PhotoZAP 60: What’s a Dog to Do?

Our critics praise and pan your pictures

"The intersection of the humpback's tail fluke with the edge of the frame is an unfortunate compositional faux pas."—Jack Howard


Photo © Edward Steinerts, Milford, CT. Gear: Panasonic G1 with 14-45mm kit lens, set to 20mm. Exposure: 1/125 second at f/5, ISO 100, RAW format rendered as a 48-bit TIFF file. Post processing: Silkypix Developer Studio 3.0, Topaz Adjust software to adjust local equalization and to bring out text and color in the boardwalk. CorelPhoto Paint used to cone out a bike rider behind the whale statue.

Photographer’s statement: “I shot this in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The Panasonic G1's articulating LCD screen made it easy to compose the image while holding it at waist level. I chose this image because it seems to get a lot of attention over some of my other images posted on Flickr. I guess everyone loves a dog shot. This image is not typical of most of my work—I usually shoot abstract compositions or landscapes. There were two other shots before this one. First shot, the dog was looking to the left. The second shot, the dog looked away from the camera. It was the third shot when he gave me "that look". It seemed like he was looking to me for protection me from that whale thing.”

Our critics say…

Mason Resnick: The randomness of the elements in this image make it endearing and funny and I really want this picture to work, but compositionally, it misses. The whale’s tail is cut off, and this leads the eye out of the picture. This could have been fixed in the moment by moving the camera to an even lower angle, which would include the entire dog and the whale. It’s good that the photographer worked the scene, and he did get a good moment, but when taking this kind of image, attention to the smallest detail is essential, or the punch line loses its effectiveness.

Ingrid Spangler: There’s a bit too much to look at and not enough to focus on in this image. While the dog, the whale, the shack and the family lead your eye all around the frame, it’s not clear to me what the photographer intends the subject of the image to be. For the dog to be the subject of the shot, I would have preferred the shooter to get down to dog height and center him, perhaps with the whale just beyond him in the background. As it is, the humor of the shot is lost on me, as the dog could just as easily be looking for protection from the family of four as from the whale. Additionally there is a mush of detail in the center top of the image that diverts attention from the rest of the elements in the image. Finally, the processing has a bit too much of an HDR-look to it for my taste.

Jack Howard: I love the textured look here that Topaz gave, and the dog's gaze is extremely engaging. Overall, it sort of seems like a collection of spare parts from the Norman Rockwell skunkworks, which is entertaining in its own way. (For more on Rockwell and dogs, check out The Bark magazine: I agree with Mason that the intersection of the humpback's tail fluke with the edge of the frame is an unfortunate compositional faux pas. A half-step back and a slightly lower angle would have padded both the pup's and the whale's lines from the frame’s edge.


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