Animal Photography Photo Critique
Mother and child
by hans peters
Category: Animal Photography
Lens: Zoom: Variable focal
Exposure time: 1/400 ,
Description: The photo was taken in a zoo and was taken for the expression of the mother and the light.
Subject of photo
Composition & Perspective
Use of camera, exposure & speed
Color & Lighting
Depth of field
One of the places you can be sure to find images that are commonplace and less than dramatic are at the zoo. Having said that I have to also say that, in this instance, the treatment of this subject is outstanding. Although the image is of two captive primates, there is a touching and poignant sense of humanity that comes through and enables the viewer to be moved to something akin to resonance.
I like the balance and movement of the image. The mother is looking towards the camera, but not quite into the lens, while the baby looks, conversely, towards the right frame of the image. I think capturing the subjects in this manner provides a much more subtle and naturalistic feel. I am reminded of the expression on the Mona Lisa when I look at the face of the mother. Enigmatic.
From the resolution provided, the subject appears to be acceptably in focus.
Considering the apparent natural low light conditions I think the exposure iso and aperture settings appropriate. ISO 400 can sometimes yield some noisy results on some cameras but in this case I don't see any discernible areas of noise or artifacts that degrade this image. For the lighting available it was probably the best ISO and aperture to use (F8 yielding a sharper image in many cases than other stops)considering no tripod was used.
I think one of this images strongest points (and it has many) is its rich yet subtle colors and its dramatic portrait like lighting. I really don't think that any substantial criticisms are in order for the choices made in these areas. But I think that perhaps a levels adjustment in Photoshop to bring out the highlight end of the curve would yield a little more detail in the shadows and reveal the interesting tufts of hair on the left side of the mothers face, as well as some selective dodging of the mid tones and highlights in the mothers eyes would make the beautiful shade of orange in them pop a little more, but these are subjective 'improvements' and the image would still be a powerful one without them.
Good depth of field, although there isn't much of one to worry about considering the fact that both mother and baby are pretty much in the same plane and there is no background. But I like the fact that both subjects are crisp and in focus.
This is a beautiful and compelling image. It is reminiscent of a studio portrait or one of many of the iconic covers on a Nat Geo magazine. It has a very painterly effect and the mood created by the lighting and composition is artfully accomplished.
How to improve your photo
Selective dodging of some highlights as noted under 'color and lighting'
Slight adjustment to levels in Photoshop to bring forth some highlight and shadow detail to create more depth.
Slight cropping to bring mother closer to left hand margin of the image. This is not critical however as the image is very well balanced even as a center composition.
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