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Student looking for critique
Andy Bao, Student/Intern
Vancouver | WA | USA | Posted: 8:58 PM on 03.05.18
->> I've been browsing SS for a few months now since being added and I'm ready for some thoughtful critique if anyone is willing. I'm a self-taught student photojournalist. Feel free to tear into it:
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 2:05 AM on 03.06.18
->> I like the slow shutter speed of the cross country runner leaping and football practice. They show you're willing to experiment.

Others however are in need of minor to dire tighter cropping to zero in on the action and redirect emphasis.

For the climbing gym make it a vertical. Have the left edge just right of the 1100 sign and the right edge at the right part of the wall -- eliminating the blurred background area. There are three things that detract the eye in images -- specular highlights like lamps, really bright colors and things that are readable (the signage). People naturally want to read what's written so if it is not relevant then crop it out.

For the leaping football TD 70% is irrelevant and you have two specular highlights (lights) that pull one's eyes away. All the good action is in the lower left. Crop just above the scorer's foot and mid-thigh of the tackler breaking up the wordage on his pants (another detractor). Also crop off half the ground from the bottom edge to the players' hands.

For the basketball trio, crop the bottom off at the left player's waist. This will concentrate the eye to the action and put their faces at the lower third and the ball at the upper third.

For the volleyball players, have the bottom edge just above the red "E" in the lower right to get rid of it.

The Black Diamond athlete pic is very clean. Good job!

For the basketball breakaway crop out the guy at the table on the left even though it means cropping a little into the defender's foot. A key part of good editing is to run your eyes around the edges of the photo and crop out any distractions so you have a clean border like a picture frame.

For the soccer women crop out the girls' hands on the left -- have the edge just past the finger tips. Or, burn down the hands quite a bit as they are the brightest part of the image and therefore detracting. But then, they don't add anything to the photo so crop them out. Concentrate the focus of the image to just the three ladies on the right.

For the boy watching videos on his mom's cell phone, the crop is fine. You need to lighten the boy's face and chest a bit to bring attention to him. In Photoshop, use the dodge/highlight tool and for the sky use burn/shadow to add depth to the clouds/sky. Also burn/midtone down the background green grass a bit to match the tonality of the foreground grass. The background grass detracts as it both brighter and more vibrant.

For the baseball photo move the left edge crop to just right of the flag patch on the player's arm. This will eliminate the distracting bright color and create a solid frame along the left side. Having the field shown on the far left breaks up the image into two pictures. Also crop the top down into the left player's helmet and crop up to eliminate his white pants. This will put more emphasis on the play at 2nd base by framing the photo.

For the football jubilation crop tight just on the two players. The coach and player at left have nothing to do with the moment. Crop up to the pair's waist and put the right crop between the scoreboard and player walking off the field.

If you would like more help later on, I'm moving to Vancouver, WA later this year. I started out my career at National Geographic where I learned how to shoot, edit and do page layouts followed by 30+ years at AP where I shot and edited/cropped events from local sports to World Series, Super Bowls, Olympics, etc.
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Andy Bao, Student/Intern
Vancouver | WA | USA | Posted: 12:23 AM on 03.07.18
->> Thanks for your insight Doug. Let me know when you're all settled in to Vancouver (who knows, we could be neighbors!).

You're right, many of these photos do need more cropping. I think I'm still a little attached to the default aspect ratios and I'm still hesitant as to cropping tighter on hands, feet and other parts of the body.

I enjoy the crop on the leaping football TD because of the fun and different characters in the center background and how the two lights and the flags form a scary face (eyes and teeth). It seems that not many people catch it, but I enjoy keeping the photo in there as is anyway.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 4:01 PM on 03.07.18
->> After a second look I see the eyes/smile you're talking about.

However, you presented your request for critique as a photojournalist. From a journalism standpoint, it needs the tight crop to immediately grab the reader's attention and portray what is happening -- especially in a photo gallery where a viewer clicks from one pic to the next within 2-3 seconds.

To have the lamps and flags make a humorous statement is more appropriate in an art gallery where viewers study images for any hidden meanings/details and go slowly from one photograph to another.

Also keep this in mind: While photos hung in an art gallery can be any size and shape, those used in papers and magazines are competing against page space entities like headlines, stories and advertising. It is all about real estate. A crop that emphasizes the image's purpose will be played well -- even make it the front page. But for a loose crop like yours, the photo will have to be sized at least a half page wide to understand it. And editors are not going to do that.

Journalism is a to-the-point industry -- especially with the way the number of pages and the physical size of papers have shrunk over the years and will continue to downsize. Print space is at an absolute premium nowadays and you need to learn not just how to make good pictures but how to take advantage of the space allotted.

As to your portfolio, I suggest you crop the touchdown photo as described. And then repost your loose crop with the eyes/smile on your Personal page. This way those seeking photojournalism talent and those looking for art/creative work will see both in the manner intended for their particular industries.
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Chris Peterson, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbia Falls | MT | USA | Posted: 10:38 AM on 03.09.18
->> I like the portraits better than the sports, overall. The shadow of the balloon on the house is cool. Being self taught, you're on the right track. Not a big fan of the dark and (sometimes muddy) pics of the airport.

Tip: Next time you shoot a wildfire at night, let the shutter go for a couple minutes. That shot above town would have really glowed with a longer exposure.

Just my two cents. And listen to Doug, he knows what he's talking about. ;-)
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Andy Bao, Student/Intern
Vancouver | WA | USA | Posted: 6:50 PM on 03.09.18
->> Thanks for the wildfire tip Chris. I should have tried a longer exposure. I think in the moment I was just excited I got something I liked finally since I couldn't get close to the fire.

I will leave the sports photo as is for a little while longer in case anyone else wants to chime in, and then I'll edit them again before I leave for SSA15.
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Thread Title: Student looking for critique
Thread Started By: Andy Bao
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