Photo Critique with Art Wolfe


One Hour Photo Featuring Art Wolfe


Lesson Info

Photo Critique with Art Wolfe

So, I have gone onto the work page, student work page of the Fundamentals of Photography class and that's where I'm grabbing these pictures from and I do tend to prefer images with people's names on them. So this is Frank Bergdoll and, so Art, I'll mention something and then you can chime in with whatever you're thinking. This looks like a nice beach but what do you think about the time of day? Yeah, it's a little flat, it's a little high. This person, Frank, you gotta, you know, work a little later in the day or get a little earlier up, because when the sun is pretty much directly over it casts a fairly abrupt light, a harsh light on it, and subjects like this where the continent meets the sea I think would be even better with a little softer light. Yeah, 'cause if you look at those shadows they are just dead black, there's nothing there, and so that's that harsh light that we're talking about, so I think it's a place worthy of exploring at different times. Yeah, and I think the...

other thing is, you know, I have this belief that everybody's born, they go to the bathroom, they eat food, they go to the bathroom, they get a camera and they put the horizon right down the middle. (John laughing) And so I think that, you know, if we can avoid putting the horizon down the middle we can create more depth in the image, but that will come as this-- Yeah. As Frank photographs more and more. Yeah, so we all start someplace and we move someplace else and so this one I thought was interesting. There's a nice kind of palatte to the background but it's, it's both nice but it's a little confusing because there's some lines that are, it's a mixture of there's some good elements in here with some confusing ones. Yeah, I would simply crop this image a little bit from the top and to the right. You could go ahead and do it, because yeah, the lines are critical in the image because I love the disruption of the lines right behind that, what looks like a tricolored heron. I'm not entirely sure what kinda heron that is. Yeah. But yeah, by just mitigating a little bit of those lines, minimizing the amount in that frame it gives greater emphasis to the heron, but it also shows the sharp lines being obscured or distorted by the movement of the bird and I like that element. Nice, yeah, I think that's an improvement there. Wouldn't you like to have Art Wolfe just reviewing all of your images all the time? Think you have a new online service there. There you go. So one of the things I talk about, well you talked about one of them, the horizon's straight down the middle, but the other one that just drives my opinion of hell is looking at uneven photographs in a dentist office. I see this from time to time and it drives me nuts, and so first off get that horizon level. Now what do you think they should've done? Should they have pointed the camera more up or more down, what would you have done if you were there with your camera? You know, if I was there, and now I have to put my glasses on. Uh-oh, Art's taking the computer away, watch out. I'm going to the crop, I'm going to the crop and I'm gonna open the crop. He knows what he's doing, folks. And I'm gonna make it a vertical, Ah, look at that because I want that diagonal of line in the foreground to become more dominant. Ah, okay. And I think by doing that and closing this and I think it's a sharp enough image that I'm just playing with space and, you know, almost everybody shoots big wide horizons as horizontals but I think that diagonal of line on the shore gives me license to do that and I think that improves that image. Yeah. And definitely gets the horizon out of the middle and there's a reason that we got along so well is that we are bothered by the same things, always correcting the horizon. But you know, as much as I'm a stickler about that, I never get it right myself. Neither do I. So I always correct it in Lightroom, just as you've done. Yeah, yeah, and so yeah, making that vertical does it make you think differently, you know, that's great. All right, next one here. Now this is actually by somebody we both know, Emily Wilson, and I love that background and I love a good clean colorful background and I've got a few suggestions myself on this one. Okay, let's hear yours. So I would like to see a little bit more detail in that robe, so I'm gonna raise the shadows. If we go to far you get a little too much noise, but I wanna see a little bit more in the shadows there. That little upper left part is just kinda breaking the background for me a little bit, so I'm just gonna bring that in just a little bit and I don't have the room to kinda move it left and right as I might like to, but one other little thing that I will do with people photographs like this is I will go down to Effects and I will add a vignette. Now obviously that's too much and my rule of thumb is go until it's, like, okay that is way too far, John. And so you see I went 42? So now I'm gonna back it off and do about one third of that. And I can't do that math in my head right now, but somewhere right about here and I'm darkening the corners just a little bit so that it keeps your eye into the photograph and I might, if I was gonna work on this just a little bit more, just, actually I wanna get it outta that frame right there, just a little less floor space right there. And so just cleaned it up just a little bit, wanted to see a little bit more in the shadows there. So my only critique on Emily's photo is not really after the fact that she shot it, is before you would have shot that Emily is the next time the person obviously is facing slightly to the right. I would've moved myself, my body, to the right so that I could put that background behind her more. I like that area-- So you mean to the left. Yeah, so I'm moving right to put the subject to the left. Okay. And you put a little more space in front of where they're looking and therefore getting the body out of the middle. Yeah. Which, when the subject like this person is in the middle it's analogous to having the horizon in the middle. Okay, let's move on. All right, we only have a few images here. And so we're up at Glacier Park. Now I wanted to ask you about this one, I included this one because I know you here. When you get that sunrise just hitting that one ridge, should the shot be taken before it hits there or should you wait 'til you kinda get the whole thing? What do you think about just having that sliver there? Yeah, I would've preferred just to have had that black and white, or dark and light. I think that one slice of orange is making both of our attentions going there. I love this composition. What I would do with this is to simply make it more of a panoramic. I would just open it up and there's about five or six different panoramic profiles, one of which, and you can find them down here, if it was 16 by nine that's probably too tight, but 16 by nine actually now takes the horizon out of the middle. I love the, where the rocks are in relationship to the distant mountains and their reflections, and then I would just drop in a neutral density filter here to kind of take down a little bit of the brightness on that top. Yeah, 'cause that color really draws your attention away from here. Yeah, so that, the main thing there is it gets the horizon out the middle, puts greater emphasis on the rocks in the foreground, it's a beautiful image. Yeah. And so there's a couple here that are actually very similar, so we got two trees here and what do you think about the kind of over exposed sun? That's kinda hard to deal with, isn't it? That is, you know, we have them in our own images. It's a beautiful shot, but yeah, maybe I would've moved left and had the trunk of the tree kinda obscure the brightest part of the sun. And maybe they've done that but there's still, you know, with clouds the brightness of the sun is kinda spread out into a larger area and that may be part of the issue, but it's still a very nice shot. So getting potentially I think maybe a little closer to the tree, get that tree bigger and then the clouds on the top, I don't like the way that one on the kinda the top left is getting clipped. Yep. And so maybe include that. And so, let's see, what did I just lose? Right there, so we wanna get to the next image, which is kind of a similar image but they backed off. Now were they more or less successful here? You know what, are these worked on images, do you know? I don't know. 'Cause I would, see just by bringing down the highlights. Yeah. Opening up the shadows, and I think the composition, given all the things we've said about the horizon, I think the horizon is nice, it's the big open space, just taking down the highlights a little bit works on that and let's go to the next one. Whoa, that's a really nice shot of the eagle. And these are a challenge to get sharp. Yeah. And so at first, when you get your first sharp photograph you're just happy with it. Yeah, so if that's, I mean that beats the first 10 years of my eagle shooting, right there. (laughing) Thanks a lot and we'll see you next time around on the show.

Class Description

Click here to ask John Greengo your questions for future One Hour Photos!

Every month, John gives you an hour of expert guidance and immediate feedback with ten questions and ten critiques in this exciting new series we're calling One Hour Photo. John will also sit down with one guest photographer to offer insights, advice, and industry knowledge, and this month’s guest is Art Wolfe.

In this hour, John responds to questions about the pros and cons of using different brand lenses from your camera brand, tips for culling images, pros and cons of different wide angle lens types, and the pros and cons of crop sensor vs full frame cameras, just to list a few.

The son of commercial artists, Art Wolfe was born in Seattle, and though he travels nine months out of the year still is glad to call the city home. He graduated from the University of Washington with Bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and art education, and these fields continue to inform his work every day. To see his photos, unique in their mastery of color, composition and perspective, is to experience first-hand the power of photography. One of his lifelong goals is to win support for conservation issues by “focusing on what’s beautiful on the Earth.” Wolfe’s breathtaking images of the world’s fast-disappearing wildlife, landscapes and native cultures do just that. Check out Art’s CreativeLive classes here.