Nature Photography Photo Critique
by Douglas Pfister
Category: Nature Photography
Canon EOS 5D
Exposure time: 1/400 ,
Description: wanted to show detail not seen frequently. off camera flash,
Subject of photo
Composition & Perspective
Use of camera, exposure & speed
Color & Lighting
Depth of field
I particularly like macro shots, especially of insects as they are relatively alien in appearance and always inspire interest and some degree of emotional reaction. The subject is placed interestingly enough and provides a very intimate view of the locusts face and thus his personality (if you subscribe to the idea that bugs have a personality)
The leading lines of this image are primarily diagonal from left to right and draw the eye in only one direction, primarily to the head of the insect in the image. This is quite acceptable considering the simplicity of this composition and the lack of any background details. This image is a flat, straight on image with little or no depth of field, also not unusual or uncalled for in a macro image and works fine here.
The focus looks pretty sharp though not spot on. But sharpening this image might present some difficulties with a harshness being created in the overblown areas of detail created by the flash unit. Perhaps viewing a larger resolution of this image rather than the screen resolution would show more detail than this currently shows.
The camera speed was probably the right setting for the morning light but the image could have profited in sharpness from a much faster shutter speed setting I think. Your camera is certainly up to the task for this sort of shot. The exposure on this image is underexposed for the foreground image, as well as the background and looks a bit dull and flat. The image could benefit from a levels adjustment to the highlights and the mid-tone areas. Also the White Balance seems to be canted towards red and magenta (see the background tone which is slightly red/magenta based)This can be adjusted towards a more natural color balance by adjusting the hue saturation tools in Photoshop, or some other processing software, or by using the WB color droppers in the levels adjustments of the Photoshop program.
I think the colors, reddish/brown insect on a reddish stalk, are unsettling and rather alien feeling to me, which I think is good because it creates an emotional response in the viewer. The lighting is a little harsh due to the flash reflections of the texture of both the insect and the stalk and makes it difficult to pump of the levels at the brightness and midtone end without accentuating the blown highlights on the wing and stem. This could be adjusted properly in Photoshop using the 'Recovery' slider which reduces blown highlights after you have pumped up the exposure and brightness of the image.
Appropriate for this image considering it was shot across a single plane and at an aperture that is in most respects a sweet spot aperture with a deep depth of field. Often Macro shots, particularly those where the image resides in varying plane depths, have only a small portion of the image in sharp focus with everything else falling off behind it dramatically.
An interesting and evocative image that brings the viewer closer to a visual world not often apparent in every day life.
How to improve your photo
Try some other angles, including whole body captures of the insect, or shots down the length of the body from the top of the head straight on.
Since you're using a tripod and flash, try a faster shutter speed and a wider aperture.
Try to increase your exposure when taking the image and use a flash deflector or 'ring' to assist in eliminating any flash blow out on your detail areas.
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