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Friday Photo Critique #2

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Friday Photo Critique is our weekly community project, where we publish a photograph submitted by one of our wonderful readers, then ask you all to offer constructive feedback on the image.

After a few days, I'll update the post to feature the most helpful and insightful comments. You will also be credited with a link to your website or portfolio, so be sure to enter it correctly when submitting a comment!

Quick Ground Rules

  1. Play nice! We've deliberately chosen photographs that aren't perfect, so please be constructive with any criticism.
  2. Feel free to offer any type of advice - composition, lighting, post-processing etc.
  3. You can also link to photographs that you feel offer a great example of this type of image shot exceptionally well.

Without further ado, here is this week's candidate for Friday Photo Critique!

The Photograph

Photo CritiquePhoto CritiquePhoto Critique

Photographer: Romain Heuillard
Title: Rosebud Blue Sauce au Caveau de la Huchette

Please let us know what you think in the comments - how would you have approached the scene or taken the photo differently? A massive thank you to everyone who commented last week. The post has now been updated with some of the most insightful comments

The most constructive and helpful comments will be featured on the site, and you'll also be given priority to feature your own work in a future Friday Photo Critique!.

Feedback and Comments

Here are five of the most useful and insightful pieces of feedback given on this photo, taken from the comments:


Overall, the composition of the photo is fine, I like how the curvature of the support wall follows in with the curvature of the ear and neck of the person in the foreground. The hat gives just enough contrast.

My thought would have been to move the focus from the back of the person’s head out further into the crowd and band. If you are, as peewee1002 said, “seem to be joining the room” the focus would be what the person is seeing and not necessarily the back of their head.

I might have cropped off the right side a little more to force the person in the foreground to be more off center.

Daniel Morgan

My completely amateur opinion:

I actually like the grain. It adds something to it, makes it look darker. Not sure if that’s exactly what I want to say. I just like the effect it gives.

I love the warmth of the faded red signs and the liveliness of all those people crammed in.
What I might have done:

I think I’d have tried to add a very soft flash to the back of the main person so they appeared sharper and more a part of the shot, at the minute he seems in the way of the shot a bit.

Looking at the other photos in the set, I have to say I REALLY like the stone walls and the awesome sharp textures!

Tyrone Michael Avnit

Since the birth of ‘Digital Art’ there seems to be a mass of ‘cool’ images. Images that might have some great photoshop work, but when it comes down to the essence of the photo the photo is empty.

This image on the other hand seems to be an image taken at the spur of the moment. This image tells us a story and I get a sense of loneliness and longing. I think the image tells enough without telling too much.

There are not many images that make you feel something, and I think this image does just that.

Yes there may be noise, exposure problems, and lighting issues that could be addressed, but I think the photographer chose not to since all these come together to add to the feeling of the image.

This image tells a great story. Something nowadays that is hardly seen anymore!


Sick…sick…sick….I’m very jealous of this shot…the location, atmosphere, lighting…perfect…This is exactly what I look for when I’m shooting. I would have been like a little kid on Christmas morning. haha.

Now, on to the critique…Don’t take anything I say negatively…I’m a post-junkie and I’m simply going to say what I would do to this shot…not what you should have done…because this is your piece…your eye…your moment.

How i would have changed the shot…If I knew what sort of environment I was stepping into…
This shot looks like this individual is stepping into an environment he’s not familiar with at all. The location..the age of the people on the floor…their clothing….all seems a wee bit different from what the subject is used to. I think the hat is key to this shot…in my eyes, the hat is what’s giving him a different personality. I dig it…

Fill light…the subject needs just a tiny bit of fill light…the dark, dramatic lighting is so perfect…but, throw in a little fill light so that you can see some more detail in the shirt, hat, face…etc…it’s nice for me to have a little extra to work with if I need it.

I would like to see the shot from a lower angle with just a tad bit more of his face showing, still seeing all of him and keeping the straight on shot, just lower the camera another 12 inches or so and to the side a tad. This would create more of a less-dominant feeling to go along with the theme that I’m seeing in my head.

Oh…and the other subject to the side of him…I would have had that person out of the frame. This image is about our main subject…we don’t need anything else taking the attention away from him.

Now…How i would have changed it in post…I stepped outside for a few minutes so that I could walk in with a fresh eye. I think the first split second of seeing an image/ad/artwork/whatever is the most important.

What grabs your attention first?

What’s distracting?


Is this image something that you’re going to visit for a while?

Or will you just glance at it and move on?

This is how I try to approach every image.

I took the image into photoshop for a brief minute to quickly mock-up these thoughts and give you a better visual…some of my adjustments created some discoloration in the grain, but…this is to give you a better visual of what I see or want to see in this image if it’s possible.
Here’s the link …

Any who….the first thing that draws my attention is the text in the background and the specular highlights (lamps in the background). That has to go. The lights to the left are fine…since that’s the direction of where the light is coming from onto the subject. I also got rid of some random objects on the walls that seemed distracting to me.

Then, I would flip the image horizontally. Sometimes flipping an image creates a completely different feeling…and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s worth taking a few extra seconds to see what can come of it.

Crop the image…the rule of thirds…I use it and abuse it. It’s a simple and great rule to keep in your workflow. Granted…some images look great when the main focal point is centered or on the far outside. Every image is different…I tackle each image as a new canvas.

Increase the contrast…I painted in a curves layer on a lot of the darker details on the walls, wrinkles on shirts, lights, some people, etc. I did the same thing for highlights. I’m big on creating contrast where I see it should be and not on the entire image.

Since the lighting in this image is on the warmer side, from the tungsten lights, I felt like it should be even warmer. I threw on a warming photo filter to give it a little more UMPH.

Finally, I burned the top of the image a little just to keep the viewer’s eye in the direction of where the subject is looking (dance floor/band area). Otherwise, your eyes would tend to be drawn upwards through the image towards the softly lit ceiling areas. Eyes, naturally, are drawn to the darkest and lightest areas of whatever you’re looking at. No matter how many times I look at the image, I always end up looking at 3 things…the dark backside of the subject…the over-exposed person in front of the band…and the lamps above the over-exposed person. With that occuring…might as well keep the eyes in that area by burning the top area of the image.

Oh…one more thing…I darken the backroom area and brighten the wall for two reasons…so that you can see a wall is there (because it almost blends in) and to create more depth in the image.

Again…you guys just stepped into my head for a few minutes. this is by no means “right,” nor am I ripping on this image or the photographer. it’s just how my brain operates…

Joel Abeyta

Overall, it’s an okay shot. There is a lot to like about it I like that the only thing in clear focus is the edge of the figure in the foreground. The less you can clearly see, the more your brain has to invent. I like the clutter, how it puts you into a story. The dark, empty shadows on the main figure contrasted by the lively band and dancers. Like you’re coming in from a dark, cold night to a warm, blur of a crowd.

What I don’t like about it: Some of the lines and energy in the image send my eyes out, away from the image. The clutter of people is almost too uniform, making it hard to pick out one thing as a focal point. If it were me, I would have kept shooting until I got a better composition with a clear subject.

The color gamut is quite shallow. I have had some success dragging the saturation slider to -20 or so, but not often. Maybe if was a photo of a slum in a border town in Mexico, desaturation would enhance what’s going on in the photo. In this photo with the band, the dancers, the lights and energy, more saturation would have made this image exciting and inviting. With the shallow palette, it’s more of a place I don’t want to go. Looks boring, like an Elk Lodge but for some reason young people are there. (Though I know in real life I would want to go to there.)

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