Photo Critique with Lisa Carney


One Hour Photo Featuring Lisa Carney


Lesson Info

Photo Critique with Lisa Carney

Let's take a look at some photos, some image review of your photos. Excellent. And both of us will get to kind of comment on this. So our first image is Vidmanta Minkstimas. My first inclination is I like, that's very good. I love that pattern. One of the simplest forms of taking a great photo is just find a pattern. Absolutely. Could you use this in your work? Oh, absolutely. I will tell you to go check out a TV show on ABC called Once and Again, excuse me, Once Upon a Time. It's a ABC television show and they have a whole series of artwork that uses this kind of patterning with trees for the last two or three seasons. So yes this is a look we would definitely use. I believe The Woodsman, the movie, The Woodsman. I'm not familiar with that one. Yeah, that's a Snow White film. Yeah, I could see this as kind of-- Absolutely, it's gorgeous. It's absolutely gorgeous. And so okay, so I'm gonna have my, got a little quibble here. And so it's a pattern shot so anything th...

at kind of breaks up the pattern kind of takes away from it. And so that one tree over on the far right, that's kinda half the height, makes me kinda wanna explore the forest a little bit more, twisting the camera left and right. Because a foggy day is a great time to go out and shoot. 'Cause it just cleans up the background. It's this nice clean background. And so maybe pointing the camera more to the right or more to the left, depending on the lights and darks over there. But that one little tree, I might just, five degrees to the left and get that guy outta there. Can I ask you, can you go back for one second? Yeah. The other thing I would do, and I don't know how photographers feel about this, about framing in that it's got that 35 millimeter frame. 'Cause I would just crop it. Would you go more panoramic or go more square? No, more square. I would just crop out that-- Let's just do that, let's just do this. And I often wonder with photographers if we get very attached to the framing. Oh, we do, we do. I used to shoot with a Hasselblad and that was like the square frame and that was it. That was it. And then when I got off the Hasselblad and I was shooting with a four by five, then it was that and I didn't ever wanna crop. I wanted to crop everything in camera. So we should talk about that, cropping in camera. Yeah. So as a retoucher or a finisher, which is what I do, I can't stand it when photographers crop in camera 'cause I've got no extra. So let's say this photographer wanted to sell this piece and they wanted to use it for a billboard and they just needed a little bit more on the side. Ah! You shouldn't have cropped it in camera. Don't crop it in camera, crop it in post. But I think that for photographers it's a really tough nut. It's tough. And so in my classes, here's what I tell people to do. Shoot it as tight as you can and then back off and shoot it again. Excellent, brilliant. Because photographers are trying to get every pixel on all the good stuff. And so you do need it tight, but digital, just shoot another one. It's not like it's a piece of film and it's gonna cost ya a little bit of money there. That's a great idea. Photographers, they're looking through that square, that rectangle, and their brain just starts thinking in that. And one of the things I like is I love going more cinematic. I love going 16 by nine or two to one ratio on it. I like square. I don't like things that are just five percent off a square, that's just, like, I can't. But it's a personal preference. Well, and also, I'm wondering, and digital kinda freed me from this, is the notion that every image that you're looking at has what it wants. Like, some things wanna be small, some things wanna be huge, some things wanna be square, some things wanna be rectangle, elongated, and it's not the box that you've got in your hand. It's what you're looking at. And really separating yourself and having that conversation would be really good. And having the mindset of how it's gonna be used in the final, like if it needs to fit in this poster box that's 20 by 30, it's gotta go with that. Or if you're gonna sell this. Like are you shooting for stock, and... Right, what's the most versatile on the market? So knowing the end result is very important and then shooting for what it is there. All right, so we have Mohamed Buyabes here. And let me get back to my full screen here. And so first, it's a dramatic image. I love black and white, I love highlighting your subject. Do you think this was shot in the studio? Do you think this is something-- No, I think it was found lighting. Found lighting? I don't know, interesting question. Yeah, it's hard to tell. And so it's nice dramatic lighting. I don't know how to improve this image. I know that there's probably dozens of different images kind of playing around with that one strip of light on the left. How much of it do you want, how bright do you want it to be, do you want it to be a continuous line on it? Do you think there's something that would have made this better? Yeah, there's a feeling I get when I look at it where I feel a bit contained, which might be the desire of the look, but my shoulders literally start crunching when I'm looking at it. So I'm not sure if that was the desired result. And one of the things I'm noticing, and I know the viewers may not get to see this, but how this looks on the screen and the contrast is completely different than how it looks on the screen behind you. So on the screen behind there's detail. Right, yeah, you can see the shirt and the separation between-- And I kind of like a tiny bit more detail. That goes back to the question of your viewer who was asking about printing, and I think this is a really good time to talk about how your image gets used and what it ends up looking like, you don't necessarily know. In the final form, yeah. And that's really challenging. Yeah, 'cause you can have something that looks great on your computer, but then by the time they have it put on the bus stop billboard, the paper that they used with super cheap paper or something. Right, and is detail coming through? I had a job once, it was a Wesley Snipes movie where he is the vampire, Blade. And I did not run what we call a solar curve on it to check my pixels on the picture. And I had filled him in so it was a black gradient coming up his body and the logo Blade was in front of him. I did not do a solar curve. On the screen looking through the pixels, it was black. On the print, you could see through to his body and it got printed and the job got rejected and had to come back. And it was all because I didn't do a solar curve on my computer. Wow, and I don't even know what a solar curve is. Yeah, see, well, take my class and I'll teach ya all about it. Yeah, lots to learn in there. Okay, so little adventure photography, this is-- Looks like Iceland. Yeah, I was gonna say this looks like Iceland. And so it looks like potentially a shot from National Geographic or something that you would see in there. In general, it's a spectacular environment. I love the roof there with the light on there. Any quick thoughts from you? I always hesitate to say this 'cause I'm not sure about, again, when it's fair to say about manipulating or not manipulating. But what I like to do when I look at photography is I squint down and I look at what my focal point is and what my shape is, and I feel like... The figure is what I wanna be looking at, but when I squint down I don't even get there. It's all in the ice. So I think perhaps to have the figure pop up a little more. I might consider darkening the cave behind a little more so that figure can come forward. Well, you know, when I saw this, I was thinking okay, it looks like, okay, they're holding a light of some sort, but the main light is an off-camera light that they've triggered probably with a remote. And I would kinda like more of a highlight on that person in there. And so if they maybe had two or three flashes, they're gonna light the background a little bit softer with one and then have a little bit brighter, more of a spotlight on them. And as look at this now I'm kinda wondering if that person, I don't know male or female, but if they were to kinda move a few feet up to their right and they were more on the peak of that little hump-- Absolutely, for framing. Yeah, 'cause then it fits more clearly in the frame 'cause right now the light goes down to their right leg, which just becomes pure black and kinda fades into the darkness there. Well, and the key is light against black and black against light, so if that figure moved up, they would be against a darker background. Yeah, but a great environment there. Yeah, beautiful. Okay, so I think we're up in Vancouver right now. And so this is one of my favorite times of day to go out photographing is twilight, where you get this nice blue in the sky. And so that's Expo 86, I went up to Expo 86 there. That was a big thing for me. But I don't know, that point of view with the bridge in the foreground, that's not really doing it for me. You're holding your fingers up, what do you think we should do on the cropping? I would come way in, and I mean way in. Because I-- Okay, should we go vertical? I'd go square, actually. Okay, let's just go to custom and make this a full one by one. Yeah, 'cause I just don't know where to look, and I feel like the bridge could be a nice entry in, but just barely, yeah. And then perhaps, again, I'm a retoucher, so I think as a retoucher. I think the dot, like a vignette on the image could help bring the eye into center. Well, you know, it's kinda funny because there's a lot of lenses that have vignetting, which is darkening of the corners. And it's like oh no, how much vignetting does this lens have? And the fact is I add vignetting to more photographs than I take out. Absolutely. And so let me go in here. Actually it's in effects, and you can make it obviously terrible that direction. And it's like, here that's, to me that's way too far, and I'm at 48 if you wanna see the numbers. And so I'm gonna come back to just a nice subtle darkening of the corners, bringing your eyes into the middle of it. So yeah, that's a good idea. Didn't really think about a square on that one. Well, 'cause I think a square is a very balanced, calm crop, and this is a crazy picture in the sense that there's a lot going on. So it's like, okay, gentle. Nice, okay, excellent. And so next one here. So my first thought on this one is I wish they'd been out there at the time of day that the previous image was shot. Absolutely. Nighttime photography can be a lot of fun, but having that little bit of color in the sky can help out so much. Well, I think it would give it just this infinity depth if there was just that little magic hour behind. Yeah, and that can last anywhere from 10 minutes past sunset for two hours, depending on how far north you are there. All right, looks like we're running out of time. Let's just do one more. All right, so this one, oh, I forgot to bring up the name on some of these. So Nathan McCreery, thank you for submitting this. I believe this was shot with a four by five, I just, techy, you know. And so a lot of-- Looks like four by five. Yeah, it's that aspect ratio. And it looks like it's a beautiful desert environment, they got some kinda nice light. What interests me is over on the right hand side, there's some side light cutting across those rocks over there. And I wish there was more of that on the rocks in the foreground. Yeah, it's interesting. I think it wants a little more contrast as well. Yeah, it might be a little flat in the way that it got submitted to us through the JPG system. We try not to be too harsh on people in that regard. But that's perfectly fine in case people are thinking the same thing, 'cause-- And this is gorgeous. Now do you do much with black and white versus color? I shoot primarily in black and white. My personal work. What's a key important for shooting black and white, do you think? What I think is nice about shooting black and white, it's all about composition at this point. You're not distracted by color, so I look at this and I'm like, okay, the picture, I think the diagonal is saving it. Because otherwise it would've been cut in half. Would have been a exact 50/50 split. But because it goes off with the shadow, it gives it a dynamic line. So I think composition's most important with black and white, which is why I enjoy it. All right, I'm afraid that we're gonna have to call it there, we've kinda run out of time. That was great, thank you very much! Thank you very much for coming on. It was great to see your work, great to see your advice for everybody else. So folks, thanks a lot for tuning in. You can tune back in next month when we'll have another new episode with another mystery guest at this point. So keep checking back and we'll have more here for you. Thanks a lot.

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 student questions and ten critiques in this exciting new series we're calling One Hour Photo. John will also sit down with one guest photographer who will offer insights, advice, industry knowledge, and participate in a photo critique of student images, and this month's guest is Lisa Carney.

In this hour, John responds to questions about everything from cameras, gears, and lenses.
Lisa Carney is a high end retoucher who has spent over two decades working with the most dynamic players in the print, motion picture, and television industries.
Besides being a regular presenter at the Adobe MAX conference, her teaching roster runs the gamut from beginners to professional retouchers, and includes universities, design studios, movie studios, corporations, and private students. Check out her CreativeLive classes here.



Wonderful explanations of specific photography questions and retouching. Enjoyed the questions as well as the choice of featuring of Lisa Carney. Both of these instructors are what I term 'real people'. They don't put on airs and they explain their area of expertise well. For me to see how the professional teaches is as important as what they teach when deciding if I am going to watch a class or ultimately purchase it.. Throughly enjoyed it!


Oh my stars!! What great information Lisa gave. She has such a different insight into what can help a job beyond photography. The whole idea of shooting more of the scene for further applications later is brilliant. More, more, more!!!

martin hughes

Brilliant feedback from one of the best in the industry