Periodically, I'd like to end off the week 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.'
This week's photo is from Carrie Alley, who just happens to be close friends with Rachel Chaney (a past student turned close friend) and as you can see, they share a common thread of being great photographers. The image below is of Carrie's 8 year-old daughter, Lily.
Nikon D700, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 at f2.8, 1/250th, ISO 250.
Composition: The location, the colors and the total delight and energy on Lily's face are what 'make' this shot for me. I also love the green foliage on either side of her that really adds some nice color and texture and creates a nice framing element in this shot.
The tree directly behind Lily could have created a merger problem with her head, but because you're using such a long focal length (200mm) in this shot, your depth of field was shallow enough to blur that tree to the point that it doesn't create a merger problem at all.
Lily's placement is really great here. She's perfectly centered from right to left and you were able to avoid any border mergers with her hands or her foot, which makes this shot look really strong and intentional.
I wouldn't change anything compositionally.
Camera Settings: Your shutter speed (1/250th) was able to freeze Lily's motion in this shot suprisingly well. That said, 1/250th is kind of an 'in-between' shutter speed for this kind of movement because while it will be fast enough to freeze the movement of your subject in some of your images, it will be too slow to freeze the movement in others, resulting in soft focus.
Because of that and because there was plenty of light here, I'd rather see you use a faster SS (at least 1/320th, but preferably 1/500th) in order to ensure that you could prevent subject movement in a high percentage of your shots.
In order to accomplish that in Full Manual Mode, you'd need to increase your SS to 1/500th (ONE stop faster) and your ISO to 500 (ONE stop higher) in order to maintain this same exposure.
So your final settings would be: f2.8, 1/500th, ISO 500
And your camera handles an ISO of 500 just fine, so you wouldn't run into any problems there.
Exposure: Nice, vibrant, fleshy skin tone. Looks great.
Focus: This is very sharp on her eyes. (I magnfied it at 100% in Lighroom to check.)
White Balance: Due to the surrounding colors and the fact that many Nikons tend to shoot a little yellow/green, Lily's skin tone is pretty yellow/green in this shot. To fix that, you could create a Custom White Balance setting or, since your White Balance was alredy quite close to accurate, you could just adjust it in editing. (In the shot below, I adjusted the Temperature Slider in Lightroom to -9 and the Tint Slider to +16 to add more blue/less yellow and more magenta/less green.)
Lighting: There's not a ton of light in this exact location, but there's enough to illuminate Lily's face and eyes quite well and since she's in an evenly shaded area, the light is nice and even and flattering (without any dappled light.) And I love the warm glow in the background!
As usual, nice shooting Carrie - I'd have been happy if I had captured this one!
And while we're here, I also wanted to mention that registration for the next Photographers' Workshop opens up this coming Tuesday, February 18th at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time.
This workshop runs from March 31st through June 8th, 2014 and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.
To register, all you need to do is:
1. Go here at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time on Tuesday, February 18th.
2. Fill out the registration and choose a Regular Seat or an Auditing Seat. (Regular Seats are $395 and Auditing Seats are $245 for new students. Auditors can ask questions, post comments, upload photos, complete assignments, read my evaluations written for other students, etc. and have access to everything Regular Students have access to. the ONLY difference between Regular and Auditing students is that I do not provide evaluations on Assignments or Photo Critiques for Auditing Students, though Auditors can opt to sign up for Peer Group Evaluations or for a telephone/Skype consultation with me if they'd like to have their work evaluated. In general, the Auditing option is ideal for anyone who wants to work at their own pace and/or anyone who wants to save a little money.)
3. Complete the checkout process. (You will receive a confirmation email once registration is complete.)
4. Eagerly await March 31st. (I'll be mailing these out the First Week of March.)
And I'd really like to give away a few Auditing Seats in the workshop, but I'd like to do it a bit differently this time...
This time, I'd like to offer three free seats in class, but only to people that would otherwise not be able to afford the workshop. (So I'd just ask those of you who can afford the workshop to not enter the drawing this time.)
To enter, just leave a comment in the comments section below to enter yourself or someone else in the drawing and I'll list the winners on Monday. (Please be sure to leave an email address along with your comments so I can contact you.)
Hope your weekend is great.