Image doctor: the critiques

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Sponsored by EIZO and a regular part of Australian Photography magazine for more than a decade, the Image Doctor, photo educator Saima Morel, can give constructive feedback on your images, with a selection of her favourite submissions appearing in print in AP mag every month.

If you want feedback on your images (it's free!), you can find out the details for submission here. 

Nikon Z6, Nikkor 20mm f1.8 lens. 0.6s @ f14, ISO 100.
Nikon Z6, Nikkor 20mm f1.8 lens. 0.6s @ f14, ISO 100.

Subtle simplicity

John Torkington was travelling along the south coast of Western Australia and captured this image just after sunset. He said, “Throughout the afternoon the sky had been clear but just as the sun went down a few wisps of cloud appeared which reinforced that you never know how the light will change.

I like the leading lines provided by the rock and the shoreline, and the way the light is reflected as the waves ran out.”

This is a lovely serene image with good colour and mood. The line of water, and the combination of dry sand and wet sand with reflections adds interest. I also like the fact that the dark defining line of land gives it a presence but doesn’t overwhelm. The point of view is good and that half-submerged rock in the foreground evokes thoughts of a primitive sea creature.

All in all, I think that you should be very pleased with this. The use of the wide-angle lens means that the horizon appears bowed, but this is something that can be “unbent” in Lightroom – if you wish.

Saima’s Tip: Simple content in images allows the interesting or unusual to stand out and hold interest.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon 24-70mm
f/2.8 lens @ 70mm.
3/10s @ f3.5, ISO 2000.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens @ 70mm. 3/10s @ f3.5, ISO 2000.

Moody elements

Craig Stampfli wrote that this image was made below the Gateway Bridge in Brisbane, after months of planning with the model, “discussing poses and outfits and also confirming a date and time that would allow us to access the lower platform when the tide was high enough on the Brisbane River.

I think I am getting to the upper end of my camera’s high ISO capabilities. However, I am not complaining at all as we were able to get our vision for the shoot captured fully.”

I am not sure what the vision for that naked woman is in this shot, but there are certainly some wonderfully moody elements typical of 1940s film noir in the scene. The dark shapes and shadows with the towering pillars of the bridge and those lights provide wonderful drama and atmosphere.

A human figure gives a sense of scale, but I think it could have been achieved in a subtler way and a touch of mystery would suit this scene really well. In the 1940s movies, it could have been a shady figure in a trench coat disappearing into the shadows or a face peering out from behind a pillar.

Saima’s Tip: Black-and-white night images with a lot of shadows and minimal lighting offer potential for a story with mystery and intrigue.

Samsung Galaxy S10+ smartphone, no EXIF data.
Samsung Galaxy S10+ smartphone, no EXIF data.

Framing in the forest

Amal Husseini’s Japanese visit included a remote mountainous highland Valley in Nagano Prefecture. Amal wrote: “Kamikochi is preserved in its natural state within Chubu Sangaku National Park; the area is known for its scenic beauty.”

A Japanese autumn is famous for the wonderful colours in foliage. However, this image is far too light to be able to show what remains of the golden leaves on these trees. An extra stop darker would intensify the colour.

Moving to the left to frame, and waiting a few more seconds, would also have meant that the sign could be hidden and those people on the right could have moved out of frame.

I like the leading line of the stream and the lovely pencil thin trees on the banks, but it would have been even better without that dead tree mid-frame. The other downside of this image is the poor resolution and consequent lack of detail. This could be due to heavy cropping or high level compression.

Saima’s Tip: For photography of spring blossom or autumn colours, check out online maps of Japan that show the best times all over the country.

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