PhotoZAP 71: Go Fish

Our Panel of Perfectionists Picks Apart Your Pictures

"I wish the boy had been placed more to the right in the frame, both to eliminate unneeded boat detail and to create a more dynamic, off-center composition." ~Russell Hart

Eric Aust photoZAP

© Eric Aust, Huntington Beach, CA. Gear: Canon 50D with Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens taken at 30 mm, f/8, handheld. Exposure: 1/50 sec at f/5; ISO 400 and Canon Speedlite 430EX II.

Photographer’s statement:
"I was trying to get a picture of my son fishing where he wasn't just sitting there, holding the pole. I also tried to get some of the sunset without shadowing the foreground objects."

Our critics say...

Mason Resnick: I really wish the photographer had thought this shot through in advance. The background is full of distractions. The boy's face-what little we can see of it-seems contorted, with background lines intersecting it. There are so many details here carelessly ignored. Even the position of the rope on the dock behind him makes it look like it's his tail! The horizon cuts the image in half and the row of homes and boats on the left side have bright reflections in the window that distract the eye. I would have scouted out a better location, increased flash output by 1/3 stop to get more details in his light-absorbing black clothes, and considered applying the Rule of Thirds for better visual organization.

Russell Hart: I want to like this picture because of its moment, but photographically it doesn’t help me with that wish. The picture feels as if it should be warm in tone—it’s late in the day, and there’s a hint of color in the sky. The fill flash, while it opened up detail in the foreground, is cooling down the color. Color could be remedied in Photoshop, but the less fixable problem is what Mason points out—that the boy gets lost in the detail of the boat behind him, especially because of his dark clothes. I wish the boy had been placed more to the right in the frame, both to eliminate unneeded boat detail and to create a more dynamic, off-center composition. A higher viewpoint might also have helped, separating the boy’s outstretched arm from the receding row of houses on the left.

Jena Ardell: I feel like we're missing the best part--the facial expression on the little boy! I agree with Russell, the dark clothes are really an issue for me too. I'd even go a step further and say I don't think a full-body shot was necessary. Sometimes a photograph says more with less details. This photograph is saying too many things to me right now. Even with increased flash, as Mason mentioned, and a warming gel to make the sky/overall tone little more inviting, we'd still be fixated on the clutter. The photographer did a great job on capturing the action, but failed to capture any feeling. This photograph documents, but doesn't deliver an emotion. If you're serious about improving your photography skills--reshoot it. Choose more fishing-appropriate clothing, shoot earlier in the evening or during sunrise, scout out a better location and use a higher P.O.V.

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