Animal Photography Photo Critique
curious baby racoons
by steve riebe
Category: Animal Photography
Canon Digital Rebel XS
Lens: Standard: 30-50mm
Description: thought it was nice,from our back yard
Subject of photo
Composition & Perspective
Use of camera, exposure & speed
Depth of field
There is certainly no doubt as to the subjects! Adorable.
Composition, however, is what labels this as a common snapshot and no better. Your subjects are dead center in the photo. This rarely ever makes for a good composition. The split in the trees is interesting, however, even this could be much better. For this shot, even though it was done quickly, a much better composition / perspective would be in a portrait (vertical) format. The raccoons could have been placed near the top of the frame and the trees would have served as leading lines to your subjects.
Focus is not what it should be because of allowing full auto focus point selection by the camera. The trees are in sharp focus, not the raccoons, (though they are not badly out of focus). You should be taking control of the focus point. When you allow the camera to choose where to focus, it will pick whatever subject is closest to the camera, in this case the trees and leaves, instead of the raccoons.
Exposure if ok, though the raccoons are not as well lit as they should be. This, however, would require some fill flash, which considering this was a shot taken quickly, I realize there was not time to set up for that. However, use of spot metering instead of matrix metering and use of exposure lock could have given you better exposure on the raccoons, though with the likely result of some over exposure of the surrounding area. But the purpose of this critique is use of camera, and the photo shows a lack of control on your part. You are letting the camera make too many decisions for you.
Another issue of letting the camera make decisions automatically. Either being in full control of focal point or using a smaller aperture would have improved the depth of field. A smaller aperture, even with the camera choosing focus point, would have resulted in more depth of field and thus the raccoons would render sharper. Or, by setting a larger aperture and being in full control of focus point would have resulted in the raccoons being sharp, but a more shallow depth of field for a pleasing blur around the subjects.
When all is said and done, Steve, this is really no more than a snapshot with the camera making all the decisions for you. Yes, they are cute raccoons, but this site is about the technical virtues and skill shown in the creation of a photograph. While the photo was a quick shot at the time, even at that it could have been much better with some basic, better photographic principles applied.
How to improve your photo
Look up and study about the RULE OF THIRDS. This is a long established technique for good composition that goes a long way in separating amateur snapshots from professional photographs.
Learn your camera! Read and study your owners manual. Read and study any online or print media about the basics of photography. Know the relationship of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Understand composition and exposure. Photography is learning to use the camera as merely a tool to create a photograph into something that was a pre-conceived idea / goal in the mind of the photographer BEFORE the shutter button was ever pushed.
Get your camera out of automatic modes. Your DSLR is capable of great things, but unless you take the lead to be in command of it, rather than it being in command of you, you will never realize the full potential of the tool.
Get feedback on your photos from Pro Steven K Parrott