Photo Critique with Rocco Ancora


One Hour Photo Featuring Rocco Ancora


Lesson Info

Photo Critique with Rocco Ancora

So if you don't mind sticking around for about 10 or 15 minutes we're gonna take a look at some of the viewers photos, and I'm gonna pull this open in Lightroom. And we'll work with this in kind of the develop module so that we can make any changes if we feel like we want to right away. And so from Harry Bandari, got some tulips here. And we've got great tulip fields just north of Seattle that are going to be blooming here in the next couple of weeks. I'll probably be taking my annual trip up there for one of those trips. And so I'm guessing we're looking at a longer telephoto lens, some shallow depth of field, and we've got fantastic color. You've got this repeating pattern of the flower that is just kind of a gimme for great shots. I guess I would like to see a more definitive one flower that you're going for. Like if you look a little bit behind where the point of focus is there's one flower that's up a little bit higher than the others. Maybe focusing on that one because it's stand...

ing out just a little bit more. What do you think Rocco? Absolutely, I think the idea is there and the execution is very very good. We just have to make sure that, like John said, we have a point of interest. Now also if you notice the foreground there is a tulip there which is really really standing out. That's kind of screaming to the viewer saying I want to be the center of attention, but I'm out of focus, and that's kind of conflicting in your mind, so pick something that is gonna be the hero of the shot and then everything else needs to support that. So let me move my cursor, so are you thinking about this one right here? Yeah that one there, that's the first thing I saw. And so yeah, that one is really the only one that you can see in its entirety. And so that would be very interesting to see that. Put that in focus and then this left side with this kind of road there is bothering me just a little bit. I think if we just brought that in a little bit there. And had, if we could have that other one in focus that might be a really interesting shot. That, that would, that would absolutely make a huge difference but it's about, you know cropping's so important because it's about, you know, accentuating the impact that you want to, you know, portray in image. Good advice. Alright next up, woops we jumped one there. Okay this is from Mojoman44. And I'm gonna be honest, I don't think this is a very good shot. I include it because, a couple of reasons. I could see myself taking this photo when I was getting started in photography. I'll partly pay, little side note here, I used to breakdance. And so I love breakdancing, I know they call it Bboy and I still can't call it breakdancing, and so I love watching this, I love watching the guys. Huge admiration for them. And I know like, if I started taking photos, I was just happy to have something on film, you know? I was just happy to have it there on film. But on this, I want to see his face, I want to see a better pose. I mean, you know something interesting's going on. Absolutely. For me here, it's about context, okay? And it's about the environment and it's about the position that he's in and it's about the story of what he is doing. At the moment I feel that the crop is a little bit tight, you know, we're cutting off shoes, we're cutting off hands, you know the people in the background are distracting, probably because of the choice of the way the image is lit. So the light is originating, I believe, from where the camera is, so the camera, maybe flash on camera. It's illuminating the subject in the foreground but it's also illuminating the background. Now taking your flash off camera, maybe putting it at 45 degrees, creating some really beautiful dynamic light onto that dance floor, step right back, include a little bit more of the environment, and you would have had a very very different picture of the same scenario. That's a hard situation because they're usually in dark places like a dance floor at a wedding. And so it's a challenging environment and so, you know you've got the focus, you've got the exposure, which are the technical things you need to worry about and now timing of it and the background and the lighting. Timing is everything in this sort of stuff, yeah. But it's a good place to go, thanks for sending it in, keep trying, keep putting it out there, photography is something that we can all get better at. Alright next up, a little bit of a landscape shot here. Some lightning, and I've had some great history in shooting lightening, it's a lot of fun, very exciting. You gotta be safe, you gotta be safe. I love the fact that they've got that little guardhouse. You probably know more about that in Australia than I do. The colors are kind of interesting in this. And I'm not sure, all of that, what's going on. But it's difficult to get, I mean they almost have sunlight and lightening at the same time. Yeah, I think the shot is interesting, and it's actually, I'm actually enjoying the color palette. I think the color palette chosen is quite beautiful. You've got the yellows and the sayans coming through, and the greens, and everything becomes very much complimentary which is really really nice. We got to remember though in a picture anytime you present it to someone to view it, the human eye is attracted by two very important things. One of them is brightness, and number two is contrast. Now when I look at this picture my eye goes to the brightest part of the picture which is that beautiful sunlight in the background. So that really needs to come down in value a lot more to make the, I believe the hero of the shot or the cookie if you like, is that little guardhouse and those little, row of white, what are they? Little white-- Yeah it's a fence maybe, perhaps, I'm not sure. Yeah. Like they might be painted rocks. Yeah, in the foreground acting as a compositional element taking you to the sunset. Now the sunset, if that's toned down then you start to scout again to the brightest point, which will take you back through the horizon line back to the guardhouse and that is the only thing I feel this image needs. And maybe a little bit of darkening up the top. Because as your eye moves up to the lightening, it's very interesting and it's very dynamic but we have a very very bright spot at the top of the frame which kind of leads you out. So you want to sort of come back in by just a little bit vignetteing that off or just bringing it back to what the story is about. Very good, very good advice. Alright so getting into sports photography, do you shoot sport very much? No I don't, though I've got friends that do it and I admire them because it's very difficult. Yeah I used to shoot a lot of sports and it's challenging, because you know, if this is the leader, and that's what you want to get you've got two seconds to get it. And we've got nice facial expression there, I love the fans in the background. Aren't they great? I mean they really help tell the story. Possibly the one guy on the right hand side, his head is a little bit, maybe if we just crop that out just a tad bit. Yeah, that's it. I think. The impact of that. And so, you know, I'm not sure how much the ethics go into it but I would, I almost feel like adding in, and I don't know if we have time for this, I'll just, I'm gonna do this real roughly. Just bring it down just a little bit, I may have gone too far here. But just darken that side. I'm a big fan of just small vignettes. Yeah, very small. Just because your eye goes to the lightest part. That's still a little heavy and it's you know, it's with a hammer there but just, and we used to do this in the newspaper all the time, you'd go in there and you'd dodge a little area just a little bit lighter to bring it onto the face there. And we have another motorsports shot here. So great use of shutter speed I think. It is, and it's a great panning shot and the color works really really well of the cars of course. But once again you know, I think with shots like this, the fact that it's been cropped kind of square it kind of feels awkward. Because you've got a moving subject running from left to right and you're kind of, I want to see motion in that direction. It's tight. It's very tight, it's probably too tightly cropped. My feeling is, is when I look at this kind of from my photography knowledge is like there's a bunch of junk that they cropped out and it left them with this square. And you know it's not, I kind of like, I like squares. So do I. I used to shoot with a Hasselblad and I like a wide cinematic look but there's these kind of awkward ones that are somewhere in between that make me feel a little uneasy, especially when the area in front of that pink dragster is so small. You know it's less than the width of a tire. It is, it kind of adds tension but it's not really working for the composition I think. And so it's a good capture. It is, absolutely. And it's something, you don't have a lot of control in those situations. And so getting two of them close like that is nice. And so overall, very good job. Yeah. Alright so Ali Salih, in the library, and so these are great leading lines. Unfortunately we're not getting a big payoff there at the end. And so it's, you know it's a nice shot in the library but wouldn't that be changed with a person down there looking at books? It needs a cookie. It needs something in there. It needs something that you know, your eyes are going down these beautiful leading lines, it reminds me a lot of the Stanley Kubrick one point perspective kind of cinematic. Except that this is done vertically. But it's, you know you need something down there. Like just one person walking down the hallway, you know so you can see a nice silhouette of somebody. Moving across frame at the very end, just something even if it was half a foot hanging out or half a leg, to give us the notion that there is somebody in this library, then yeah. I like that term, the cookie. I've been just talking about this extra element but you know I like photographs that you know are pretty good, they stand on their own, but then you add this one little extra thing, the cookie, and it suddenly becomes better. And so a little bit more of an industrial shot here. And so I love the sky in this. Yeah the sky is very dynamic. It's great, not sure though about the turning on the right hand side we have some yellowing coming through and I'm not sure if that's actually there or if it's been added later, but it kind of becomes distracting. It becomes like a stain, it becomes quite dirty. Also I don't know about compositionally if they should be in the center or if this should be a vertical shot. I want to turn the camera to the left and get those over the right side of the frame. And I probably want to get, there's like a doorway or something just down at the bottom and you know, maybe if we do something like this. Yeah there we go. It simplifies it quite a bit, also got rid of a lot of that yellow problem. It's great because then you've got the chimneys and your eye goes up the chimneys and you go up into this beautiful, you know detailed textured area of the sky which looks quite beautiful and then your eye starts to scout around, it comes down and picks up the roofline, yeah much better composition. Yeah it feel like there's much more connection between the chimneys and that light area right on the top. It feels more direct in this case. Absolutely, absolutely. Alright, good job. Alright we were taking in the questions about star photography and here's a case were somebody used a longer shutter speed. I'm gonna guess maybe in the range of one, two, three, four, five, minutes. And it's this awkward middle ground where you're starting to get star streaks, but they're not the full star streaks where you gotta do like, back in the old days with film you'd do a four hour exposure or something. And now you have to do star stacking on it. And so I think either go shorter or do a stacking technique. Have you shot stars much? No I haven't, I haven't. And so the other little right hand, bottom right hand corner, that little bright area. That's very distracting. Yeah you don't, don't want to include those little bright spots if they're not important to you. And so I think maybe going, squaring that up a little bit helps there, and so you might want to try shorter shutter speeds if you can still get the star points. But it's, you know it's a matter of perspective but that's kind of the standard in the industry you might say. Alright let's go to the next one here. Alright so a little meta here. We're photographing what we're photographing here. And I love behind the scenes shots. And I think they're capturing a nice sunset and you know it's a way to have fun out there. Yeah it is. Do you ever do shots like this or? I do, normally of guests taking photos of brides and grooms, so I like to shoot they're perspective of what they're seeing so you get this kind of scenario but with someone either holding an iPhone or maybe a holding a camera and they're looking at the results and I do it quite unobtrusively, but this ones interesting. I think I like where they were going with this image. Except compositionally, once again, if we were to take maybe half a step to the right and you see how we've got that crevice inside that's either a sand dune or a mountain. We either want to frame that camera within that and just make a statement with that or we don't want to do that at all and come back and just close it off all together so we have that, you know, continuous tone running across there. But that, you know, coming across to the right and just putting it in that little divot. Might have to come back just a little bit, little bit to the right. You may have to kind of fake it a little bit with the camera, you know pretend it's looking in the right area, maybe you're not actually putting your camera in live view, you're playing back an image, and so there's a number of ways you can get creative with that. This is our last image, we're back down on the beach again. And so this kind of fits in with your small character. Small silhouette, our eyes go directly to it and so the line leads to it a little bit. Yeah. It seems a little bit bright on the right side. It does, it does. There is a lot of brightness and I guess you could say that the brightness is needed to create the silhouette, but also at the same time, if it's overly bright, and the waves behind the surfer are very bright, it does become a distraction in that your eye wanders off to the left hand side and it kind of, you kind of get caught up and you stay there, because there is a lot happening in that foreground, and then there's some beautiful texture in the way, and you're kind of not really worried about what's happening up there, and so I think maybe the crop, you know if we crop from the left hand side maybe a little bit more and just include a little bit more of the surfer to make the surfer the hero of the shot which is what I believe this shot is all about. Would have had probably a different impact. Alright, alright, great thank you. You had some great advice here. Thank you.

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 Rocco Ancora.

In this hour, John responds to questions about how to compress a close object and a distant background, how to know when to clean your sensor, best practices for TTL, setting up your camera for a night sky photo, UV filters, and more.

Named as one of the Top Ten Photographers in the world by the iconic photography magazine American Photo, Rocco Ancora’s poetic imagery continues to evolve with his mastery of light and the ability to capture the human connection. Rocco’s distinctive style is classical and romantic; his imagery is exquisitely imbued with evocative lighting and composition it’s a look and feeling that Rocco strives for. Check out his CreativeLive classes here.