BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Photo Critique 6: ‘Untitled,’ by Renier DP.

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I love critiquing photos. It’s the best way to learn and get new ideas for photo shoots. Today, we’re going to critique an image made by Renier, a former student of mine in Miami, Florida.

'Untitled,' by Renier of Miami, Florida

'Untitled,' by Renier of Miami, Florida

General Overview:
Renier, I really enjoy this image because of its simplicity and homage to documentary photography. It looks like an old photo from the days of Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac. I think your image finds great depth and beauty in an otherwise simple setting. I know a lot of your images follow in the documentary vein, as you document the lives of your friends. My one suggestion in this regards is this: start looking for a message or idea you want to express. Try some storytelling and see how that works.

Whether intentional or not, I like the contrast between the typewriter your subject is using and the computer in the background. By all accounts, the subject looks very modern: A flatscreen television, computer, etc. But here his, in his pearl-button shirt and typewriter working away. It makes us, the viewer, want to know more. Good job.

This is a very well done image.

There are a few improvements I would like to suggest. First, the light coming from the window above the subject’s left shoulder is causing over-exposure. This is because the light in the room was much less than the light in the window, causing the meter to adjust for the room light and not factoring in the window light. Knowing that you use Adobe Photoshop, I would recommend you dodging the window light a bit in an effort to reduce the overexposure.

Secondly, I would lighten the area on the subject’s face to bring in just a tiny bit more detail. Burn in the face a little more and you’ll have it quite nice.

Finally, I would suggest that you use a larger aperture setting in order to make the depth of field a bit shallower. This is because there’s a going on in the room and it’s easy for the background to distract from the foreground. According to the information recorded in the image’s metadata, you used a shutter speed of 1/13 of a second with an aperture of f/3.5. If you could use f/2.8 or f/1.8, you would get both a faster shutter speed and a shallower depth of field, both of which could help you.

One more tip: Your ISO setting was recorded at ISO 100 equivalency. I would highly recommend using a higher ISO setting for this type of image for two reasons: One is a higher ISO will allow for more grain. More grain would give the image an “old” look by replicating the black-and-white film types used in early documentary photography. Second, a higher ISO would give you the ability to use a faster shutter speed.

Renier, you always do a great job. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing some more images from you.

Thanks for the submission, good luck and keep shooting!

If you would like to submit a photo for critique, e-mail us at

Written by jeremyparce

February 27, 2009 at 12:23 am

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