Would like some critique

Revan46

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Hello everyone. So as some of you know from my wedding photog mentoring thread, I'm semi-starting in the world of photography and while my signature provides a link to my website where my photos can be found, I am posting them here as well to get opinions.

First up:

Flower in bloom by Sean Previl, on Flickr
I shot this photo to show a feeling of the middle of summer. Flowers are in bloom, like this one. I also focused on the flower because it caught my eye, I hadn't had much of a chance to test out one of my new lenses and decided to try it on this one.
This one is shot with a Canon 40mm at a f/2.8 and shutter of 1/400. I apologize for the watermark but this is the one I had uploaded to Flickr as I want to protect my shots. Also should mention I shot this on a partly cloudy day outside but under the slight shade of a tree.

The next shot I took during a couple's shoot. This was one that I was trying to be more creative with. I didn't want to focus on their faces for a kiss, I wanted to have her leaning up to kiss him. I think if anything I would've maybe used my 40mm in this case and gotten closer. I think it could've given a more interesting perspective but at the same time I like that you can see what is behind them even if (obviously) the flowers aren't in focus enough as they're not the primary subject.
Kiss by Sean Previl, on Flickr
This one I took with my 18-55mm Canon kit lens, f/5.6, 55 focal length, 1/400 shutter. Fully sunny day.

This third one, I'll admit I just wanted to capture the love these two have. It may be a tad plain jane but I liked how it came out. If anything, I'd probably just have maybe done a more creative shot though luckily I have another photo shoot with them Sunday as this shoot was rained out.

IMG_0029logo by Sean Previl, on Flickr
This was done with my kit lens again at 55mm focal length, f/5.6, 1/125 shutter. I can post the colour if you wish, was a very cloudy day with a thunderstorm on the way.

This one I loved how it turned out. I wanted to try something I had seen in a different photo before to do with horses. Though that one has the girl sitting normally on her horse and leaning over to kiss. So to do different, I had her sit side saddle and lean over to kiss. All I might do next time (or frankly do now if you think it so) is crop a little tighter, since that barrel doesn't really need to be in the picture I only did it that way as I felt I wanted to give more eye room to the horse though perhaps it's not needed. I also in Photoshop used one of the tools to make it more vibrant. I loved how it turned out.

Kissing on a horse by Sean Previl, on Flickr
I shot this with my kit lens again with it at a focal length of 34mm, f/4.5, 1/800 shutter. I could've maybe had a slower shutter but I think it still turned out okay. Sunny day again.

FINALLY final shot for critique is a wedding show I shot. Please note I was just starting to get into photography and I think one thing I definitely would've done would be to have an off-camera flash. Hopefully it'll work better this September as I'm shooting the same show (though fall themed instead of winter). Though the client was happy, said it was the best photos (many others aside from this one) taken in 26 years of this show. Hence my hiring for the fall one.

Wedding Dress 5 by Sean Previl, on Flickr
This was shot with the kit lens again. 37mm focal length, 1/200 of a second, f/5. It was a badly lit room so my meter was constantly bouncing all over. For this last one it may be better to view it on Flickr and enter full screen to get the real idea of the image.


Hopefully these all show up properly. If not please let me know and hopefully I can figure out what I did wrong in attaching it.
 

tirediron

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Opinions, per req (in future please number your images to make providing feedback easier):

1. Mehh... it's a flower. Sorry, but that's really all there is to it. We've all done it, but a single flower generally has very little to hold a viewer's attention. Consider moving in much closer and just getting a few petals or something a little more unique.

2. This shot would be much stronger IMO, IF: their feet weren't partially obscured by grass, there wasn't a bit of his trouser leg at the top of the image, and especially if the background wasn't so busy, cluttered and distracting. Unless that is the couple's house (in which case it's not shown very well) it has no business in the image. Go for long glass and large apertures to create a very soft, very out-of-focus background and ensure that the viewer's eye stays on the subject.

3. This is a nice, simple shot, with good expressions and appeal. The monochrome conversion is nice, but, I might try and push the contrast just a tad, his white shirt doesn't seem quite white to me. Are you working on a calibrated monitor?

4. Again, backgrounds! Long glass, large aperture! We don't need to see the barrel, electric fence, etc... I appreciate what you've tried to do with the pose, but it seems strained to me (and the exposed bra-strap is less than ideal as well), but the main element is the horse him(her?) self. Horses have VERY expressive faces and horse people love their animals; more work should have gone into getting the horse to be part of the image; feed him a carrot, rattle a couple of pennies in a tin... SOMETHING!

5. This is what it is; runway shows are lit to show off the clothing to the audience. They're NOT lit to allow photographers to get great shots.

Just my $00.02 worth - your mileage may vary.

~John
 
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Revan46

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Thanks tirediron. I'll keep these sort of things in mind for the future. Maybe my shots this Sunday will work out better...and by that I mean I'll hopefully remember these sort of aspects more when shooting than just ok shoot the picture. Also with number four, would it have been better to get closer to the couple? The couple is really supposed to be the main feature not Red the horse. But I didn't want to cut him out because she loves her horse...so I don't know what you think might've been better.

As for the calibrated monitor, I believe it is. I have a Canon Rebel T3, but I'm not sure why the monitor wouldn't be calibrated. Let me know if you can, I know you might be a Nikon user but if you can explain what you mean by calibrated monitor I'd appreciate it.
 
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tirediron

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I think what I would have tried to do with the horse is get him looking back toward the couple; yes, of course they're the subject of the shot, but horsey people love their horses just as much as their humans.

With respect to monitor calibration, I'm refering to your computer monitor, not your camera's rear LCD monitor. Computer monitors need to be specifically calibrated with a hardware device such as the Spyder to ensure that you see accurate colours, and thus process your images correctly.
 
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Revan46

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Hmmm I'll look into it. I think it's calibrated properly but of course I could be wrong.
 

tirediron

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If you haven't calibrated it with a dedicated colourometer like the Spyder 4 (there are several others, that's simply the one I use) then it's almost certainly NOT; it might be close, but close only counts in horse-shoes and hand-grenades!
 
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Revan46

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Only big issue is I don't really have the money to afford Spyder...are there any free ones out there or likely there are but don't do the job?
 

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