Photography Critiques

Photo Critique: Kaanapali Maui

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This photo was submitted by Dave Ruybal of Denver, CO. It was made with a Nikon D300.

I love how the color and the effect of the light conveys the feeling of being on the ocean at sunset. I can almost smell the breeze! The photographer did a great job of keeping everything in sharp focus, which can be difficult in low light and with moving subjects such as a boat rocking on the water.

One thing to always watch out for is the horizon line. In a shot like this, where the horizon is very prominent, it’s usually best to make sure the horizon line is perfectly straight. This looks just a wee bit tilted; rotating the photo clockwise a little would straighten it out.

Another thing to consider in shots with a strong horizon is the vertical position of the horizon within the frame. Placing the horizon smack in the middle of the frame can create a very “static” composition. In this case, the photographer did a good job of balancing the frame and adding some dynamism by including more sky than water.

In this photo, there are two primary subjects: the sun and the boat. Neither is notably stronger (or more “dominant”) than the other. With the boat at the far left of the frame, and the sun at the far right, the viewer’s eye travels back and forth between the two in a kind of ping-pong effect. This draws attention to the space in between the two objects. In this way, the elements of the frame compete for attention. The composition would have been a bit stronger with one main subject being dominant and letting the other subject play a supporting role. Zooming in/out or moving back or forward to make the boat larger than the sun — or vice versa — would have accomplished this.

To make the strongest possible composition, it’s usually important to allow one subject to dominate the frame. Also observe how the position of subjects relative to one another will either emphasize or de-emphasize the negative spaces in between.

This image does a great job of communicating a mood and the difficult exposure was handled very well. Thanks for submitting your photo!

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