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  • in reply to: Watermark? When should I start doing that? #8571

    Re: Watermarks & Metadata

    Perhaps this goes without saying…

    Depending on why people are copying photos, screen shots are another way to capture images and re-use without metadata.

    in reply to: Sign of Spring #8396

    It’s okay if it is THEIR cat.
    You can take YOUR dog, cat, hamster (or rabbit, or any other live animal) to a photographer; or the photographer can come to you and your furry family. But you must be the owner, or in a family, you must be a family member.

    And it is also okay to photograph the animal by itself. But when the photographer is the provider of the human contact….\

    Basically, it means the photographer cannot own the live animal. Here’s another reference (I hope it is okay to share this link.)

    It’s not illegal. Photographers just need a license from the USDA.

    in reply to: Will someone please go tell this woman she is a fauxtog? #4959


    Try this: for the next month or so, each time you tilt a composition also shoot it straight. Put the shots next to each other and compare; even submit to some friends.  See which of the two photos evoke the “correct” emotion. See which one your subjects prefer.

    Remember that the Dutch angle technique was originally used to create tension or uneasiness in the viewer. Is that feeling you want people to get from your shots?

    John Suler is an expert in the field of photo psychology. Here is what he has to say about Dutch Angles:

    Because we don’t normally perceive the horizontal plane of our environment as slanted even when we pitch our heads sideways, a tilted camera angle tends to create unique sensations of energy, disorientation, imbalance, transition, danger, unsettledness, instability, tension, nervousness, alienation, confusion, drunkenness, madness, or violence. For this reason it’s a highly subjective type of camera angle that encourages us to experience these sensations along with the subjects in the photo, especially if the subjects present other visual cues that confirm these states of mind. If not, then we, the viewer, might be the container for these emotions rather than the subject. So, for example, if the image is slanted heavily and the subject appears disheveled, then both we and the subject experience that state of disarray. But if the subject looks perfectly calm, then we, the viewer, feel confused while looking out onto a seemingly tranquil scene and subject.

    Just some things to think about.

    in reply to: Honest Opinions #4742

    BUT…as a reminder, I must keep reiterating that photo judging is so very subjective and personally interpretive.

    And given that here at YANAP we have no specific criteria or limitations, when you ask for opinion, the spectrum is wide open — everything from age to years of experience; from business practices and technical quality…it is all overwhelming and an open target.

    But your question was, “Am I a fauxtog?” and to answer that we’d have to compare your work to some of the extremely horrid images posted on YANAP.  Are you one of those? No. I’d say you have failed the fauxtog test. Do you still need practice and refinement? Absolutely. (We all do.)

    In addition, I’d say you have surpassed the level of some of the Momtog/MWACs with no formal photography training who also have bad business practices. I tire of their endless same-old “natural light” shots. At least you understand a bit more about composition.

    When critiquing, keep in mind, that we are turning images into words; then splitting off from that are personal and intrinsic preferences. (I wonder if the person Stef mentioned with the “thin hair” thinks she has thin hair or even considers it a “problem” as Stef implies.)

    But you do need to keep practicing and refining your technical ability. I recently completed a critique for another photographer whose sunlight shots needed much more work than yours do. I think Stef was partially correct in her advice about headshots, although I truly saw nothing I’d call “severe facial distortion.” Slightly? Yes. And here is a bit more explanation about that:  I also didn’t notice it being a ‘tendency,’ but rather occasionally.

    Lastly, remember that photography critiques offer an alternative way to look at your images and give an idea of others’ perspectives on your work. Above all, keep on working and improving your craft.



    Generally, in the professional world, one photo would be submitted for critique. And judges would have specific parameters for basing their opinions. Unfortunately, the YANAP forum critiques are wide open — people will critique anything from posing to lighting, to framing, etc. So it is difficult to give a fair critique not knowing so many of the particulars about this work.

    However, I would label this set of 5 photos as an “Informal portrait session.” Plus, we are working through Facebook which may also remove detail from your work. Keep in mind: this is all limited to the 5 shots.

    First of all, let me say you are not fodder for the YANAP front page. I see nothing  horrid or totally wrong and nothing to make me slam my head on the desk. This is good…because there are many things MWACs, Momtogs and Fauxtogs do that are possibly ‘trendy’ or even requested by subjects but that pros don’t/shouldn’t do.  That sun-washed look? Ugh. Tilted background — just don’t. Precarious pose for newborn — nope. Oversized catchlights…groan. Glaringly large copyright…bang head on desk. I’m glad that I didn’t see any of this.

    What I do see that you need to work on (and I lean WAY more toward composition than technical) is lighting. (Here is one of those not-given parameters: were you unable to move your subjects into a different area where shadows were not so distinct?) Truly experienced photographers can and do work around available sunlight and learn to manipulate it. In the first black and white photo, you must have thought about this because you moved them back behind the shadow line. Unfortunately, it did not stop the shadows from distracting the viewer. In the second photo, the girl in the dark stripe makes her especially dominant. The photo where the child is in the air — shadows wrongly cover his face.

    You can use tools to work around shadows: filters, reflectors, etc. And you can manipulate them by changing the time of the shot and/or waiting until a cloud floats in front of the sun or just plain waiting until a cloudy day. The shadows are a problem because they take away from the focus on the subjects. They add unwanted dominance and lines to your composition. Shadows will ALWAYS be important because they are part of the light you use to make the image.
    All that said about shadows — let me move on to your whole photo composition. I am staying away from using the word background because I am referring to the entire shot. THE first thing I see in the first photo is that there is a man with a wire shooting from his head. Try following the natural progression of your eye as it lands on the photo.

    1. it follows the brick lines left, into the subject 2. then up his collar to his head and ends 3. being led off the image by the dark line extending upward. My natural eye line never even made it to the girl. But, my subconscious sent me back to the girl where her hairline lead me back to the bricks, along the side of the building and across the street to the white structure.

    Now you see…this is only some information to help you think; to help you see lines in a creative way; to get you to open your eyes to new ways of composing your shots. Because I truly believe you could have used those same shadows and lines to lead us INTO your subjects. Some might say the line stemming from the subject’s head actually leads us into the subject — and that may be but it is an unnatural placement of the wire & therefore a distracting element.

    In the shot in front of the brick wall, unfortunately my eye lands on two spots before it even gets to the subjects. The most dominant point is the gray area in the center then the wooden square.

    But skip to the photo of the child being tossed in the air and IMMEDIATELY my eyes land on the subject. Why? Can you explain what lines in the photo lead me directly to the child?

    This is but one element of a huge area in which you could begin to grow. I recommend you read anything by Dr. Richard Zakia to really get your photographic mind reeling and your creative vision flowing. Best of luck.

    in reply to: Honest Opinions #4501

    I just want you to understand WHY the outlet is so distracting. Why do you think it is?

    Here is what my older –and probably– more experienced eye sees pertaining to the composition.

    I see a line down the models back that leads directly to the outlet. Because the model’s black is in such contrast with the wall, the line is very evident. In addition, I recommend you also note other elements — intentional or not — which subconsciously lead us to the outlet.

    Take a moment to consider ALL the arrows/angles pointing toward the left. WOW. If you were trying to use this as a repeating element, you definitely succeeded. First there is the window frame that points to the left. Then there is the corner of the room, the converging lines of the wall — where the wall meets the corner. Thirdly, there is the arrow the model herself makes, both in her position AND her elbow — also a contrasting arrow pointing left. In addition, the negative space in her high heel makes an arrow pointing left. I seriously think there are even more, even the texture of the carpet.

    Was this something you planned?

    Just wondering.

    in reply to: Please be kind!! #4373

    Well, then, Megan, I will refer you to Dr. Richard Zakia (probably the greatest photography instructor who ever lived). Google him (he died last March and has left a huge void).  He has greatly inspired many on photographic perceptions. Pick up a copy of one of his perception and imaging books. I can almost guarantee it will change the way you shoot. It will change the whole way you see photographs. It will open a new world to your artistic vision.

    But to be fair, professional photo critiquing requires criteria — standard criteria — which we are not given in YANAP. One cannot truly and professionally critique a photograph (note: “a photograph” not, “my gallery”) fairly without that criteria.

    And since have no criteria, and we have an impossibly huge set of variables (many photos, many subjects, many circumstances, etc.). That’s why I always try to narrow my comments to one or two specific photographs.

    Imagine if the only criteria here on YANAP was blurriness/focus. Ranked on a scale from 1-10, I think you would get a perfect 10. But to single out that criteria leaves infinite other photo qualities unremarkable. AND, one could also go opposite and set a criteria for “creative use of bokeh,” which would be ranking on the effectiveness of intentional blurriness. So you see — this isn’t an excuse, either, but a concern for all these forum critiques.

    Maybe we should set some specific criteria here. Eh? YANAP?

    All that said, if you still like your composition — then I refer you to Frederick Remington who said, “I’m willing to be judged by posterity, it’s not important what people think now.”

    in reply to: I wish there was a category for sports… #4360

    Just checked out your Sportsshooter stuff. Love the emotion in #3 and the flying mud is exquisite in #4. Great stuff.


    in reply to: I wish there was a category for sports… #4359

    Dear HSIphoto,

    The stuff I see here is PWAC or Momtogs trying to be professional — families, weddings, etc. It is so fundamentally different from action. You can’t shoot soccer with your camera set on A or P. I never see any action, sports or anything remotely commercial in this forum. (The one exception would be posed group shots with ball props, etc.) If it moves, these folks cannot shoot it anyway. It would be so unidentifiable. Look at some of the shots — if a foot, arm or finger moves in a fauxtog photo, its blurred. What you do is so far beyond this — both technically, legally and professionally — you can’t even compare.

    I would love to see some of the really sub-par PWAC stuff you’ve encountered and I feel your pain. But I have to suppose the public just doesn’t have very high standards when it comes to good sports shots. Most think anything that is mostly in focus is acceptable. In my opinion, this forum can’t even get  to action shots because of the overload of horrid still portraiture.

    I’m a fan of SportsShooter but haven’t joined. Most of my generation retired with film, so I don’t know anyone personally. I’ll go there now and check out your page. Maybe Sportshooter would open a category for posting PWAC absurdities. Have you asked them?

    in reply to: Needing reassurance! #4358

    I will continue on a subject which I have posted on many times: professional presence: i.e. your logo.

    I can locate a million of these ‘hand-drawn-like,’ cutesy, popular, trendy type logos. I know of entire resource sites that have generic logo elements just like this. Why the owl?

    I actually like the whole logo — just not for professional photography. Looks more like a kids clothing store, toy store or ice cream business. It screams juvenile. My impression is that the business is not creative or sophisticated. I’m sorry, but that is my true impression of the logo.

    My thought is that ‘juvenile’ is not necessarily the image a professional photographer would choose. I would consider something with a more serious feel. Unfortunately this looks like many of the momtog logos I’ve seen and it is an indicator that I will see a portfolio of washed-out newborns, ‘creatively’ posed and lightroom-retouched glassy eyes…technically able to produce an average, publicly acceptable & common product.

    And many of your photos are very beautiful and fit right in with the common element. Keep in mind, that as a professional, you do NOT necessarily want common. You don’t want trendy. You need your own style. I know there are even national competitions for shots just like these. What we are trying to do in this forum is to get you over that level and become more original, exclusive and, well — professional. Hopefully you will find encouragement from our comments as well as specific tips and ideas.

    As professionals, we all have our imaging battles. After 35 years, I am again in a personal battle with shadows. I am trying to use shadows as a growth subject; learning, absorbing, practicing and trying my hardest to see them in a new light (so to speak). I’m seeking out advice and info from my experienced colleagues — I am learning from them. Sometimes at night I dream of shadows and think about how to manipulate and use them. I wake up and go play with them. It is part of the documented process of learning to think creatively.

    Right now, you seem to be at a comfortable level where you are producing a product many people want. Don’t take the easy road and stay there; move on away from the crowd and blaze your own path.

    At your level (sorry if I have missed some information) I would strongly recommend any of the books available on photography composition and to start really reflecting on your work and contemplating how you can become better. New and Insightful Photography is NOT sitting a family in front of a tree; the same tree you used last week. It is not changing lightroom filters. Professionals are often so technically inclined, they are terrified to try anything creative. But you must have that technical education and ability before you grow. I think you have a bit better technical ability than most of the people who come here asking for a critique and I hope you won’t consider that technical ability “done.” It is never done, professionals are always growing technically. Are you? If you know the exact f stop to use, are you able to NOT use it and succeed with something else? Can you overcome technical limits?

    This like breezing through an easy, multiple choice test. It is interpretive and contemplative and will take many years. Try the tips from MBC — he knows his stuff. Then try them again. Then alter those tips, play with them and then try them again. Experiment and grow. And through it all you will discover your own style. Then you will be developing your consistency and can grow from there.

    I hope all this helps you to sniff out better photo technique and inspires you to rise above the common.

    in reply to: Please be kind!! #4355


    I just looked through the photos on your facebook page. I will repeat what I have written x times before: Facebook is one of the worst online photo presentation tools, but that’s what we have. There may be more stuff we could “like” but Facebook’s algorithm wipes it out.

    But MBC is great at reading facebook portfolios from an experienced and educated photography background, so I would advise you take seriously any of his tips.

    I like that there is nothing blatantly wrong in your photos (i.e. stuff that makes the YANAP front page). But professionals go way beyond that; even beyond “okay.” Which is the main point for most of us: the web is filled with “okay.”

    But as I look through your facebook portfolio — and this is in general — there are things that immediately catch my eye (a 35 year photo veteran). I see an entire portfolio polluted with trendy lightroom/photoshop actions. I know it is intentional. I know your clients might like it (i.e. it sells!) And that, my dear, is the “problem.” It is the difference between shopping at Wal-mart and Barney’s New York. Cookie-cutter, trendy stuff; photo cliche. I would encourage you to step out of that habit. Step into original images with no editing (aside from possibly a crop.) I think the fact that we cannot pinpoint a particularly bad shot is a great indicator.

    Another consistent thing I noticed was tilted background. I was nearly seasick. To the right, to the left, to the right. It hardly stopped, making it difficult to determine if you could do backgrounds professionally. Here’s some vocab from the old days of photography: Rule of Thirds and Horizontal Lines. Buy a book or two on those specific subjects. (The fact that there are entire books about lines in photography should tell you something.) Perfectly horizontal lines create a sense of calmness. Tilts, crooked, uneven lines leave the viewer unsettled. You might be surprised just how fun it is to learn this part of composition and how wrong many  “fauxtogs” are. Specifically, go to October 17. There is the photo of the 2 girls and dog; then two kids. The one of the two girls: the horizon line is unsettling here — just barely off. Annoyingly off AND it runs right through their heads — which could be a good thing but in this case is not, because it is tilted. The lines on the photos with the two kids are extremely dominant and kept my eye from even looking at the kids.

    Now there are OBVIOUS lines, real lines in photos and there are imaginary lines — perceived lines that don’t really exist physically. I strongly suggest every photographer study Gestalt. That alone would give you a whole new perspective on your work. I think subconsciously you ARE using lines, but possibly using them incorrectly or just not knowing how to use them. The one of the boy at the lake on October 15 is just plain wrong. Water horizons are not naturally tilted and so the viewer is left unsettled.

    But there is so much potential. You need to force yourself over the learning curve and step into more advanced methods. Practice using lines, dominance, white space, repetition of patterns/shapes. Don’t practice any more lightroom/photoshop tricks.

    in reply to: Scared to show up on this website. #4208

    Yes. It is scary to ask for feedback here.

    Especially when asking for feedback from posts to a Facebook page because there are so many variables: downsizing files, images that you have shared that may not be yours; sharing for reasons other than business, etc. Studio shots and fine portraiture are often expected to be extremely technically perfect. Action, on-the-spot and nature/wildlife photography are different, because we don’t have total control over the setting. I’d say the latter can generally be less technically correct. And MBC has very precise & correct technical expertise — I’d ditto what he said, ESPECIALLY about the black and white adjustment. I will leave the tech advice to MBC and address composition.

    And, I’ll  limit myself to the frog shots. You melded a frog (wildlife) and studio. There are so many creative elements to this series. Juxtaposition, storytelling, etc. But, with a shoot like this comes a whole new learning curve. Can’t exactly tell him to turn a little to the side or to look up; or was he totally photoshopped?  What lens did you use? I think the photos would be better with more DOF & you could do that by opening up your lens; using a tripod and better lighting.

    My favorite one is where he is holding the guitar and looking at the camera, no crown. In the one where he is leaned forward on the guitar I would have you consider a couple of things: 1. Very shallow DOF (there should be a bit more in focus) 2. The natural eye-line of the photo starts with the frog and carries to the nail in the drawer. Can you see that? It’s the dominance and balance between dark & light and big & small AND also the subconscious arrow pointing directly to the nail. Can you see the arrow? Also, the ones with the duck: the duck seems dominant because of the brightness. It is one of the tricks professionals use to draw subconscious attention to the subject.

    But over all, I see a talent and ability far past that of a fauxtog. Your watermark, however, screams amateur. It is a cursive font (with strokes specifically for connecting the characters) with added leading (spaced out) causing both an unnatural and disconnected look. The placement of the watermark is also inconsistent — just enough to be annoying. Can you imagine if Ansel Adams had slapped his watermark right across the face of Monolith? Consider TreyRatcliff”s opinion:



    in reply to: Feedback please? #4088

    Sarcasm Alert!

    You totally flunked the fauxtog test. Nothing I saw even remotely resembled true fauxtography. Where are the unnaturally posed newborns, babies on railroad tracks in velvet chairs and washed-out children with glassy eyes? I also subtract points for everything being in focus or appropriate use of creative focus. The sailor kiss shot should definitely be close up, in an insignificant grass field or a graffiti-laden alleyway. There was a total lack of tackiness.

    Honestly, though, I only glanced quickly, but they appear to be lovely shots. Yeah, you could tweak your technical settings, but — couldn’t we all?  Tiny, little tweaks (i.e. horizon on San Diego Sunset, overprocessing/tone work, etc.) Very difficult to tell if the distortion is intentional on a couple of other shots.

    You may not be at a pro level, but you are far from faux.

    in reply to: Hey look a nature photog, lets throw rocks at him! #3912

    I rather LOVE the name. I think it says a great deal about your willingness to try new stuff, make mistakes and learn.

    That said, you sound a lot like me. I don’t/can’t/won’t/hate posed images of humans. I absolutely freeze up when people stare straight at the camera in a pose. A quick glance is okay if I’m catching the action. But otherwise it just isn’t my forte. Maybe it’s not yours.

    But  yeah. The color is the main problem. Beyond that…

    I think maybe you are ready to step just a bit further into details and fine tuning. Nature photography is difficult and takes a lot of practice. There is a world of difference between shooting nature and shooting people who are posed. But if you keep on learning, growing and getting feedback, I have no doubt your talent will show.

    That is one stunning cloud photo. Lots of texture and depth. But notice where your eyes land when you look at it: on the utility pole. The contrast in color and brightness draws the eye in and makes the pole distract from the cloud. You are successful at this in some of your shots, but not consistently. For instance the photo of the dragonfly. Beautiful contrast, no distracting background. My eyes started at the mid-tail and ended at the eyes of the creature. The moth photo (moth on left, flowers on right) is excellent. My eyes go straight to his eyes, then down the probiscis just enough to stay on the moth. Wonderful focus (I know because those wings flutter FAST.) Do you understand the technical aspects of this photo of the moth? Why his wings are not blurry and the wings of the hummingbird are blurry? How was that action stopped and the hummingbird wasn’t?

    I think your best photos are the ones where you have succeeded in catching dominance and clarity. The photo of the two wasps is a great concept, but the one on the left is not in focus and my eye really doesn’t know where to go. Nothing really sticks out and so I kind of circled from one wasp to the other, then my eyes wandered to the reflection then back to the wasps. How does that work for you?

    The more nature shots you do, the more you will notice details that are not in focus. That’s personal development. In the beginning, you are just lucky to have even seen a hummingbird, let alone adjust your camera settings for capture. Next, you try for the beak or eyes in focus; then maybe the feathers and finally you become determined to stop the motion of the wings. It takes time, practice and with nature photography, luck and persistence. You can’t tell your subjects to “hold it there.” You have to learn to manipulate and anticipate in a different way.

    So work on dominance and details — know that the tiniest detail can be dominant (like your photo of the worm on the twig — his tiny eye is the dominant factor). Another thing about nature photography is that as you get into these details, you not only learn more about photography, but also more about the creatures around us.

    I hope this helps and inspires. And, I can’t wait to see more!


    in reply to: Let me have it.. But as nice as possible ;) haha #3785

    I’ll go first.

    I pulled up the Facebook photos page and started clicking through. The great thing is that I don’t see horrid, unforgivable photos. I’d say you are well on your way…but I can offer some tips to help you look more professional and possibly train your eye.

    Crayon/marker/comic sans-like fonts scream out amateur. I realize you aren’t using Comic Sans specifically, but it is a font with the same whimsical, fun, not-serious feeling. That may be what you actually WANT to depict, but then you also want to become professional. In my opinion, the lines, fonts and whirlygigs around your work take much away from the photos. Is that what you want?

    I like the fact that your watermark is (for the most part) not the center of the photos, but clicking through your photos, it becomes tiring. I’d make it much less obvious. But again…THANK GOODNESS it isn’t pasted across every child’s face! Here’s my source on watermarks.

    Again, the artsy stuff draws away from your work. Specifically the fall advertisement “Book Your Fall Sessions Today.” The leaves, then the space around the couple draws so much away from your talent and I think the space is wasted by not making your photo dominant. I think this one way fauxtographers thrive — by drawing potential clients away from the work and into the loud and flashy graphics.

    Now. Try this. Sit back and rhythmically tab through your Facebook photo album. Let your eyes move naturally on each image and note where they end up. The eyes follow natural lines, divisions or other demarcations and they are also directed by light & dark contrasts. This is where photographers have to train their eyes to make sure the eyes finally rest on the subject. How many times did your eyes finally rest on faces? (I say faces because these are portraits & I’m assuming that’s where you’d want every eye to go; in other types of photos you might want the eye to end up on something other than a face.)

    The shot with the dark haired boy and girl in pink on the grass, my eyes went straight up the girl’s arm and into her & his face. But in the very next photo, with the boy, my eyes traveled up his shirt, to his face, then over to the tree. A bit too dominant maybe? Moving on a few more clicks ahead, there’s a black and white photo with two boys sitting on a porch. Each time I looked at it, my eyes went past the faces to the word Pepsi.

    But these are all very minor things, stuff to practice and think about. You are developing — we ALL are.

    All that said…I really like the kid in the red shirt, sitting and grinning big. Normally one might think the lighting needs to be different because the top of his head blends in…but I think because of the contrast it all just works. And with a bit of style.



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