"Work a scene like this! I see dozens of potential photos within this photo. A slight change in camera angle, shooting a horizontal, varying your focal length, all could lead to more interesting photos than this."—Mason Resnick
© Tabitha Williams, San Antonio, TX. Gear: Canon T3i and a 18-200mm lens at 70mm. f/5 aperture 1/1600 ISO 800.
"This was taken at one of the missions in San Antonio over the weekend. I’ve only had this camera a few months. I went from a point and shoot so I’ve been learning. I love it dearly but I’m always wanting to improve."
Our critics say...
Mason Resnick: This is a classic case of a careless composition ruining a scene that's filled with photographic potential. I see so many possible successful images here, and it's frustrating that this is the one that the photographer chose to take. Why? The eye naturally goes to the brightest part of an image, and in this case it's the least interesting part, the floor! The blown-out highlights are a distraction in this scene, which is rich in patterns, textures, and lines and renders it nothing more than a snapshot that says "I was here." Not good enough! Work a scene like this! I see dozens of potential photos within this photo. A slight change in camera angle, shooting a horizontal, varying your focal length, all could lead to more interesting photos than this.
Brandon Partridge: Unlike Mason, my eyes weren't drawn to the lightest portion of the image. Instead, they were drawn to the texture on the rightmost edge and taken along the curl to the darker parallel lines that separate the light which then started the cycle over again. I'm glad the floor was blown out; otherwise it'd be a whole lot of flat uninteresting grey. I like that you didn't re-position yourself to capture a symmetrical image and instead stood where you were so we could see the other potted plants between each column. I have only two issues with this shot. The first is the extremely out-of-focus column at the top left corner and the second is the exposed handrail on the top right. If you cropped this image to exclude both the handrail and and out-of-focus triangular column then I wouldn't have anything negative to say about it.
Jena Ardell: I, too, was distracted by the blown-out highlights on the floor. There are a lot of interesting textures here that you didn't use to your advantage! Maybe my imagination is too active, but I see the internal-view of a prehistoric, petrified bird's rib cage in this image. I think this photograph could have been improved by a tighter crop, as Mason mentioned. I went so far as converting this image into black and white in Photoshop to enhance the texture you've neglected (see below). Yes, my version is totally off-base from your original vision, but the point here is to revisit your images to see which mediocre images can be edited/transformed into something more interesting.
Making the jump from point-and-shoot to digital SLR can be daunting, but you're off to a good start. In the event of a shaded ceiling/bright floor (or bright sky/shaded ground), try using a split neutral density filter (AKA: graduated filter) next time. That could have helped your exposure, if you were set on including the bright floor.
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