I recently was at a few photography club presentations to see what the experts had to say, one, a photography club juried meeting. Images were displayed and a judge critiqued them.
I did not enter my images, I was just there to watch the process. It really got me thinking on how much should you show, like I explored last post. The subject was not mentioned in this particular judging, but it jumped out at me because of a number of points critiqued.
They were reviewing many styles of photography, but the presenters’ specialty in both instances was wildlife photography. There was a noticeable interest in closeup photography too, which I touched on last post. The competition was very interesting and I did learn some things. Some things I questioned though.
Points critiqued were often on focus and clarity. I listened intently, and because I can do macro relatively well, I was thinking critically myself. Generally, it got me thinking, “Where is the interest?”
Is There Interest…
A simple image below. What feeling do you get? Spring, Fall, storybook land?
Well, it is Spring where the geese are nesting. The sun lit a small portion of the forest on a tree clinging to last year’s leaves. The spot of sun was making the scene catch my eye. To me this added a bit of magic, but is there interest?
What would have made the image better? A fawn in the brightly lit clearing? Is that a beaver hut I did not even notice until I loaded the images? See how powerful the sun “tunnel” was to the scene? I missed what could have been the focus of the image.
A swimming beaver crossing that bright spot in the water would have heightened the magic. Of course that requires patience and a very still, quiet photographer. If you saw Playing Tourist or Photos of Substance, you know I am rather impatient, so no beaver for you today.
The more I listen to the experts, the more I was thinking. I find the judge critiques primarily on the technical. I saw soft images with depth and emotion, images making one think or wonder? To me these images were strong even with the flaws. Does the photo below make you want to walk into this forest?
In this post, I have numerous technical issues that could be improved. In the first image, the goose is looking off to the left, and has more room on the right side of the photo than the left – the direction the goose is looking. Some images are centered, often a compositional problem, some a tad dark an exposure issue. Some could have used a bump in vibrancy.
One presenter said when shooting wildlife, make sure to focus on the eyes. It is good advice to make that connection with the subject. But…
An image can be more than a standard portrait like above though. I find showing wildlife from behind can make an expressive image, yet the presenter really shunned images that did not show the eyes of the subject. I can imagine more from the image below since it has a pensive feeling.
Having both type of images in this post, I happen to like those from behind. They would not likely win a prize from the judge at this competition though.
One recent talk I attended, the speaker was saying if a bird’s leg was raised, that was “action”. It might make the photo a wee bit more interesting, but is that action?
The goose in this post has a leg raised to stand perfectly still. In my post, Lesser or Greater, that bird also had a leg raised which gives interest in either case, but there was late afternoon light as well. Many thought the place was “peaceful” and I thought finding that feeling made the images successful. I wonder what the presenter would have thought on my Yellowlegs photos?
The same speaker also said photos of eagles flying were not that interesting. I guess that depends on if they are more common a bird to see?
I know how hard it is to get an eagle in flight photo, the one above was almost 3/4 of a mile across the marsh according to a local birder at the reserve, and is why I settle for ducks and geese most times. The goose below had me a bit wary, I thought it was after me, I guess safer than an eagle though. Pooh on the rule of thirds, this goose was coming dead center.
I have been joking that the eagles were a mile away, yet they almost were.
What feeling do you get from the image below? Can it make your imagination wonder?