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PhotoZAP: We Critique Your Photos
PhotoZAP 44: Step Lively

Our critics praise and pan your pictures


“There’s huge potential in the moment, but it is lost in the technical details.”—Mark Lent


© Brad Anderson, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Gear: Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens at 70mm. Flash with amber gel to balance with incandescent ambient light. Color corrected, background blur enhanced, background table removed in Adobe Photoshop. Exposure, 1/250 sec at f/3.2, ISO 1600.

Photographer’s statement: I submitted this image because I wanted to get other people's opinion about the image and determine if my flash trick (using an amber gel over the flash to balance with the ambient light) was effective or if someone notices anything odd.  I am also curious if my use of the rule of thirds was acceptable, or whether I should have just shot with more zoom and less background.

Mark Lent (special guest Zapper!): My first impression of this shot was that there’s huge potential in the moment, but it is lost in the technical details. The shot has an overall magenta cast that’s caused by using the wrong filtration within the image.  I am guessing the lighting was fluorescent, and rather than an amber gel, use a 30cc green over the flash and a 20cc magenta over the lens to give “daylight” results. The action is spectacular and interesting but is lost in the busy background and crop.  Had I shot this, the image would be vertical with a much tighter crop- maybe even shooting it waist-up. Great attempt, but it misses the mark.

Jack Howard:
Let's start with a positive: The white and highlight tones on the dancers' outfits is so perfect it could be used in a bleach commercial. However, the skintones on both the male and female subject aren't pleasing at all with both heavy green and magenta undertones that are unsettling. As far as Rule of Thirds placement goes, sure, it's there, but really, there's not really much in the rest of the frame to harmoniously balance with the dancers. The ersatz depth-of-field boost wasn't done seamlessly enough to be unnoticeable. The difference between the as-shot f/3.2 and the additional post-blur isn't that dramatic in the first place. For many photographers, this post-production blur technique is taboo from an ethics perspective, but leaving that aside for a moment, if you're going to create a fictionalized work, at least make it seamless. 
Mason Resnick: I agree with Mark and Jack about the light balance, and that the composition doesn’t work. It might have been dramatic against a solid background or with more directional lighting, but in this case, it has all the drama and atmosphere of a bank lobby (don't the two blurred people on the right look like they could be bank tellers?). The dancers themselves seem a bit out of focus, which also works against the photographer’s dramatic intentions. I do think he caught a pretty good moment, but I would move in tight and focus on their body language and especially on capturing eye contact between them—something that’s missing here.


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