Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Photo Critique #1: An unsuspecting contributor, my Mom!

My Mom has never really been into photography. It's always been my Dad's hobby and my interest. To my Mom, it's never really been more than a way to document a period in time. Until recently...

Out of the blue, she asked me for advice in buying a camera. She ended up with a Canon Powershot A530. Shortly after purchasing it, she wondered out loud why she had spent the money. She's pretty much tied to the house taking care of my disabled father, so she doesn't have any trips coming up where she'd want to take pictures... So, the camera sat there for a few months. Then, she sends me this: (click on the photo to view a larger version , EXIF data, etc).

My Mom has a beautiful garden in her backyard. She told me that she was out in the garden when she spotted this butterfly, and ran inside, got her camera and took this picture. It's beautiful!

Because I know the submitter, I can tell you that this photo is uncropped and hasn't been touched up in software because, well, she just got the hang of transferring photos from her camera to her computer, and then uploading them to Flickr. -All that's still a challenge for her, so we're going to wait awhile before teaching her about photo editing. But people with her experience level is exactly who I'm targeting with this blog, so I figured this would be perfect.

The photo itself, as is, is absolutely fabulous. I'd consider hanging it on my wall if I were her. The framing is excellent -the butterfly fills the frame from one side to the other, and the background is simple, but colorful -it doesn't overwhelm the subject (the butterfly), but rather compliments it. -I think my mom has an advantage since she's an excellent painter. She probably knows that purple and yellow are opposite colors on the artist's painting wheel, and setting one upon the other in this way adds a lot of interest to the photo.

I have 2 minor things that in a perfect world might be different in this photo. #1 is that I wish the butterfly's left wing "tail" hadn't been cut off. -It's not too big of a deal because the other one doesn't stand out much anyway being black on purple, but still... I said "perfect world", so I had to mention it. The other thing I'd do is get rid of the slight gray cast in the photo.

This happens a lot. Photos come out just slightly "gray" looking. Many times if you were shooting film, the developer would automatically adjust to get rid of the gray, but in the age of digital you have to do it yourself.

The real cause of this "greyness" -what some people refer to as the photo looking like it has a film on it that makes it look "muddy" or "flat". Areas in the image that should be black fall short of being 100% (or "true") black and/or "true white" in the photo. In this case, it's the fact that we don't quite have an area of true black in that butterfly that makes the photo seem a bit dull.

So, how do you fix it? Well, we can't all afford the $600 for Photoshop -me included. But, that's fine. There's a FREE program that does almost everything Photo$hop does, it's called "Gimp" and you can download it here:

After some minor touch-ups, which I'll teach you tomorrow, the photo looks like this:

So, go download and install Gimp, and tomorrow I'll teach you how to use it to get rid of that "gray" cast that you get in some photos!

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