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One Hour Photo Featuring Sandra Coan

Lesson 4 of 4

Photo Critique with Sandra Coan

John Greengo

One Hour Photo Featuring Sandra Coan

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

4. Photo Critique with Sandra Coan


  Class Trailer
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1 Student Q&A Duration:16:36
2 Interview with Sandra Coan Duration:04:31
3 Photography by Sandra Coan Duration:25:51

Lesson Info

Photo Critique with Sandra Coan

So what we're going to do now is we're going to open up LightRoom and take a look at some of our viewers' photographs. Well this is fun. So let's see if we can get this full frame. And get rid of all this other stuff. So this is our image review. So if you haven't been through an image review, we don't know what you were encountering and experiencing when you shot the photo, and so if we say move to your left five feet, it would've been better, we don't know that there was a brick wall there or not. Right. But we're just going to have to review it on what we see and so let's go ahead and take a look at our first image here. And this is a Creative Live Student and a couple of sea lions having a moment out there. Yeah. So obviously we've got a very good moment there. So excellent on the timing part of it, no doubt about it. I want to know if they were in the water. That would scare me. (laughing) In the water with them? Yeah, or if they had like a big old lens. It's pro...

bably a big old lens. You know, this is one of those areas where it's really hard to tell what lens they were using unless I can dive into the meta data, which oh, is this mean for me to go into the meta data? Let's get that closed out. It's an 85 millimeter 1.4 lens, so in any case, they are not far away from it all. No, that's amazing. Now if you could've told that third seal in the background to just- That's what I was thinking. To just duck behind. Or just like scoot down. But I'm sure it was going fast. Scoot down or get out of there. Yeah, there's really nothing that you can do about that. Any additional thoughts? No, I mean, that's what I would say too. Like you know it's going fast, you want to get that moment, you're like almost if you get down sometimes, you can black things in the back, but I mean that's a great capture. I'm sure that went really fast. Yeah, actually you know, we didn't have the name there, but I can see the name down on the bottom left. It's Gail Goldstein. So you've put your name on there, get good credit because you did a good job on that. So very good timing on that. It's hard to say because if you watch this behavior, this may happen every two minutes. Yeah. You know, if you stay there and you stick around and you see what's going on, you can get yourself really lined up. Yeah, there's nothing you can do about a wild animal in the background. No, photo bombing. You know, if it's a one time thing, excellent. If it happened again and again, stick around and see what you can do. Yeah. Alright, thank you. Alright this one comes from Ali Salih. And so do you do much macro photography? Do you do like details in portraits? Little stuff. I do have a macro lens for my contacts that I'll use and I'll get those little tiny baby toes and you know that kind of stuff. Yeah. But I never do stuff like this, but it always is kind of interesting to me to take something and turn it into an abstract image. And so working with that macro lens, you often do get really shallow depth of field and if I had to guess, I'm not going to pull up the meta data here, but I'm guessing they shot it pretty wide open to get that shallow depth of field, because you do end up with that nice, beautiful, soft foreground and background in there. Do you have any thoughts on that as far as what you like or what can be better? No, I don't know. I mean, I think it's kind of interesting. I guess I always like maybe the point of the leaf. I mean it's hard to say if you're not there though. So you know what I mean? Like that kind of line, taking the line a little bit. It's a little too straight up and down maybe. So maybe tilting the camera or moving your position so it's more of a diagonal line, maybe? I don't know, what do you think? Well- This is hard. I mean, if I'm just like grasping at things to make it better, that big drop is kind of interesting, because it is so big to compared to all the others. If there was more of a reflection in there. That would've been amazing. You know, if there was a tree that had a nice shape to it. I mean of course I'm just wishing on things at this point. It kind of adds drama though because you're waiting for it to fall off. Yeah, there's a bit of tension in it. And so yeah, I think possible as you're talking about. Just angling it so that the leaf is going more down to the bottom left hand corner, and so- Because then you would have this really beautiful tones too, like, it would kind of cut up. Now what do you think about including the tip of the leaf? The front tip? I would've been pro tip of the leaf. Bring that in. Because the back end kind of just disappears into the oblivion. Yeah, so if it was brought down to like here, and then you bring the tip in. Let's do it. This is why we have this in LightRoom. And so let's, I mean, oh- This is so fun! Stop that! Let's, I want to get that on manual. Should've had this setup ahead of time. So let's get rid of that. We don't need that. So where are you suggesting? We bring the top down a little bit? Yeah. Okay. And then you're right. And then if it was rotated. Let's just rotate it ourself. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Now it's really going to fall off. Yeah. That really makes you think. So now you get this kind of like er, yeah. And then- We just rotated it, but if you actually rotated your positioning, the leaf would be angled to the corner, but it wouldn't be tilting as much. Yeah. And so you'd get a more natural look from it. But then it becomes like I said, it's not leaf with a bubble of water on it, it becomes almost like an abstract painting. Right, right. Which I think is the cool part of macro. And so I think they've started off on really solid ground with the photograph. Yeah, oh totally And there's just a few different versions to play with it. And so get your clean good shot to start with, and then play around, because that's what fun about photography. And that's the beauty of digital photography honestly, is that you can look at something in real time and think about how can I change it up? How can I change my perspective? Yeah, okay, excellent job. Let's go to the next one. Oh, that's beautiful. Look at those colors. So where or where could we be at? This is Moraine Lake. Have you ever been up to Banff and Jasper? Oh yeah, I grew up in Alberta. Oh really? So you know all about this place on here. So I'm sure you've been there? Oh yeah. Oh yeah, we spent a lot of time in Banff and Waterton and all of that area, it's gorgeous. And my Dad's a big canoer. And this is some of the most- This is speaking to me. Well this is some of the most ridiculous rates you'll ever be charged for like a half hour. It was like $40 for a half hour in the canoe. Oh you're kidding? We always had our own. You know if you're a photographer and you really wanted a red canoe out there, it would be totally worth the $40. Oh, absolutely. But for the average person let's go canoeing for half an hour, it was very strange. Obviously you're in a very good environment. So that part is great. The time of day with that white sky. That white sky is what's bothering me there. Do you do, all your serious photography, is it in the studio? Yeah. And so you don't go out to the field? I don't like to leave and go in the outdoors. But I will say what's great about film photography is you really don't get the white sky. Yeah? You don't lose your cloud detail. Okay. Which is nice. So ya, unless it's actually a legit white sky. And so they've got a beautiful reflection. Yeah. But I think that would be enhanced. Like with a little further over- So you're not fond of the gravel pit on the left? I'm not loving the gravel pit. Not loving the gravel pit. You know what, if we're going to do this, let's make it a true square. I tend not to like things that are just almost square but not quite. So there's, that may not be the perfect crop there, let's get that little magnifier out of there. And so yeah, I think that losing the left side, the left side was not strong, and just in case. Yeah, it was taking, my eye was going to that gravel pit when there's all this other really beautiful stuff going on. So let's just reset this so people can see. Yeah, we're losing there's dark, uninteresting areas over on the left I mean I could see how it might be like a cool arrow. Maybe that's what they were going for? Yeah, I think you're going to have to work another part of it. And so it's just not as strong over there. And so having obviously that spot color in that big environment is, that's a tasty tidbit for a photographer, because you've got that color, and it's a relatively bland environment with this lighting on it. And so potentially coming back, I went up here to go shoot, specifically landscape type shots. Oh how fun! And I searched, I worked over to the canoes, I walked in the water, I knew exactly where they're standing at, there's some big rocks up there- What's over here? On the right hand side, there's the place where they rent the canoes. So it's like an ugly shack or something there? There's a shack over there. Because I was wondering why it was cut right there. Yeah, and so I don't think that you can move too far over to the right, but then there's another hill way off to the left, and I went back there probably four times on afternoons, mornings, evenings, to figure out right weather, the right lighting, and if you're doing that type of landscape photography, you have to have the time built in to come back because- And then you can study how it changes. Right. Like Monet did that. He would pain the same cathedral over and over and over again, and do it in different seasons at different times of day just to study the way the light would hit it. But that's fun, then it becomes a study. Yeah, and then- I'm totally geeky like that though. And so whether it's babies or nature, you need to learn your subject. You've got to figure out, when are they at their best? When are they not at their best? Next one, alright, let's see who this is. Oh, that's pretty. This is Donald Munn. This looks like Central Park to me. Yeah, I love the choice of black and white. Do you shoot much black and white? I am obsessed with black and white. I shoot super grainy- Oh okay. Like I love it. Contrasting. This does have a film feel to it. Yeah, it does. Maybe that's why I was like oh, now I want to listen to Simon and Garfunkel or something. (laughter) Exactly. It does seem a little on the dark side to me. And that, it could be the monitor. Well then, you know, this is a hard thing to meter to because you have that bright snow and the dark here so. I think they did a good job kind of capturing the snow falling. Oh yeah. Because that can be rather challenging. It's not the most exciting photograph in the world, but it's not intended to be. No, but it definitely gives you a feeling. Now I can see this as an album cover. Totally, that's what I'm saying. Like a moody- Yeah. Simon and Garfunkel in their early years. Okay. (Sandra laughing) So if you had to improve this, how would you improve this? It's always so hard to do this, because like you said, you don't know what's going on in this scene. Right. My instinct looking at this picture is I want to walk to the edge here. Okay, edge of the- And maybe get a little more of this and maybe a little less of that. You've got that bright, bright white. Yeah, so you have a large area of white which attracts your attention, and there's not a lot of interesting details going on interesting there. So my thoughts were kind of similar. I was thinking maybe going vertical and seeing if you can find some element at the edge that is more interesting. So like you, I wanted to walk closer up to the edge to see if there's something else. And again, I guess maybe I've gotten too use to shooting square. I'm just like, I'm always curious now, what does that look like? Let's do the Sandra crop here, alright? So we're going to go in to do a one by one. So then you can kind of play around with like- Let's get rid of some of this. Now do you want to get rid of all of it? No, I think a little bit is fine, but it is heavy in that corner, don't you think? Yes, I believe so. And so something in there is another version of this. And I say that to be kind, because like once you shoot one, in photography we accumulate more and more photos. It's like we can have several versions of the same photo that work for different reasons. And so I'll have horizontal, panoramic, square versions, black and white, color versions of the same image that work on different levels for different reasons. And again if you're shooting digitally I mean that's kind of the beauty of it. Whereas like a film photographer, you would walk around this scene for an hour looking at it. Okay, so- You don't have to do it, I like square, it's just my brain. I'm going to do my change, and I often like not vertical, no, I'm not going to do vertical on this one. But I do like the 16 by 9 aspect. I do like panoramic. See, that's pretty. And so- And see, just taking out a little of that heavy white, you still want a little of it. Right. I'm always unsure as to exactly how far up to crop that to get- I like your crop better than my crop. Oh really? Well thank you. Yeah, you're welcome. And now you notice the ducks. Let's get that magnifier out of there, sorry about that. And so yeah, we do have ducks in there. And so it's amazing how different crops will just really change the subject, even though it's the same subject. But I mean obviously the bridge is good, those trees are good with the snow on it. The feeling is really good. Yeah, and this is why if you do want to photograph snow, my big tip on photographing snow in Seattle where it snows once a year every year, except on some years, is that you got to get out early in the morning. It's like before everyone else, when everyone else is at home freaking out watching the news, you are out with your camera while the snow is still on the trees, it's not melted and there's not thousands of footprints and tire tracks everywhere. Yeah, this looks to me like an afternoon, like a late afternoon. Nice, alright next up is, so let's get Creative Live Student number two here. And so I think they're getting creative with the angles on this. Yeah, and the colors and the shapes. Yeah, that's interesting. I think they've done a good job of finding a snippet of where something looks good. Now staircases are kind of gimmes as good locations. Oh, it's a staircase. Yeah. See, I thought maybe they were looking up. And to be honest with you, I wasn't sure at first if we were looking up or down, but obviously with the light we're looking down at multiple chandeliers going through a, it's not a circular, but it's kind of a half circular staircase. Oh cool. And so it's kind of a gimme for a repetitive pattern shot which I always love. I do too, I love them. Pattern shots are just so easy. But the colors, don't you think- The colors are cool. This is what I love about photography and about photographers is that you can take something that's just your ordinary world and look at it differently. I mean we all do that. Do you do that? Oh yeah. Like I'll be sitting in a restaurant and my husband will be in the booth behind me and I'll have to like move my body around a little until I'm like- He probably goes, what are you doing? He knows what I'm doing now. He's like you're totally composing me aren't you, but you know, where like you can see the lines and you see these things. Things start lining up? Yeah, it's fun. I think that not everybody can do that. So I always appreciate things like this when it's clear this person was seeing something differently. I mean it looks like it's probably a pretty beautiful building to start with, but this is something that most people aren't going to recognize. And in the whole concept of what would you do to improve this, boy, I don't know if there's a lot. There's a little bit of camera positioning you may want to play with. I kind of want to move the camera up into the left. That's what I was thinking. I was kind of up on your toes. And you kind of want to see a little bit more down there, but then there's chains right there that are holding it there that looks like that are kind of blocking it, so they're using that as framing. Yeah. And so they might've been boxed into this position you might say. And I like the light too, the way that the light is playing. But I will do the old square crop on this. Let's just try it. We're going to square crop everything today. Doesn't that sound fun? See? Square crop. Not just for Instagram. See? It's interesting. And so, maybe just want to get a little bit more of on the right. There you go, get all of that curve in. And so I kind of want to go a little bit wider than straight square. Do like a six by seven. Okay, let's see if I have that. We'll pretend we're shooting- How about a five by seven? There we go. Five by seven and let's get that, can we? There we go. Broken up there. Yeah, because there's a little bit of extra space over on the right hand side that we don't need. Yeah. Yeah, we could even like bring it into there and just do a wonky crop. Yeah, we'll do our own custom crop here. So you tell me when to stop. Like there. Right about there. Okay, Sandra crop, right there. I think that looks awesome. Got a nice dark border on the right hand side. Natural framing. And then you get that really beautiful little bit of light. And then I want this printed and I want it hanging in the staircase. That would be cool. I would love that. (laughter) Alright, thank you, very good photograph. And let's see. Heather Folse. And alright, so you don't go out and do an abandoned building? I went through an abandoned building phase in my teenage years, everybody does. You know, I am such, like I said earlier, I am such a portrait photographer, that I am just, you know, so if I look at a picture like this and I'm like okay, well what is the story? What are you telling me here? And so one thing I'm going to say is over on the left, there's just a smidgen of mountain over there, that just doesn't help us out. So let's just crop it down to the clouds right there. And then after taking this shot, the whole telephone pole there, cropping that out is going to be really tough. Let me turn this off manual there. And so the other thought for me is oh my gosh, that is a gigantic puddle perfect for reflections. That would've been cool. Like if you go up- So getting that camera up close with a wide angle lens, there may be some really good options in there. As it stands right now, I mean It's a very stark photograph, I think there's just too much foreground. Yeah. I mean I would definitely crop out most of it up to the mud puddle. But I agree, I would go up there. I'm a big fan of puddle reflections. Yeah, get your camera up there. Hopefully if you have one of those little flip screens, or a waste level camera, there's your rolleiflex in use right there. Everybody needs a rolleiflex. There you go, that would be perfect on that. That would be really cool. Yeah, and then just get down there. Get down there and then get some reflections with the graffiti, there might be some interesting pattern that comes out. Okay, so thank you Heather for that. Next up, we're going to go to Lulu. Okay, so we do have some kids shots, and I believe that her name is Lily, but Lulu is the photographer. Oh okay. So thank you- My niece is named Lulu, so it's a cute name. Alright, so kid photographer, what is your tips for this photographer. Okay, so this is my thing. So, kid photography is hard. It's like being a wild life photographer. Like sometimes you have to go, go, go, and sometimes you just have to sit and wait. And so I am betting that Lily, or Lulu? Lulu took this shot because she had eye contact, so I get that. Somethings you want to notice or look at when you are photographing people is if you are getting that really tight face shot and she's looking at ya, and that's what you want, then make sure that's what you're taking a picture of, so even change your perspective a little, so you're not cutting of her knuckles here. Right, so vertical would be better than horizontal in this case? Or go wide enough so you get the end of her hand. Because we're cropping the hand off. I've certainly many hand. I've cropped feet at the ankles, I've done everything wrong too. Like I get it, but that's what I would recommend. And then I would probably retake this again. I would ask her to take the toothbrush or whatever that is in her mouth out, and then I would sing her a song or tell her a story or do something so I could still get that connection. Get the eye contact, that sounds like some good tips from the expert there. Alright. Kids are hard. You definitely have to work. Thank you Lulu and Lily. Next up, Ankit Mishra, and I love these kind of stark environments, but that post- The post is driving me crazy too. I wasn't going to say it because of course I was like er. It's really close. It has the potential for a really nice design element. I think if they wanted to keep the post in, you'd crop out clouds in the back. So it probably doesn't help when we're doing that. And so- Then you can keep the post in. It's just too far to the left, and so if we bring it in. Yeah, it's not, because then you lose that gorgeous cloud detail. Yeah, but even now, it still seems tight on the left side. It's just a little cramped in there. Now I don't know how far the reflection goes down in the water of that post, but it might be good to kind of tilt down, so that we can see the top of the reflection of that post, so it's one continuous element, rather than one that comes out of the bottom. I don't know that it's better, but I would want to see it before I decided. Yeah, I'm definitely, I like things really simple and clean, so my inclination is to crop the other way and take that post out and just get the boat and the water and those beautiful clouds. Right. And so we can do something like this, and that is really nice are there. That, I like that a lot. Now- And those clouds are beautiful. One thing I want to do, exactly. I was just going to go to that. I like the clouds, I want to see a little bit more. So what I'm going to do, is I'm going to darken it just a smidgen here and we'll say a half stop, but I want to add some more contrast into the sky. Let's get that right there, and then we can play around. Obviously go way too much, come back to nothing, just add a little bit there, come back to the contrast, go back to nothing, just see what happens as we play around with that. And so add that there. And so there's the before, there's the after. It's not much, it's just a little bit of tone, and then at this point, it's that stick coming out of the back of the boat that's almost, it's a little too close to the horizon line. It's where I'd just want to get up on my tippy toes. Yeah, me too. Or take a step up and get that, but I think there's something really nice, and if you knew that this is what you wanted to get, you could start playing around, moving left and right, getting the cloud formation so that it kind of matched or- And again kind of sitting and waiting because you know those clouds are moving. Yeah, yeah. And seeing where you wanted to go. I was just thinking like, it must be really funny to watch a bunch of photographers look at art or stuff. I wonder if we all do that, because you and I r both like moving our bodies. It's a two dimensional and you're moving around and you're just like it looks the same to you. I know, but I want to do that to. I want to get up on my tippy toes and just bring that down a little bit. Yeah. Well, I think it's very good. I think there's a couple of different good versions in here. Yeah, I do too. So keep shooting on that. Thank you Ankit. And Rupam Konar. And so on this we're getting some spectacular color on it. Yeah. I can see, it feels, I get the color and stuff, it still feels like the blacks feel a little dark, a little collapsed. I think we've got strong color, but we don't have much else that's strong in the photograph. Yeah, maybe that's what's going on. Maybe getting a tighter shot just for instance. Maybe it's really all on the city. And so maybe there is, now this is a terrible version of this, but maybe there is these houses along the lake with this just red fire sky, which is really nice. I think there's maybe another version where you have something in the foreground right here, and let's just pretend that there is an interesting shape in the foreground and things were lined up a little bit better than that. Yeah, and then the horizon's just a little- Yeah, that horizon, let's see if I can do it from this side, fix that horizon there. Oh, did I make it worse? (Sandra laughing) Yeah, I fixed that. Yeah, got to watch those horizons. Anytime you're around water, you got to be really careful about the horizon. And it's hard. You know, this is one of those situations that I'm just going to reset this whole thing. You know, I straighten stuff all the time. People always think because I'm a film photographer I don't touch my photos. Yeah. It's not true. I shoot just a little crooked, because you know I get it, you're going- You're in the heat of the moment. You're just, and then you get it back and you're like oh, baby's going to fall off the bed. I have to do that all time myself. It's not much, it's like one degree, two degrees or something or something like that. Just a little, little bit. And so it's good lighting, but I think we need more than lighting. I do like the gradation and the colors. I can totally see where you're going. And so that's where you see the light coming, you go this is going to get good in the next five, ten, twenty minutes. I need to get myself into the right position, and it's not the worst position, but I would be still trying to find something better. Like all those rocks over there on the left, there might be a really interesting long exposure shot with those rocks as a really solid silhouette with the water moving around it. Yeah, or even playing on these stripey colors in the water Oh yeah, right. could be interesting too. From the reflections. So good potential. Very good potential. Thank you for sending that in. And this is our last one. Steve Cross. So this is kind of completely different. Is that like a double exposure? This, I'm hoping it's a double exposure. And so I don't know if I can zoom in just a ... Yeah, it's pretty good. And so this looks like it's a quick double shot with, and I don't know if this is in camera, or get this on manual so I can get this out of here. Because I don't think we're going to be doing much cropping on this one. Nope. No, good crop. Yeah. Nice, tight. Okay, I have very strong opinions about double exposures. Let's hear it, let's hear it. So, because they can very very cool. And I think if you're going to be double exposure, you just have to really, really think it through and I can see where you're going with this and like the thought behind it because that nose with the pinkies is bothering me. (John laughing) It's a striking image. Well I said whoa when I first go it, like I get that, but do you know what I mean? Like my eye is going right there. Yeah. So I'm almost wondering- Moving the hands up and down a little bit? Yeah, or something. I don't know. Maybe it's the knuckles in relation to the eye? Well I mean the knuckles of the pinky finger look like an avatar type character with a cat face with a crinkle on it. I think with what they were going for, they nailed it. They nailed it. Okay now, it's totally not my type of photography, but I appreciate this. Oh, I appreciate it too, and I think that this part is cool too. And so you're just reading towards the knuckles under the eyes? Or? No, there's something right here that's just right in the middle. Yeah. And so I think it's an excellent execution. I think it's a very striking photo. Yeah, well it certainly took my breath away. Thank you Steve for sending that in. And thanks to all of you for sending your photos in here to one hour photo. This was so fun! Sandra, thanks for coming in and seeing your photographs and getting your opinion on all of these. Yeah. So once again, tune in next time when we have another special guest, and we'll talk about more photos and answer your questions and have an all around good time. Yeah. So thanks a lot, and we'll see you later.

Class Description

Every month, John gives you an hour of expert guidance and immediate feedback with student questions and 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 and industry knowledge, and participate in a photo critique of student images. This month's guest is Sandra Coan.

Sandra Coan is a film photographer specializing in studio portraiture and family photography, with over sixteen year’s experience working in both film and digital photography. Her award-winning work has been featured in a variety of publications including Click Magazine, Lemonade and Lenses and Seattle Bride. Sandra's work is also part of the Seattle Museum of History and Industry’s permanent collection. Sandra is an educator with a passion for teaching others about the beauty of film photography and the joys of building and running a successful photography business. Check out her CreativeLive classes here.



Enjoyed this wonderful conversation with Sandra Coan and I love her photographs and how she seems to get the personality of the baby and the person she is photographing. So happy when I see someone using film.

a Creativelive Student

This is great, John. Thank you!