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PhotoZAP: We Critique Your Photos
PhotoZAP 4: Go, Speed Racer

Our critics praise and pan your pictures


“I’d have shot this so the yellow-and-blue line was a more pronounced diagonal, because diagonal lines are visually more active.”—Mason Resnick

Photo © Don France, Alamo, CA. Gear: Nikon D80, Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6, set at 240mm, and a monopod. Exposure: 1/125 sec at f/13, aperture priority mode; white balance set for cloudy.

Photographer’s statement: “This was shot at around 1:30 pm at Infineon Raceway (near Sonoma, California).  I thought my pan was excellent—the sharpness of the motorcycle rider (Roger Lee Hayden) against the blur of the corner worker waving the yellow caution flag.  I also really liked the color contrast of the green motorcycle against the pavement, the corner berm (yellow and blue), and the dry grass on the hillside.”

Mason Resnick: This is a good action shot that almost works. I like how the photographer panned with the action, leaving everything else in blur. However, the lines are too close to horizontal. To really emphasize the active nature of the subject, I’d have shot this so the yellow-and-blue line was a more pronounced diagonal, because diagonal lines are visually more active. This way, the form, or composition, of the picture, will better complement its content.

Jack Howard: I have to agree about the angle of the diagonal. It needs to be either more
or less, as the two alternate crops at the end of our comments illustrate. A slight skew looks like operator error, but a dramatic skew is much more dynamic. The first crop, below, emphasizes the track line in dramatic fashion, and puts both the rider's left hand and the flagman's flag at Rule of Third points. But really, I'd go with a much tighter crop as shown in the second version (bottom). My reasoning? The flagman actually slows down the sense of speed. The low angle of the rider and the motion blur on the track and line gives a fantastic sense of motion, and since most westerners initially "read" photos like we read words, we make the leap that this rider will very quickly be occupying the open track at top left frame on this horizontally-leveled crop.

Monica Cipnic: I have to agree with Mason, I really like this photo. I get the sense of speed and love the stop action of the motorcyclist. I especially like the dynamic composition--the nearly diagonal slash of the blue and yellow track edge and the placement of the subjects in the upper right and lower left quadrants, and yes, nitpicky with Mason, a little more diagonal plus seeing more of the red flag of the flagman would make it even more interesting.  As for Jack’s crops, the first one is more along the lines of what I was suggesting--and I do like the inclusion of the flagman. Contrary to what Jack says that he detracts from the sense of speed, I think he reinforces it.


Alternative crop #1:


Alternative crop #2:


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