Critique my photo

The original

My first reaction is that the exposure could probably be improved, but I’m mainly interested in the compositional possibilities in this shot. I was originally intrigued by the patterns that the shadows made on the steps, but the image, as made, doesn’t do much for me. I’ve tried to crop it a number of ways – horizontally, vertically (two ways), square, and as a detail – but the results don’t seem to imrprove things by much. So, does this photo work? Or not? Why?

A related question: I’m vaguely aware that there are a number of websites devoted to member-submitted photo criticism. Are any of them any good?

IMHO you want the ‘kink’ to be at the centre. That is, in the main photo, you want the shadow off the vertical support on the top level in the centre of the picture. As it does in but with more foreground.
The problem with the shot is that I want to see what’s directly above the scroll of that central support. That’s what the eye is drawn to, and what should be top centre of the frame.

But there is much that is pleasing about the main shot and

This is my favorite. It takes the focus off of the bright spot in the upper right that some of the other shots have, and draws my attention more to the diagonals coming up the steps. As these step diagonals cascade upwards, the last couple seem to almost lift off the page, being back-dropped by the sharper lines coming from the top right.

Very nice.

In this thread Chefguy referred me here for helpful criticism. I haven’t put up any photos yet, but I’ve browsed around and it looks good.

Those two hawthorne mentioned are my favourites, though I’d also like to see what’s above the scroll, at least in a test shot. It looks to me like ccwaterback’s choice has too much dark foreground, but that might just be my flaky monitor.

My eye is drawn to the top middle by the sharpening shadows, and then left hanging by a cut-off post.

Trust your eye. I love the original. Having said that, there is only one element that is not a pure line. It’s in the upper left corner, and you’d have to crop off the top edge of the shot to get rid of that thick wavy line thingy. To me it takes away from the clarity of the entire thing.

Otherwise? My eyes are drawn up and in because of the vanishing point that you hint at but never show to us. I love the harsh blacks, dark shadow lines and textures. I’d hang this on the wall. :slight_smile:


Not so much a critique as a little unsollicited advice, if you’ll permit me. From your OP it sounds like you’re a bit new to photography and you only took one photo (if I’m wrong, then excuse me, and you can probably ignore the rest of this post). When you see something you think will make a good photo, take several photos of it, varying everything – exposure, perspective, framing, etc. I’m guessing you took this photo w/ a digital camera, so you shouldn’t have to worry about paying for film. It’s easier to create a good photograph when you already have several to work with. Just discard the ones you don’t like.

Personally I like the original and your first vertically cropped ones.

I like this one. It’s like the detail photo, but with more mystery.

Are you printing these, or are they digital? If printing, I’d definitely hie thee to a darkroom asap and crank the heck out of your contrast filters.

I like it when you crop out about the bottom ¾ inch.

Well, for everyone who wants to see what was above the scroll, ya gotta trust me, it’s not that good. In addition to the streetlamp blazing into the lens, the landscaping interrupts the composition.

Yeah, that bugged the crap out of me, too, and as you can see from the link above, it’s really hard to avoid getting it in the frame, at least from where I was standing. Stupid #$&^% landscapers. (And the ungainly beast of a building that the steps lead up to was also roundly panned by architecture critics, but this isn’t the place for ranting.)

To ryanbobo: Hey, advice away. That’s why I asked! I’m actually not that new to photography, but the pace of my progress has been glacial, and to me, most of my photos feel rather remote and emotionally empty. For this exercise, I did actually, take a number of different shots from several vantage points, but the one in my OP was, IMO, the most successful one. If you want to, you can see the rest of the images from this session here (and a handful of my other shots, if you poke around) and judge for yourself.

These are digital. I had not given any thought to printing them, but yeah, images for print are (and will be, for a while yet) shot on film. Not having been schooled in a traditional darkroom, though, I’d scan the film and adjust them in Photoshop.

Thanks for everyone who have provided feedback. Keep’em coming!

Speaking for myself, the last one you posted was the best. Pure line pieces have been done to death anyway, but the entire photo tells a wonderful story. It is very difficult to use lens flare effectively, but here the light evokes a sort of dispair. It obviously is bright, and yet all around it is darkness and the long shadows of a last-gasp twilight. I would recommend darkening the midtones a bit.