PhotoZAP 3: Water Color

Our critics praise and pan your pictures

“It's a really cute snapshot in the best sense of that word—it'll never win the Pulitzer, but that's totally OK.”—Jack Howard

Photo © Chuck Hoag, Gaithersburg, MD. Gear: Nikon D50 with 70-300mm f/4-5.6G Nikkor lens. Exposure: Automatically set in portrait mode.

Photographer’s statement: “No tripod or flash was used, but as you can see, I chose a very low angle to shoot from.”


Our critics say:

Monica Cipnic: The bright colors unify this photo and make it very appealing. If you were to keep it as a vertical image, I would like to see the top cropped ever so slightly--just to get the window/building out, and crop also slightly at the bottom, so the out of focus grass is less distracting--these crops would reinforce the baby as the center of interest. I would also suggest that when you're shooting a delightful scene like this one, you shoot more, try going horizontal or moving around a bit with your framing, and perhaps catch the baby with different and joyful expressions.

Jack Howard: It's a really cute snapshot in the best sense of that word—it'll never win the Pulitzer, but that's totally OK. There's great color, and it just needs a little work to make it really pop in a frame at home.  My suggestions for this shot are simple: Go for a square crop! There's  no rule that photos must be 4:3 or 3:2 all the time. A square crop eliminates the distracting decking and grass. Even though the distances are quite compact, there's already great foreground/subject/background separation with the pool. Then simply apply Photoshop's default Shadows/Highlights corrections under Image>Adjustments>Shadows/Highlights. Then give a little Vibrance boost, again under Image>Adjustments to boost the color in the shaded area's on the subject's face. Then go print it out and find a cute square frame and you're done.

Mason Resnick: I love the colors. I don’t think they need to be boosted at all but the shadows should be lightened in Photoshop. I agree that the grass at the bottom and the decking at the top are distracting. Crop them out. That would leave you with a square, which, as Jack says, would suit this image just fine. While the kid is engaging, I think the photographer could have kept shooting. A more expressive moment surely would have come. I wish his eyes were more open.

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