF, etc.

3. Overall
– do you like the photo and do you think it has an impact? If yes, why and if no why?

All these information would greatly help the photographer to improve on his/her work. Critiquing doesnt only help the photographer, it also help the critic, i.e you. It lets your mind work on the scene and when you are in that same situation, you’ll find that you will use the same advice you have given. It’s like some sort of a practice in your head.

Another thing, do not be afraid to voice out your honest opinions in the critique, eventhough you are only a beginner commenting on a professional’s photograph. But remain polite and try not to get offensive in your critiques. We are all here to learn and giving out honest opinions will help us to improve. There is no point on simply saying “Great shot, very nice colours” and not explaining more.

Similarly, when receiving critiques on your photograph, try to have an open mind and think about what the critic wrote. Dont get so easily upset on a harsh critique and out of anger, reply some useless comment. If there is any clarification, reply back politely and ask for a better explanation rather than initiate an argument. If you were looking for help in a particular aspect, for e.g lighting, state so in the comments section when you post the photograph. Adding technical details and how you went about taking the photograph will not only help the critic to understand your photo better but is also a good way for members to learn some techniques from you.

Zoomer : Panduan untuk mengkritik seperti di atas amat baik untuk dijadikan panduan pada yang mahu mengkritik hasilkerja sendiri, mahupun hasilkerja fotografer lain. Kadang waktu bila kita sudah memiliki sedikit ilmu, kita selalu merasa ingin memberikan pendapat tentang sesuatu yang menarik yang kita lihat. Namun dalam banyak keadaan mungkin cara kita kurang sesuai, yang mana akhirnya pemilik karya akan merasa tersinggung atas pendapat atau teguran atau kritik yang diterima. Sudahnya kedua-dua pihak tanpa disedari terjebak dalam konflik dan perdebatan yang semata-mata bertunjangkan emosi. Kesudahannya perbincangan yang sepatutnya menghala kepada percambahan ilmu diakhiri dengan permusuhan yang memualkan. Sedihnya situasi begini kerap terlihat di kalangan peminat fotografi di negara kita kebelakangan ini. Ada baiknya panduan di atas kita renungkan dan kita jadikan asas dalam apa juga bentuk pebincangan dan perbahasan demi faedah kita bersama.



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