Our critics praise and pan your pictures
Adorama Learning Center Editors
August 5, 2010
"I'm not crazy about the way the background jewelry vendor's head interferes with the main subject's face."—Jack Howard
Photo © Cynthia Calva Moguel, Morelos, Mexico. Gear: Canon Powershot SD900 IS. Exposure: 1/400 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100. Burned edges, desaturated background to draw attention to the subject; all effects were applied manually using a Wacom tablet.
Photographer’s statement: “I prefer shooting urban scenes—specifically old people, working, resting, complaining, but trying hard.”
Our critics say...
Mason Resnick: This almost works as a slice-of-life street shot. I like the photographer’s choice of a wide-open aperture to throw the background out of focus and her framing to show the setting. However, the background, even though it’s out of focus, fights with the man’s face and hat. If she’d shifted a few inches to the left the dark row of belts or whatever they are would be behind him, separating him from the two women in the booths behind him. The big problem with this shot is that the guy isn’t really doing anything, and I’d like to see something more interesting happening. Perhaps a street portrait approach would have worked. Finally, I’m not a big fan of selective color. It’s a gimmick. Either go B&W or show it in color.
Joe Gioia: There is not a lot in this very nice picture I'd look to change. I love the circles and squares in the composition, the hand-painted sign, and his beautiful hat and shirt. While I sympathize with Mason's point about selective color, here it reminds me of the earliest color photo materials and adds to the overall classic feel of the picture. That said, the vendor regarding us directly would greatly strengthen the picture's power. Also, a strong vertical composition like this is better made around waist level. Here the camera is at the eye, shooting slightly down, which somewhat diminishes the figure. Dropping to one knee and shooting more evenly with the cart, would lower the horizon line (that band of shadow under the rear table) in the picture space and automatically enhance the importance of the subject.
Jack Howard: I'd prefer either a truer monochrome–whether pure silvertones or a cyanotype, sepiatone, or what have you–or truer split toning, or more of the spectrum done in this sort of partially desaturated, hand-colored look. I think any of these would have more impact than the way it is now. I'm not crazy about the way the background jewelry vendor's head interferes with the main subject's face. As Joe suggests, a slight adjustment up, down, or sideways could have cleaned up these lines. Finally, I'd crop this shot in to get rid of that superhot area at top left above the umbrella to make if feel like we are closer and more inside this scene.
What do you think? Leave a comment!