Image doctor – the reviews!

A regular part of Australian Photography magazine for over a decade, the Image Doctors, photo educator Saima Morel and professional photographer Anthony McKee, can give constructive feedback on your images, with a selection of their favorite submissions appearing in printed in AP mag each month. .

The winner of the month

TITLE: Under Monash Bridge
PHOTOGRAPHER: Joe Bourke
DETAILS: Nikon D7000, Sigma 18-250mm to 32mm lens. 1/15s @ f16, ISO 640.

Image: Joe Bourke

Joe Bourke captured this image in Benalla, Victoria. “The walking track here goes under the historic Monash Bridge, and sometimes when the conditions are right the water is calm and the reflections are amazing!” he said.

“I made a few adjustments in Photoshop including straighten, contrast, dodge, and burn.” Repeating arches are always an attractive design element; in this image, the horizontal symmetry is superb, and if you could lower the camera a meter or two, the vertical symmetry would also improve.

The main thing I would do to improve this image would be to manage some of the colors in the image. As we peer into the lower half of the image, muddy brown water ruins an otherwise idyllic scene. To fix this I would use either an adjustment brush or Lightroom’s gradient tool to reduce the color saturation in the lower half of the frame. It’s a technique I use regularly in architectural photography where reflected colors on neutral tones can get distracting.

Tip from Anthony: Desaturating local areas of color can often improve an image.

TITLE: Best Friends
PHOTOGRAPHER: Ria Murray
DETAILS: Nikon Z5, 24-200mm lens at 145mm. 1/250s @ f6.3, ISO 800.

Image: Ria Murray
Image: Ria Murray

Ria Murray captured this image on a recent camping trip. “I love the portrait of this guy and his best friend! A few minor exposure changes in Lightroom and converted to black and white for what I thought produced a stronger image,” she said.

It’s a nice moment and I’m curious if it’s a friend or just another visitor to the campsite? If it was just a shot, I’d be pretty happy with it, but if the image was from a friend, I’d probably have reworked the image a bit more. I would have moved to the left and slightly lower, then I would have asked the man to look a little more to the right; you could have captured both in profile.

Note – your black and white is fine, but I would also add a little more contrast (using the tone curve in Lightroom) and add a touch of tone using the color grading tool colors to add a touch of warmth.

Anthony’s Tip: Don’t be afraid to explore these development tools. If you took a RAW image you have nothing to lose!

TITLE: Rustic Dew
PHOTOGRAPHER: Chantel Skeggs
DETAILS: Nikon D90, 70-300mm to 300mm lens. 1/90s @ f5.6, ISO 200.

Image: Chantel Skeggs
Image: Chantel Skeggs

Chantel Skeggs woke up one morning in Lachlan, Tasmania to find the snow was melting overnight and, like most good photographers, she grabbed her camera. “I love macro shots and especially right after the rain, trying to capture the dew covered details. I always work to get a steady hand and get a sharp image, not to mention brave it recently and switch from auto mode in manual mode.

Technically, there’s not much to complain about in this image – it’s well exposed and in focus. I would have moved slightly to the right (or left) when creating the image to get some separation between the lower rods to create additional design interest.

If anything lets this image down, I think it’s the quality of the lens. If you’re into macro photography and can afford a few hundred dollars, buy a used 90mm or 105mm (or micro) macro lens. As well as getting you closer to your subject, you’ll also find that the f2.8 optics are both sharper and brighter.

Tip from Anthony – if you’re passionate about a particular genre of photography, buy the lens dedicated to that cause.

TITLE: Kodak Model K
PHOTOGRAPHER: Don Dennett
DETAILS: Sony A7R II, Sony 90mm macro lens. 1/60s at f9, ISO 6400.

Image: Don Dennett
Image: Don Dennett

This Kodak Model K 16mm camera originally belonged to Don Dennett’s father-in-law, and it was a perfect subject for a camera club competition on the machines. Don comments: “After tentatively winding the mainspring and experimenting with lighting, camera angle, aperture and shutter speed, I was able to achieve an image that I believe accurately captures the frenetic action of cogwheel, drop-down shuttle and various other moving parts. Lighting is a mix of reflected incandescent and daylight.

I think you did a good job here Don, and I like the use of soft lighting in the background. Two suggestions – first, rather than shooting at ISO 6400 at 1/60th of a second, I would have used ISO 200 at 1/2 second. The repetitive nature of the cameras moving mechanism would be much the same with the lower ISO and shutter speed settings, but you would have less noise.

Also, the fuzzy numbers on the lens (the focus scale!) are a little disconcerting; I would have used focus stacking here to bring the whole camera into focus. Otherwise, good job.

TITLE: Bump Fluke
PHOTOGRAPHER: Paul Hazel
DETAILS: Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm lens at 200mm. 1/800s @ f5.6, ISO100.

Image: Paul Hazel
Image: Paul Hazel

This shot of a whale fluke was taken by photographer Paul Hazel at Eaglehawk Neck in Tasmania. “The boat was surrounded by humpback whales and I had exposed the darker shoreline. I turned to the sun when this whale caught my eye. I took the photo but didn’t have much hope for the exposure.

But, looking at the image at home, I felt the overexposure helped the tail light on the right balance out the birds on the left,” he said.

Exposure here is excellent, but on sunny days in the open ground or in seascapes, exposure will often be constant no matter which direction you point the camera. In this image, it’s the reflections on the water that really distract viewers from the main subject, so I’d crop the original RAW file to panorama format (16:9) with the horizon line in the top third. Then, still working on the RAW file, I would add -1 vignette stop to the image, again centered on the horizon line, to draw our eyes to the whale fluke and the birds.

Tip from Anthony: Good cropping and understated vignettes are worth the effort, especially when multiple highlights compete for attention to the subject.

About Bernard Kraft

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