by Head Senior critic Mike Kreiten
I travel for photography, plan the trips only for the spots worth to visit, get up before sunrise, and edit, I love finalizing works. My spouse is the same photo maniac as I am, without her I could not do any of this.
When she passes my screen and says “I envy this shot” it’s the biggest compliment possible. She’s my best critic, her intuition and gut feeling very likely show me the photos that get published. Obviously she does not say that very often, haha!
Critique is a treasure, invaluable.
You can only learn when people tell you what they think, capable people. You don’t have to agree, but other eyes have a different look on your work. The view many others likely will have on it, too. We tend to look at the same things in our own work all the time, others see things we overlook even in hefty editing.
The team of critics on 1x have an expression for what we do, “loan another pair of eyes”.
That’s what 14 people do as senior critics, as a hobby, because they have what I’d call a “helping gene”. They enjoy that members are grateful to receive funded critique. Often they want to know why work was not published, which we cannot answer. We can only help to make a work stronger or give suggestions for next shots.
I’m doing this for two years now, I was invited to a great bunch of people writing critiques. We exchange, we feel like knowing each other, we help each other. When Alfred Forns asked me to become part of that team, I felt honored. I still do, heading the team now, backing up Greg Barsh for a while.
It all started when I posted something for critique. The detailed analysis and many suggestions I received led to a later publication, one of my first. I couldn’t thank the team enough by just saying I was grateful. I noticed everybody can write critiques, so I did for everything where I felt I could help. And then the magic happened, people were very grateful and we exchanged in long threads. This was noticed by the team of course, we usually read all comments. After a few weeks of engaging in the forum I received the invitation that changed my view on 1x, completely.
This was fun!
I enjoyed and learned at the same time. I would say I learned more in two months than I would have learned in two years usually. I read everything critics and members wrote when works fell into my genres - or genres I was interested in. I knew about obstacles before even having tried something new. Real obstacles, happening to people starting or even being experienced in techniques. It widened my horizon, made me curious to try more things. I set myself the goal to publish one photo of every genre, show some expertise in everything. Well, that’s very ambitious and consequently I’m not there yet, but I collected quite a few.
Communication theories say you should start with the most important message, I hope you made it till here because I did not stick to that rule. This is my message, dropping in late:
Try critique on 1x, post work, comment work, or read only. You will learn something, for sure.
I’m confident it’s the best photography critique forum in the entire internet. I learn new things there every day. People join 1x because they want to upload their photographs and exchange in this forum, we read that many times.
Should you discover the same pleasure I found in doing so, we need team members.
We love diversity, there is no wrong and right in photography, and “right” looks different for everybody. We had monthly guest critics, experienced photographers, and they stayed. Because they have it, the “gene”.
Join the party, help others and you will learn yourself.
Head senior critic of an awesome team dedicating their time for you.
Thx Mike! Critique is my favorite section on 1x - I am always impressed what the critics give in their feedback, and how it triggers new ideas on how to improve...
Excellent article, Mike. Thanks for writing and raising awareness about Critique! Good photo too - a bit disquieting, but it gets the idea across.
Thank you very much, Steven! It's indeed my eye(s) in my hands, but I didn't take them out, haha! Wonderful world of layers and masking :-)
I really appreciate help from critique team i got last year ! Thank you so much ! Mike , Cool creation " Loaning Eyes ...".
1x has a unique feature the founders are very proud of: the photo critique . Members can submit pictures to a team of knowledgeable senior critics. Their feedback and different suggestions are useful, interesting and enriching even for the best of us.
Critique on the photo ”Dark forest” by Michel Romaggi
I have always been enjoying autumn colours. Through pictures, I try to "draw paintings" which shows the beauty and the enchanted look of the forests at this moment.
Aiming this, I take a picture (Sony A7 II with 24-70 f4 on a tripod to get a maxi aperture f22) and work on it with PS but also several applies (distressed, mixture, snap seed) .
I am really satisfied by this one, but it was not published though it seemed that many people liked it.
I would be very interested to hear the opinion of the Senior Critics how to improve this image because it was not published.
Senior Critic Darlene Hewson
I like the colours in this lovely shot!!! Although I can't speak about why it was not chosen for the front page, I can offer you my thoughts on the image.
First, my eyes were drawn to the two trees in the front (left side). They became the focal point to me. But I feel like the leaves should be the focal point. I'm not sure, you'll be able to do much editing on this image to achieve a different focal point. This may just be something to keep in mind when out shooting such scenes.
If you wanted to clean this image up a bit, I would suggest you clone out the red spot on the bottom near the right 1/3 section. I would just clone it with the surrounding blue. Perhaps a tighter crop, eliminating the tree closest to the left side of the image would help also.
I hope I have been of some help, Michel.
Thank you very much for your advice, Darlene. I will do my best to improve my picture the way you and Martin are telling me.
Senior Critic Martin Zalba
Thank you very much for sharing your work with us.
I like photography a lot. We must bear in mind that we start from the difficulty of making a good frame in patterns with trees. It is extremely difficult! From my point of view, and after looking carefully, I must tell you that I like the composition, I think everything is well placed (I refer especially to the trees that are on the outside of the frame of the photo, the most difficult to place all right)
I like the atmosphere and the ethereal of the blurs. My recommendation goes rather for light and colour.
I have captured your photo and in lightroom I have simply gone to the tone curve. There I raised the light a little and darkened the dark very little. I think the image gains quite as much in colour as in depth of light and shadow. If you like, do the test, you might like it.
Thanks a lot, Martin. As I said previously under Darlene's critique, I will do my best to follow your advice to improve this image.
Senior Critic Mike Kreiten
It's quite a common theme, the last red leaves in a blurred environment. Yours is different because you have so much colour in your frame, most photographers have the autumn leaves singled out.
I find your blur confusing not a typical DOF bokeh. Some elements, closer by, are sharper. The background is somewhat sharp too, but the elements in between are not. The question is if you need to lead the viewer's eyes to the branches, unfortunately in the middle. This is rather a week position within a landscape frame.
My suggestions for a change would be to make your title true. A strong s-curve in a Curve correction layer, like Martin suggested. Let the leaves pop out of the dark.
I sharpened the frame (have my own method you can find in my profile) and cropped 15% away from the right to have a better sorted frame.
I also "burned" the bright sections on the upper edge right and left, to have more focus. As a viewer, we are led by brightness, sharpness, leading lines or colours, and at hot spots we see subjects easier. That was my take on your work, lead by colour, sharpness, and remove distraction of brightness...
I hope you'll enjoy critique, your work has potential. And I prefer "not selected" over "rejected", it's not a judgement of your work when it isn't taken. Maybe other photographs were just better the day your work was decided on. We all feel pushed back often, me included. You were published many times, with a huge variety of work. That invites visitors to have a look at your other works, and I'd keep this - or the re-edit - in portfolio. It's lovely.
Thanks a lot Mike. I will keep on trying to improve my picture, following your advice.
Senior Critic Mike Kreiten
Whether the advice of the Senior Critics are an improvement or not, that's totally up to you. We only suggest what we think might be stronger.
Senior Critic Norman Gabitzsch
You have a number of fine works in your published collection. I especially like "Enchanted Forest" with the wonderful dynamic range in Forest light and colours. I think that this image also has nice potential, but is not yet as strong as "Enchanted Forest".
I will cut to the chase and say that this image lacks an element to draw me in.
The red leaves, of course, are the dominant element, but they lack the punch to capture me. I would suggest that you try brightening the yellows and reds on the more sharply focused leaves.
The second thing about the principle element is that it has an almost dead centre. The right side is blurred and could use one sharp element ... or ... you could crop out some of the blurred right side to pull the principle element to the right of centre. Then stretch this image horizontally a little and I think you will have a more pleasing composition.
Finally, I find the bottom edge to be a bit "nervous". It almost looks like you have pulled it up off the bottom edge. I would consider not blurring the trees out so strongly along this bottom edge.
I did not say much about how much I like this image (and I really do like the potential it presents). I think with a little more work you can strengthen the "Draw" of this image.
Critique is also open to all members, and we learn together here. If you see an image you'd like to comment on, your words would be welcome.
Hmm. To be honest, I like the original picture more than the second one... in my opinion the second edit is too aggressive, too sharp, too bright. It looses the soft and dreamy mood of the original version. The first one is great as it is, it should have been published to the front page :)
Have to agree with you here Adam, the second 'improved' version is indeed visually harsh and brittle and not in keeping with what should be a soft mood for the scene. Which the original has imho. Ah well, goes to show 'You pays your money and you makes your choice!'
A nice presentation Mike and Yvette.
I really appreciate help from critique team i got last year ! Thank you so much ! Mike , Cool creation " Loaning Eyes ...".
by Editor David Williams
Some of us are very fortunate and able to travel far away destinations. Some of us cannot including me as I hate flying. For the ones that cannot go and see animals in the wild, what do we do? Sit by a river, yes, I do that. Or we can go to the Zoo / Zoo’s and see amazing, beautiful animals that are being taken care of. How you want to portray your work is up to you. Also, if you are waiting to go to some amazing destinations, wouldn’t it be a shame if you could not get the best shots because of lack of experience? The Zoo enables you to practise speed, aperture, obstacles, anticipation and a better understanding of an animal’s behaviour.
The zoo is a place that used to be for “entertainment” many, many years ago. Nowadays it’s changed for the better. Unfortunately, people’s attitude towards the zoo has not. I hope to at least contribute to changing people’s attitude by giving you my top tips for zoo photography. Maybe you will gain a new prospective?
If your local zoo has problems? Maybe you can say something to get it changed?
Animals don’t have a voice, we do so use it!
A month or so ago I had an interview on 1X. While I am very proud of that, I talked about my views on zoo photography there and you can read that here.
This article is more about how to get the best zoo photography and overcoming issues like fences, glass, reflections. “Zoo photography is easy…” no, it is not! I have heard this view so many times it gives me a headache. I wouldn’t call waiting seven hours for one shot easy, would you?
Taking a photo of an animal and blacking out the background in photoshop is easy, yes. Taking a shot which has deep meaning, hidden messages and your personal touch is not easy.
How do we take a photo of an animal when there is a fence in the way. Well here is where aperture comes into play. F/2.8 is of course the best for this but you can get away with an f/4 even an f/5.6 depending on the next two things.
Subject distance as well as camera to fence distance! I feel many people don’t know this. So, my top tips are these.
Why does this help? When we think of D.O.F most of us think of what is in focus at the subject and thereafter. BUT the foreground also comes into play. So, using a D.O.F calculator or through experience you will know what you can get away with. It’s actually very interesting to learn this.
Follow these steps and the fence is no longer an issue.
The dreaded glass!
At Zoos, glass can be a nightmare (worse than fences) why? Because glass can be dirty, have reflections, be at an angle, warped and even worse, a fence in front of the glass!
Again, the depth of field comes into play but personally I believe glass is more difficult then fences depending on the lens you have.
You really must have the lens flat against the glass. Some people use a black circular thing on the end of their lens to cut out reflection but if the glass is warped or at an angle, they are quite useless.
Again, try and find a piece of glass that doesn’t have reflections of people or background. I wear black clothes when I go to the zoo, so I don’t cause a self-reflection. Sometimes I look for people wearing black clothes and try and follow their position, so I can use their shadow to cut reflections.
During post work, enable lens profile correction. This will take out the warp of the glass.
Do we really pay attention to metering? Or do we just let the magic box decide for us? I discovered metering a long time ago and I always decide which mode to use for the situation I am in. A lot of my work is done by using spot metering. It only measures 3-5% of the scene. I focus on my subject (lighter than the background) and the camera will tell me I should be at 1/1000 so I know the background will fall to dark or even black. If I don’t want that, I will use evaluative metering and get a much more average exposure.
While this may seem obvious, I have seen photographers waiting around 10 minutes and pack up. I usually choose and animal or a shot I want and if I must wait all day, so be it. Animals are not going to listen to you, animals do not care what you want. You must wait for that “moment” the magic moment as I call it. The moment that makes you smile and gives you goose bumps and personally, when I get that type of shot, I say to myself “that’s a fine one for 1X”.
I hope you do visit your local zoo and try these top tips out. It takes practise, but I find using the Zoo to practise these techniques has helped me so much in other genres of photography, especially sport. I look forward to seeing your “zoography” ;)
To end this "zoography" article, I'm proud to let you know that 3 of my submissions to the
"Monochrome Photo Awards 2018" - Category Nature" w ere featured with a "Honorable mention".
Thanks David & Yvette for a nice article and nice pictures from the Zoo, nice that a picture of mine had to be included as well. // Allan
Thanks to you for your appreciation, dear Allan ;-)
Yes, thank you very much, Allan :)
Wonderful images and note, congratulations and thank you!
Thank you very much, Roxana :)
Lovely work, David. Thanks for sharing your expertise in this field. Can’t wait to test some of your tips in practice.
Thank you very much, Wicherbos. I appreciate that :)
Appreciate that Mario. Thank you!!
Well done David for this article and those Hon. mentions, lovely work! You need the patience of a saint to work with animals and my halo slipped away long ago...
LOL thank you, Peter :) appreciate it
Excellent work, David!!! congrats to all
Cheers, Carmine :) appreciate that :)
Excellent article, David! Great tips and beautiful (some so meaningful) zoo shots. Congratulations to the authors of the gallery pictures too. Cheers, Yvette
Thank you very much for putting it together, Yvette :)
Greta Do is a masterful and most talented photographer when it comes to Children portraits. She quotes: “Photography is my love affair, I forget being myself, forget breathing, im sucked inside, captured by moments, seconds,details... I am looking for everything that makes this world beautiful... swirls of texture, explosions of colour...and faces...and eyes...and the beginnings and endings of light and shadow. Endless.”
I couldn't find better words to express her tremendous passion ;-)
Please, take this journey with me through Greta's mesmerizing and brilliant work and listen to what her innerself reveals to us in this fine interview.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs, Greta.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
I am Lithuanian living in Ireland close to 20 years. I was born in Kaunas and after finishing The college of Art ( Faculty-Conservation and restoration of works of art) I have decided to travel… Temporary… And ended up in the Emerald Isle. Still here… Have a family…. and this country is a part of my identity now.
I am a full time family photographer and have a small business “ Memorybeans Photography “ Capturing moments and portraits in Lifestyle-Documentary style.
I love art in any shape or form! But painting was the closest to my heart. Oils !!!!
My life here ( Ireland ) shaped my way to photography, as this media ( digital ) was easy accessible and manageable compared to oils. As I always have a need to express myself, I turned around and picked up a camera.
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
My children. They have become my canvases, my extension, my art.
What first attracted you to photography?
Describe your overall photographic vision.
Unfortunately I can not say I was attracted to photography itself. I think of myself as a creator, and the need to create is very strong when I shoot. I want to say.. to explain or to ask…. and I want to make it, to paint it…. There are two worlds of me within photography. My self expression that leads to the portraits I create and my projection, that is my view of the world around my clients families is capture.
Why are you so drawn by Children Photography?
Children have childhood within their eyes. The expression and presence is incomparable.
They are much harder to direct and have the mind their own… The road to final capture might be so fast or so long. And there is always a surprise element to it. That makes it even more special.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
Story/ Idea all the way! And light… ofcorse the light. This is where it all begins. I am not technical! Oh no! Not even a little bit. I know a few buttons :)
On a more serious note, I know my way around the camera and I see light that is available and I am able to use it the I want. I try not overcomplicate things for myself, if there is a way to get from a to z in a simple straight I will not choose a zigzag path.
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
The location does not really matter much to me. Light does, Idea does and subject does.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I have shot with Canon since I have started using digital, Last camera I used was 6d. Now, however I have switched to Sonyalpha7III, and said farewell to my long relationship to Canon.
My go to lenses and primes 35mm , 85mm.
What software do you use to process your images?
I use Lightroom and Photoshop.
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
Sometimes the idea just shoots in…. and I go from there… this is when I find it very easy. With the condition that it happens there and then. If I can throw everything away and just give my whole self to the process of creation. So I shoot and edit on the same day! This is most satisfying and complete feeling.
The harder one needs searching … music… poetry…. random things on the road…. or a child walking by…. or a few of these in one…. I have a notebook for ideas… and sad to say they pile up….and get forgotten sometimes.
I keep snippets of things on my Pinterest organised to ideas, that helps me to visualise the final image.
When I know what I want, I shoot usually natural light at home or in my studio.
Editing is mainly in Ps and can take a long time. But if I start I finish on the same day.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Children Photography and how do you get started?
Do not settle searching. Errors are positive!
Any start is a start, the important thing is that the start would not become an end.
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Flora Borsi ! What she is saying is loud and silent at the same time. There is magic and reality… perfect combination of painting and photography. She is my inspiration.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
Just shoot more! And get better...always better.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
My favorite photograph is the one that started it all. It is very personal peace. After the long shallow stagnation that I could not handle anymore came a lot of tears and the birth of “ Rain in my Heart “
I want to thank 1x for having me. It is a wonderful space with amazing talent. First digital gallery I have posted in. And hold really dear to me.
A fantastic, imaginative and wonderfully well designed children's portrait series. The viewer can feel how much "heart blood" is in it. Many thanks to Yvette for giving us such a condensed insight into the fascinating work of Greta Do. With the best regards Herbert
Thank you So much Herbert!
Beautiful portraits and other photos, girls with fabulous eyes. Well done Greta, accept my sincere congratulations to your excellent photo work. Ant thank you Yvette for interesting interview.
Thank you for your kind words Miro.
This beautiful series and fine story inspired me to take a closer look at your wonderful portfolio Greta. Congratulations, and a big thank you to Yvette.
Thanks: Luc :-)
Thank you very much
Wonderful images, great to get the story behind them. Thank you.
Thank you Pamela, very much
Interesting interview and great images! Something for inspiration! Thanks!
Thank you very much Knut
Great article, outstanding portraits!
Thank you very much Ludmila
My congratulations for this new interview. All of them are very inspiring and they keep me motivated. Thanks to Ivette and Greta for this new chapter
Brilliant work and such a fine interview, Greta! Thanks a lot for your fine collaboration. It's a real pleasure to put you in the spotlights here. Cheers, Yvette
Thank you so very much for this Yvette. Such an honor! I am very emotional right now!
by Editor Yvette Depaepe
It happened to all of us to shoot a funny candid shot.
Coïncidence or purpose, humour in photography is a very particular genre.
As follow up of previous article about humour, I would like to present you five 1x photographers who have plenty of humour shots in there portfolio. Some in a subtle way, some in a direct way, and some enscenerings.
Certainly all worth to mention today.
Smile and enjoy!
Carlo's conceptual work is amazing. All his life experiences are to be seen in his photography. What makes his concepts so unique is that he is the actor and model himself. Strong, intense, mostly humoristic, are the main characteristics of his images.
Mario Grobenski is one of the most intriguing and strong personalities on 1x. His work is full of irony. With an endless inspiration, most of his work is created in "one single room" with himself as a model.
John Wilhem is one of those rare photographers who are equally briljant creatively as technically. When browsing through his portfolio, it's impossible to know what to expect, except for one thing: You will not be bored.
Victoria Ivanova is a conceptual photographer who creates magic and meaning with simple things that everyone has in their home, like pears, pencils and pins. Her still life photography always tells a story.
Christine von Diepenbroek calls herself a storyteller more than a photographer. Her human related fantasies and her absurd ideas are the keywords. Relativity, imagination and humour are to be seen in her phantasmagorical world.
Amazing article illustrated with amazing photos!
Such a great honour! Thank you! Congratulations!
Five masters in humour ! Great selection Yvette !
Thanks, Luc ;-)
Thanks a lot my dear Yvette! Funny to see the other works in context.
Fun to make this article too, dear Christine! Thanks for your appreciation...
funny article, makes me often smile, thanky to all photographers and to you dear Yvette
Thanks, dear Hans-Wolfgang!
Amazing work Yvette! congrats to all
Many thanks, dear Carmine!
Great work Yvette, Thank you very much! Cheers!!
;-) Thanks, Mario, dear friend!
Congratulations to all five selected photographers! I enjoyed tremendously to put this article together. Thanks for sharing your work here on 1x. Cheers, Yvette