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John Pless's picture

desert monolith

I am considering submitting this in a competition. I would like any thoughts, critics or whatever that you feel you would like to share. Thanks

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Phillip Breske's picture

It's a nice looking photo, but I can tell you right now the critique you're going to hear from the judge(s): The foreground tree blocks your view of the mountain, which is the subject of the photo. It would probably be a stronger composition if the tree were pushed to the edges as a frame around the mountain instead of cutting through it. So, stepping closer to the tree with the camera between the limbs would have been a better option, in my opinion.

Chris Jablonski's picture

For me, John, the main problem with what could otherwise be a very appealing image is exactly what Phillip mentions. Stepping closer as he suggests may well have led to depth of field problems, unless you used focus-stacking.

Secondly to my eye the image appears rotated clockwise, judging by the rock formations and the horizon sky..Cloud formations close to the horizon are usually very nearly horizontal. Your camera may not have been level.

It may be that they weren't here, and that the rock formations between us and the monolith are sloping, but the net effect for me is unsettling. I'd be inclined to level it up in your place, although I'd have a dilemma about distorting reality.

Some people don't notice this slight rotation or care, including some pros.

John Pless's picture

thank all of you for your comments. I see what Chris means about level and I probably will level it some to make that go away.

Hey Man! I am no board with Phill and Chris — I think you want to have some separation between subjects. Did a very rough photoshop job here. Not saying that you should do that, in post, it's something to think about in the field.I also played with perspective and leveling to make the mountain look bigger and more level in the frame. Also brightened the center and darkened the corners. It's a good photograph, but I would personally play with ways of adding more depth to the image, maybe with some thoughtful selective dodging and burning. Much of it is just personal taste, don't know if I made it better or worse :)

John Pless's picture

thanks for your comments Ivan. you made it a little dark for my taste but I appreciate you input. The separation thing would have been good if I had done a better job in the field

John Ellingson's picture

I agree with what others have said. When I look at this image I cannot determine what you thought the subject was. Is it the tree -- a good subject -- or the formation in the background -- also a good subject. When I view a photograph I not only want to see the photograph, I want to see the vision of the photographer. That is missing here. It appears that you did not know what the subject should be and only had one frame left .

Chris Jablonski's picture

That last sentence is a bit harsh, John! But I think you make a valid point.

John Ellingson's picture

When I seek criticism of my work -- which I've done for the 65 years of taking photos -- I've learned to leave ego and feelings behind, as they only get in the way of honest criticism.

Chris Jablonski's picture

Final thoughts - on reflection I think your intended image here was actually undoable John, as the beautiful gnarled tree, if shown with adequate space around it, would leave space only for a puny little mountain in the centre. As it is, the tree already looks squashed in.

To my eye, having subjects framed by other things very rarely works well, much as the idea appeals to us. One of my unfavourites is the shot from under a tree, with the branches and foliage framing the top.

The tree and the mountain are both beautiful, and so utterly different that I would try to combine them in one image. The mountain alone as a subject would be hard to make into more than a postcard image.

So here, I think I'd get a lens that's not too wide, so the mountain has some majesty in the frame, use landscape format, and move around so the tree is to one side - the right, I think, as it seems to "point" to the left, while the mountain "points" right - until I had a satisfactorily balanced composition. I would get down low, so the form of the tree is better displayed, against the sky.

I mean no offence in saying that what you attempted was undoable, John - my archive is full of seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time images. I find this image quite thought-provoking. At great locations like this, I take lots of images, in something too much of a hurry usually, in case light or other conditions change. I change focal length and vantage point. Usually the best images are late in the sequence, once I'm "in the zone".

Do show us more!

Hanaa Turkistani's picture

excellent job

John Pless's picture

thanks all for the comments. I think that the best way to learn is to take your best shot and then see what others have to say about it.