Critique the Community Episode 23: Landscape Photography

This episode of Critique the Community ended up being our biggest ever with over 500 comments on the submission post. Thank you all for your participation. Unfortunately, we we only able to give feedback to 20 images, although we did throw in an extra curve ball for Lee and Patrick and added an Elia Locardi image, who Lee and Patrick have filmed several landscape tutorials with. In keeping with our new tradition, we are also giving one participant a free Fstoppers original tutorial. And the winner is...

Andrea Re Depaolini. Congratulations, we'll be in touch via your Fstoppers profile messages to claim the prize. Thank you to everyone who participated. If you didn't get chosen for this episode, let us know below if you agree with Lee and Patrick's feedback and then submit your best fine art image to the next episode of Critique the Community. 






















The Fstoppers Community Rating System

If you have an Fstoppers account, you are able to create your own profile and portfolio directly within the Fstoppers Community. Once you have a portfolio uploaded, you can browse images in the community and rate the photos of your peers. Even though art is usually a fairly subjective matter, we wanted to create a rating system that was as objective and unbiased as possible. This way, if one of your images has been rated 50 times and has received an average rating of 2 stars, you could feel confident that maybe that particular image is not up to par. Below is a simple explanation of the Fstoppers Community Rating System.

One Star: The Snapshot

One star ratings are limited to snapshots only. Snapshots are usually taken to document a time or location, but little to no thought has gone into the creation of the image. If an image has been "lit" with external light (besides a direct on-camera flash), it is at least a two star picture. The majority of one star images have had no post-production work done to them, but do often have an "Instagram style" filter added to them. The average person these days snaps one star images every single day with their smartphones. Most one star images that pop up on sites like ours are images of flowers, pets, landscapes, sunsets, objects around a house, etc. If you read Fstoppers, you should not be sharing one star images for any reason.

Two Stars: Needs Work

All images, besides maybe five star images, always have room for improvement, but two star images "need work" before they should be included in your portfolio. As photographers, we are snapping thousands of images per year, but only a few of those images should ever be shared or put into our portfolio. A photographer who has taken a two star image has put some thought into the composition, exposure, and post-production, but for some reason has missed the mark. A two star image should not be in the portfolio of a full-time professional photographer and amateur photographers should strive for something better. Even complete amateurs who don't understand photography at all are capable of taking two star images from time to time.

Three Stars: Solid

A three star image is an all-around good image. The photographer has a solid understanding of the basics: composition, color, focus, subject matter, and post-production. A three star image is "good," but it's not great. Most part-time professional photographers have mostly three star images in their portfolios. Usually, a level three image would have been rated four stars if it had been shot in a better location, or with a better model showing a better expression, or if there was better post-production. A photographer capable of taking a three star image is capable of taking four and five star images if they would simply pay more attention to the details. 

Four Stars: Excellent

Four star images are fantastic. In most cases, four star images have a certain style to them that links them directly to their creator. A four star image usually requires planning and attention to extreme detail. It's almost impossible to shoot a four star image by getting lucky. Four star images have an almost flawless conception, composition, lighting, subject matter, and post-production. If you have any 4 four star images in your portfolio, you should be very proud of yourself.

Five Stars: World Class

Five star images are flawless and unforgettable. The amount of time, energy, and talent that goes into the average five star image is staggering. In many cases, these pictures require a team to produce, including a professional retoucher. The concept, lighting, subject, location, and post-production on these images have to be perfect. In some cases, the jump from four to five stars may be as simple as changing the unknown model in the picture with a celebrity or bringing in a set designer or stylist to make the image slightly better. Although there are always exceptions, most five star images take days, if not weeks, or months to produce.

Strengthening Your Own Portfolio

Even with our objective rating system, people are going to disagree with what they like because ultimately, art is still a matter of opinion. However, we believe once an image has been rated over 25 times, it will have a rating that is pretty fair and honest (we hope to deter trolls by giving negative Karma points when a vote is more than one star away from the community average). If one of your images in your own portfolio is rated lower than what you personally feel it should be rated, we would urge you to try to look at the image from an unbiased angle. Step back, erase your memory of the photoshoot itself, and try to imagine an art buyer, stock agency, potential client, or local gallery as they decided if they wanted to invest in your services. Would your image make the cut?

David Strauss's picture

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

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Lee and Patrick look up "orton effect" is? I am thinking that is why some of those shots look "soft". Not saying it is a great effect or not just that it is used often. Patrick was on it again this week, Lee not so much...except the B&W bike guy. LOL

I think the one shot that they couldnt figure out why it wasnt sharp in the back could have needed to be focus stacked. The foreground was really sharp.


How's that crocodile jerky? Lol.

Thanks for the opportunity. Being an amateur, it was fun to see and learn what the "the big kids" do!
I'll have to up my game!

I got murdered but it's all in good fun! Thanks for the critique.

Thank you for reviewing my photo!! I agree with the composition of that one. I sorta just pulled over and shot out the window since the light was changing pretty quickly.

They should have told you guys about the Elia’s shot at the very end. That would be fair and funny.
Too bad I didn’t make it this time. Again.

Guys, I'm so happy just because one of my pictures was in the 20s but also getting three stars and hearing you guys say that I could make money with a picture!! Well, that was awesome, being an amateur this really made my day, probably the whole week. Winning the tutorial... This is the first time ever I win anything, I really can't believe it. And congratulations to Patrick for knowing which tutorial I'm about to pick :) About the picture now: it was shot on the Italian Alps, the Dolomiti (you know Italy, where McDonald's is delicious). It's a single shot, there was no moon but some light pollution and owning a Fuji someone you might know could tell you, you can recover a lot from the shadows. The light you see on the right is coming from a "tractor" that smooths the snow for skiing. And yes there was a lot of post-processing work in it, dodge and burn and some other work.
Thanks again

Great to see honest and unbiased reviews. Especially of number 13. & 19.

Loved this episode. Here are two of mine that would love to see what you think.

Thanks for the awesome critique of my shot from Bombo Quarry. You said you've never seen that location before, but I assure you it is very popular with Landscape photographers here in Australia :)

Fstoppers: Enjoyed the video. I was interested the comment about not liking star trails and wondered if that extended to hour long single shots. I just uploaded to versions of the same shot if you'd be kind enough to look.