BetterPhoto.com - Become a better photographer today!
EMAIL:
PASSWORD:
remember me:     
     


BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

To participate in the Forum, become a BetterPhoto member or Sign In.

 
Photography Question 
Vicki Snow
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/24/2008
 

Constructive Critique


I have been debating on whether to post this question. But I would like to see some of the responses.
I pay for this site to gain valuable information with the hopes of improving. I look at pages and pages of images everyday and read the comments. I have seen some amazing photos and some that need major improvement. This site seems to be over friendly and "clicky". Never once have I seen a constructive critique on how to improve a horrible image..it's always..."great image"..."nice capture"...but in reality it's out of focus...composition is wrong...under or over exposed..lacks interest and so on....
Here is the question...How is one to improve their photoraphy skills if no one actually critiques when needed? Telling one their image is great when it's not is not beneficial. What would be benefical and worth my 50 bucks is tell it like it is..help me become better at my passion.

3/16/2009 9:58:13 AM

 
Aimee c. Eisaman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/13/2007
  Vicki, I have often wondered the same thing and I think there are several reasons this happens. While sometimes it is because a person is inexperienced and may not realize the shot has flaws, most of the time it is because alot of people hand out comments like candy in hopes of getting a high number on their own image! Comments and "Pretty" comments are all that matter to some people. I personally and here to learn and get better so I welcome all the constructive critique I can get. I started the Phello Photographers club because of my disappointment in some of the other clubs where the "nice shot" and "great job" was happening. Infact I just critiqued a shot of a Phellos club member that got an EP! If you are going to be a photographer and grow as a photographer you have to develope a thick skin. I'm not saying that everyone should go around trashing peoples work. There is a way to give support, praise, and critique all in the same place.

3/16/2009 10:53:22 AM

 
Jodi M. Walsh
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/7/2007
  vicki, aimee is right. I think that there's also the case where you offer go to offer critique and there's 10 or 15 "great shot" comments. I know i've found myself in this situation and so instead of offering my critique, I think, wait a sec, maybe i'm the one that's wrong. my advice would be to join a club or build a relationship with some artists you admire and ask for their honest feedback. when I first joined BP I really really really wanted some "real" feedback and it was rare that I got it until joining Phellos.

3/16/2009 11:11:32 AM

 
Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Vicki, I think you'll find that for the most part, BP is a social site. I'm not saying right or wrong..it's just the way it is. But there are some BP clubs exclusively for critiques. They originated for the reason you cited..people wanting critiques so they can improve. You might check into them. Also, if there's some photographer's work that you respect, you could always send him/her a "Contact" e-mail and ask for feedback from them. I know alot of folks would prefer to send private critiques, versus publically saying anything that's perceived as "negative" on the open discussions.

3/16/2009 12:27:22 PM

 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Carolyn
Carolyn 's Gallery
PickYourShots.com

member since: 10/6/2001
  I agree with Ken..I don't feel right about saying negative things in the comment section. If I have something to say, I will send the person a private email. I think the main reason for this is that some people can really get carried away and quite nasty with their "critiques"..and nobody wants that.

3/16/2009 12:35:46 PM

 
Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/31/2005
  BP turned into a social site and in doing so, if you send an uninvited critical critique to many, they take great offense. I wish it wasn't so, but it is. I rarely comment for that very reason. I could never bring myself to say "great photo" to anything less than great.

3/16/2009 2:50:23 PM

 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Carolyn
Carolyn 's Gallery
PickYourShots.com

member since: 10/6/2001
  One more thought..Are you sure you want critiques from just anybody? I've noticed many times, the people most likely to offer opinions are the least qualified to do so. That's why they have courses and the pro critique thing, I guess.

3/17/2009 5:19:42 AM

 
Aimee c. Eisaman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/13/2007
  My humble opinion.....nobody knows everything and everyone knows something about what makes a good photo! Just because a shot is flawless according to a pro doesn't mean it will appeal to the general public and just because a photo doesn't follow all the rules doesn't mean it will fail. Photography is an art as well as a science and a critique can come from your next door neighbor even though they know nothing of photography. You have to take your knowledge of photography combined with the thoughts and insight of others into consideration when you read any critique...pro or novice! Having that group of photography friends that will point out that boggie hanging from the nose of the kid in your last photo shoot is sometimes just what the doctor called for! Yes they do offer classes here where you can get professional help with your work, but not everyone can afford that. Even if you do take the classes, it's also nice to have a close group of friends from around the world to chat with and share thoughts and ideas about each others work! :~)

That being said...I think that a critique is simply an opinion and that everyone is qualified to give one of those!

3/17/2009 6:35:57 AM

 
Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/31/2005
  Carolyn hit the head on the nail. On the occassion that you get a possibly critical critique that is not complementary, look at the gallery of the person making the critique and make sure their work is up to snuff. Conversly, if someone says "great photo", take a look at their gallery too. Many simply comment so that they will get comments.

The best advice I can offer is to either make the first comment on your won photo asking for critical comments, or find someone whose work you like and send a message asking. Once you do, make sure your skin is thick.

3/17/2009 8:40:31 AM

 
Peter W. Marks
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Peter
Peter's Gallery

member since: 3/5/2006
  Oh my gosh guys! Yes, yes, yes, am totally in agreement with you all.
I am thinking I must join Aimee's Phello Photographer's club if they will have me as there's a girl who will tell it as it is! Thank you for raising this issue Vicki but I suspect it will only be read by those who already think the way we do.
All of you have made interesting comments with which I agree and it has got me thinking. Dennis makes a good point re "uninvited critical critiques" but I also notice that there are very few positive critiques either and no one would take offence at those. Arguably these are the most useful as for those of us that rarely make it to even "finalist" it would give pointers as to how we might raise our own game. I have just spent some time admiring today's (4.17.09) POTD. and there are loads of "congratulations" and two or three word responses but nothing of any depth. No help there for the hundreds of folk who would appreciate and benefit from in-depth guide lines as to what (even subjectively) makes this image noteworthy although I did add my own 2 cents worth as I love images that suggest a story.

3/17/2009 10:11:26 AM

 
Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Peter, I think awhile back there was a suggestion for BP's judges to put out some comments as to why they chose a certain photo as a winner. Kinda a "Judges Corner" that would be published each month after winners announced..where they pick a couple of photos and state why they liked them for composition, color, exposure, etc. I'm not sure if this is still in the works, though.

3/17/2009 1:10:05 PM

 
Carol Rawlings
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/11/2001
  Vicki, this has been a question raised many times in my experience over the past 9 or so years of joining on-line communities. I've never found it even slightly helpful to get the "great pic" comment, and yet almost always try to make thoughtful comment on those of others. I have to agree with everyone here, and for all the reasons they've stated. I do think that Dennis's suggestion of first commenting on your own photo and soliciting honest feedback would get the ball rolling when you really want it.

3/24/2009 5:09:45 PM

 
Michael J. Kelly
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Michael
Michael's Gallery
mjkellyphotos.com

member since: 9/17/2005
  Vicki, I belonged to another site (now defunct) where photos were rated and critiques given with great honesty and detail. I loved it for my own work, because it helped me improve and told me what others honestly saw in my photos. Sometimes I even received some techniques to help me edit and improve a shot. I tried to give honest opinions, critiques and tips to others, but not all people were accepting of this and often you could see some very hurt feelings even though I never gave or saw a "mean" assessment. I think that is why we get what we get here. I, for one, would always respond to a private message and be as honest as possible. What I do on BP is only respond to shots which are exceptionally appealing to me and technically very good. This way I don't have to buck the "system" and have anyone upset with me. I know "what a chicken", but without knowing who is really accepting and who is just fishing it is tough to do more in a large group of strangers in a culture of "great shot" comments.

3/25/2009 2:47:42 PM

 
Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member
PhotoshopCS.com
Richard's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: Correcting and Enhancing Images
4-Week Short Course: Looking Good in Print and On the Web: Color Management
  I'd love to offer a challenge to this... Why not form a critiquing Club in the clubs section of BP? Have some sort of 'rule' where people could offer up one shot a month and have either something of a random selection for a weekly critiquely where that one image gets put in the hot seat and members of the group have at it with intent to make improvements? I'd be glad to get involved. Keeping centered to one or few images over the course of a month will make sure the image gets the attention and the critiques go beyond the surface...and the forums are a great place for discussion and attracting other serious people that want to take the next step. The arena is here, the people are here...A little motivation and organization is all it needs.

Richard Lynch

3/25/2009 4:50:13 PM

 
Meghan Gonski

member since: 9/7/2007
  I agree and I applaud you posting this topic. I myself, normally only comment on photos that I think need improvement, wondering how the photographer took a photo, or are on photos that are really really fantastic. However, if there is a lot of comments on a photo and I don't have anything new to say, I hold my "tongue". Sometimes just like one other person that commented above on this topic, they gave constructive critque to someone and that someone took offense. The same thing happened to me at one point or other. But I think if we all do this constructive criquie we all will learn, we all will be more respitve of people's oppions, and there will not be endless pages of comments that are useless (like "congrats on your PTOD"). I hope many people on BP will read this topic and remember it when surfing BP.

Meghan
PS I am going to look into that Phello club sounds like my kind of group!

3/31/2009 11:09:50 PM

 
Patricia A. Coblentz
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Patricia
Patricia's Gallery
patricia-coblentz-photography.com

member since: 7/6/2008
  Great idea and perfect solution, Richard Lynch!
Patti

4/3/2009 12:50:19 AM

 
Kathy Wesserling
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Kathy
Kathy's Gallery

member since: 4/21/2005
  The fact that most of the images are already entered into the Contest or have already won the POTD, keeps me from offering a critique.

However....... if I offer a positive 'good job' type of comment, I try to say what prompted that reaction. Learning why an image worked for a viewer is valuable for my own learning experiences.

5/20/2009 1:21:26 AM

 
Shannon Whit
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2011
  I know this is two years later but does anyone know if a critiquing club was ever formed as a result of Vicki's (and this thread) original questioned/post? I'd really be interested in joining it if so. I could really use critiquing in my photos. Thanks.

3/26/2012 9:10:10 PM

 
Michael J. Kelly
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Michael
Michael's Gallery
mjkellyphotos.com

member since: 9/17/2005
  Shannon Phello Photographers Club is up and active. We limit membership simply because more members would be make it impossible to keep up with critiques and comments. However you can go and be put on a wait list to join and there is usually some turnover. Look at the current shots and comments to see if this is what you are after. If it is please sign up for an opening as we always are welcoming of new members when we have a slot.

3/26/2012 9:29:16 PM

 


member since: 4/6/2012
  I agree with you wholeheartedly. If we have to take classes as the only way to learn then what makes BetterPhoto any different than other Photo sights!

5/31/2012 4:56:31 PM

 
Shannon Whit
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2011
 
 
  Grrrrrr!!!!
Grrrrrr!!!!
2 PM, f/1.8, ISO 1000, 1/100, AWB, handheld
© Shannon Whit
Canon EOS 7D Digit...
 
 
Where would I go to be placed on a waiting list? Thanks for the info. I appreciate it. And by the way, can I get constructive criticism on this picture? I've been practicing with my new 85mm lens (Canon 7d camera). It's of my Maine Coon who, stretching and yawning, had just awakened from napping. I was able to get him right as his mouth was wide open. I'd like for you to tell me if my lighting was/was not decent, exposure, etc. Any feedback you give is great appreciated. Shot at 2 Pm with a window facing west in the background, f/1.8, 1/100, ISO 1000, AWB, handheld. Thanks so much...

5/31/2012 7:32:33 PM

 
Peter W. Marks
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Peter
Peter's Gallery

member since: 3/5/2006
  Good morning Shannon. It is not yet five in the morning so I need to take a few more slurps of strong coffee before I will hopefully hit the right keys.
Answering your first question- the Phellos Club was started and run by Aimee until recently when she handed over the reins to Jeff E Jensen (she is still a very active member) and you can contact him through his blog at

http://www.jeffejensen.blogspot.com

As Mike pointed out we are full at present but should a slot appear we are a very friendly and welcoming bunch. So although we don't want to lose any of our present members, circumstances change in folks' lives and they have to drop out and we would love to welcome you aboard.

Now, as for critiquing your image, I think I will leave that to some of the detail-orientated folk. I'm an old dude and my interests are much more about what the image contains rather than whether there is a tiny speck of sensor dust showing in the sky or a leaf has a touch of wilt or the darned horizon is one degree out of true horizontal. So that would be my excuse for not spending hours on Photoshop pixel- pecking but I really do admire those who seek perfection and I would always have a broad grin on my face as I suggested they 'should get a life!' :0)
Of course I like very much what you have captured in your image. We have a dog and two cats and if either of mine confronted me with a look like your's I would be rushing to the pantry to get his breakfast for him before he sank his fangs into my arm! I'm a Brit and have lived in the USA for 20 yrs but have never heard of a Maine Coon and as I like to learn something new every day it is off to Google now to see what they have to say about that breed. Hope we hear more from you Shannon. Pete

6/1/2012 3:25:09 AM

 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Carolyn
Carolyn 's Gallery
PickYourShots.com

member since: 10/6/2001
  In a shot like that, you really don't have time to worry about lighting or much of anything else. A yawn is too quick! It's an adorable shot, and you did great. How can anyone gripe about it considering the conditions you were working with? I sure wouldn't.

6/1/2012 3:44:21 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Good timing, good humor. A fun snap shot.
It is a little dark. But that can be the drawback of auto exposure when you have a big white area such as the cat's fur. Plus being back lit. But it's not so dark that once you learn photoshop or any other editing program, you can lighten and adjust some contrast.
You can also crop tighter around the cat, but you may prefer having your daughter in the background because of the family thing.

6/2/2012 6:23:22 AM

 
Christopher J. Budny
BetterPhoto Member
chrisbudny.com

member since: 10/3/2005
  Shannon; my input is that I think you slightly missed the desired focus mark---at f/1.8, your depth of field would be pretty darned shallow---it appears you ended up achieving sharpest focus on the cat's fur at his paw's "elbow"---while his teeth, tongue, eyes, etc, are not as sharply focused; yet I'd consider that the more important "zone" of the features to be in focus.

6/8/2012 12:10:07 PM

 
Michael J. Kelly
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Michael
Michael's Gallery
mjkellyphotos.com

member since: 9/17/2005
  Shannon it is a cute capture. I like the DOF (depth of field) for the BG (back ground) which gives the person there a nice blur which does not detract from the subject (the cat). However I agree with Christopher that the DOF is to narrow for the subject and the focus is off the key areas that should be sharp. This is hard to do with an action type shot or trying to quickly pick up an expression such as yawning. It just takes practice and a bit of luck. On thing to be aware of is that if you were to change focus and increase DOF the BG as shown here might not work very well as it could be to sharp. I like th color and the overall tone. You can play with the exposure a bit to see if there is a setting you like better than shown, but I think it works as presented fairly well. To sum up: the subject, bg, overall composition, and lighting look fine to me. The DOF and focus miss the mark.

And just a quick mention of Carolyn's comment. A critique is not a gripe it is a constructive way to point out good and bad areas so there is a path for improvement. As always, the photographer has the final word and if you achieve all that you wanted in a shot then that is what counts. If you think there is room for improvement then that is what other eyes and opinions may be able to help with.

6/10/2012 7:11:38 PM

 
Christopher J. Budny
BetterPhoto Member
chrisbudny.com

member since: 10/3/2005
  ...and see, even with us offering up our own critiques Shannon, your image went and got a Finalist! Congratulations!

6/19/2012 5:32:43 AM

 
Shannon Whit
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2011
  Thank you everyone for your feedback. I truly appreciate it. I printed out each comment because I really want to do better at what I'm doing. I am actually quite surprised that I am a finalist for anything. I think it may be a mistake as my intention was to get constructive feedback. Again, thanks!!

6/19/2012 9:49:14 AM

 
Lynn R. Powers
Contact Lynn
Lynn's Gallery

member since: 9/12/2006
  If you want your photos critiqued, good and bad, when you open up the Discussion section go down past the first group of categories and continue scrolling. The bottom half of the page has a section for photo C&C. But do this before you receive an EFP or even enter it into the monthly contest.
Now this photo of the adorable kitten belongs in the "Photo Praise" section which is a little further down.

Please do not do what so many are guilty of by placing a photo that has already received an EFP, Finalist or even Winner in the Critique section. It has already been critiqued by the judges.

6/19/2012 8:42:37 PM

 

To participate in the Forum, become a BetterPhoto member or Sign In.
 

Copyright 1996-2014 BetterPhoto.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.