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

David Strauss's picture

David Strauss is a wedding photographer based in Charleston, SC.

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

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.


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.

As long as you shot the images yourself the amount of photoshop doesn’t matter at all! It is not 1980. This is 2019! How well was it shot and how well was it photoshopped after is what counts. You can tell a bad image regardless of how much photoshop!

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.

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.

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.

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...