Animal Photography Photo Critique
Just Keep Swimming
by kassie rutledge
Category: Animal Photography
Kodak EasyShare C180
Lens: Standard: 30-50mm
Description: I took this picture because of the way the sun was setting on the water and the ducks see all >
I took this picture because of the way the sun was setting on the water and the ducks motion in the water was causing ripples, I found a great photo chance. That Everything in nature is beautiful ?
Composition & Perspective
Use of camera, exposure & speed
Color & Lighting
Depth of field
You did well leaving more space below to show the ripples and a little more space on the right than the left to give the feeling of motion with your subject. Also I'm guessing you were kneeling rather than standing, again the right choice for perspective bringing the viewer closer to your subject.
Seems spot on.
Your use of camera seems very good although it does not seem to correspond to the values you've written in the description. This being, with the focal length of 30-50mm (even with the 1-1.58 ratio) you must have been pretty close which means the f2.8 and 25 speed should have caused motion blur since the duck is swimming and the water is rippling and no depth-of-field instead of crystal clear ripples. Either way you seem to have nailed it in terms of camera use.
The lighting is natural and the timing seems to be good to perfectly light your subject and its surroundings. What concerns me more is the extensive use of photoshop. I am not necessarily against it especially in an image such as this. A duck on the water isn't edge of the seat stuff but you have managed to create something interesting by fiddling with the colours, contrast, exposure and burn. I especially enjoy the blue tint. Nevertheless, you have taken it too far. The white of the duck is overpowering and tiring on the eyes especially with the dark contrast of the background. You have burnt it to the point where no detail is visible and nearly no shadow making the duck seem 2 dimensional. Nearly everything that is achieved by the very interesting and mesmerising distorted reflection in the water is undone by the over-bright crassness of the duck. The next time you photoshop something try to do it in stages, taking snapshots of your image each time (camera shaped button in history menu) and comparing to see which gives the overall best result.
Depth of field is very good. I think the whole dynamism of this image is the ripples and the distorted reflection of the duck in these. A lesser DOF would have lost this.
As I mentioned before a duck sitting on the water is not edge of the seat stuff. It is something everyday and common for most people and as such a difficult subject to tackle, whether you're trying to portray the beauty of nature or trying to take an overall interesting photo. Nevertheless, your effort is good and you're going in the right direction but as I said you went too far. Photography is not necessarily about portraying an event exactly as it was unless you are a photojournalist. In artistic photography you are trying to create an image that expresses you and that others can find aesthetically pleasing or expressive too. In this respect the final result is all a matter of opinion. I find that I would have enjoyed staring at this photo for a while because of the colours tied in with the subject matter but couldn't because after a few seconds it started giving me a headache. So yes to photoshop but try to realise when you've taken it too far.
How to improve your photo
Photoshoping is as much an art form as photography. This is a massive debate so allow me to keep it short. When you get involved in the process of editing a photo to the point where it looks like a painting or a digital image (as you've done here) the emphasis is not so much on the photograph as a photograph but on the overall image. The way you use photoshop becomes a means of expression just as much as the way you may take a photo that you do not edit. As such you have to practice more and more to see if the result you have is productive rather than destructive as I believe it to be in this instance. As I've mentioned in the past in other critiques digital photography allows us to shoot more and therefore practice more. I think in this instance you need to practice more on photoshop to get a better result.
Keep tackling boring subjects. I know this seems a little offensive but I mean it in a good way. I think being able to create an image whether it be through the use of your camera or your computer or both, that expresses you and that others find interesting or pleasing is something fantastic. I am usually very unimpressed with most photo-journalistic pictures or pictures of gorgeous models, etc. because it is the exciting or beautiful nature of the subject that makes the picture interesting and not the skill or expression of the person holding the camera (or the mouse). What you are going for here is something original and artistic. Good for you!
Push your equipment to breaking point. Using photoshop is all good and well. Being able to have the result you want or something very close to that and not having to use photoshop so much is invaluable. So see what features your camera has and exhaust them. And maybe in the future if you see it limits you and you can afford to, buy more advanced gear.
Get feedback on your photos from Pro Chris Contorinis