Comments Please

Started Feb 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
jbf
jbf
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Re: Comments Please
In reply to Image capturer, Feb 12, 2013

Image capturer wrote:

Why did you abandon me?

I am very new to photography and am enjoying just getting out and taking photos. I would appreciate advise and comments that anyone is willing to give to me.

Ice-Cycles!!

I do photography mostly as a hobby. I don't know if this will help you, but one thing that has helped me learn to evaluate my own photos is to break them down into their emotional impact, visual impact, and technical quality.

Emotional Impact

Emotional impact is often difficult to define and can't necessarily be put into words.  Sometimes you just connect with an image.  It can also be very different for different viewers, but there's usually a common connection.  Not every photo is intented to even remotely be considered a work of art, but photography has the ability to communicate more than just thoughts that can be spoken which is why considering emotional impact is important.  In the case of these two photos, the emotion comes through pretty clearly to me although there are issues that reduce the emotional impact that I will discuss later.  The first image has historical significance.  History evokes many emotions when considering the lives of those that came before us as well as projecting our place in history.  Also creating emotional impact in the photo is the representation of a subject that was once labored to create and likely cherished by its owners having been abandoned and neglected for years.  Plus the natural elements contribute a strong atmospheric feel.  The second photo has humor (good luck riding the bikes through the snow) and it also conveys how sudden, powerful, and inconvienient nature can be which is something we all react to.  The blue and red colors against the white snow enhance the emotional impact as well.

Visual Impact

When evaluating the visual impact of an image, it helps to look at the scene somewhat abstractly.  The most important element is the light.  Does it help communicate the emotion you are trying to express or does it work against it?  Does it make the main subject pop and lead the eye to it, or does it highlight objects that distract from what you find interesting about the image?  Does the light itself attract you to the image and hold your interest or does it cause you to quickly look away?  It's the biggest learning curve in the photographic process.  It takes time to see the impact of light with some degree of competence.  Other important visual elements are colors, shapes, lines, textures, patterns, framing, balance, perspective, scale... and the list goes on.  I should also mention a less tangible property- creativity.  I'm not sure that creativity gets as much attention in photography as it does in other art forms, but it may be even more important in photography due to the shear quantity of photographs taken of every subject imaginable.  Great images can be boring when you've seen a hundred just like them.

You do some good things visually.  The first photo contains nice shapes and textures.  I like the the man-made shapes of the building framed against the chaotic, natural pattern of the tree branches.  It creates a nice contrast.  Your image also illustrates the entropy of nature starting to have a significant impact on the building.  That works well with the theme of abandonment.  On the downside, the light is harsh which combined with the snow causes the scene to be very contrasty.  The camera is too far from the structure to draw attention to the great visual details that define this scene and bring out its emotional impact (or possibly the camera is too close if you want to make the viewer feel the isolation of the location).  The second image has great lines, shapes, and colors.  It gives a glimpse of your creative eye.  You need to think about how to best compose those elements in the frame so that the shapes and lines flow like if someone skillfully hand painted the scene.  The composition and/or technique should also eliminate any extraneous elements or make them significantly less noticeable.  I realize that's a lot to ask when you're standing in a couple feet of snow freezing. 

Technical Quality

Technical quality is not just sharp focus and proper exposure.  Those are usually technical keys, although there are times when having an object out of focus is better than putting it in sharp focus.  The higher goals of good technique should be to bring out the elements that communicate your story and to eliminate distractions.  Use whatever control you have over exposure, focus, shutter speed, grain, depth of field, etc. to highlight what you want to highlight and hide what you want to hide.  Blown exposure can draw the eye to a blank area of the frame.  Poor focus can prevent the viewer from lingering on what might otherwise be a beautifully sincere facial expression and instead notice a shoe in the background.  I'm not going to comment much on the technical quality of your photos since I don't know as much about technique as most people on these forums.  I do know that snow is difficult to photograph and you did a pretty good job.

Phew, that was more than I intended to write.  Hope this helps,

jbf

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