Critiquing Your Own Work
Let's move on and let's talk about the process of critiquing your own work and to do that I wanted to go and look at some um I wanted to look at some photos of you know from the past and then I wanted to look at some photos like here here's let's see okay yeah, this is good okay so I'm gonna I'm gonna start collecting some photos here um so I'm just gonna come down to this a good use for collection so I'm gonna create a collection and it's going to be a target collection and we're just going to compare bad and good and everybody needs to be willing to do this everybody needs to be willing teo compare what they used to dio you know with what they can do now you know um and so I'm going to compare a photo there and then I'm going to come and compare you know something in fact let's do this let's do attributes three stars and by the way when you do an attribute of three stars you can also see this little lock up here you can lock it so that no matter where you go it always maintains that ...
requirement so I'm going to go to all of my photos and I'm looking for three stars no matter where I go and there's an interesting thing as you go through your life you will see certain things that you will see as three star images um that aren't really three stars, you know? So it is you scanned through and you know, a lot of this stuff is really great stuff, but but when you when you compare it to what you can do, you know, later like for instance, this is a three star image here, so I'm going to collect that image, and this was considered a that that's a five star that must that must be the same issue is the other one where there's just random stray five star images because this all of this is considered a five star um, that right? It was a great report card day, so, um, you know, I'm just collecting images over a period of time that are considered three star images, but when you compare those images, um when you compare those images, too, things that you've done now, like I really wanted to look, so if you get command be it will go to the target collection, so I'm gonna hit command be right now so I can toggle back and forth between where I am in the target collection. So in the target collection, if you look at the difference, actually, you know, I really need to go back and I need to look for we're going to go and look at all photographs and we're going to go to the beginning here let's go to stars maybe so that we can get further back in time here one star you use one two and three basically unless it's really really good and then you put it far pretty unless my kids were involved then it's a five okay here's here's some good so that there's a there's a two star which is this is the day that she was born and she has that little I'm sure it wasn't a smile it must have been a you know, gas or whatever but I like to think she was smiling already because she's always a very smiley girl so um but if you if you look at some of the stuff that I'm doing earlier on and this is just a four year span you know here's some outdoor stuff that I was shooting you know, four years ago and granted it's not like a photo shoot it's more of just take pictures of my kids but if you go to the is a good practice to get into go and there's another reason to keep all of your favorite images in one big collection because you can one big cat along because now you can go through it and see how you've improved over the years and so I'm gonna compare um you know, something like this and I think the lighting on this is intensely great on this image and it's and it's due to one very very simple thing and that simple thing is that I've I've taken the light that exists inside of the setting and I've augmented it with a reverse light with a light from the background so you see that that light that's not the sun peeking through that's a flash so it's a flash on a pole so that it feels like the sun is back lighting them so that one little thing enhances the the feel of this and that brightness in that airiness to ah really really intense degree and so everything that shot on this has that feel it's just so bright and so airy and beautiful but if you go you know to this I'm trying to do the same thing with the sun here but it just doesn't it's not as bright and lively um so in comparison so like compare this shot here which is you know, fairly flat lights it's coming down I've got light coming down here but compare that shot to something like this and they're they're attempting to do the same thing but in this shot it's still fairly flat and in this shot there's so much volume to it because the lights coming from the right place and so this is the span of maybe three and a half years and I'm not going to say this is a bad shot but this is much better in lighting scenario wise and so if we were discussing professional work, I would have brought baby pictures from ten years and then we could have, you know, gone through and looked at him and stuff, and obviously I'd have to have the release is for all these babies and stuff, but for my own babies, I can show you as much as I like. Um, so, uh, the but but the key here is to look at a concept, so in this case, we're looking at lighting toe look a concept and look at your work over a period of time and go back and find this stuff, not the stuff that you're looking for now because you as a, um yuhas, ah, as a better photographer, now, when you go back, you'll find different stuff, you'll look for different stuff and you'll find a photo that actually was good, that you didn't see is good back then or something like that. But if you go back and you look at what you thought was good five years ago and pull that up and compare it to what you thought was good today, there will be a big difference and look at it for lighting or look at it for composition or look at it for whether or not you caught the moment or look at it for, you know, concept shewell information or you know whether it's actually a cute image or you know things like that even as muchas how are you getting your children to interact with you? You know, are they are they interacting better with you now because you're better it's staying out of their way or things like that and come up with one concept focus in on and when you do that and compare him, then you'll get to see whether or not you improve moved and how much you've improved over a period of time um but it's important to do that every once in a while because you have to recognize number one you have to recognize that you have improved and number two if you haven't then that's the thing you need to work on so if I see that my lighting has improved over the last four years that's good but if my composition hasn't improved then I need to work on that concept I need to work on improving my composition I need to work on improving my vantage point and there's really if you boil it down there's about five different things that you can work on as a photographer to make your image is better and let's face it no matter how good you are scrapbooking if your photographs are horrible, then your scrapbooks not going to be all that great and so you and you could make an image look better by adjusting it and and fussing within light room and photo shop and things like that but in the end the underlying image is all about certain things and there are they're roughly five elements in a photograph that will change the way that photograph is the first thing is obviously the thing the thing itself is important because if it's cute kid it's gonna be a cute photograph more cute than if it's a kid that's not cute you know what I mean? And we all have cute kids so that's great everybody has a cute kid I have only met a couple people who have ever admitted that they don't have a cute kid weigh all of cute kid so we all have cute photographs but the the thing itself, the thing that you're photographing changes the photograph drastically um and and that's important, but another thing that changes the way the photograph looks is the detail within the photograph. So for instance, in either of these photographs that the details are critical like, for instance, see this little hat that she's wearing that's a huge detail not because it's detailed not because it has, like, you know, it feels like you could touch it and it's rough it's not what we're talking about when we talk about details, we're talking about the things that means something the details that mean something to the photograph so the thing itself is is her but the detail is the hat and the reason that detail is important is that she as growing up always had to wear a hat because she didn't have hair for a very long time and so my wife always put a hat on her and she would pull it off and then she'd put it back on finally my my daughter learned toe love hats from a very young age I mean she was just like a six month old wearing hats everywhere she went never took him off never and so and now she looks for hat she loves hat she puts him on she looks cute she wears a little berets and whatever and she always has hats so that is a very critical element to the shot that describes her you know and when you look at the this it doesn't describe her well enough I should have had a headband on her or I should have had a because she even at this age she was wearing headbands and things like that like she was always in headbands and hats and whatever so this is a very critical element to the shot so that's a detail that really sells the image is the hat because it's what speaks to me and so when you think about you know when you think about these kind of shots here the details are very important this detail of this right here sipping that's hot chocolate and she loves it she will on the hottest day of the summer asked for hot chocolate that night before she goes to bed. She loves hot chocolate and so that's a critical detail to the shot that means a lot and will mean a lot in the future to me when I'm looking at images of her, I'm going to think of her love of hot chocolate I'm gonna think notice that she's wearing a hat like there are certain things about her that are always going to be spoken by these details and those details are what make the shot so when we were looking at the train shots there are certain details in there that mean a lot to me I like her smile means a lot because it's a detail that says that's her but there are other little kids it's like this little tea party we had this tea party and I got permission from all the parents to show the photos I think couple couple workshops ago but anyway there's a little girl and here the never smiles it's one of her best friends is so funny because she runs around smiling and the other one's kind of serious all the time and it so if I ever took a picture of her smiling, I'm afraid it just wouldn't really sell the story and so it's important to think about those details because those are what's going to matter and that's why I constantly have to tell parents when they come to get photos from me, I had to tell him, get out of the way because I'm tryingto give you your children and you're trying to make your children what they're not. So you've got to get out of the way you gotta let him be them. And if they're grumpy little kid that's, what you're gonna want to remember because that's the funny part of the kid, you know, that's the part that was cute, that he was always so serious, you know? And so you want to remember those things you kind of got to get out of your own way and allow your kids to be who they are or allow the scene to take place the way it's going to be if you over fuss it and you don't get the details that really say what the truth was, then you know, what are you doing at that point you're doing advertising photography? You know, you're trying to sell some that's, not actually riel okay, so details is an important part of it, another part is the vantage point where you shoot it from. So you can always look at your vantage point, decide you know am I too far to the right and my too far to the left of my two hi. Am I too low? That vantage point is critical to how you you know, manipulates photograph on how you see it and you know all that kind of stuff. That's that's pretty critical on dh that's. Why? When I shoot on down in this case, if I go back to our our photos here att the train station um, I shoot a lot now we deleted a lot of the photos, but, uh, you know, I I shoot an incredible amount of stuff and I shoot it from all over because I don't really know what the vantage point the right one is until I get there and at the shoot you finally will come to it and in your head you'll realise it. But then sometimes you won't realise what the correct vantage point was until you get here in side of your computer and that's, when you start to realize, oh, when I was here, there was, you know, the right there was the right vantage point going down and that there was, you know, that this this this merging line here and here is what really sells the photograph, whereas I missed it here you know it doesn't it doesn't look as long and as far a journey is that one does because of those elements and so a lot of the times at the camera you just working the shot and you're paying attention to the person or the thing but you're not paying attention to all of the converging lines and you're not paying attention toe where you're standing based on where they are how many times have you gotten a photograph someone with a pole sticking out their head or a or a wire going into their ear or something like that on dh quite frankly so many times I will get to the point where I'll have a photograph a portrait and the horizon line will be coming out of someone's ears and it looks really weird so I'll be sitting right on their shoulders and so their shoulders will just merge into the horizon line and it'll look awful but I wasn't paying attention to it in the camera and so I constantly will take a bunch of pictures and then I'll I'll say ok let me reframe this in my head and try it another way just in case I didn't see it right the first time and then I'll kind of stooped down or get up or you know do something to change out just in case and then I'll get another set of photos like that just so that I don't end up having the wrong vantage point and not recognizing it before I get backto here um so when you're shooting it's a good idea to move a lot no matter what what you're shooting move a lot if you're if you're out travelling you know it may be a matter of moving you know a mile and that's you know that's another tip if you really wanna learn good photography even if you have a zoom lens on your camera, don't zoom lock yourself into a specific zoom or a specific fixed lens and don't use this zoom knob and try and take pictures for an entire day without ever changing the zoom knob you walk, you walk to the thing you want to take a picture of and take a picture of it if you want to get close, get close and if you want to get further away walk away because a lot of the times the best pictures that you find are result of walking towards the mountain you want the mountain to be closer, walk towards it and you might find that there's a puddle and that puddle is where you take the picture and that wouldn't have come into your view ever you would have never discovered the frog in the puddle if you hadn't walked, you know, five hundred yards to get closer to the hill or the mouth you know, I I've I've trust passed into many places andi walked on properties and you know, to get around a hill or get over a tree or whatever and I found some rustic old thing that I wanted to take a picture of once I got around there I could have stopped on the side of the road and just zoomed in and got the shot but that it's almost like there's a voice saying go find the things that you're not seeing now you know, I'm calling you to the mountain not to get you to the mountain but to get you to the thing that's on the way to the mountain so so a lot of time just zooming with your feet well, we'll introduce you to things that you never realized were possible with the photograph and when you're photographing kids and things like that, you know, sometimes just walking up to them will change their expression you know, especially a baby they'll start playing with the camera and then you get these cool elements where the baby is reaching out and then it becomes a much better photograph than standing back and zooming in and then they're totally disengaged from you so that vantage point is is very critical um another thing that is is absolutely essential is the crop the frame and not enough people think about the frame they take a picture and, um if you if you want to analyze um most people's photography it can be analyzed in the frame itself how good is the frame? And if the frame is good then the photograph is good and if the frame is bad the photograph is bad all other things you can you can do a great job on everything else if you don't get the frame right it's gone photograph is is is not there now fortunately, a lot of the times your frame can be created uh corrected just by a crop which is why the cropping tulis so critical to your photographic process every every photograph that's out there has four edges unless it's one of those old you know oval images like that but they all have four edges and what those four edges do with the photograph is what makes the photograph better worse and so like in this frame here the reason that there's energy in this frame and the reason it's kind of moves is because there's an angle coming down here to see this triangle that's created here based on this hitting the frame edge here coming across hitting the frame image there then noticed that there's a small triangle up here and that's based on the framing as well so the frame crops here and creates a little triangle. Now this is more spacious and pleasant and peaceful where she's walking this is more crowded and energetic because it's it's a small triangle it's crowded it's pushing and so it seems like there's motion here but as it gets to her there's less motion and she's a little bit more kind of in her own element, and she's not as as cropped in um but if you if you go to say, see a photograph like this doesn't have the frames doing nothing that's really not a great photograph, I just it's cute the way she's looking, but it's not a great photograph, because this is too far from this edge. This is kind of unimportant, and then it gets crowded over here, and that the angle that we had before that energy that is created by that little triangle up in the top is lost because it's such a huge bitch empty triangle and it doesn't actually complete the triangle, it just breaks apart down here and then look at this what's the point why do we have this space down here? But if I were to crop this and I were just to grab this and I'm going to crop it without regard to you know what size I'm looking for, but if I were to crop it like this, do you see the difference the crop made to the photograph now there's energy here now we're focused on her that vacancy that worthlessness is is gone that was down below it and now all of a sudden this frame edge matters this frame edge matters this frame edge matters and now that vacancy up here doesn't matter all that much but look now we've got a straight line that comes across it's not broken up by that other train here so now we have a complete triangles so it looks a little cleaner it looks a little better it's still kind of soft up there it's not it's not like energetic but the energy is down here now we don't need the energy up here we want the energy right here because that frame ege so the frame edge and the way interacts with things are pretty critical to the way the photograph looks in the end and so just a little bit of cropping can really change things this is a great example of every frame images really active you know she's almost hitting the frame here she's almost hitting the frame there the suitcase itself is coming close to the frame these lines mimic the frame here these create triangles up here so there's a lot of vibrance like there's a lot of vibration up there on dh then her you know hat comes up into that and actually create it breaks the frame so there's frames within frames too so you gotta frame here this metal frame up here and she breaks that frame and any time you send something across the frame edge you call more attention to it which brings our attention more to the hat into her so there's just a lot going on a photograph but it's mostly because the frame edges so active not really about her because that's far less interesting so just to go in you're combining your sword the way you sort stuff if you wanted to study say how you're framing goes would you go on your aspect ratio and like maybe pull up a bunch of your horizontal landscape pictures and that they absolutely like you could do a sort do a smart search for landscape pictures of like scenery and in a landscape format over a five year period five stars or three stars or whatever and then you'll get a set of one hundred images and just kind of start watching them change and see what you d'oh you know used to be that all of my uh all of my shots were a little bit you know, angled even my landscapes were a little angled but now recently a lot of my landscape shots are really, really squared off like I crop him and make sure that there dead on straight because I've gotten to the point where a landscape shot to me feels like it should be super stable and it's just it's just a change in the way you feel about things but it changes the whole process it changes the way the photograph feels it changes who you are changes what the people in the photograph look like so there's a lot that changes based on those kind of things and if you watch it and if you pay attention, this could be the best learning experience for becoming a better photographer and doing better work so that your books look better your posts look better, your blog's look better everything's better because of the imagery is better and all of that could come about by just paying attention to the things that you're shooting and why they're you know why is there a difference between these two shots and it's? Not because she's not looking at me, you know it's not because she's not smiling and it's the same activity she's doing the same thing, but I two things happened. I changed my vantage point so that I came around to this side of her and I cropped in clothes and that changed the photo that's the on ly thing that's changed in the photograph really just vantage point and the crop and those two things change everything because really that changing your vantage point is changing the internal crops inside of the photograph you know, things were cropping off of other things because you spun around, but in this case the crop itself this frame the frame edge really makes the photograph alive and this one there's so much space so little you know, interaction between the frame edge it's just becomes unimportant so if you were a new person would you lay over the grits advisedly and over the grits and using the rule of thirds or this okay got you so if you go into like let's say we wanted to make this one better so if we went in here you can you can change. So right now we've got the rule of thirds I don't know if you can see that very well see those lines right there and there and there and there that's the rule of thirds basically stating that everything that's important should be somewhere on this line this line that liner that line not in the middle, not on the edge but somewhere on those lines and then your absolute most important thing should be on the corners right here, right here, right here and right here so that's the rule of thirds and there's a bunch of other different helps that you can go into the crop overlay guide there's all of your def so there's the golden spiral there's the triangle this aspect right there's all sorts of different so here's the this triangle one is interesting see there there's the rules so there should be things you know, running up this way and that way and that way or you could reverse it and it should run the other way and basically that one is indicating the need for angles inside of a photograph and things should follow that kind of s curve and they should, you know and and so there's a lot of different theories for cropping and you could you khun toggle through these and you'll find one that works for your photograph to tell you you did a good job where you could find out what your style tends yeah, you get to find out what your style tends to be but in the end all composition comes down to one very critical element and that's the frame, the frame edge a lot of people think ok, you know, I need to frame better which means they look at the whole frame and then they look at the rule of thirds and they look at these the magic spiral on the whatever and in the end, if they would just pay attention to the frame itself and how it interacts with the photograph all of that other stuff will take care of itself to some degree I mean, you still have to fuss with a little bit, but in most cases anytime and I taught college for a long time and so I I would spend a month on framing alone our people would literally have to come in and all we did his frame frame frame friend take pictures frame where do you crop it? Where do you you know and go back and shoot it again with the right front you know things like that and every time it was soon as a student got framing and understood the relationship between the edge of the frame and the subject they were always better at their compositions because that alone changes everything for instance the rule of thirds has taken up it like if we go to this one account that follows let's go back to our whereas tools there we go let's go back to our rule of thirds see that where is your head right here why was I thinking about putting it there know what was I thinking about? I was thinking about putting her head over here next to this just the right distance ins from it so that created some vibration but not necessarily so close that it cropped it off or became too you know like I don't know whether it's going to be out or in and and so I was worried about this playing right here I was worried about mimicking these lines I was worried about getting a triangle up here to some degree I was worried about you know getting low enough so that her head didn't rest with this line but it broke through the line I was worried about those, but I wasn't worried about where her head rested and whether her I was on the rule of thirds or whether the key was on the rule of thirds, but it got there. Why? Because I was worried about how this frame edge interacted with the person that doesn't mean that you always need tohave your person close to the frame edge either. What it means is that you have to be aware of what you're saying by either putting the frame edge close, we're putting in a long way away because sometimes it pays to put the frame edge a very long way away from you know, something or the subject, and in this case, I don't think there's any real example out there it's kind of an example of it here, it's not a super great example, but you see how we leave that frame edge way up there, and that creates vacancy, and sometimes you do that in you know you'll you'll do it in like, uh, here well, this is the easiest way to do it. Let's go all photographs let's, go to text and let's say sky out whalen none text just do cloud well, I don't know why those came up, but there's some other stuff in there well, here's a, uh here's a photograph that's not necessarily what I'm talking about it's not my kids but somehow it shows up but is the frame edge interacting with the couple? No not at all what's what's happening now now because the frame edges not interacting with the couple it's showing how unimportant and minuscule they are in comparison to the grandeur of the canyon and the earth right? And so they become unimportant because they're not touching the frame edge what becomes important is the canyon because the canyon is what's touching the frame edge the clouds or what's playing with the frame edge everything in this photograph speaks to the importance and the grandeur of the canyon and the minuscule nous of the person in comparison to the world that they're in it tells the story it absolutely tells the story but it's based on the frame edge all of that comes from the frame edge itself how close is it to the subject? How far is it what does it interact with and what does it play with it? The frame edge is playing with something that thing is important if the frame edge isn't doing anything to that thing, that thing becomes uh understated and the thing that is touching the frame edge the grandeur of the canyon becomes the important thing it's a comparison so anytime that you want to create a much better effect with your photo photographs um pay attention to the canyon and art of the canyon. Pay attention of the cropping itself. And you'll find that you do a much better job at creating energy and excitement in the photographs.