I'm not sure exactly how this is going to work out because truth be told, I sometimes lack follow-through. That said, I'd like to try to end off each week here on my blog by critiquing a photo submitted by a past student of The Photographers' Workshop.
I'll be critiquing each photo in the same manner and using the same criteria I use when evaluating photos in my workshops and that includes composition, camera settings, exposure, focus, white balance and lighting.
My evaluations will be written in a manner that my past students can follow (since they've taken the course) but my hope is that all of you will be able to follow along to some degree as well, depending upon your current level of photography knowledge.
And without further ado, the very first Critique of the Week is a really lovely photo from Jennifer Hewitt:
Nikon D700, 50mm f1.4 lens at f3.2, 1/2000th, ISO 800
Composition: This shot just has a really sweet, classic appeal to it - and you can probably attribute that to the piggytails, the babydoll, the chalk on the ground and the red trike in the background. I also love that she's not looking at you because I think that adds to the sweet, candid, moodiness of this. You also did a great job of keeping the vertical lines created by the door nice and straight.
Whenever there are strong line (like the lines created by the front steps) in an image, I tyically do one of two things because it makes the composition look and feel more intentional.:
1. Position myself so my lens is PERFECTLY parallel to the strong lines.
2. Position myself at a STRONG angle to the lines.
Here, you were at a 'soft angle' to the front steps and I think the composition would look more intentional if you were standing PERFECTLY parallel to them, which would require you to move to your right, while pivoting the camera slightly to your left. In doing so, I think you could also prevent the background bikes from merging with her body because that ends up being a bit of a distraction here.
Other than that, I can see a tiny sliver of your reflection in the glass door and I'd either like to see MORE of that reflection or NONE of it so that it's inclusion or exclusion looked intentional. (I think seeing YOU in the image would really 'add' to this story though, so my vote would be to show MORE of you.)
I attached the shot (below) the way I might frame it - the black area indicates where I'd leave more open space (to show more of your reflection.) Again though, I'd position myself so my lens was perfectly parallel with the front steps.
Settings: Since there was plenty of light here, I think narrowing your aperture down to f3.2 was a great idea. Your ISO was unnecessarily high though at 800, which decreases image quality. If you were to drop it by TWO stops to ISO 200 (From 800 to 400 is ONE stop and from 400 to 200 is TWO stops.) then you would need to have your shutter speed TWO stops slower at 1/500thm which is still plenty fast enough. (From 1/2000th to 1/1000th is ONE stop and from 1/1000th to 1/2000th is TWO stops.) Then, you'd have the exact same exposure with the following settings, but and better image quality:
f3.2, 1/500th, ISO 200
Exposure: Perfection. Nice, fleshy, bright, vibrant skin tone.
Focus: I magnified this at 100% in Lightroom and it looks like the focus is sharper on her hand than it is on her eyes. That said, it is still adequately sharp on her eyes.
White Balance: This ended up being a bit on the warm side. I'm not sure what WB setting you were using, but here, I'd probably use the Daylight setting on my Nikon (probably the Cloudy setting on a Canon) or I'd Custom WB. In Lightroom, I moved the Temp slider to -25 and the Tint slider to +7 to get the WB in the image below.
Lighting: Indirect porch light like this is always a favorite of mine. Nice, even, flattering lighting and you've got catchlights too!
The image below shows how I'd frame the image to include your reflection and how I'd cool down the White Balance.
Hope your weekend is great.