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. 

This month's winner

Image: Geoff Dickson

TITLE: Divide
DETAILS: Sony A7R III, Sony 85mm f1.4 GM lens. 1/800s @ f1.4, ISO 100.

“I recently wondered the streets of Perth one Sunday morning watching the world, and this image grabbed me. It reminded me the challenge of a generational divide in COVID times. A flip phone is a visual representation of the technological divide for parts of our community trying to keep up with COVID registration.

Mask wearing is sorted but technology in this man’s hands will not be compatible. The emotions this scene invoked were real and tangible. We need to do better.”

One of the challenges of storytelling with a camera is conveying a clear message, and while you might perceiving an elderly man struggling with technology, I just see someone struggling to see their phone on a bright day. As a documentary photographer I would have used the “Anticipation” technique with this image - quite literally waiting for this gentleman to look away from their phone, and in that moment I would have made my photo.

This means waiting, camera poised for that “decisive moment”. Telling moments in photography only last a fraction of a second, but therein lies the challenge for good photographers.

Anthony’s Tip: Don’t just make random photos of people in the street; be ready to capture the moments that reveal how interesting life can be. Learn to capture emotion.

Congratulations to Geoff Dickson who has won a Sandisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD valued at $369.

The Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD is an ideal storage solution that you can take with you on the go, whether you're transferring files at school, or storing photos you take on a holiday. It has a 1050 Mbps read and 1000 Mbps write time, with 2 metres of drop protection and IP55 water and dust-resistance for durability when you're out and about. More info:

OImage: Andrea Jenkins

TITLE: Caught
PHOTOGRAPHER: Andrea Jenkins
DETAILS: Samsung S8, 1/1000s @ f1.7, ISO 40.

Andrea is a 72-years-young amateur photographer who like most photographers now makes photos with a Nikon AND a smartphone. “This is my grandson at our local pool, and he was playing with the fountains that can be activated with a push of a button. He told me he was going to try and catch the water in his mouth which as you can see, he did. And do you know what I like about this photo? That if you look closely, you can see the image of a woman sitting on a bench reflected in one of the droplets.

Hey Andrea, never be worried about making photos on your smartphone, most photographers I know now use their phones just as often than their big DSLR cameras for making personal photos. The most important thing to remember when you are using your smart phone to make images though, is that the rules of photography remain pretty much the same - it is all about good lighting, good design and good moment. The one thing I might have done differently with this image would be to have moved the camera about to your right so that you were looking more directly into Mitch’s face, but otherwise it is a good effort!

Anthony’s Tip: It doesn’t really matter whether you are using a DSLR, a mirrorless camera or your smartphone, just so long as you are making photos!

Image: Emily Muir

TITLE: Ashikaga Flower
DETAILS: Olympus E-M5 Mark III, 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 lens @ 43mm. 1/100s @ f6.3, ISO 200.

Emily captured this image of a flower while on the visit to Japan. “I went on an adventure to Iwate and Akita and on the last day I visited the Ashikaga flower park. Soon after I arrived it began to rain and so I focused on taking photos of droplets on flower petals”.

Hey Emily, how great are the gardens in Japan! They are always worth a visit regardless of the weather. The problem with rainy days though, is that grey skies make for boring light, and this can make the subject look boring too. One trick you can try the next time you are making macro photographs of flowers in overcast conditions is to add a hint of light using the torch on your mobile phone. Ideally get a friend to hold the light above the flower while you look through the camera and direct. Remember, moving the light closer will make the image brighter compared to the ambient light, and don’t forget to move the light about to explore the modelling effect. Photography is not just about exploring subjects, but about exploring light!

Anthony’s Tip: When making close-up photos, a small hint of light from your mobile phone torch can easily add a little more interest to the image.

Image: Chantelle Polley

TITLE: Macquarie Watchtower
PHOTOGRAPHER: Chantelle Polley
DETAILS: Canon EOS R, RF24-105mm f/4 lens @ 24mm. 1/60s @ f7.1, ISO 400.

“This photo was taken during a two-hour reprieve from back-to-back rainstorms. The Macquarie Watchtower at La Perouse looks over Botany Bay. I had to take this photo from a lower position to hide the lights and cranes of Port Botany.”

Hi Chantelle, first off, well done on going low to make this photo; photographers often forget how changing your elevation can improve an image. Perspective aside though, the first thing most people see as they look at this image are the pretty colours in the sky, but they probably don’t notice the subject.

For this reason, I would convert the image to black and white. Start by pulling the Saturation down to -100, then push the Dehaze tool up to +25 (this gives the midtones a good kick). Adjust the exposure to suit and then use a mask to darken down the sky. Finally, go to the Colour Grading tool, select Midtones and make the Hue 36 and the Saturation about 10 to slightly warm the image. Give this a go and I think you will find the image looks a little more impressive.

Anthony’s Tip: If a colourful sky is drawing too much attention away from your main subject then try converting your image to black and white.

Image: Brooke Howells

TITLE: ‘What are you looking at?”
PHOTOGRAPHER: Brooke Howells
DETAILS: Nikon D7200 with Nikon 16-80mm lens @ 80mm. 1/40s @ f11, ISO 100.

“I wanted to showcase how proud and majestic the Merino Ram can be, from the power in his horns to the softness of his fleece. After some tough negotiations, I politely asked them to step out into the light just enough for the camera, side by side with their heads held proudly, to which, this was the response they gave me. I think the negotiations went well.”

Hey Brooke, as a Kiwi I know how difficult sheep can be! One thing that distracts me with this image though is the bright sliding door to the left of frame; cropping the image so that we see less of the door (by about half) will improve this image a lot. Also, I note from the metadata that you made this image at 1/40th (which is a rather slow shutter speed) and f11 (which is a lot of unnecessary depth-of-field for this image). In situations like this I would probably up the shutter speed to about 1/125th and set the aperture to f5.6 - you will get the same exposure but with less chance of camera shake.

Anthony’s Tip: When working handheld, keep an eye on your shutter speed. Ideally you want it to be above 1/60th or 1/125th when working with wide and mid-range lenses.

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