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PhotoZAP: We Critique Your Photos
PhotoZAP 45: Our biggest fan
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PhotoZAP 45: Our biggest fan

Our critics praise and pan your pictures


"Here's an example where all those hard rules that so many live by just don't add up to a gold-medal shot."—Jack Howard


© Emily Andrews, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China. Gear: Sony a350, 18-70mm lens. Exposure: 1/40 sec at f/5.6, 40mm, ISO 400, manual metering, handheld. Minor adjustments and cropping in Adobe Lightroom.

Photographer’s statement: I was walking around a park near my house and I asked these two old ladies who were doing Tai Chi if I could take a photo of them, I really liked the expression on her face in this one.

Our critics say...

Jack Howard: Here's an example where all those hard rules that so many live by just don't add up to a gold-medal shot: "Diagonal lines are dynamic." "Complementary colors (reds and greens, and also to a lesser degree the blues and yellows) are a surefire way to elicit a subconscious aesthetic reaction from the viewer." "Fill the frame edge to edge with positive and negative space." "The rule of thirds" is always right on." The subject's expression seems bland and disinterested. The edge of the fan hitting the edge of the frame is displeasing, and I understand this was a found shot in a park in Nanjing, but the flannel shirt makes me think Seattle or Selma, not China.

Mason Resnick: Tai Chi is a slow-moving martial arts form that can be quite fluid and beautiful. Hand motions and body positions are constantly changing, which can provide nearly infinite photographic possibilities. Unfortunately, the pose in this shot leaves too much empty space and results in an awkward composition. I wish I could see what her other hand was doing, and the complete fan. Photographing Tai Chi, just like actually doing it, takes patience. Next time you come across a scene like this—and have permission to shoot it—take your time, and take lots of pictures but look for moments when the action is contained within the frame.

Mark Lent (special guest Zapper!): I find the Rembrandt lighting on her face to be quite pleasing, and the simplicity of the background as well, although I would have adjusted it to be significantly darker in levels or with the burn tool, which would place added emphasis onto her. I too find the diagonal composition to be a bit bland, and the fan being cut off distracting as well. Had she bent her arm and brought the fan into her body, I think you could have had a much more intimate (and resultantly much stronger image) by allowing the viewer a closer look at her and the fan. In fact, if this has happened, I more than likely wouldn’t notice the cropped fan because my eyes would be interested in all of the additional details. In images like this, detail is everything.


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