Saturday, March 3, 2012

What I Learned From Critique Me

I often mention Courtney and her site Click it Up a Notch here on the blog. I cannot say enough good things about what it has done for me. It gave me the confidence to try manual with Courtney's information and her support and feedback. I love her information and the way she looks at all aspects of photography in the types of topics she covers. She also hosts a weekly feature called Critique Me, where photographers submit a photo and other photographer's critique the image. I have participated by providing critiques for many images and I feel like it has helped me to see things I otherwise would not have seen. It really does help train your eye as Courtney says :o).

So I decided to submit an image. I was a little nervous, but at the same time I was looking forward to seeing my photo through other's eyes. I find that critiques done in a positive manner are an amazing way to learn and grow as a photographer. I must say that I was not disappointed :o). In an effort to process what I gained from the experience I am going share the things I learned about my image and about my photography. 

First of all, here is the image I submitted:

Settings: ISO 200, 50mm, ss1/1250, f/7.1 (full manual, sunlight wb, SOOC)
It was taken on New Year's Day at Indian Beach in Ecola State Park in the town of Cannon Beach, Oregon with my Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Lens, a Christmas present. It was a beautiful day on the Oregon Coast, my favorite place to travel to take photos and I spent a lot of time walking the beach and photographing the different views and the changing light. What I liked about this photo was the way it captured the bit of the stormy feel to the clouds, the colors of the sky, the feel of the waves and the reflection on the beach. I first posted this photo with my photography goals for the year. You can see more photos from this adventure herehere and here

With that said, I went into the Critique Me process wanting to know what I wasn't seeing because I was so enamored with this photo and the experience it captured. 9 people responded with wonderful compliments and suggestions for improvement. I decided to take each critique and edit the photo and then do a final edit combining what I gained from the experience as a whole. 

Here are the edits based on the critiques. Click to make them bigger...
In order - 1. cropped and upped the saturation/vibrance, 2. cropped out some of the beach, 3. cropped out some of the sky, 4. less severe crop, 5. upped the saturation, blacks and contrast and adjusted the watermark, 6. subtle crop and adjusted the watermark.

Based on the critiques and the editing process here are just a few things I learned that I want to put into practice as I go forward:

1. Being more cognizant of the whole frame and of the rule of thirds - I am aware of the rule of thirds and the power it has to draw the eye in a photo. When I am out "in the field" so to speak :o), I am often so focused on getting the settings right that I am not conscious of looking at the whole frame. I try so hard to capture the landscape as it and as it feels to me (hence the focus on the settings) that other aspects fall away. My goal going forward is to be more aware of the whole frame and of the placement of the horizon and other key parts of the scene in the frame. 

2. Trying to capture "less" in one photo - Since I began this photography journey a focus of mine has been to identify my intention or goal with a photo. This has been coming easier to me, but I often find that I have more than one intention. While this works for me as I know what I want the photo to say and why I made the choices I did, I don't think it translates as well when I am trying to evoke a feeling with a photo. Therefore, I am going to try to hone in on one thing that I want to communicate with each photo. Less can be more :o).

Hopefully you are still reading or maybe you just scrolled down to the results of my Critique Me journey, which works too :o)! Lastly, I want to share a final edit I did after the critiques and thank each and every person who provided feedback. The process has been invaluable and one of the most powerful catalysts for growth I have encountered on my photography journey thus far. Thank you Erica, Amber, Kim, Laura, Benita, Rachel, Laureen, Alessandra and Beth for your positivity and suggestions! And of course a huge thank you to Courtney for this opportunity!

For this final edit in Lightroom I did a slight crop to a more natural break in the rocks and to break up the photo more by thirds. I upped the saturation/vibrance, blacks and contrast and did some work in the tone curve to decrease the lights and shadows and increase the darks. I also decreased the size and opacity of the watermark.

"Feedback is the breakfast of champions." - Ken Blanchard

I would love to know what you think of the final image in order to continue this unique chance for growth!

Linking up to SOOC Saturday, check out the other SOOC shots! Also linking up with The Simple Things and Scenic Sunday. Be sure to take a look at the beautiful photos there as well! And of course Click it Up a Notch :o). 

SOOC Saturday  Scenic Sunday Click It Up A Notch


  1. Wow, your photos are wonderful. You are doing great with your photography. I love the beach and I am looking forward to my Oregon trip this summer. Have a great weekend!

  2. I like your final version. Like you, I need to slow down and THINK about what I'm doing...I also need to apply the rule of thirds. Hubby does it naturally, but I don't and I need to remember to do that. I don't have Lightroom (yet)...I'll get it when I ditch this old laptop and get another one.

  3. You really nailed it! I love this photo. Beautifully done!!

  4. Awesome! Thank you so much for posting "the other side" of a critique. Makes it easier to see the tangible results that can come from using critiques to make positive changes to your thought process and future work!

  5. So beautiful! I like how you take critique and try to apply it to improve. I honestly loved what you did in the final edit.

  6. I like your final version.
    And don't be disappointed. Criticism from more experienced photographers is a great way to learn and progress to become a better photographer. By the time you will learn to be self-critical and you can decide whether your photography is good or not.
    One more thing about this photo... I will fix the burnt part of the sky in the right upper corner :)

    Regards and best wishes

  7. Beautiful SOOC shots! I'm still very new to photography, and I think there's a lot I can learn from you!


Thank you for leaving your thoughts! I love reading your comments and critiques.