What Makes A Photo Work?

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A Great Angle Except...

The original image as presented for feedback.

Our Anonymous Photographer has captured a great angle of a popular rock pool on Sydney's northern beaches. Even better, he or she has chosen to shoot with large waves crashing over the pool walls and in the background you can see more waves surging towards the pool. It's a great angle for many reason and I love the selective focus, producing sharp focus on the pool while the background waves are suitably blurred. There has been a lot of thought and work in this image.


But, and you know there's a but when you put your photos in for feedback, I struggle with the two bright lights, equidistant from the edges of the frame and creating a somewhat static composition. Perhaps a brave swimmer emerging from the pool or a large shark fin could create a distraction? I'm also a little concerned that the foreground is a tad dark and perhaps we can enhance the background waves. So with apologies to the photographer, here are my suggestions.



First, let's lighten up the foreground. Not a lot, but just enough to show a little more of the surging water in front of the pool.



Next, let's lighten up the background waves. It's interesting, but those waves have a warm tint to them and I am surmising it is the result of warm tungsten street lights or perhaps a late sunset. I wondered whether to enhance the colour difference, or remove it, but have left it alone, just lightening up those waves so they are more obvious. In a competition, judges might not look at the image for too long before scoring, so it's important to make sure they see things that are important! On the other hand, if this were a print for an exhibition, leaving the background dark and mysterious and allowing your viewers to discover it is completely valid.



Finally, I very 'roughly' darkened down the two bright lights, just to see what would happen. When darkened, the eye more naturally moves to the pool and I think that is a good thing. Perhaps the solution is to use a stick of dynamite and remove the light poles completely - except now there would be no light and possibly no photograph! Photography judges aren't always particularly helpful! Darkening down these lights effectively will take a little bit of work, but I think it's helpful.


If you're interested in a photography workshop in the next 12 months, I have trips going to USA, New Zealand, Arnhemland, Georgia/Armenia, Iran, Greenland/Iceland and amazing Mexico. But don't leave booking too late as we need to know our numbers! Full details on the Better Photography website!


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