What’s Wrong With This Picture

“There are always two people in every picture. The photographer and the viewer.” ~ Ansel Adams

It’s a game I like to play when I review my images. What worked, what didn’t and why?

Let’s start with this cat.

It’s a poor exposure, but why?

Because shooting against the light either inside or outside just doesn’t work unless you have a powerful flash to throw some light onto the cat and balance the exposure.

Ok. Let’s find another spot with better lighting. This might work.

Better, but there’s still a problem. Can you spot it?

It’s the soap handle behind the cat’s head. An easy fix to move it before making the photo, but too late now, so now the only option is to throw out pixels to give it a tight crop with computer software.

Ok. A bit tight, but you get the concept which is to move in close to crop out all the distractions around your subject. It’s best to crop in the camera to save pixels, (more pixels= better resolution=sharper images), but if that doesn’t happen, just do the best you can. Just seeing the mistake in the final image takes you out of the beginner category and gives you another goal (removing clutter from around your subject) to work toward.

How about this image? What’s wrong?

Easy peasy right? Red eye has ruined this shot.

There are a few solutions, in this case, using the red eye reduction feature in your computer software program. If you’ve never done this, give it a try because it’s a quick easy fix. Software programs differ, but the basic concept is to select red eye reduction, place the cursor over the eye and click. Voila! The red eye is gone.

Much better. If you want to “fix” the problem before you shoot, turn on your red eye reduction feature when you shoot in low light. If it’s not necessary, leave it off. It works by sending out a short burst of light (to close the pupil), before the main burst fires and that means there is a split second shutter delay, never a good thing with animal photography. Plus it uses more battery power.

Let’s look at an outside image that I like. What’s wrong with this one?

Wow. Such cute subjects, a real photo op. However, there’s a red flag that a simple repositioning of the camera can fix. Moving your position until the tree behind the two subjects disappears is the ticket.

Ok. Good. No rocket science here– keep moving until the background works. Poor backgrounds (remember the cat above), ruin more images than anything else except poor exposure.

Well I’ll finish up with my favorite subject, my Irish terrier Morgan. What’s wrong with this picture?

Well nothing, right! It’s Morgan… I don’t see a thing wrong with it.

But that’s because I’m falling prey to one of the oldest problems in the book of photography. I am reading things into this photograph that just aren’t there. Sure, I think it’s way cute to see Morgan licking his stuffed animal…but when I look again, I see that Morgan looks awful. Any other viewer will see that too.

Here’s a much better one, although a bit less flash would help to keep him from having four ears instead of two.

Well I hope I’ve given you a few things to work on.

Good shooting!

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