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DPChallenge Forums >> Challenge Results >> Score 5.99 or lower and want a critique? 05/13/07
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05/14/2007 12:53:18 AM · #1
Another challenge closure so I'll critique the first 10 images posted here.
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Disclaimer:
The views and opinions expressed here are subject to my own photographic views, bias and prejudice. The wise photographer will be able to extract from these critiques whatever helpful grains of truth they may contain.


05/16/2007 02:58:44 AM · #2
Goodie I made it...
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
Dont know how to post the pic here.. - but would love you to get your crit.
First entry after 2 years - and a bit rusted...
Score: 5.7
05/16/2007 05:42:21 AM · #3
I was gonna but, I already know what's wrong with it and it probably got higher than it deserved anyway.

skip me
05/16/2007 05:48:10 AM · #4
Originally posted by LynnS:

Dont know how to post the pic here.. - but would love you to get your crit.
First entry after 2 years - and a bit rusted...
Score: 5.7

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Positives:
This image shows the simplicity of African life very well. Strong silhouettes of the children and adults captures a moment of play and the background sky contributes to the overall feeling.

Technicals:
Solid dark silhouettes. It appears there are foreground grasses that are out of focus; due in part because of shooting at f/3.2. The out of focus grasses act as a viewer distraction. The composition is unbalanced with the people clustered on the left side. There is a lot of dead image space both on the far right and the top that contributes little to the composition as a whole. Sharpness, which is critical in silhouette images, is OK but could be crisper. The sky is on the dull side compared to what it could be.

This image has a very unusual luminosity curve. It has three spikes on the right side, one for each RGB color, that is not expected and highly unusual. Also, the luminosity curve is severely truncated on the right side. That should never happen. It has a large luminosity spike on the far left typical of silhouette compositions, but that is expected and not at issue.

I suspect the unusual luminosity curve resulted either from underexposing the picture, some sort of camera settings and/or from post processing. I suspect the spikes resulted from post processing though I don't know how. You were probably adjusting sky color or trying to make the silhouettes blacker.

The Challenge:
The average score in the challenge was 5.44. You placed 24th out of 87 submissions with a score of 5.7. By DPC standards that is above average and most likely is because of the silhouettes. Though it was taken at a multi-cultural event that is not apparent to casual voters and that may have held down the score slightly.

Suggestions:
There are a number of technical changes that could be applied to this image to enhance the silhouettes:
1-A simple levels adjustment would add considerable brightness and color to the background sky. Just drag the rightmost white triangle left to touch the luminosity curve. That is a standard levels adjustment. The sky will become much brighter and its color much richer with just that simple adjustment. You can also make the silhouette "blacker" by simply dragging the middle triangle to the right a little. It will also add color to the sky.

2-Crop the image different. Make it a much tighter crop on the people. They are your main subject and you should devote as much image real estate to them as possible. Crop off the top and left sides of the image. It will improved balance, better highlight the people and get rid of some of the distracting out of focus grasses at the same time.

3-If shot at a higher f/number than f/3.2 you would have greater depth of field and could get better focus in the remaining foreground grasses. Your shutter speed was 1/450th so you had room to work with to increase your depth of field while still having a fast enough shutter speed to get stop action.

4-Sharpen for a sharper edge to the silhouettes without adding haloing. Sharpening is an artform that has to be studied and practiced.

Your picture would not have scored so well if it weren't good to start with. The above suggestions will just highlight its best features more, that is all.
05/16/2007 05:48:55 AM · #5
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As always many thanks
05/16/2007 06:16:49 AM · #6
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Thanks in advance. ( Unfortunately shot this one through the window)
05/16/2007 06:41:37 AM · #7
Originally posted by TIHadi:

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Positives:
Generally good technicals. Creative and interesting to look at. The refections off the back wall adds considerable viewer interest to the composition.

Technicals:
Lighting, exposure and color are very good. Centered framing with a strait on perspective is fine. The backlighting with the wall shadows and reflected light is the most eye appealing part of the image.

The white ruffle on the right "shoulder" is a slight distraction. On my sharpness sensitive LCD monitor the "hair" on either side of the "face" has a small case of the jaggies, but otherwise the sharpness is top notch.

There is a slight amount of noise, probably due to shooting at ISO 800.

The Challenge:
Meets the challenge well and somewhat creatively. That, the nice shadowy background and generally good technicals is why it scored about .5 higher than the challenge average. Voters thought it was good. I scored this one 8 which, in my grading scale, essentially means I agreed with the group assessment. I consider 8 to be "B" level work - it is above average but not the top tier.

Some voters might have felt your composition was a bit contrived and faulted you for that. That is probably where the "1" came from.

Suggestions:
This image is well conceived and the technical processing is good so there is not much to suggest other than cloning out the white ruffle on the right shoulder and smoothing out the "jaggies" in the hair. Noise could have been reduced by shooting at a lower ISO number and increasing the exposure time. The image is static so a longer exposure time would not have been harmful assuming you are using a tripod.

Perhaps taking the image from a different angle from the "strait on" perspective might have added enough viewer interest to garner a higher score and given it a more dramatic voodoo doll look, especially with the very interesting background wall lighting.
05/16/2007 06:51:30 AM · #8
I really thank you for the time and effort you allow us here. You really go into the details.
THANKS
05/16/2007 06:59:57 AM · #9
am I too late? My image was DQ'd after just one comment, I would love to know what others think despite unintentially breaking the rules.

Thank you

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05/16/2007 07:17:18 AM · #10
Originally posted by mia67:

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Positives:
Sharpness of and color in the animal's face is it's most attractive feature. Touching image and the composition is good.

Technicals:
Having the eyes as the sharpest part of the image is its greatest technical strength. The rest of the image is a bit softly focused which isn't a bad thing.

The white spots are a major distraction in this image. The white on the side of the main animal's face is overexposed and the white area at the upper right is also a distraction, though lesser than the others. Colors are a little weak with a slight blue color cast. (that might have been by design or from being shot through dirty windows :) )

The Challenge:
Your image finished almost smack dab in the middle of the pack. That means voters felt this image was average for the challenge. The touching aspect of the capture counteracted its technical flaws. Voters were kind to this image. It is almost as if most did not see the white window spots or simply overlooked them. I did not vote this challenge but would have given your image a passing but below average score because of the technical flaws. My score would have been a 6 which, ironically, is higher than it's group average. If I'd have agreed with the group I'd give it a 7.

Suggestions:
The most important suggestion is to clone out the horrible white spots on the windows. Don't know if the overexposed area on the right side of the face is recoverable, but if it is then it could be corrected with dodge and burn. Darkening the blob in the upper right corner will reduce it as a distraction in the composition. A subtle vignette might look nice as well and direct even more attention to the animal's face.
05/16/2007 08:02:53 AM · #11
Originally posted by sabphoto:

My image was DQ'd after just one comment, I would love to know what others think despite unintentially breaking the rules.

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Positives:
Nice concept to use selective desat to make your main subject's traditional garb stand out even more from the other western clad people in the image. It makes for a nice photographic metaphor.

Technicals:
Good job with the selective desat(DQ?). The fact her leg is behind and between the legs of the girl in the foreground makes the desat an even stronger component of the image.

Unfortunately her face color is a bit over red. It is a touch oversharpened (like I usually do) which adds some digital artifacting to the image in borders with sharp contrast. Black and white tones are weak.

The Challenge:
Meets the challenge. Your only commenter hit the nail on the head when he said, "Good looking picture but i would have liked to have seen the boats". You have boat in the title, but no boats in the picture. This is one of the few images where the title could seriously downgrade the score. Your image looked to be heading strait toward middle scoring based on the beginning votes it got before DQ.

I'm guessing that creating the desat, which is the best part of this image, is what also what got it DQed.

Suggestions:
Correcting a red face is easy and basic challenge legal. Create a "Curves" adjustment layer, select the red channel then grab and drag the center down away from the word red. It will have a dramatic impact on face color with a very small adjustment but will slightly weaken all reds.

Tonality is the smooth transition between shades of grey in black and white images and shades of a single color in color images. The smoother the transition the better the tonality of the image. Your image does not have smooth greys. Reducing the contrast and/or changing the black and white points of the image might help. Subtle adjustments in a "selective color" adjustment layer in the blacks and greys can allow you to retain better tonality without making the image look flat.

A different title, like "Sagawa Festival", might have worked better if it had remained in the challenge.
05/16/2007 08:08:23 AM · #12
Thank you so much, has to be the best critique I've ever gotten. Very helpful.

btw...my DQ wasn't really cause of the selective desat but because I created a mask on that desat layer to bring back her colors...oops. Didn't realize that was considered using a selection tool.

Thank you again.
05/16/2007 08:46:50 AM · #13
Thanks Steve - have to agree with sabphoto - first crit ever that actually took the time to give me something to work with and that I can learn from!
05/16/2007 12:51:05 PM · #14
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Thanks in advance, Steve. I'm not usually one to question my scores. They are what they are. This one, I just don't understand. Please help me understand.
05/16/2007 01:17:05 PM · #15
Your insight is always appreciated ....

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05/16/2007 03:45:19 PM · #16
Originally posted by larryslights:

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Positives:
Pretty pose and good facial capture showing quiet beauty and personality. You've captured a good expression.

Technicals:
Nicely composed to the rule of thirds, background works well for a natural setting environmental portrait. Background color is fine but you model looks slightly pale. That might be natural for her.

Don't know what you used the healing brush for but you must have done it well since I don't see any healing tool artifacts.

You don't say if flash was used but it does not look like it. Backlighting in portraits is tricky and this image needs added facial lighting, particularly in the eyes which are darkened. Your model's necklace is pretty but the edge is right at the edge of the frame and that acts as a distraction. The image is very slightly oversharpened in a couple places: there is a touch of "jaggies" in her hair in front and along her shoulders.

Camera settings seem fine for this composition.

The Challenge:
Your score of 5.2 was .4 lower than the challenge average. Voters thought it below average for the challenge but not "bad".

In free study compositions voters generally look for higher technical quality than in other challenges. This one was different because it operated under Expert rules so technical expectations were even higher. That probably negatively affected this image in voting. The technicals are not bad, but any little defect nixed images in this challenge.

Probably the lack of facial lighting hurt this image more than any other single factor.

Suggestions:
When taking backlighted subjects you generally need some sort of lighting source to fill out lighting on the face. Reflectors and flash can be used. You could also place you subject in shade for better lighting balance.

Filler flash technique
There is an easy little trick for respectable filler flash that doesn't wash out your subjects face in backlighted situations. In manual mode turn on your flash and set camera settings underexposed up to 1 full f/stop on your subject's face. When you take the picture your camera will automatically adjust the amount of flash to make your exposure "right". That works effectively as filler flash for strong backlighting. If you don't set the camera underexposed on your subject's face the flash will not fire because it determines it doesn't need to.
End Filler Flash Technique

Adjust skin color
You can adjust skin color with another simple technique. Add a "Curves" adjustment layer, scroll to the red channel and then simply drag the center up toward the word "red" to add more red color to skin or drag it away from the word "red" to reduce the amount of red in skin color. A surprisingly small adjustment will have a dramatic impact on skin color. Use a selection if you only want to affect skin color alone. In your case you might consider dragging upward to add some color to her skin.
End Skin Color

You might consider cropping your subject a little tighter to eliminate the necklace distraction right on the edge of the frame. Your subject will be larger in the frame, you can still preserve your rule of thirds framing and the necklace will exit the frame above it's edge thus reducing it as a distraction.

Lastly, you might consider using the blur tool gingerly to remove the "jaggies" in the hair and along the edge of your subject's shoulders.
05/16/2007 04:12:15 PM · #17
Originally posted by cpanaioti:

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Positives:
Interesting minimalist composition. Technical quality combined with a good stop action capture are it's main strength. Nice bright backlighting framing the bird.

Technicals:
Solid technical quality. Color, lighting are fine. Looks like you maximized your camera settings to get as good of stop action as possible under the lighting conditions. That is tough when you have to anticipate the action like in a shot such as this.

Despite the shallow DOF the background still looks more mottled than smooth and that is slightly distracting.

It is generally better to capture these shots from the front rather than from behind. That is it's biggest compositional defect. Its a very solid image, though.

The Challenge:
This image scored middle average for the challenge. Voters thought this image was run of the mill. I voted this one 9, which is well above average by my scoring. I like the capture, general technical quality and framing. If taken from in front of the bird it had got a 10.

Suggestions:
You might consider doing a rough selection of the bird and applying some gaussian blur and/or noise reduction to the rest of the image to smooth out the background.

Next time try to capture that bird flying toward you. LOL!!!!
05/16/2007 04:50:39 PM · #18
Thanks Steve.

In general birds tend to fly away from, rather than towards people. ;o)
Especially little ones. This was maxed at 400mm as it is.
05/16/2007 05:46:33 PM · #19
Thanks, Steve. YOU ROCK!
05/22/2007 11:07:18 AM · #20
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Please Critique this for me. It scored really low, but has been well recieved in other forums. I think perhaps people missed the contrast beteen the rough concrete hair, and the silky smooth eyes and face of the statue (I failed as a photographer if that was why I recieved so many fours). The statue was only 2 feet tall.

Message edited by author 2007-05-23 09:22:32.
05/23/2007 06:23:11 AM · #21
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Message edited by author 2007-05-24 13:05:52.
05/25/2007 10:41:48 AM · #22
I think you haven't hit 10 yet? If I'm wrong, I'll catch you on the next round. Thanks!

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05/25/2007 10:55:50 AM · #23
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/682/thumb/512256.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/682/thumb/512256.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' Hey Steve, Would love your comments if you get a chance.
05/25/2007 11:52:56 AM · #24
I see you guys discovered I had not got up to 10 critiques yet from way back. LOL!!!

These last few get me up to the magic number. :) I'll have to get on them.
05/25/2007 12:41:09 PM · #25
Originally posted by stdavidson:

I see you guys discovered I had not got up to 10 critiques yet from way back. LOL!!!

These last few get me up to the magic number. :) I'll have to get on them.


Yeah, sorry about that! I saw the last post was dated 5/23 and thought it wasn't an old thread - silly me didn't notice the date in the thread title! :)
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