::: Critique Club ::: Greetings from the critique club! Is the subtitle "Scenes from an Italian Restraunt?" :)
First Impression - the most important one: It's clearly relevant to the challenge, but I don't think it has enough emotion to be a ribbon winner.
The composition of this photo is definatley one of its strong points. The candle is nicely off center. The rays of light lead the viewer's eye through the center of the photo and out to the corners. Rule of thirds and off-center composition are very much "in vogue" these days, and your shot is right on target. I especially like the crop around the candle. Any more of the candle would have been unnecessary... we know what it is already, and would have detracted from the lines of light radiating out from it.
The subject of this photo is not particularly emotive, nor does it tell a story. That's the major weakness of this photo, and it's hard to correct. If you had used a candle, instead of a flashlight, you might have been able to get some of the fire, which would have at least created some action. As it is we are left with the beams of light, and we are forced to imagine some action in, or personify, that light.
On the other hand, the lines in the candle are strong and interesting.
Technical (Colour and light):
The color is strong. The reddish-orange emotes warmth, exactly what you would expect from the candle. The lighting is very well done, from that standpoint it's better than many in this challenge. The temptation to do a silhouette is nearly irrestistable, but you've managed to light a scene.
Aha, but is there a scene, or is the light itself the point of this picture? I wonder if it would have been a stronger picture if you set out a salt and pepper shaker, a plate with some pasta on it, even a couple paper placemats with rings of wine stains in them from the bottom of a glass... Then you'd have a scene and given the voters a setting they could imagine themselves in.
I digress. My other technical comment relates to sharpness and focal point. There isn't a single part of this photo that is critically sharp. What do you want the viewer to look at? Highlight that area with focus. You didn't leave any exposure information, so I don't know if you chose an aperature with depth of field in mind, but that can be a powerful tool to make the viewer center on a particular part of an image.
To get a Ribbon?:
The voters seem to agree that this is a nice image, but nice images don't win ribbons at DPC. You've got to make a strong impact on them, which this photo just doesn't do.
You shouldn't be disappointed with the finish for this shot. It scored a strong 5, which is about right, and in the middle of the pack for the challenge. About right for this shot... it's well executed but doesn't leave the viewer breathless like the winners usually do. Keep shooting pictures, with a focus on conveying an emotion, and you should do well.
Finally, I'd like to ask you to consider "critiquing the critique." A lot of effort goes into these critiques, and I enjoy learning how I can do them better. Does what I said make sense? Is it way off base? Did I enlighten you? Offend you? Please let me know via a private message what you think of this critique, so I can give better ones in the future.