5 Star Images - Lee and Patrick Critique the Best from the Community

Every couple weeks we release a new episode of Critique the Community where Fstoppers members can submit their best images to a genre specific contest for a chance to receive feedback and win a free Fstoppers original tutorial. This week, we changed things up and selected only 5 star images to discuss. 

Instead of having community members submit their photos for this episode, we are featuring a variety of images that either Lee or Patrick rated as a 5 star image. In a typical episode of Critique the Community, we almost never see 5 star photos so this was a great opportunity to highlight some of the best work on Fstoppers and show that the elusive top tier rating can be achieved.

Since all of these images were so highly rated, we decided to give away an Fstoppers tutorial to a single winner chosen randomly. Congratulations to Dominic Mann for being selected, we'll be in touch via your Fstoppers profile to claim your prize. 

If you'd like to participate in the next episode, we invite you to submit your black and white images for critique now.

Featured this week are the following photographers. Check out their profiles if you want to experience a small dose of humility.

Georgi Andinov

Corné van Oosterhout

Brian Rodgers Jr.

Bill Larkin

Ilya Nodia

Darcy Brown

Dominic Mann

Lev Savitskiy

Grace Almera

Phuket Photographer

Gabriel Sosa

Martin Strauss

Fernandes Photographer

Delphine Cencig

Elia Locardi

Paul Giggle

Martin Stranka

Joao Britto

Ivo de Kok

Erik McRitchie

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John Horwitz's picture

yes, but...

#1 has a right hand and forearm at 90 degrees. That's a big NO-NO. And on a small scale image, her nose 'looks' like it touches her cheek without being either behind it or in front of it. Hot light in the back is TOO hot.
#2 - good shot, although not my thing
#3 well done...but it CAN be done without compositing
#4 interesting concept, BUT again it CAN be done without photoshop
#5 looks similar to my first apartment! When I believed in being a starving artist...chuckle!
#6 great wave shot!
#7 not too bad, orange light distracts and are you certain the blur is added???
#8 snail donut is fun
#9 good fashion shoot
#10 family w/elephant...YAWN
#11 good studio shot, but nothing spectacular
#12 nice moody headshot perhaps should have photoshopped the forehead hairs out
#13 meh, wedding shot.
#14 BONSAI women - creative image! I would have put the darker skinned person to the right instead of the center.
#15 MEH
#16 Ballerina in theater - great shot!

John Horwitz's picture

#17 Spaceman w/birds - it's OK - and the Major Mudd suit from the 1950's
#18 I'm 'King of the Mountain' and perhaps made much stronger as a landscape if only the left 1/3 of the image was used
#19 Beer ad - overdone by everyone
#20 too post card ~ interior lighting and reflection is too hot

Jonathon Rusnak's picture

Is it easy to sit back and critique other people's work when you don't have any images to show for yourself?

All of your great wisdom is just hot air without a single image of your own to back it.

John Horwitz's picture

You didn't look in the right places, mr. rusnak ~ there are still many of my images out there, including 3 on my page. BTW, they weren't photoshopped either. The one of me on my page shows me with my work and favorite camera. Are you supposed to be a terrorist in your avi? hard to tell...but I digress.

Did you really intend to have your lead sentence as a question? Perhaps https://www.amazon.com/Only-Grammar-Book-Youll-Ever/dp/1580628559 " should be your next purchase.

Have a blessed day!

Jonathon Rusnak's picture

Ok fine. I found your images. Pretty cool. Haha

Leigh Smith's picture

Martin Stranka's shot is a well executed rip off of Jeremy Geddes

William Faucher's picture

Fun to watch as always! I am just a little (a lot) disappointed at the amount of obviously 100% composited images. In VFX we call these Matte Paintings, they're not a photo anymore, it's photobashing. Most of the time these are created exclusively in photoshop, not even touching a camera. An obvious example of this is the elephant/family shot. Everything about screams the fact that this wasn't even a set, just a bunch of stock images or source images from Unsplash and whatnot.

I don't want to sound elitist/purist and bash on the use of PS, because I'm not. It's an essential tool at our disposal, but at this point, most of the images here are a whole different realm of art. Blending a few images you shot yourself is one thing (think what Elia Locardi does), but bashing a bunch of random source images pulled from the internet and graded/color corrected (albeit expertly) is just... eh...

I realize this is a very blurry line, what constitutes "too much" is hard to define, but to me a lot of these felt like a slap in the face.

Overall a great watch, and love what you guys do, but I'd love more photography with the 5 star stuff. Both of you are smart enough to know what I mean, and I am sure you had your reasons for avoiding that topic.

John Horwitz's picture

I spent two years as an assistant photographer in a very large studio in Chicago. MUCH of the work shown here could easily have been done before the camera. In the 1960's we did not have computers, photoshop, or electronic gadgets or gimmicks. You had to be skilled enough to do build the sets, light the work, place the props, pose the models and color correct before pushing a cable release.

While work shown in the above captioned 'critique' was good; and some, well above average...many suffered from lack of attention to detail. The very first photograph also suffered from the illusion of a disfigured left hand. Upon close examination it appears to be larger than the right hand. The left elbow, while posed naturally, has an unnatural looking bend to it.

You may collectively agree with me or not, it is not my intent to try to win at the game of popularity. Images of attractive women posed seductively seem to be favorites. Younger women are not yet opposed to overt sexuality and men (in general) enjoy the fantasy.

My last comment on this image: I find the vertical strap running from her right shoulder to her arm pit distracting. If it could not be removed without compromising the integrity of the fabric, it would be better to remove it in Post-Production.

When you take the time to build a set, place the props, fold the fabric, light the set, direct the model and take the shot; failure to enhance the image in Post-Processing is a sin.

Imagine if this was taken as a gift for her 'significant other'. How would the photographer be viewed if someone saw this on their mantle and described in detail, as I have, the things that could have been corrected, but were not?

I enjoy photoshop, it can correct the small mistakes, stray hairs, some mismatched light sources come to mind. It is no savior, however, for sloppy work. My legitimate program is PhotoShop 7.0 from the early 1990's. Not interested in the 'Rent-To-Rent' scheme foisted on the public by Adobe.

I agree that if you photographed none of it and are just playing with stock photos you shouldn't post here. This is for photographers, I'm sure there are specialist websites for that type of images.

I can't say I watch every critique the community but I've watched enough to know that I always feel like the free tutorial to the winner is wrong. The people who win know what they're doing. The people who don't; especially when they're rated 2 or 3 (although not in this grouping), need the help. As for this episode, I agree with some of the other people I've seen say that the obvious composite images are the ones that get the most praise—it's graphic design, not photography. Where is the "get it right in camera" so you don't have to spend time post processing? I want to see 4 and 5 stars where they wouldn't get disqualified in other photography competitions for too much PS.

Jordan McChesney's picture

While these were all quite stunning in their own ways, I couldn't get excited about most of them. I don't want to take away anything from these images or their creators, but the balance of in camera work to Photoshop/post processing work is a little unbalanced for my taste. Say what you will, but I'd rather see a very well photographed flower than overly-Photoshop work.

But that's just my preference, all of these artists should be proud of the work they've done. I'm looking forward to the black and white critique and the barrage of meaningless 1-2 star ratings given by the voters, haha.

It's reassuring that most of the comments are "it's too photoshopped". The "ready player one" photo for example is too much, Joao Britto says it himself : he's a retoucher. His work doesn't involve ANY photography at all, he takes images from clients and blend them together. And the one with the elephant, ew... Not to mention those elephants in Thailand are basically slaves, there's a whole controversy about it.

BUT let's praise the actual photographers featured here, like Erik McRitchie or Martin Strauss.

Musing Eye's picture

I really enjoyed this and found many people to start following for inspiration. I'm glad that you pulled from a variety of genres. I get that some people aren't as impressed with some genres, but having that variety can speak to more of us. I'd love to see something like this again in the future.

David T's picture

I love Gabriel Sosas gel shot, especially the hair frozen mid movement like a flame.

And Martin Strauss always manages to make people (especially women) look beautiful, even with simple portraits.

Wojciech Sawicki's picture

Those are superb shots and I feel... ill qualified to criticize anything, but come on - the direction of shadow under the elephant? Hello?? Triangulate that into the sky to where the light source (sun?) should be, and compare to where it actually is...