Photo Critique – Franconia Ridge View by Joe Viger

Here’s a critique I did back in June. I’ll be doing one of these per week during my upcoming photo tips course.


Judging by the images posted recently on my Flickr Photo Critique group, it must be lupine season! Photographers posted lupine close-ups, landscapes with lupines, even a lupine growing through the metal of farm machinery. So I felt compelled to celebrate the lupine with this month’s critique, and Joe Viger’s beautiful shot of lupines in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire seemed a great choice for several reasons. This classic landscape shot describes well the lupine spectacle in Sugar Hill with the White Mountains in the distance that has been a photographer favorite for at least two decades. It looks like the lupine bloom was pretty good this year and I like the late day light on the distant ridge. With the flower field in shadow, Joe made a good decision to use fill-flash and to concentrate on a collection of  flowers that included brighter white and pink blooms. Otherwise, the foreground might have been too dark. I also like how his composition flows from the flower in front up to the tallest flower in back, which in turn leads right to the highest point on the distant ridge, Mount Lafayette.  This creates a natural path for the viewer’s eye to follow while visually exploring the image. And the twisty, snake-like shape of the flowers adds some nice curves to the design. Lastly, a deep depth of field, combined with Joe’s placement of the ridge in the top third of the frame gave the photo the depth that is so important in a big landscape scene such as this.

This being a critique, I’m supposed to add some comments about what I would have changed about this photo. With this particular group of flowers, I’m not sure there’s much that I would change. I’d like to see a little less empty space in the bottom corners of the frame, but this would have required either showing only a portion of the front purple flower or moving completely in front of it, which I don’t think would have improved the photo in this case. I am a fan of getting really close to the main subject with a wide angle lens, which in this case would have given the flowers even more dominance in the photo. Would this result in a better photo in this case? Not necessarily, but it’s something I would have tried after nailing down the original composition. I also would have liked to see less shadow on the treeline which serves as the demarcation between foreground and background. Of course, this may have required that Joe make this shot 20 or 30 minutes earlier and at the point the light on the distant ridge might not have been as nice as it is here.

All in all, Joe should be very happy with this photo, and I encourage you all to check out his Flickr photo stream, which includes some other lupine photos from his recent outing. Joe’s “prize” for having his image selected for this critique is a copy of my “Photographer’s Guide to Acadia National Park“, which is where I’ll be heading in ten days or so to lead my Acadia photo workshop, and where I hope to find a few late-blooming lupines for my own photos! If you’re planning a trip to the park you should also check out Discover Acadia, which Marcy and I wrote for AMC Books.

If you’d like to participate in my Flickr Photo Critique group, just follow this link, and start uploading photos.

You can see what’s currently in this group below:

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