PhotoZAP 81: Freeze Frame

Our Panel of Perfectionists Picks Apart Your Pictures

"This is the first image I've had the pleasure of critiquing that I really enjoy and it's a lot better than most portrait work I've critiqued from photographers 10 years your senior." -Brandon Partridge

© Emily Ross, Boulder, Colorado. Gear: Canon Rebel XS with Canon EFS 55-250mm IS, 6.3, handheld, 1/250, 200 ISO. Vignetting and color adjustments were done with Photoshop Elements.

Photographer’s statement:
"I'm a 17-year-old yearbook photographer, but my classmates let me practice portraiture with them on the side. This photo was taken on the night of my high school's Winter Ball, when a couple of friends and I decided we would have more fun taking some potential senior pictures (and eating) than going to a lame high school dance."

Our critics say...

Brandon Partridge:
This is the first image I've had the pleasure of critiquing that I really enjoy and it's a lot better than most portrait work I've critiqued from photographers 10 years your senior. You did a great job bringing out the saturation whilst shooting on a snow-covered field (even the subject's slightest blush is visible from the cold). The banding and artifacts in the sky seem to only exist due to the glow emanating from your subject; but otherwise it's an incredibly comforting blue degradation. There seems to be a behaviour issue with the glow between the subject's legs. This was probably caused by the proximity of each leg to the other and the distance of each glow's spread overlapping. A little sharpening or tighter focus on the subject's face and this image is ready for primetime. Make sure to clean that smudge on your lens or sensor to prevent lost time retouching it from each image you take. I checked out your linked portfolio and I can only hope you're still pursuing photography because you really get shapes in composition.

Jena Ardell: The colors and tones of the sky and field are intoxicating, but I'm having issues with the halo effect you created. It makes your natural portrait appear "fake". Also, overall, this image is a little dark. You could have used a wider aperture here. I love the fact that you were able to capture a great portrait spur of the moment with friends and I encourage you to keep practicing on people with whom you are familiar and comfortable. However, the next time you shoot, take wardrobe into deeper consideration. Details of the jacket and pants are lost here without fill flash. You basically combined the worst combination for your camera's white balance to handle in natural light: dark colors + snow. It's obvious that her hands are in her pockets, but we don't even see pockets. I know you're attached to her shirt, but we don't know what it says, and just seeing a hint of letters is distracting.

Mason Resnick: This image has a lot going for it the expression and body language, the off-center composition, and the overall tonality of the image and a few details would have made it a winner. As Jena and Brandon mention, I am mostly troubled by the lack of detail in the clothes, which are basically a black blob. Fill flash with a diffuser would help punch up the shadow details. Also, learn how to use layers and masking in Photoshop so you can make more accurate selections when applying lightening or darkening to specific sections of the image. The glow around the subject, especially around the pants and lower part of her jacket, are carelessly done. But overall this is a very good effort. Keep trying and learn from your mistakes!

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