Today we evaluate a beautiful landscape photo to see what the photographer does well, and how he could make the image stronger.
Photo courtesy of Justus Steinfeldt:
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Joshua Cripps is a full-time landscape photographer living near Yosemite National Park in California. His recent work includes the worldwide marketing campaign for the Nikon D750 camera.
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All photos, text, and video is copyright Joshua Cripps, except as noted. Any use without my express written permission is really not cool, man.
hey everybody are you ready to get your critique on I sure AM wahoo and welcome to another episode of professional photography tips the best place to learn how to master your camera understand composition rocked Photoshop and have a lot of fun while doing it yes indeed it's professional photography tips with me Josh Cribbs so today I'm excited this is the very first episode where we're doing a critique of a viewer-submitted photo and we're gonna do it a ton more of these in the future so if you want your photo critiqued I put a link to the new brand new Facebook group Pro photo tips and you can join that group submit your own images get critique from your fellow photography fans and enthusiasts and and then I'll choose a photo when I'm doing these critique videos and all I'll do it up on YouTube and I'll link back to your gallery or whatever so go ahead and visit there put your photos up and let's get this rolling so today to kick things off we've got this awesome awesome awesome photo buy used to steinfeldt so thanks a lot useless for submitting this image and we're gonna go and see what what is great about this shot and then what I think can also improve it to make it an even more killer photo so this is an amazing landscape I think this is in in Norway well Eustace is German so maybe it's in Germany but I think it's the Norway you'll have to correct me in the comments Eustace if if I'm wrong about that but so let's take a look here whenever you're evaluating a photo I always look at these four things what's the subject does the composition show that subject off in an interesting way does the technique all the technical decisions like aperture and shutter speed do they work in favor of the photo or do they work to its detriment and finally what's the light doing does the light show things off so let's start with the easy ones and then we'll kind of work up from there so technique wise I think is just about perfect you've got let me grab a bright color here we go okay cool so the exposure looks really great if I pull up my histogram you got no clip shadows there's maybe a couple of clipped highlights but it's hard to tell if that's from JPEG compression or if it's uh let's see what's happening in the channel view all channels so there's some clipping yeah this looks like you got a little bit of highlight clipping so that's probably this glare here or maybe up here in the sky so it looks like maybe if you drop that down just a tiny little bit then oh geez Louise what did I do there we go then that might help in fact let's let's try that and see what happens if we do that so let's pull up a curves layer and let's pull it down now this actually pulling this good detail in the sky and those Glary bits now I don't want to apply this curves adjustment to the whole image I only want to apply it to where its brightest so I'm gonna blend that curves layer wherever the wherever the image is brighter than a certain point let's do it like this let's try yeah let's just do this is this real quick and dirty this is not really strong Photoshop this is just a quick thing you can see brings a little more detail into the sky which is good because in any photo the two things that are gonna draw your viewers attention are what's in focus and what's brightest so right now those two brightest bits are basically you've got this bright stuff going on down here near the bottom of the frame and this super bright stuff up here so immediately my attention is being drawn to the edges of the frame rather than kind of being kept within the center of the frame so if we bring in some of those highlights back then that helps with that cool aperture looks great depth of field everything's in super deep focus which is perfect it helps my eye flow from the foreground all the way up through to the background so that's excellent so then the other thing you've got going on is some good looks like you chose a longer shutter to get some nice flow here in the waterfall so technique wise oops wrong button technique wise it looks like you're doing really really here Eustace lighting wise I think you have some really strong things going on I love this dappled light going on up here and the way it kind of just is kissing across the ground here I love how you've got this RIM light going on across some of these cliffs that's a really really nice effect the one thing again is that brightness up here and maybe the brightness here so I don't know if you're using the polarizer maybe polarizer would help kind of kill some of those highlights and cut some of the haze right here but otherwise I think your lighting is also very nice I wouldn't recommend necessarily coming back at a different time to get a softer light because I do like that direct kind of rim light you got going on on these huge fins of rock so technique is good light is good I do like the warmth of the light so I wonder I just kind of wonder what would happen if we bring up a color balance layer just to emphasize some of that warmth a little more now this is color is such a personal choice but you know take it or leave it you guys tell me whether you like it this to me for me personally maybe is a little cool so I might add just a touch of warmth to really bring out that like afternoon II kind of golden light feeling so cool technique light we're sorted what about the subject and the composition now here even though this is such a beautiful view and a beautiful scene I think I actually have a hard time kind of figuring out what the subject is because there's actually so much going on in this image right you've got the stream kind of coming in here from the left and going down this waterfall and then flowing back up here to the right and then you've got some little houses maybe there's a little village I don't know whoever lives out here that's a pretty sweet piece of property but there's a lot going on and it's a lot to kind of to look at and so I think where this image could be improved would be by narrowing the focus down a little bit because what I see here the main thing that really catches my eye is this waterfall to start right this is soaked and it drops down here but then what happens it goes off the edge of the frame down here so my I I would love to see if the canvas was a little bit or the photo was a little bit bigger you know like what's going on down here like if if you could kind of get the rest of this rock here if this was you know happening over here and then you could get so the rest of these bushes here and then you could actually see you know what's happening with that water down here I would love to see a continuation of that and then the same thing kind of goes up here in the sky you know by by area the sky here I would say it's maybe only like 5% of the entire image and so by the time I float along this awesome you know stream up here which is a great leading line by the way I get up here and this almost feels a little bit claustrophobic so again I wouldn't mind if this was a little bit taller like that just so we could have and let's just do this like super ugly quick and dirty just to kind of get a feel for what it might look like if we just had a little bit more up there oops yeah I think that just helps a little bit with the visual balance now we've got a little bit more going on okay so the other thing is that the this stream that is so cool here as you follow it upstream and I totally understand why you put this senior because now you have something that flows through kind of your whole frame but the problem is as I follow it upstream it goes behind these little bushes here goes behind this bush here it goes in between these here it goes behind these bushes here there's a bridge here there's all this so as my as my as my visual flow goes it's flowing and it stops its flowing and it stops it flowing then it stops and flowing then it stops so you have all these breaks and stops and starts whereas here you have this this one awesome continuous flow so the main thing that I think we're gonna really strengthen this image is a simple simple change instead of doing your typical landscape format try this photo again in a portrait format and just crop out that whole left-hand side of the frame like this so now we've got let me sort of clear clear out all that crap the hair so now what you've got is a much simpler photo it focuses on much less right and it really focuses to me on the most interesting parts of the photo now again mo I would just so love to see the rest of you know like what's going on down here if we could just fill in this a little bit like what's going on down here what's happening with this waterfall I will just love to fill in the rest of this frame and get an idea you know of what's happening down here and as you fill that in then you can let's just this is so quick and dirty you guys so this is not how I recommend doing photography but you know when you're in a pinch something like this just to get an idea of what what might work for you in the future so let's bring those together down here let's bring this in let's bring that in like that okay so now we have the complete waterfall we got a little bit more sky let's fill that in down there we don't have to do this a huge amount I just want to get a little bit extra down here and then what happens if we crop that up just a little bit like that okay all right so now more or less we've got the entire waterfall or a new fake waterfall you know in our frame so my eye doesn't go off the bottom of the of the image the my I get to keep my my eye in the frame up here because we darken that sky Oh what's going on computer don't crash on me no come on no well I'll just keep talking while the computer there we go cancel okay so we darken that sky and that to kind of bring the interest back in the frame we shrunk it into a portrait which if I bring up my my grid here you can see that now that leading line of that curve is actually right on the third and so is that waterfall it hits pretty much right on the intersection point so that's really really good in terms of like the visual balance of the whole scene um and so that's that's the main thing I'm gonna suggest here is if you ever get a chance to go back to shoot this one scene try it in a vertical format really just focus on what's most interesting it's gonna simplify our composition make your subject more obvious like this waterfall the canal and the sky or the canyon I should say and the sky so that's pretty much it that's a great shot Eustace and I think you know with just a couple of simple tweaks you can make it even stronger really have an awesome bomber landscape image so I hope that you guys found that very useful if you did please please please subscribe that way you can get all the updates when they're up when they're uploaded you can check out these other videos like for things all great photos have in common or seven easy principles for amazing photos please check out my website for landscape photography tips tutorials workshops all kind of stuff you can share this video with your friends give it a thumbs up that would just really help me out a ton and if you want your chance for your photo to be in professional photography tips on YouTube go ahead and visit the the link in the comments down below in the video comments and there's a link to the Facebook group where you can upload your images you can get critique from your peers and and every every so often every other week or so I'll be grabbing a photo to critique live and throw it up on the web so until next time you guys have fun and happy shooting