Travel Photography Photo Critique
by regina gill
Category: Travel Photography
Canon Digital Rebel XS
Lens: Standard: 30-50mm
Subject of photo
Composition & Perspective
Use of camera, exposure & speed
Color & Lighting
Depth of field
Hi Regina, This is in fact a very interesting subject, and you've caught a great moment of the water from the waves coming down the rocks into this opening. But there's something strange and intriguing in the water that is coming down like a waterfall, it looks as if it was stretched. This whole image has a mysterious feel to it that I enjoy.
The problem, or one of it's problems, to start my hopefully positive critique, is that you left very little breading space on the bottom and the piece of rock where the water is falling to is to close to the border, not showing what seems to be interesting water texture. But I like the idea of having a lighter and a darker rock, one facing the other. The composition of the elements is not that bad, but it seems it wasn't thought of.
An item I never quite seem to be sure of with the resolution of the images here in GuruShots, but I'm going to say you nailed it.
This is where for me thing are not as perfect. To start of with a problem, you're using the built in flash of your camera. And if sometimes that may work well this time it didn't. The light of the left rock is not only unnatural and artificial but also not very pleasing, and the rock lost most of it's texture and interesting light. Also, the exposure is not appropriate for the situation. You'd say that there was a huge difference in light from the shadows to the high lights... and that's right, there was, so the flash might have seemed as a solution to solve the problem. But for a flash to solve this problem you would have needed a good one, not a built in, and it would have to be pointing from another angle, not the same of the shot, in a way that it could render some interesting textures on the stone. It could still have an artificial look but it had to but moved around till you'd find a good angle for it so that the rock could stay interesting as I'm sure it is. You don't have any texture on the deepest shadows, which cover a significant percentage of the area here and the highlights are also burned out with no texture at all... This is something that should be avoided as most as possible in photography. Some times is works perfectly but rarely does.
Once more the use of the flash spoiled the light. I do love the light of the background rock though and I'm sure that you were looking at a beautifully litten view of the rocks.
You're using a wide aperture and probably the wider end of you lens also, so the lack of DoF is not very noticeable. I guess here a smaller DoF would be harder to master.
My general impression is that you found a great spot to make a good photograph but then you didn't know how to make it work great, and that's perfectly OK because none of us PROs did it great from the start of our learning experiences. This means you've came to the right place. With me or with other GuruShots PROs I'm sure that you'll be getting some great results in no time. I'll be honored to help you through your learning process.
How to improve your photo
First of all, and this is something I always say, don't use any of the automatic functions of your camera. Try and do it all manually. At first it might seem harder to do well but in time you'll get used to it and the results will start improving.
The second advice, if you plan to do this type of high contrast situation again, is to use RAW. Only shoot with RAW if you don't want to loose a big part of light information on your captures. I never use any thing else than RAW wile shooting... and never, but never use JPEG, it's the worse file ever for image capture. No way anyone can do good in limit situations like this with a JPEG.
The solution for exposing in this situation would be to make more than one shot, so that you could have both the shadow and the highlights textures. You could also go for an exposure to the highlights sacrificing the shadows texture, leaving them back, but it's always good to have the chance to give them just a little bit of texture, not the make them pop but to give this subject the quality it deserves.
Once again, sorry for repeating..., don't use your built in flash unless you doing that sort of snapshots of friends where the built in flash works, which is also very hard to take into great results. A direct flash from the same angle and coming from such small reflection area as the opening of a built in, rarely gives good results. Don't use it... In a situation like this, where you want to feel the rocks texture, never have it coming from the same angle as the shot, it will only flat your image... it will show what's there or what it could catch but it will flatten in.
There is an interesting thing that you could have done also, which is to a long shutter time so that you have the movement of the sea in a flow rather than sparkling texture and in this case the light is low enough that you can just close your aperture and speed down the shot. I can't say about the light there because it would be very different in different weather conditions outside, but I can imagine that it was possible to go under 1/4s. But that is something I could only no being there to see the intensity of the light.
While doing your manual exposures you have many possible approaches, you can measure each zone from the highlight to the shadow, you can use a grey card and just measure the light that's being reflected by the card (but you have to take the card to the litten area you're shooting), and you can study the Zone System and train your self into understanding where each litten are fits in each zone. The photometer only knows the existence of the grey card so it will always measure as if everything is grey. If you can know that an area fits with the zone VII you just have to open two stops so the it is correctly exposed. I'm going to share this critique in my Facebook page, as I always do, so if you wish to give me some feedback and maybe network a little with me or any of amateur and professional photographer enthusiasts I usually network with your welcome to. I'm sorry if I came a bit harsh in my critique but I think it's better to be true and say what needs to be said than just tell you how wounderfull it is and not help you at all. See you soon, Cheers
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