Nature Photography Photo Critique
by Anna Colyer
Category: Nature Photography
Kodak EasyShare C190
Lens: Prime: Fixed focal l
Description: I took this picture on vacation in WY. at a ranch we stayed at, because I have always see all >
I took this picture on vacation in WY. at a ranch we stayed at, because I have always loved the old west and old looking photos. To get a glimpse of what it would have lloked like photographed in that era.
Subject of photo
Composition & Perspective
Use of camera, exposure & speed
Color & Lighting
Depth of field
Hi Anna! Because of your strong composition, it's clear to the viewer what the primary subject is. The landscape around the cabin provides additional context and adds to the ruggedness feeling. That said, the building itself doesn't stand out as having a particularly strong "Old West" character or vibe to it (e.g. the roof looks modern, the side looks fairly intact and not weathered by time).
I enjoy how the creek creates a line directly to the building. The bridge, at a diagonal, also helps to draw the viewers eye to your primary subject and create a sense of depth. The building is placed nicely at the intersection points of the Rule of Thirds grid. And the mountain on the top left provides excellent balance to the image overall. The right and left edges of the frame, however, needs some tidying-up for the viewer to remain focused on your primary subject. On the right, there are some "floating" evergreen branches (1/3rd into the frame from the top). The left side shows lighter toned branches and parts of another house. You could crop these elements out which would negatively impact the line you've created with the bridge. The cleaner solution would be to look for "UFO's" like these in the field by doing a "border patrol" - scan the edges of your frame for distracting elements like these before snapping the shutter. When you see them, recompose or reposition your camera. In this case, take a step or two forward would quickly simplify your composition.
Looks perfect to me!
The exposure on the land looks good, but the sky is blown out/overexposed. A viewer's eye travels to the brightest part of the frame first typically, and here, the eye goes first to the sky which isn't our primary subject. If we darkened the sky, not only will we re-focus the viewer on the building, but we'll also create additional mood to your already moody image. You could use a graduated neutral density filter (yep, even with your Kodak!) to help balance the exposures better. A graduated neutral density filter starts off grey at the top then gradually fades to clear towards the bottom. The top grey part can hold back bright areas - like the sky - while keeping the land well exposed. If a filter is not available, you could use your exposure compensation capability on your Kodak to help you control the exposure for the entire frame. In this photo, we would want to underexpose the sky by subtracting light (the minus sign). This solution, however, means the entire frame will darken, so you'd need to lighten up the foreground in post-processing software later.
The sepia toning really creates a sense of that "Old West" feeling. Great job visualizing this effect and mood before you captured the image! It really works well with this subject and landscape. The lighting is a little flat and shapeless, as there are few shadows. Tough to do on an overcast day, especially if you're short on time, but it's best to find ways to capture your subject in side or back light, as these two directions of light help create shape and dimension in our photographs. This might mean consulting a tool like The Photographer's Ephemeris (http://photoephemeris.com) to determine the best time of day to capture the best light for your subject. It also may mean possibly revisiting the location multiple times to capture the light you desire. As I mentioned above, darkening the sky will help the viewer see the creek and building first.
Everything from front to back appears to be in focus.
Great job having a vision and controlling your camera such that the feeling of the "old west" came through in your nicely composed image. Using the sepia setting to capture a old-looking style was a perfect choice. Just need a few adjustments to capture more dimensional lighting without overexposing the sky and you're on your way!
How to improve your photo
Complete a "border patrol" scan in search of distracting elements (e.g. out of focus objects, bright spots) along the edges of your frame before creating the photograph. Recompose or reposition if you notice these objects.
Balance the exposure between the sky and land by using a graduated neutral density filter and/or through the exposure compensation capability on your camera.
Use a tool like The Photographer's Ephemeris (http://photoephemeris.com) to help you determine the best time of day to capture side or back light for your subject.
Get feedback on your photos from Pro Colleen Miniuk-Sperry