The Nature, Wildlife and Pet Photography Forum - Fine Art Landscape Photography

please critque - need 3rd opinion

Posted By: Loueen

please critque - need 3rd opinion - 11/30/09 08:00 PM

I am a volunteer photographer for a dog rescue and we do our fundraiser calendar every year with photos of dogs we have placed.
I had done the photo shoot for this dog when he was in foster care, and submitted this photo for the calendar.
I was told it looked "too busy".
Could you please critique?

Posted By: psmith

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 11/30/09 08:24 PM

It is a nice shot of the dog, but there is too much going on in the background. The viewer's eye is not sucked into the dog but wanders through the background looking to see what else is there.

Two solutions for next time, put the dog against a plain background like the white siding on the right, or use a very shallow depth of field to blur the background.

Pretty dog, congratulations in placing him. The subject is definitely calendar material.
Posted By: Loueen

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 11/30/09 08:37 PM

Thank you for the advice. He is a handsome boy
Posted By: Jim Garvie

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 11/30/09 10:11 PM

Loueen
the setting is actually very pretty and the dog is quite handsome. As Preston points out, because you have stopped the lens down quite a bit, everything from in front of the dog to infinity is in sharp focus and the eye doesn't know where to look. If you had used a very wide aperture and thrown the background out of focus, this would be a spectacular image.

Jim
Posted By: Peggy Sue

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/01/09 12:55 AM

What an absolutely lovely GS. I think cropping the building and a bit from the left, would help. I also feel that the setting is very nice and the suggestions on focus could help. You could PS if you are good with that but for calendars, they seem to want more outside setting shots than studio.

If you would like anyone to take a stab at copy and work on your shot, I would be glad to give it a try. I always look for expression and you nailed it. So playing around with the background is fair game as far as I am concerned.
Posted By: Jim Garvie

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/01/09 01:46 AM

PeggySue,
actually, Alien Skin makes a Photoshop plug-in called Bokeh and it lets you take an image like Loueen's and diffuse the background according to particular lenses such as the Canon 85mm F1.2L. This would be a perfect application for that treatment.

Jim
Posted By: Loueen

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/01/09 01:47 AM

Thank you, but cropping is an issue due to this being the ratio for the calendar. There will be a different photo used anyway. I just wanted an opinion from people who know photography, and I appreciate your input! I do have a tendency to focus on the dog/subject too much and don't see the distractions. I really need to work on that
It was a cloudy dark day and I was trying to get some speed to hopefully get something that wasn't blurred. This is a beautiful yard, but small, so not too much room to play. I had to get close, and foster dogs don't usually sit still for more than 2 seconds LOL.
My camera is noisy with high iso/low light, that's why the 200. This lens is actually at it's best with F4 and I'm surprised the DOF wasn't more shallow.
Do you see anything in the EXIF info that I could have done differently?

Posted By: glamson

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/01/09 01:51 AM

Quote:

I am a volunteer photographer for a dog rescue and we do our fundraiser calendar every year with photos of dogs we have placed.
I had done the photo shoot for this dog when he was in foster care, and submitted this photo for the calendar.
I was told it looked "too busy".
Could you please critique?




Loueen,

The image is fine but I agree it does not work well as a portrait due to the lack of separation from the "busy" background. Shallow DOF would definitely help. One of the good thinks about digital is not all the effects have to be done at capture. Here is a version in which shallow DOF was simulated in software. This version could be done better with more time and the original but hopefully this gives you the idea.



Posted By: Peggy Sue

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/01/09 10:31 AM

Could not sleep so I thought I would play with this image. Hope it is okay. I understand about the calendar format. I have always found it a challenge to fit a vertical subject in a horizontal format. I found what I thought was most distracting to me at first (the building) was not a difficult for me as the foreground. So that worked in my favor by doing a complete crop.
I know if you had everyone work on an image they would come up with all different images. I guess that is what makes this a true art form!

Posted By: Loueen

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/01/09 11:54 AM

Very nice Did you use PS layers to soften the background?
Posted By: Peggy Sue

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/01/09 02:18 PM

yes, and played with values, levels and a bit of sharpening adjustment. Glad you like it. I still think you captured this dog brilliantly. Anymore shots from that session?
Hope they make lots of money.
A few months back I went to see a speaker who has raised moco bucks for the last ten years for shelters.
I worked on an Older Man calendar for my city, after the English Calendar girls movie came out. It was fun to shoot but I wish it would have been dogs! Sorry guys, easier to sell!
Posted By: Loueen

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/02/09 03:13 AM

Thank you
I have LOTS of photos from that shoot. We try to get various positions, interaction with people and other animals, playing with favorite toys, etc. and of course head shots.
Basically trying to show the dogs personality. We try to grab at least one shot that can be used for the calendar from each dog so we can get a good variety to choose from.
We sell around 150 calendars a year. Not a ton of money, but every little bit helps!
Here's one of the head shots.

Posted By: RomanJohnston

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/13/09 07:53 PM

Well...decided to play with it a bit myself. Had to take a few stabs at it to correct the yellow color cast. Hope you like it.



All in all the picture is good. I dont usually clone things out, but the stark white garage does seem to distract the eye in the composition.

Roman
Posted By: psmith

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/15/09 03:38 AM

I don't know if Roman's treatment is color accurate, but it sure does look the best to me.
Posted By: glamson

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/16/09 01:04 AM

Quote:

I don't know if Roman's treatment is color accurate, but it sure does look the best to me.




Yes Roman seems to have worked his LAB color magic on this image. However, with respect, I don't think it really addresses the problem of the busy background that Loueen was concerned with. On my calibrated monitor, there is more color saturation, but the overall luminosity is darker and I see loss of detail in the shep's face, especially in the eyes. Moveover, the more colorful background is even more distracting to me now (especially the reeds). I think as has been said by others to make this a real portrait of the shep it really needs to be separated from the background with shallower DOF, either at capture or in post. Actually, as I would expect, Roman has used his excellent landscape talent to make this a very nice landscape, with a pooch in it. Just my $.02.

Geo
Posted By: psmith

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/16/09 02:49 AM

So you like the yellow?
Posted By: RomanJohnston

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/16/09 04:10 AM

Quote:

Actually, as I would expect, Roman has used his excellent landscape talent to make this a very nice landscape, with a pooch in it. Just my $.02.

Geo




LOL...that about sums it up. Well put.

Roman
Posted By: Loueen

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/27/09 10:21 PM

I appreciate the comments and time you've put in. I hope I don't offend Roman, but this level of saturation and luminosity is a bit over done for me. It reminds me of one of those prints on velvet LOL!!
Sorry.........
Posted By: Peggy Sue

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/27/09 11:16 PM

LOL, now that is what I really like about honest critiques!
Posted By: Oly Paul

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/28/09 09:15 AM

Quote:

This lens is actually at it's best with F4 and I'm surprised the DOF wasn't more shallow.
Do you see anything in the EXIF info that I could have done differently?






The problem is Loueen is that at 28mm focal length and F4 depth of field is quite deep as the wider the angle of the lens the more DOF there is even at larger apertures. In this case a longer focal length lens with more distance between you and the subject would have thrown the background out of focus.
Posted By: Loueen

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/28/09 02:34 PM

Thank you. I have a lot to learn...and this helps.
I didn't have much room behind me and the foster dogs don't usually sit still for more than a nano second, so I probably should have opened it up more with the wider angle.
Posted By: RomanJohnston

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 12/28/09 07:08 PM

No offense taken....lol.

Never claimed to be a pet photographer....so I can understand why my PP didnt really give the strongest result.

Roman
Posted By: Buddy Thomason

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 02/10/10 04:24 PM

peggysue's rendition is impressive. Of course it helps to have the OP's original great capture as a starting point. I love how peggysue's post processing brings the dog into the viewer's presence. Her treatment is both sensitive and skillfully applied. Beautiful dog, beautiful expression and thanks to the OP for sharing.
Posted By: Aubrey

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 02/12/10 05:44 PM

What a beautiful dog! I agree with the others that you need to quiet down the background.

Thanks for all your wonderful work with rescue animals.

Congratulations on placing him!
Posted By: Julie

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 02/21/10 02:53 PM

Roman, I usually love your color work but this time I think this is all wrong. The blacks are too black and the blonde part of the fur too yellow and dark. I would say this is not the reality of the color of the dog

The best way to handle blurring the busy background is using a larger aperture and moving the dog further away. All the photoshop in the world isn't as good as getting it right to start.

I'd reshoot
Posted By: Ian Mc1

Re: please critque - need 3rd opinion - 03/26/10 10:21 AM

Just like to say I really like glamson's first re-post.
Think it could be just a tad darker so darkened highlights using Photoshop Elements "Variations".Also sharpened just a smidgin.
Cheers: Ian Mc

Attached picture 29106-A-fine-dog..jpg
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