Join Steve Simon for an in-depth discussion in this video Evaluating the details to find the best image, part of Photo Critique of the Week.
- [Steve] You know I wonder how many great photographers there are out there that we'll never know about because their editing skills are not that good. Hi I'm Steve Simon, The Passionate Photographer. And welcome to a new edition of photo critique of the week. And obviously you have to learn to kind of recognize your strongest work or else you're kind of selling yourself short. You're best stuff is not getting out there. And this comes with time, with practice, with experience.
Your confidence will grow so that you'll begin to understand why this picture's better than the next. Hopefully this show is contributing to that knowledge as well. I've got a couple of examples this week where I'm just going to show you the sequence of images and to let you know what I thought was the best of the bunch and see if it jives with your thinking as we go through here. So we've got two very different scenes. The first one was a protest in Buenos Aires, and it's just basically the sign and the police behind.
And I thought it was kind of interesting, not necessarily to show the police. Now some of you will recognize what this says. I don't. But I'm just going purely from the visual. But of course the words play an important role as well, sometimes to enhance the power of the photograph. But I'm just purely going on an aesthetic in content without knowing the actual words that are there. You can see that the adjustments are subtle. But in the end, this was the picture, and as often happens, these subtle little adjustments, the straightening out of the line at the bottom, as you can see in keeping that yellow line in there.
'Cause it's basically a black and white image except for the yellow. The yellow is the predominant color in there. The other thing I will mention is when you look at how the sign was up there, for me it was, for whatever reason, much more interesting that the wind is pushing this sign backwards. So there's some stress here that's not there here. This looks like a pretty relaxed scene. As the wind starts to kind of push things back here, even the officers in the back look a little bit more tense.
You can see here, too, that the picture that I've ultimately selected, without cropping and getting it in camera, and that's something that of course I'm always trying to do, but often on the street, you know, there's not enough time to perfect that aesthetic and composition. So for me, leave it a little bit loose, get what you need to be in focus and focus, capture that decisive moment, and then maintain the aspect ratio, and then choose the cropping that will maximize the power of the image.
So you can see there's some journalists there and they're all kind of out of the picture here. So for me, this picture was the best of the bunch. And you can sort of see how things started with that sort of first shot on the right here, which I kind of like too. You know, you can see the journalists. There's kind of waiting around. But ultimately I think this was the best decision. So I don't know if you agree, but let me know.
And then the next scenario here is just this little vignettte, this little moment of this young man in Havana with some cigars. And you can see that maybe that's his grandfather maybe, I want to say, but you know, someone who is trusted, and the woman also in the front there. And it looks like he's learning a little bit about the cigar culture. I don't think he's getting them for himself. But maybe he's getting them for his dad or his mom.
And the pictures are very kind of similar. So the idea is, how do you choose, what is most important here? One of the things I noticed here was the catch lights in his eye, which to me were kind of important, because when they're not there, and they're still here there, but it's not so much evident here, definitely not there, and here it's not. So the right angle has to be had. And when the catch light's not there, it's just a tiny little thing but it does make a difference.
So I wanted to make sure that his eye, because he's really the star of the image, was illuminated to a certain degree. So here he's kind of looking down at the cigar. Whereas, when he's starting to look kind of at the man here, to me it's a more powerful connection. His expression is more interesting and it makes for a stronger image, than when he's just looking at the cigars. So when the catch light is there, he's looking, I think that works.
You can see the woman in the background. She's just kind of in her own world. She's not looking at anything. But when she looks at this gentleman, to me it's the strongest one. We've got the catch light here, we've got this sort of triangular scenario in terms of how the viewers eye looks. Because she's out of focus, part of where you're going to look in the photo is directed by the composition. And by including this young guy in this particular spot, you can look at the thirds idea here. By instinct, to me often is the best, but not always.
And I would say that 75% of the time my initial gut feelings for when I'm choosing images are right on, but it's always good to go back, especially if it's a series or a photo that you really like, to make sure after time has passed, to take another look and decide, you know, did I make that right decision or do I want to alter my decision. Because probably 25% of the time with a strong image, and we shoot so much, but it's only the strong images you want to sort of give that kind of extra scrutiny.
I'll change my mind. I'll decide to crop it differently. I'll decide to choose a different frame for whatever reason. And it's always good to get a second opinion because sometimes people will tell you things that you just didn't see. So posting your images, sharing your images, really important in terms of your development as a photographer. So there you go. I hope this was useful. I hope, too, that you are going to join me on the next episode of photo critique of the week.
Check back each week to watch as more critiques are added, covering new work from many different genres. This series is designed to help you discover how to improve your work as a photographer. By heightening your awareness through analysis, you can harness the information to enhance your photographic eye.
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