Rapid Fire Critique »

It’s a FINE LINE between “Snapshots” and “Photographs” – Rapid Fire Critique

Jared Polin March 18, 2015 Comments Off

Who wants to have their photos Rapid Fire Critiqued by me? Click here for more info.

Isn’t it interesting that there is a fine line between what makes an image a snapshot and one that is a Photograph? Photographs pop out and just smack you right in the face and snapshots tend to pack less of a punch.

I am in no way taking anything away from the photographer here as they have some fantastic images in this set. I like the cross section of images as it shows the photographers ability to capture all different types of scenes.

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Here’s the Secret to NOISE / Grain FREE Images: Rapid Fire Critique

Jared Polin January 15, 2015 Comments Off

If there is one topic that gets peoples blood boiling it’s the good old cropping one. As I have stated thousands of times before I do not crop my images.

The main reason being is when I shot film back in high school and would raise the enlarger I would see all of the film grain show up. My teacher explained that if you “crop in the camera and not in the darkroom” you would have a much cleaner image.

I have lived with that quote for the last 15+ years even as I went from film to digital to even better digital where you honestly can get away with more cropping.

The reason I am bringing this discussion up again is in the latest Rapid Fire Critique a reader submitted sports images taken with the Canon 5D Mark II. Yes this is a slightly older camera but was one of the biggest revolutions in camera tech history. In one of his images I was asking myself why is there so much noise or grain showing up and the answer was simple, the image was highly cropped.

Like I have said a million times before it’s personal preference, if you want to crop your images go ahead and crop them. But if you’re going to bitch about the noise and the grain and tell me your camera sucks, I will tell you the same thing, STOP CROPPING.

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Is a Watermark ever okay, the dreaded Watermark has returned – Rapid Fire Critique

Jared Polin October 28, 2014 Comments Off

You know you are in for a treat when the message you get with the Rapid Fire Critique link is that “some photos have the dreaded logo”.

So the question in the long standing debate is “is a watermark ever okay”. Here’s my answer, it’s personal preference. If you feel that the watermark should be there either for branding or security purposes than put it there.

If you feel that it detracts from the image than remove it. It all comes down to what you think is right. Because the truth of the matter is there is not right or wrong answer when it comes to the watermark.

Well, maybe there is one answer, if your watermark is so over the top than maybe at that point you should shrink it or remove it. If it detracts from your image, you probably shouldn’t have it.

In this persons case I think the watermark was to much. The glasses were cool and I love the branding but the color and placement really detracted from the image.

There were a handful of nice images in the set. One of my favorites was the one with the dogs and the people. I loved the play on the color, the one dog is black the other is white.

One of my critiques on the set is that some of the images lacked interest. They were more snap shots than solid images but they are not far off. Simple tweaks to the story will allow the images to take on a life of their own and really stand out.

That’s the point of these critiques. To call it like it is in the hopes that the photographer can grow from the critique is my goal.

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What’s with all of this Urban Exploring in Photography Today?

Jared Polin September 30, 2014 Comments Off

Every which way you look today you see “Urban Exploring” photo series. But I want you to remember something, just because it’s old and abandoned doesn’t mean you don’t have to be creative still.

There are a few images in this Rapid Fire Critique where the photographer found an old building and simply took snap shots of a big open space. That’s all well and good here and there if there is some interest. But if there isn’t a moment captured or interesting details found the images are just blah.

My tips, for finding interesting urban exploring photos is to look for the details. Find the small interesting details that will pop from the photo and make people go wow.

Tell the story of what the place once was. Create a series, not just one wide shot but many shots together that bring the place to life. That is what will help make your urban exploring images stand out.

Click here to see the photographers full set.

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 11.23.16 PM

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Don’t Take Good Images and RUIN them with Crappy Post Processing – Rapid Fire Critique

Jared Polin September 21, 2014 Comments Off

Let’s start off by saying that this photographer did a fantastic job regardless of equipment. With that said they shot these images with the Nikon D5000.

There are some very solid images in this set. There are also images that were way over processed. For example the nice landscape with the mountains, snow and sky was nicely captured. But the final results do not work because you can see that the sky is way over processed.

Post processing is so important when it comes to determining wether the image is a keeper or one you toss.

Here is a rule of thumb, if you look at the image and you ask yourself if you went to far with the processing, you probably did.

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From a Basic Canon Rebel XSI to 6D this photographer is on their way- Rapid Fire Critique

Jared Polin August 6, 2014 Comments Off

Growing as an artist and photographer can be a slow progression. What I really enjoyed seeing in this Rapid Fire Critique was that the photographer went from the Canon Rebel XSI to a Canon 6D.

You can see how the quality of the images changed over the set of images. Now I am not saying the quality changed because of the gear I am saying that the photographer was growing and capturing more interesting images.

This set showcases mostly keepers with a few of the images being head scratchers. Most of the images are close and with small tweaks will turn into really solid images. For example the Captain America shirt photo, it’s exposure is spot on but the subject is not connected in the image and the stair way is creeping into the side of the image. With a small tweak and some direction to the model the image would end up being a winner.

All and all really nice job, I look forward to seeing you progression.

Don’t forget that I do get hundreds of submissions a week and will not be able to critique everyones work. It is possible in the future that I will be adding a members section to the website where more critiques may be possible.

Thanks for watching and thank you to AdoramaPIX for supporting the critiques.

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Step to the Left or Right and make your images go BOOM, POW, POP

Jared Polin July 7, 2014 Comments Off

Sometimes taking one step to the left or right will take your picture from bla to BOOOM. As you will see in this set of concert photos there are times where the lights behind the musician are clearly popping out from the side of a person. What I have found works out very well is when you use the musicians body to block the light, which in turn causes a really cool halo lighting effect.

How do you do this when you are shooting, simple. You can’t ask the band to move but you can situate yourself in such a way that puts the musician in the perfect position for this type of photo. These photos really create impact where the light off to the site becomes a distraction.

I picked this set because it had a nice cross section of a photo story with potential to get better. That is what I am looking for in a set. Images that I can look at and help the photographer see the full potential of their photos.

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Be More Creative: So you got the EXPOSURE right but the Image is Over Processed And Boring

Jared Polin June 19, 2014 Comments Off

First don’t be thrown off by the title and think I am ripping this photographer to shreds or trying to put them down. The facts are that their exposures seem to be pretty good which is a large part of photography. Where they fall short is in the subject matter and post processing.

You have to remember that just getting the exposure correct is not enough to make the image interesting. Just like processing alone can’t save an image that is out of focus or not interesting at all. It’s a combination of many things that make your images stand out.

When I selected this set to discuss I did not know it would go in the direction it would. I rarely know what my feelings are going to be before I sit down and record the videos. I think it’s best that I don’t study the images to heavily before I critique the images.

Like with most sets there are generally two to three images that I would consider solid all the way around. And I can pretty much guarantee that if the photographer was to come back to me in a few months with another 10 images that they would have taken some of the feedback I had given to make the set stronger.

There was a trend in this set where the images were just slightly off visually. What I mean by that is technically they may have been good but the subject matter was pretty boring and lacked creativity. The honest feeling is that they were snap shots more than photographs. Before I jump into what you can do to be more creative or to build a cohesive photo story let’s talk about the processing.

I noticed in a few images that there looked to be a lot of noise and grain though the ISO was at 100 or 200. This just should not be happening. There is no reason at such a low ISO that noise and grain should even play a part. What I think was going on was to much post processing to try and bring out certain parts of the image. So where I said the exposures were pretty spot on above, maybe they were close but the photographer wanted to brighten up or recover other areas.

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Lines Lines Lines, Get Your Lines Straight: Rapid Fire Critique

Jared Polin June 4, 2014 Comments Off

One of the most important aspects in my opinion to a photography is getting your lines and angles straight. You all have seen images that look like a person is falling down a hill or that somehow objects defy gravity. But what’s really going on is the lines and horizons are not straight.

I am aware that you can make these corrections and fixes sometimes after the fact in post but that starts to introduce other issues. When you straighten your lines in lightroom you are actually cropping some of the image. For some this is not a big deal but depending on the image and how much noise and grain you have you may be causing yourself some issues with the final images.

More than anything, when you look at an image where the angles or lines are off it really stands out to you. It gives you some kind of feeling that something is amiss in the image.

Here are some tips for getting your lines straight. Find the horizon line and visually make sure in the viewfinder that it is straight. Some cameras have built in levels but honestly I find that I am much better just eyeing it up. Make sure you don’t have a bag over your shoulder that is weighting you down on one side. This sometimes translates into having lines that are not straight. And finally just look at your images, learn from them, if you find that you have to straighten your lines all the time in post you might be doing something wrong.

Try to learn from the images you have always taken, there has to be something that is causing you not to see the lines properly when you are shooting. Use something in the image to help you figure out what a straight line might be.

Now lets talk about this critique. I think the photographer is on to something with the 10 images selected. My breakdown is that 3 of the 10 are solid keepers with 2 or 3 more being close and the rest miss for a few various reasons. But like I have said a million times, if you send me a set to critique and I see 3 or 4 keepers, you are on the right path.

Critiques are all about helping you mold your portfolio and bring out the best images. Please remember that critiques are just one persons opinion and you should take it any way you choose. Just because I say I don’t like not straight lines doesn’t mean that I am right. This is all in my opinion of course and I critique the work as if I were looking at my own images.

In the end it comes down to you, what do you like in your images, what do you want to showcase and what makes you happy with your images.

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The Hardest Rapid Fire Critique I Have Ever Done: Photography

Jared Polin May 7, 2014 Comments Off

I get asked to critique a lot of peoples work and usually they are people I have never met. So, critiquing their work is not an emotional thing, meaning I don’t have a personal connection with them.

But when I get asked to critique a friends work I have to be very careful how I word things. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t change the harshness level or let them slide on certain things. I simply try and watch my words and the message I am getting across.

My long time friend Taylor whos first introduction to a DSLR was when I handed her a D3000 with a 35 1.8 has come a long way in her photographic journey. Click Here to see the Seeing And Feeling Video. Since that time in 2011 she has continued to shoot, picking up different cameras and lenses but rarely asking me for my opinion.

The reason she never asked my opinion is she knows how opinionated I am. Plus she knew if she brought up a subpar lens that my answer would be swift and harsh.

Now she is out taking real paying jobs, she is shooting weddings, baby portraits, candids and pretty much anything that catches her eye.

I am not sure if she asked me for this critique or I asked to see her top 10. But I wanted to see her progression from 2011 until now.

When it comes to critiquing peoples work in my opinion it’s not about finding and ripping every small mistake. It’s about finding those issues but giving positive reinforcement to how they can be corrected or changed.

It makes zero sense to rip someone totally down to the point where they feel like they have failed as a photographer. This may work for some but that’s not how I like to learn nor how I want to critique others.

I chose not to look at any of her images before doing the critique. I wanted you all to see my honest reaction as soon as I saw the images.

What is great about having these sets on flickr is I can see the meta data. I can see what lens, what modes and a bunch of other data that helps me point someone in a direction.

Some people say that the gear, lenses and settings shouldn’t matter during a critique. I don’t agree with that at all. That may be the case with pros who are getting ripped apart but when it comes to someone who is learning, the only way to help them evolve is to see the settings.

I want to know were they in Manual or aperture priority or even in auto. What was the shutter speed, ISO and aperture. By knowing all of these things I can better understand the entire photo and help the photographer with some different ideas for settings.

Now that brings us to the critique of Taylors new work. It is not easy to critique the work of someone you are close with. I definitely watch my words and tone to make sure the perception was not that I am ripping her just to rip her.

I am not going to rehash all of the things I said in the video above but I do want to point out some thoughts. Her images are very very close throughout this set. What I mean by close is they are not far off in my opinion from all being keepers.

You have the simple shot of her daughter with the statues. With slight changes that image can go from “that’s nice” to “wow”. Don’t get me wrong, I understand when you are in the situation the images may change quickly and not allow you time to make certain changes. But by me mentioning different ideas and thoughts during a critique, that may resonate in the back of the mind on the next shoot.

Seeing shots of her daughters head from behind with the goggles strap on it is one of my least favorite images from the set. Like I explained in the critique, it needed more context. It possibly could work as part of a photo story but on its on it just didn’t.

You hear me talk about photo stories quite often. How an some images can stand on their own without anything surrounding them where others just don’t fit unless they have more context. When I am shooting I am always thinking about context, could this image stand on its own or does it need to be part of a story? If I shoot this tight will all context be lost but if I shoot it wide will it tell the entire story?

I used to love shooting everything extremely tight but I soon realized that the better images have more context and tend to be wide angles. One mistake people make when shooting with a wide angle is they don’t get close enough to their subject. Their subjects are there but they are very small. The key to a wide angle is filling the frame with your subject while keeping the defining parts of the scene intact.

Taylor asked to see my critique before she would agree to let me put it live. She was slightly worried with what my harshness level would be. But when she watched it she got it, she said it really helped her and was not to harsh. That’s exactly what it’s about, it’s about her coming back to me telling me that she took something from the critique.

Critiques are meant for one person to give their opinion. I am not looking to create a clone of my own work but simply interject my thoughts based off of what I think makes a solid image or photo story.

Keep up the great work Taylor.

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