How do you evaluate a photograph?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by weepete, Apr 3, 2020.

  1. weepete

    weepete TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    So, on the back of a recent thread I thought I'd ask what process you use to critique a photograph?

    The idea is we can get an insight into how other people view our shots, what criteria they apply and get a better understanding of what other people can look for in the shots we put up for critique. Please consider what you look for beyond just liking a shot and let us know spesifically why you like it.


    Personally I first take in the whole shot, then I consider the subject. I ask myself do the techniques used add to the feel of the shot? Then I consider balance and I note how my eye moves through the frame noting any areas that are:
    a) not the main subject but draw the eye putting the image off balance
    b) leading lines taking the eye out of the frame

    I'll look over the image several times for this not thinking too much, just noting where my eyes go.

    Then I dive into the more technial stuff:
    Does the processing fit the image?
    Is my eye drawn to the areas I think the photographer intended?
    Is the image cohesive?
    Does the shot evoke a mood/feeling?

    Lastly I look at the finishing:
    Is the shot level?
    Are there any areas of bad cloning/pp?
    Is the sharpness acceptable for the subject?
    is there enough detail?
    What strikes me about the image?
    Are there areas that I think are done particularly well?

    That's roughly my process. What's yours?

    PS @Designer I'd be particularly interested in hearing yours as you brought this idea to my attention!


     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
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  2. Jeff15

    Jeff15 TPF junkie!

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    This is all very well Pete but most shots on the forum I would consider as observation shots. Now competition judging is a whole different ball game...
     
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  3. Space Face

    Space Face No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As far as can read into what Pete is saying, it's nothing to do with competition judging.

    My view has always been, that on Forums, unless specifically requested (ie Just for Fun etc) a picture is posted and open to crit. This is often written into a Forums rules.

    I'd agree that a lot of the photos posted on here are 'observational' with scant regard to composition, image quality, sharpness and the other points Pete identifies. As a result some are pretty dreadful.

    Crit should be given so as the OP can learn and improve their photography skill sets. However, I have learned over the years that some people don't like being told their pictures are substandard and as I said before, take it as a personal insult, which should never be the case if the crit is given in a constructive, helpful and detailed manner. For example it's pointless saying 'it's out of focus' or 'it's soft' without giving advice as to how this may be improved.

    Similarly just repeatedly saying 'nice shot' as a post count boost is pointless imo and helps no one. That said, some do like their ego's massaged, regardless of how bad their photography skills are.

    I'm fairly new here and haven't given crit as much as I normally would for the reasons I give above. I do find it an endless source of frustration tho to see poor/ish shots that have potential, being praised as good, nice, fine etc. This can leave the OP thinking a bad shot is good and there's no need to do any more thereby not improving.

    I also appreciate that different folk want different things out of photography and what gives one pleasure may not be reciprocated by another. Some are happy to soldier on and capture what gives them pleasure and not care about the finer detail and technical side of things but I believe most would like to improve and refine their abilities.

    For me looking at a photograph, I take into consideration mostly the points Pete has raised. It's important to me as a photographer to produce the best images I can in the prevailing circumstances but I'm always willing to learn new tips, methods and techniques.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
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  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well-stated, Space Face.
     
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  5. Space Face

    Space Face No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thank you.
     
  6. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Thank you for asking, but since I've been specifically asked by the mods to "stuff it" (not that exact wording) once, and been asked to "never comment again" on two posters' threads, I choose not to pour gasoline on the fire at this time. Let me think about it for a while.
     
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  7. Space Face

    Space Face No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Surely if a poster does not wish to see your comments they can ignore you? Seems a bit odd being asked not to reply to specific members posts.
     
  8. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Apparently those two cannot simply ignore my comments. Since I don't care if they ever progress, I will oblige them.
     
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  9. Jeff G

    Jeff G -Amateur Shutterbug- Supporting Member

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    I am probably one of those who annoys others by just posting "nice shot" etc., but when I say it, I mean it. I'm ok with that.

    I'm not a professional so my criteria is probably quite different than most.

    I look at whether or not I like the photo. If so/ if not, why?

    Does something feel off? Balance, color, focus,

    Does the style technique suit the subject matter.

    Does it invoke a good/negative feeling or memory

    You can be very technical photographer, and still not shoot interesting photos, same goes for being very artistic, if you don't have the basics down, you won't be able to share your vision.

    For me photography is more art than skill, but I definately appreciate those of you that have honed that skill and share that knowledge with the rest of us. When you stop learning it's time to move on.
    (I'm just a slow learner) ;)
     
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  10. zombiesniper

    zombiesniper Furtographer Extraordinaire! Supporting Member

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    I post a lot of "Nice shots"

    Sometimes because it's a nice shot and sometimes I see the progress someone is making and we just need to let them learn on their own.

    However I do give feedback "unless someone says CC welcome. That's being F'n lazy"
    I will aid when I think it may be needed for someone to progress. NOT when I think someones image isn't to my liking.
    The other thing I have stated before is that some things are facts, "can't shoot a 1000mm lens at 1/3 sec and expect a crips image" others are opinions "I think it would look better in black and white". Fact can aid you in getting better images......opinions will aid you in getting their image.
     
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  11. waday

    waday Do one thing every day that scares you Supporting Member

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    While not a frequent “nice shot” poster myself, sometimes I’d like the OP to know that I like it. So, visiting and saying “this is nice,” is my way of being friendly. It sure beats not having any interaction when posting a shot, IMO.

    And... Sometimes people don’t actually ask for critique, rather they just want to share. So, knowing the OP is important, because giving critique in those instances could be considered rude (depending on the person and situation).
     
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  12. limr

    limr Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    How do I evaluate an image?

    Sure, I'll think about the same technical issues as weepete metioned in the OP, and I'll try just as hard to figure out what has gone well as I do trying to figure out what went wrong.

    But all of that comes after that first initial impact. How do I first react to a photo? Does it give me an immediate emotional response, either good or bad?

    That's when I try to figure out what I'm responding to.

    There are a lot of photos that I see that should, on paper, add up to a strong positive first impact, but basically still leave me cold. There are others that I love at first sight but are technically flawed.

    However, I am not trying to flog the whole "technically good, artistically boring vs flawed but emotionally impactful" trope. There are plenty of other shots that would have been just meh, but the technical skill of the photographer made it into a very interesting photo.

    A question I often ask myself is, "Why was this photo taken?" and then "Why was it taken/processed in this manner?" I don't like pictures that were taken just to show off some technical element. I don't like processing something in a certain way just because we can. If I can't figure out the reason behind the photo - either the subject itself or the presentation of the subject - then once again, I am left cold.
     
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