Photo Critique – Portland Head Light by Dan Greenberg.

Portland Head Lighthouse by Dan Greenburg

Week 3’s assignment was to “create dynamic photos with an asymmetrical balance”, using the rule of thirds if that’s what worked best. There were some great examples of this in the Flickr Group, and I’ve chosen Dan Greenberg’s above photo of Portland Head Light to critique as part of this lesson. Let me star by saying that it is really hard to come up with a unique photo from a place as well known (in New England anyway) as Portland Head Light. Probably thousands of photographers have shot this scene – in good weather and bad weather, at sunrise and sunset, with calm water and with towering waves. What I liked about Dan’s photo is the subtle color palette, created by the overcast light and the bluish-gray color of the water. This combination doesn’t always work well in a landscape photo, but in this case I like it. Still, with the overall low contrast, I think the photo needs a little post-processing work to enhance the tone and color.

Dan's photo after some adjustments in Lightroom.

To get the above look to Dan’s photo, I added some contrast using the curves panel in Lightroom. I also boosted the vibrance a little (+12). I think these changes give the photo a little “pop,” which is more appealing than the “flatter” look of the original.  From a composition standpoint, Dan did a good job of placing the lighthouse off-center in the upper left third of the frame, which keeps the image from being too static. However, I would opt for finding a way to get that horizon line north of center. For me, the action of the ocean in the bottom half of the frame is very compelling, both for its color and its strong sense of motion. By moving the horizon up a little, Dan would have included more of this very interesting foreground, and therefore would have increased the amount of the frame that is creating the drama in the scene. To do this he would have needed to either use a wider focal length lens or moved back. He also would have needed to tilt the camera down slightly, and may have needed to move the camera higher as well. Of course, I don’t know what’s below what we see in this version, so doing those things might have introduced other elements that were problematic. That’s all part of the challenge of composition! Ideally, that additional foreground would have included shoreline or white water that created a nice curve or diagonal that leads the viewer’s eye up towards the lighthouse (in a perfect world, right?)

If you have any thoughts on Dan’s photo or my critique, please post them in the comments section below. To see more of Dan’s photos, visit his Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23073137@N05/.

For having his photos selected, Dan will be receiving a copy of The AMC Guide to Outdoor Digital Photography. For a chance to win your own copy, check out this week’s assignment, Composition: Dominance and Simplicity and post your photos to our Flickr Group. I’ll be choosing a photo from this week’s assignment next Wednesday.

Cheers!

-Jerry

P.S. Here’s a look at what’s currently in the Flickr Group:

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