Image Doctor: The critiques!

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A regular part of Australian Photography magazine for more than a decade, the Image Doctors, photo educator Saima Morel and professional photographer Anthony McKee, can give constructive feedback on your images, with a selection of their 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. 

Image: John Huisman

This month's winner

TITLE: The Skater
DETAILS: Nikon Z5, Nikon 14-30mm f/4 lens @ 30mm. 1s @ f22, ISO 400.

“I was experimenting with long exposure and panning at the local ice rink during a recent evening session and was pleased with the effect created. The colours and hazy appearance give the image a surreal mood.”

Anthony's tip: Hi John, and well done for exploring beyond the usual frozen moments in time. (Groan now!). To get the best results from panning with slow shutter speeds you need to have both a relatively smooth panning action, but also a few technical tricks too.

The first thing I often do when panning images is to move back and use a slightly longer lens, like a 50mm or 70mm; this helps eliminate the curvature we can see in the motion, but with less arc in the lens travel you also get smoother images too.

The next trick is to use a slightly wider aperture; f22 works, but f11 at 100 ISO will give you a cleaner result. Also, turning your Z5’s built-in image stabilisation off or to sport mode will help you make the skater appear sharper in the image.

And finally, explore your shutter speed options – don’t be scared to try 1 second as an option, or 1/4 and 1/8th of a second. Otherwise, keep doing what you’re doing! 

Image: Raymond Richards

TITLE: Faded Light
PHOTOGRAPHER: Raymond Richards
DETAILS: Pentax KP, 18-300mm lens @ 43mm. 1/6s @ f5.6, ISO 400.

“I'm a member of the Gold Coast Photographic Society and we recently had an evening photoshoot when we took along various bits and pieces from Australian history. It was a pleasurable evening helping each other arrange lighting and reflectors to give the effect that was wanted. A variety of backcloths (Mainly homemade) was also available.

For this shot I had a single light source to the right which was held by another member. Shot in RAW and processed in Adobe Elements where cropped then I boosted the Vibrance, and lowered the Saturation to give the tone I wanted. I also lowered the highlights and boosted the shadows.”

Anthony’s Tip: Hi Raymond, and what a great way to spend an evening, exploring light and composition with friends. Technically there is nothing wrong with this image, but I do feel you could make it stronger; those old lanterns are really competing for attention from the background.

Rather than change the background though, I would moved the background backwards at least a metre or more so that it received less light, and was therefore darker in the frame. I would also keep exploring with the light, including moving it further around to the right, but otherwise good effort.

Image: Anita Pallas

TITLE: Sunrise Reflections
DETAILS: Sony A7 IV, Tamron 28-200mm lens @ 28mm. 1/30s @ f11, ISO 500.

“This image named Sunrise Reflections was taken just as Wollongong Botanic Garden opened, which was just after sunrise. I really liked the burnt trees and reflections. I look forward to hearing what could have been done better.”

Anthony’s Tip: Hi Anita - one big mistake many photographers make is trying to fit too much information into an images, to the point that an audience doesn’t know where to look first, let alone what you, the photographer, thinks is really important in the scene. That is what is happening with this image; yes the glow on the trees is nice, as is the structure of the rotunda, but what are you really trying to show us?

Personally, in this instance I would have used the telephoto end of your 28-200mm lens to tell a different story. I’d have moved to the right several meters so the rotunda was against those sunlit trees, then I would have zoomed so that those trees and their reflection silhouetted the rotunda. If you were to have someone standing, silhouetted in the rotunda you would also get bonus points! Keep at it!

Image: Dani Maver

TITLE: Autumn vineyard
DETAILS: Sony A7 III, 24-70mm f2.8 lens @ 70mm. 1/1000s @ f2.8, ISO 100.

“I took this image on a misty morning towards the end of autumn. In colour, it looked pretty unremarkable, but I really like the mood of the sepia-type tones. My children tell me it’s a bit ‘zombie apocalypse’. A more nuanced critique would be very welcome!”

Anthony’s Tip: Hi Dani, trying to find magic in a post-vintage vineyard is not easy, but mist and some interesting light can help. Usually I shoot images like this one of two ways - one is “square” to the rows so that you get the lines working as parallels, but the other option is to shoot down the rows so that you have converging lines. What might have really offset this image though, would have been to have a hint of the sun appearing in the frame (of course, that always comes down to that element of luck).

With this image there is one thing you can do to improve it, and that is to crop the top of the picture by about 10 percent so that you lose those distracting leaves in the upper right of the picture. Otherwise, good work.

Image: Mike Smee

TITLE: Focus
DETAILS: Fujifilm X-T10, Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens. 1/100s @ f4, ISO 320.

“These are my eldest grandchildren, playing in a garden shed while I took photos from outside. They were intrigued by a rope with a weight attached running through a pulley.

I took several shots of them, I think this one best shows the concentration involved. They were lit by the afternoon sun shining through the opening, while most of the interior of the shed remained in shadow. I made some minor adjustments in Lightroom, and removed a couple of distracting blemishes.

Anthony’s Tip: Thanks for sharing this photo Mike. I like that you captured your grandchildren in this rather pensive moment, although I think there is also some room to have had a little more fun with the moment. I like how you have cropped the image square, though ideally I would have cropped out that net and highlights in the right of the picture, given both are rather distracting.

The only other thing I would do to is to select the eldest child’s face using the selection tool and about 20 pixels worth of feathering, and then I would have used the Curves tool just to lighten her face some more. Otherwise good work, and keep making that family record!

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