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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. It’s a great way to learn more about photography, express your viewpoint, and have your own image critiqued! This week we have a special post to celebrate our 100th photo critique!

Special 100th Photo Critique

We've been showcasing photos for open critiques for over two years. To celebrate, we offered a special contest and critique. Instead of one photo, we have five photos. In addition to critiques in the comments, our team of writers has also submitted their critiques of each image. The makers of each of the five photos will receive a free three-month Premium membership to the site.

Phototuts+ would like to extend a special thanks to all who have submitted their images for review over the past two years and to all people who have offered their opinions and help! You have made Photo Critique Fridays fun and exciting.

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 candidates for Friday Photo Critique!

The Photograph

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Photo Details & Inspiration

  • Canon Powershot SX210
  • 1/30
  • f/3.1
  • ISO 400
  • Auto white balance
  • Manual exposure mode

I like taking pictures of hands rather than faces and I thought this could be a nice picture showing how bread is made.

Photographer: Carolina Navas

Peter Sawyer says: The photo personally doesn't appear to have one clear focus point. I don't quite know if I should be looking at the dough or the person making them.

If I had been shooting the photo I would have focused on the woman's hands and then used a aperture of around F4 to knock the background to a soft focus. That way you can make out the dough balls, but you attention is drawn to the making of them.

To improve this photo as it is though, due to the lack of colour anyway, I believe it would look better converted to black and white and then cropped to remove some of the bottom black area. Increasing the brightness slightly at the same time.

Jennifer Carrigan says: This is a great subject. I love it when someone captures a small part of someone's story. This image makes me wonder about that unseen person, what her story is, why she's making so much dough. Is this a bakery or a home kitchen? On that note, I do feel that this picture is not very effective in telling the story. The framing cuts off so much that I couldn't tell if the person was working in a large bowl or on a tabletop, whether this was in a bakery or in a kitchen.

There's quite a bit "dead" space - the empty space at the bottom that does very little to add to the image. It's underexposed by at least one stop (I'm guessing two though). The light is also pretty cool, which contrasts with my preconceived perception of a bakery or a kitchen - warmth, activity and the hustle and bustle. It's almost...funereal, especially when paired with the dark bowl (or table) and heavy shadows. I would like to see this a bit warmed up, tone-wise.

Daniel Sone says: It is a nice use of natural window light. However, the composition doesn't show off the roundness of the dough balls nor the softness of the dough. Her hands are blocking what she's doing. Showing the dough rolling from head-on would make a more effective image and use of the window light.

Travis King says: This photo makes me feel like I'm trapped in the middle. I'm not far enough away to really know what's going on and I'm not close enough to see the details. Since we can't go back in time and zoom out I would suggest a tighter crop on the hands and buns(?). The photo is also rather dark so I might try and see how it looked in black and white. I bet the textures and patterns could really pop out.

Cameron Knight says: A square crop would really help out here. I personally think the lighting and exposure is great, although I know others would disagree. I think you were about half a second to early when you shot. I want more stretch. I also want less blur. Bump up the ISO a little and get a faster shutter speed.

The Photograph

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Photo Details & Inspiration

  • Canon EOS D50
  • 12mm focal length
  • 15 seconds
  • f/11
  • ISO 640
  • Multiple flashes from a 430EX II

Capture the abandoned building whilst bringing out the exploratory feeling you get running around these places, looking at everything, finding new things and getting that rush from looking at what once was and is no longer. I love "Urbexing" with friends and feeling like you are seeing the reclamation of the building to nature and being special in that not many get to.

Photographer: Keiren Macdonald

Travis Kings says: To be honest I missed the shadows and overlays in this picture until I looked at it on a larger monitor. I think it's just too busy to try and get creative with. If anything the shadow shapes take away from the more subtle double exposed technique. I like the abandoned building part of the photo, but it would have been nice to find more professional and creative graffiti artist :P

Daniel Sone says: I like the use of multiple flashes in a single exposure. It's always a surprise to see what and how they turn out. Composition is fine. Dropping the power on the flashes would give you better highlight detail and a better translucent/ghost effect. It would also darken the rest of the scene, making it even eerier. Drop the saturation and deepen your shadows in post for an even better effect.

Jennifer Carrigan says: What a great space to shoot in! It did take me a couple seconds to spot the ghost, I was so fascinated by the architecture and the disrepair that I didn't see the main subject right off the bat. Depending on your goal in this image, that's either good and bad.

The mood seems a little off, particularly in the middle because it's so bright from the flashes. You also managed to capture three nice shadows - deliberate or mistake? Either way, I find the shadows to be distracting and, it may be the photographer in me, I find myself trying to figure out where they came from, as opposed to figuring out what their role is in this image's story. Because the image is so bright where your ghost is, I suggest exploring extremely long exposures and not using flashes for your main lighting.

Peter Sawyer says: An interesting shot. I love the figures on the back wall, not quite sure if it was on purpose or complete fluke. The three sections of the image go well, with the floor, beams and then the roof all bringing different textures to the image.

If I was to change this in anyway I would add a curves layer and darken the whole image. This building looks abandoned and quite spooky, stick with the stereotypes and make it dark as well. A black and white filter on 50% would also take a little colour out of the image to make it more ghostly.

Cameron Knight says: I like this image and the concept. I think you achieved what you were going for here. My only issue (and it's a small one) is that I REALLY want it to be horizontal and really want it to only include the floor or the ceiling. I don't have a good scientific explanation for this, it's just what I want.

The Photograph

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Photo Details & Inspiration

  • Canon EOS 500Dx
  • 40mm
  • 1/100
  • f/7.1
  • ISO 100
  • Manual white balance
  • Automatic exposure mode

This scene occurred during a holiday trip in Luzern, Switzerland. I saw the swan in the water. It looked like he was looking at the bicycle and thinking about what it was doing down there, maybe he was even angry. I took the shot and realized this would be one of my favorite shots because it doesn't only show the conflict of pollution and nature but can also hundreds of stories.

Photographer: Raphael Ammann

Jennifer Carrigan says: This is a great juxtaposition. I like the contrast of a stately swan gliding on the water over a discarded bicycle. There's also the contrast of light and dark, which can be interesting, but here, it's distracting me from the main subjects. My eyes keep sliding over to the brighter part of the picture, away from the swan and the bike.

I would like to see how this picture looks with the right side cropped; crop to where that big glob of foam is. I know that's a big crop, but I think it'd improve the image. Also, this is personal taste here: I'm not a big fan of the black bars in images, they strike me as gimmicky and superfluous.

Daniel Sone says: Great find and idea. The only thing is that the composition throws off the relationship between the swan and drowned bike. A square crop on the bike and swan would make the relationship better.

Andrew Childress says: this is really nice. I like the way that the bike can be seen you really nailed the exposure. As for the message, I'm a little uncertain that I identify it with pollution, but the shot on its own is very intriguing.

Travis King says: This picture makes me feel funny. It's like two photographs mixed into one. I have a hard time deciding if it works. I suppose if the objective was to make me feel funny, mission accomplished! You could have probably used a polarizing filter to good effect here to take out some of the water glare and make the bike really stand out.

Peter Sawyer says: An amazing capture. It looks like the bird is guarding its brand new bike. The rubbish on the top makes it seem like it has been sitting there hours.

The Photograph

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Photo Details & Inspiration

  • Nikon D3000
  • 55mm lens
  • 1/100
  • f/10
  • ISO 100
  • Manual white balance
  • Manual exposure mode

I was trying to capture the beauty of this sunset and the lovely colors. Because we were high in the air and the sun was low, there was a dramatic feeling because of the hard shadows. I really love the way the picture came out.

Photographer: Kort Martijn

Daniel Sone says: Glad the photographer didn't try to neutralize the golden the tint of the sunlight. It would have lessened the drama. Good exposure with details at both extremes. I like the centered band of light going across the image and the framing with the dark clouds.

Andrew Childress says: Great shot, I imagine that this was captured in an airplane and the formations that you got are from an uncommon perspective. The crop could be a little stronger, with maybe less leading area at the top.

Travis King says: This is a really powerful picture that needs a good cropping. Take out all the black at the top and sides and really focus our attention on the clouds and texture. You could try and see what it looked like with a black and white treatment but I kind of like the orange.

Peter Sawyer says: Clouds always look quite awesome from on the ground but this takes it one step further. I love the orange colours and how the clouds form light & dark patches.

Personally I would crop the image to remove the great lump of darkness at the top as I don't feel it adds anything to the image. I would also up the exposure very slightly to give it a glow.

Jennifer Carrigan says: Don't get me wrong, sunsets are always stunning, but they also, well, happen daily. They're a dime a dozen. Pretty much everyone I know has taken one at some point. So it takes a really special sunset photograph for me to want to buy a print. This isn't one of them, I'm sorry to say. Here's what I do like: the beautiful golden tones and the dramatic clouds.

So what's my problem? While you nailed the light exposure for the bright sections of the picture, the dark section is very underexposed and a lot of the interesting drama has been lost. There's no easy solution to fixing this. The only thing I can think of is to use a graduated neutral density filter and to frame this image differently so that you can effectively use this filter to compensate for the extreme light values.

Also, the image is tilted. Generally, cumulus clouds float parallel to the ground, and I can see that the clouds' plane is tilted by a few degrees.

The Photograph

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Photo Details & Inspiration

  • Nikon D3000
  • 90mm lens
  • 1/80
  • f/5.6
  • ISO 200
  • Auto white balance
  • Manual exposure mode

This litle grasshopper stayed in that flower for days. I managed to shoot it several times, despite the wind and the bad light. It escaped a few times but I got this "portrait."

Photographer: Marcos Rodriguez

Peter Sawyer says: Brillant picture, love the details of the bug. Not much I would change apart from the fact I would be tempted to have 2nd version of the photo with a crop of just the bug.

Jennifer Carrigan says: This is a lovely sweet picture full of jewel tones. Beautiful. A less shallow depth-of-field would have been nice. Only one leg is in focus. It would have been nice if more of the flower was in the frame or just the petals, as is, the sepals (the green leaves in the foreground) are a little distracting.

Daniel Sone says: This is a good example of good composition and exposure. The colors a bit too saturated. The use of the rule of thirds in the composition leads my eye to the insect and giving the insect looking space creates some good tension. Another plus is that most of the pixels aren't clipped and have enough leeway in terms of density for a nice print. The focus just missed the insect's eye, but optimal focus in macro photography is challenging.

Travis Kings says: Wow. I don't know what to say. It's a great photo with highly saturated colors, a powerful and interesting focal point and good use of space and depth. Is this some kind of set-up? :)

Cameron Knight says: A little oversaturated. Not sure if you used flash or what was going on in post, but I think the saturation of the flower need to be kicked down a bit. Bump up your ISO for more depth-of-field. I also want a looser crop. The antennae are almost chopped of. I want the bug in the bottom third of the frame with the sweet buttery background taking up the middle and top. I might also try for a direct profile, that would solve your depth-of-field problem as well.

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 most constructive and helpful comments will be featured on the site. Interested in submitting your own photo? You can do so here!


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