Greetings photo enthusiasts!

I'd like to start by saying, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you...whether you celebrate it or not. So begins the race toward the holidays and we're all getting a bit stressed out about now. Just take a deep breath...it will be 2017 soon enough.

I've been thinking about my photo critique series. I've gotten lots of submissions and am slowly getting to working on them. It occurred to me, I really don't like being a critic. The word itself is a bit ugly in most people's minds. I get uncomfortable telling somebody that there might be something about an image that they could or should change. Who am I to be that person? I've been told "but you're good at it". Okay, I appreciate that very much but it doesn't make it any easier to essentially nit pick somebody's work. It's tough. I truly have to think about everything that I say since body language and tone are not discernible in written text. Having said that, I believe that having one's photo critiqued can be a great learning experience and this is why I decided to start providing the service. 

I have, however, decided to change the name of the series from Photo Critiques to Image Evaluations. I think the word itself, evaluation, is more indicative of what I'd like to provide. You'll find the text on my web site changed as well to reflect this new ideal. To be perfectly honest, it was all the "criticizing" that I've seen on line for the last 6 months (politically speaking) that prompted the change. I'm pretty much over everyone being so "critical" of everybody else without offering solutions. So I will no longer be a "critic". I choose to simply be, an evaluator of imagery. 

So here goes. My first "Image Evaluation" before the holiday rush.

This image was submitted a couple months ago. I really enjoy looking at it and truly wish I knew where it was taken. But, sometimes things are better left to the imagination and I should just enjoy it. 

One of the reasons I chose to evaluate this photo is not because there's anything that truly needs to be "fixed" or "changed" but rather, to show that there are always times to change the "rules". This image goes against the Rule of Thirds. For those who don't know, the rule of thirds states that if you divide an image or painting into 3 equal parts, that placing your subject either on one of the lines of thirds or where they intersect (think, Tic Tac Toe board), that this is more pleasing to the eye and impactful than if you placed the subject dead center. One popular occasion to go against this "rule" is when you have a reflection or radial symmetry like the images below. But just keep in mind...this rule is not actually a rule, just a suggestion! A suggestion you don't have to follow all the time. 

With the image submitted to me shown at the beginning of this article, I like that the artist has included both the foreground and the sky equally. The sky is interesting. It has great clouds, a splash of color, and just a tad of drama that should not be ignored. The foreground has the most wonderful curve with the winding river leading toward the background. This gives the image a feeling of movement, flow, and vastness. But the horizon is basically in the middle of the image. With the rule of thirds, this would be a classic no-no, but it works in this situation due to the other elements in the image. 

I do think this image could benefit from a bit of editing to make it pop a little more. I brought it into Color Efex Pro4 and added a Tonal Contrast filter to enhance contrast and a Foliage filter to bring out the greens. This could have just as easily been done in Lightroom with enhancing the blacks and going to the green hue and pushing it more toward the green end than the yellow end of the slider. It's amazing how just a couple tweaks of some sliders can make an image look very different and even change how it is perceived. 

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Feel free to share it if you think someone could benefit from the information. 

Happy Holidays! Never stop learning!

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