Photo Critique – Monterey Sunset by Raga Swamisai

Monterey Sunset by Raga Swamisai

Monterey Sunset by Raga Swamisai

For this month’s critique, I chose a photo submitted to our Flickr Group by Raga Swamisai. To be fair, I probably find his photo of sunset in Monterey, California so compelling because I’ve been spending a lot of time during the last several months shooting on the New Hampshire and Maine coasts, but what the heck, this is my critique so I can choose photos for personal reasons if I want!

This photo contains more than one element that works well. The subdued light of the sunset creates a peaceful mood with warm tones in both the sky and the rocks. These warm tones are complemented nicely by the bright blue tones present in the water. From a composition standpoint, I like how the rocks on the bottom left lead the eye towards the center of the frame where the curving sweep of the water takes you up to the dramatic colors in the sky. The long exposure creates little areas of interest, with water swirling around rocks, and other rocks looking like they are enveloped in mist. The cracks and textures in the rocks also add to the sense of place in the photo. By placing the horizon in the top of the frame, Raga rightly featured the foreground and added some depth to the image.

One thing I would have tried if I were there is shoot from an even closer perspective, if possible. I think getting up close to the rocks on the left with a wide angle lens might have resulted in a photo with a similar composition, but with a touch more dramatic impact. Other than that, the composition is spot on.

Monterey Sunset lightened by Raga Swamisai

Monterey Sunset by Raga Swamisai - rocks lightened in Photoshop.

In the above version of the image, I took the liberty of doing a little Photoshop work to bring out some detail in the rocks. I simply used the Dodge tool and painted over the rocks to brighten them up. They felt a little dark to me in the original version, and I feel this small change adds a little drama to the scene by highlighting the nice light on the rocks.

You can see more of Raga’s photography on his Flickr stream.

If you have any thoughts on his photo or my critique, please post them in the comments section below.

For having his photo selected, Raga will be receiving a copy of The AMC Guide to Outdoor Digital Photography. I’ll be choosing another photo to critique in June,  so post your own photos to the Flickr Group in the next few weeks if you are interested in sharing and taking part in the critique.



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

2 Responses to “Photo Critique – Monterey Sunset by Raga Swamisai”

  1. Mike H says:

    Though I understand your intent of adding a little drama to the photo Jerry, I don’t think your version passes the reality test. I don’t understand how the brighter portions would be possible in “real life”, given the lighting in the rest of the scene.

    Just my two cents for this one. You know I’m a fan (and former photo subject).


    • Thanks for the comment Mike. I see what you’re saying and I think that’s what’s great about art – we all interpret it differently. I don’t necessarily agree, but since I wasn’t there I can’t say for sure what reality was. Anyone else have a comment?

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