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Looking for Constructive Criticism

I would like to say hello to the Fstoppers Community. I am brand new here and to photography. Although I am an avid hiker most of my photos would come from my phone, until now. Around 3 months ago I was able to get my hands on a Nikon D3400 which I now use for my nature and landscape photos. I am still learning about the camera and different settings, etc. I dont have cool lenses, just the stock one that come with it, 18-55 mm.

Over the last few months I have noticed my photos getting better and my friends say the same, but..... they aren't photographers.

I would like to ask you all for some constructive criticism one a few photos of mine that both my friends and myself found to be more appealing.

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Eddie Johnson's picture

I'm not a pro to clarify my comments, just learning like the rest of the honest folks :) But what I see is properly exposed, well edited photos for the most part, what I'd like to see is a reason why I'm looking at the photos, this is the hardest part for me is to determine why I want to take the photo, what is interesting to the viewer. I like the contrast in images, but I feel like most are missing a subject or focus point. In the picture with what I'd have to assume you in it, it's getting there but take out the green leaf as it's distracting from the focus point of you as the subject. Just my 2 cents lol, I'm sure you'll get someone with the exact opposite view and they'll say I'm completely wrong. Keep working, how many images did you take of each subject, you should have multiples if you are trying to really photograph something interesting, choose the best angle, color, lighting to express what made you want to take that pic in the first place.

Thank you greatly for the feed back! I guess I didnt think about why the viewer would look at it, I kind of just see something I find interesting and take the photo, most of these are still me learning settings and practicing my editing. Also depends on the amount of pictures I take, some may be like 5 some about 15 for one shot.

Eddie Johnson's picture

Me too fyi, I take photos because I like them; but it may not translate to good for everyone. (my family says I'm the best; but real critics say meh lol) I've asked fstoppers to add in levels of star system to help us craft our images into better photos and learn. I personally want a system that is more than 1 to 5 stars overall rather one that says 1 to 5 on image, 1 to 5 on sharpness, 1 to 5 on color, 1 to 5 on subject etc. etc. to average to the overall star so that I can figure this stuff out. keep up the good work, I really like your color grading. Just need a better centralized subject. Think Foreground, Mid, and background. Just like layers in a Photoshop image, build it and they will come lol. There are a lot of very talented photographers on fstoppers, find images you like, study them, ask yourself why do I like this image, copy their style in your photos. Have fun.

dean wilson's picture

From another Honest Photographer...

Image 1: Some of the DOF is missing on the fern in the center. I like the color contrast between the fern and the wall, but I actually fine the wall more interesting.

Image 2: Shallow DOF blurs out most of the grass that is prominent in the foreground that distracts the eye. I realize you are shooting directly into the Sun but I think a slower shutter speed would smooth out the water. But that, of course, doesn't work when a light breeze is blowing the subject around.

Image 3: Again the shallow DOF makes the back of your subject matter out of focus.

Image 4: Busy picture. My eye is drawn all over the image without being able to decide what the image is about. I would guess that is is taken at eye level on a cloudy day?

Image 5: The best in the group. (IMVeryHO)...the foliage really distracts from the subject manner. One thing you can do to make the person stand out is wearing bright contrasting colors. The blue jacket helps, but there is too little of it showing.

Image 6: Uninteresting sky adds to the muteness of the busy, busy foliage that borders the path.

It is difficult to state "do this or do that" when I do not have access to the site. Somethings you can do is change perspective. Lower the camera close to the ground or find an anchor (images 4 &6).

The good news is that using a DSLR the costs of 'developing' a roll of film is very CHEAP! Keep up the good work and don't stop just because someone you don't know complains about your images.

Thank you for the in depth break down Dean! As i followed along reading from my phone i was staring at tge pictures on my laptop, i was starting to understand what you were saying. I cant wait to get back out there and shoot again so I can start implementing this advice from you and anyone else who leaves some for me. Believe it or not Image 4 used to be like my favorite image lol until you just broke it down for me and not im like ehh its ok haha! But looking back from my first picture to now is really exciting because of how far i have come with both photography side and editing side of things.

Again thank for for such a good breakdown, and any advice of working on DOF?

dean wilson's picture

In theory, the smaller the aperture (larger f/ stop) the larger DOF, thus the larger the aperture the shallower DOF. So this really depends on your lens. An f/4.5 lens setting will have a larger DOF than a f.2.8 lens setting.

You probably already know this.

Sometimes I will vary my f/stop on the same scene, if there is something more interesting in up close and with to blur the background a little or if it's a messy background, a lot.

If you haven't already read the book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson it is a great book for refreshing your memory.

I am not associate with Mr. Peterson but I do have the book. You might find it at your local library, but a simple Internet search will reveal you can get a used copy relatively inexpensive.

And remember: practice, practice and practice some more, because rewrite-able pixels are cheap!

Your best image is image #2 while the others are "ok" you seem to have added some post processing which adds something tome or darkness to these images but composition is a tad off. I mean there's nothing spectacular about these images other than the reeds by the stream. I think it is a starting point to work from.