PhotoZAP 15: Lost in a Fog

Our critics praise and pan your pictures

“The fisherman was placed dead center, and the image lacks punch.”—Mason Resnick


© Phil Burt, Benton, KY. Gear: Nikon D90, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG Macro HSM II lens, tripod mounted, Acratech head. Exposure: 1/160 sec at f/2.8, ISO 200, manual exposure.

Photographer’s statement: “Wow, for an amateur photographer this is a big deal! We were staying at a friend’s lake house, Located at Lake Lemon,  about 20 miles north east of Bloomington, In. At 5:28 a.m., while out shooting, I spotted a lone fisherman appearing through the fog and thought that this would make a great photo. I changed lenses and took this photo. I think that it does have some good qualities and by having it professionally critiqued will be a big asset to me, another reason is I really like it.”

Our critics say...

Mason Resnick: This shot fails for two reasons: The fisherman was placed dead center, and the image lacks punch. I prefer composing in-camera and not relying on cropping after the fact; simply re-composing the image at 200mm with the boat placed at the intersection of the bottom right “golden thirds” corner would have helped. Look at the histogram for this shot in Photoshop—move the sliders on the right and left so the curve isn’t surrounded by dead space. I did this with the image (even though I broke my own rule about cropping). See the difference?

Monica Cipnic: I like the solitary, foggy and meditative mood of this photo, and wouldn't want to 'punch it up' as much as Mason suggests. I agree that taking the fisherman off dead center would  make it stronger. And if you haven't already done so, since your camera is on a tripod  and where the subject is not moving dramatically, 'work the scene'-- zoom your lens to get alternate compositions and exposures in camera, and check your histogram.

Jack Howard: I'm actually very OK with the framing in this shot. The canoeist is sort of close to dead center, but there's a very nice symmetry of scale and division of space that makes this work for me. Look at the water and tree line, which falls squarely on the top third line when the frame is divided into the nine larger rectangles. And then look where the canoe hits the water when the center rectangle is then recursively looked at with the rule of thirds overlay (see below): perfectly on the bottom third dividing line.  And yes, this is a very low-contrast scene, that that adds to the feel of this image in many ways–but it does need a little more "pop", which a curves adjustment layer with about 75 opacity can give to spread the histogram and set more definitive black and white points without scorching the foggy morning twilight feel out of this nice scene.

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