Black & White Photography Photo Critique
by Brian Devon
Category: Black & White Photography
Canon PowerShot G11
Lens: Zoom: Variable focal
Exposure time: 1/200 ,
Description: Trying to capture an expressive moment of ranch life in Montana
Subject of photo
Composition & Perspective
Use of camera, exposure & speed
Color & Lighting
Depth of field
The cattle, horses & riders, and dogs are a great action subject with plenty of conveyed emotion. The mountains featured in the background also help set a scene that is telling a story of hard work and excitement maybe even danger. The only improvement would be if there was a cow more in the foreground with the rider
I like the long almost panoramic layout. The sky has interest and the movement flows from the two foreground elements (the dogs and horse+rider) to the right where there is more open space. This for me makes a harmonious composition with a sense of movement. The perspective seems to be from on top another horse - this puts the viewer on equal level with the main subject. I wonder what it would look like taken from the ground and whether it would have been a nicer composition?
The detail elements seem to all be there: I can see the horse's mane and grass in reasonable focus.
The speed setting seems to have be right to freeze the motion, but the whole image is very dark and details are lost in the shadows especially. I dont know if some of this happened when you added the BW and duotone effects, but I think there is room there to pull some detail out of the shadows and make elements of the is composition more evident - the cattle and second rider especially. This problem is a lack of highlight - a true "white" point and not a big enough and bright enough range of midtones.
The natural lighting on the mountain and rider when you took this photo look very nice. The brown tone you have chosen is a better choice than a straight black and white, but once the whole image is lightened up and contrast adjusted to include brighter highlights and lights, I think it would become too red for my taste. Try it with a touch more yellow and/or blue in the brown tone to see what you think.
Works very well as is in this composition. The texture evident on the mountains adds to the story of a rugged place.
You captured a great moment not many get to experience first hand. Bravo for having a camera and having the eye to compose a great shot. The composition and subject matter are very good and from what I can tell you have captured the image with decent natural lighting, DOF , degree of sharpness. Duotone, sepia, or BW is a good choice for this image, but the image is overall too dark and is loosing detail as a result. The image needs a tone curve adjustment to bring out detail through lightening the in shadows and darks , and a little in the middle/light region.
How to improve your photo
If your software has it, try the fill light function to see what it can do for the details in the cattle , around the light colored cow, and the dogs. If you are comfortable with the Curves function, try manipulating the curve brighter on the bottom left (darker) end first. The lighter tones in general can go brighter. To easily demonstrate the effect try a Levels slider with just the right hand (lighter) side. To move this too much will just cause the sky to be distracting. All the interesting stuff is lost in the shadows so concentrate there.
Once you have improved the overall tone and contrast, you may want to try a slightly different hue to the brown. If you have Adobe Lightroom, experiment with creative duotones - this is one color to represent black and another similar or contrasting color for the "white" you can get some really creative effects
You have access and knowledge of an appealing subject matter that is fascinating to many people. You have a creative eye that might warrant getting a nicer camera and creating some prints for a gallery in a tourist area.
Get feedback on your photos from Pro Gregory Sweeney