Photos To Critique Set 3 – Photography Wednesday

by SomeGirl on May 25, 2011 · 6 comments

Oh boy – watch out! This post is LOADED with images (and it’s super long)! Hopefully it will load well for everyone.

I’m SO excited to share these pics with you today… this is exciting because our sweet friend who sent me her photos has not applied to yet, but is getting ready to and I have the joy of helping her along!

Here are her three lovely photos for application to become an istock contributor (if you’re new here, we’re doing a beginner’s “how to get accepted into the world of stock photography” series on Wednesdays… see all istock related posts here):


Don’t they look GREAT??!!

There are only a few things I noticed that need to be corrected, but it’s going to take a lot of photos to show them (and show my sweet friend how to fix them)…

First, let’s take a closer look at the orange image.

When I opened the first photo up in Photoshop, here is how it looked (it opened at 33%, as shown in the box on the bottom left) :



The first thing I did was “View” “Actual Pixels” (photo attached to show how to find those commands – you could also enter “100%” down in the bottom left corner as discussed in an earlier post).



Here’s how the image looks on the screen when you view it at 100% (shown where arrow is pointing)/ actual pixels (it expands out of the viewing box and you have to use the bars on the side and bottom to move the picture around):



You can probably tell from the photo above that there isn’t a clear focal point when viewed at 100%, right? Let me show you where the focal point needs to be, in my opinion.



I picked that area, because it shows the action taking place, the message of this photo (which is SUPER, btw) is: healthy eating, fresh fruit, working in the kitchen, cooking, etc… so, I’d like to see the focus on the action and the orange itself.

The problem here is simply a matter of light. If you look at the details of this shot you can see that it was taken at a very slow shutter speed (1/13 sec) and a low aperture (f/2.8) – both allowing for more light (which tells us there wasn’t enough light around).



The good news is this is simply solved! Move to more light. :)

I took my son, and orange, a cutting board and a knife on a quick photoshoot to show the difference light makes (please keep in mind this was a quick run downstairs, grab the supplies and the camera kind of shoot, for teaching purposes only)…

We went outside and I wasn’t pleased with the results… lighting was too harsh in full sun and too splotchy in the tree shade. So, I did something I learned here: that suggested hanging white tissue paper on your window with good sunlight. I couldn’t find white tissue paper (which really surprised me), so I did the next best thing I could think of and used a white trashbag. I looked around for the window with the best light supply and set up shop there. I took this shot after the fact, but the cutting board was sitting on the back edge of the sofa for the following shot.



Look at the difference a little more light makes in focal clarity (I’d probably still like to downsize this photo a bit to get it even clearer, but it gives you an idea. More on downsizing to come in this post):



And here’s a look at my settings to get this shot (f/8 larger to allow more focus, shutter speed 1/125 to stay away hand held shaking blur, ISO 100 for low noise):



Oh, almost forgot, instead of taking a picture of the actual motion of cutting, I stuck the knife in the orange and had my oldest one hold it in place, acting as if he was cutting, but he wasn’t. That helped me avoid motion blur from his movement. If you’re not familiar with motion blur, look at the area where the arrow is pointing in the image below, do you see how the knife appears to move at the entrance of the orange?) (Here’s a great tutorial I ran across this morning on that very topic:



So, add a little more light and this photo ROCKS!! It has a GREAT stock message, great composition, it’s clean and simple… I LOVE it!! And once the lighting is corrected, and the knife is held in place, the pixelation and purple fringing that occurred will probably be wiped away.



If the purple fringing still occurs follow this simple tutorial: How to remove purple fringing

Phew, told you there were LOTS of images today!

Let’s look at the second photo:

Again, composition is AWESOME! And technical details are VERY good! Here’s a look at how it was shot (f/1.8, 1/125, ISO 100):



The only suggestion I’d make here is that she downsize it to add more clarity. I’ll show you what I mean:

Here’s a look at the focal points of this at 100%/Actual Pixels. It’s a little soft on the hands, better on the pile.



If you take the image from it’s original size (see below how to find that):



And re-size it to the minimum required size of 2 megapixels (roughly 1800 x 1200)…



You’ll get a clearer, crisper focal point. (Look at the photos above, both are showing 100% views, do you see how resizing adds more focus?) Btw, the size is changed under the “Image” tab on the top menu of Photoshop.

The only other thing I’d suggest for future photos stock message is that the child be picking up something like cheerios or blueberries, but that’s just a side note to add to sell-ability.  :)

And last, but not least, let’s look at that CUTIE in the swing!

As in the preceding photo I’d like to see the image resized to 1800 x 1200 to sharpen the focus (don’t use sharpening tools). See the difference in the first original size focus and the second downsized focus below:



(the 2nd image shows more of the face, because the size has changed making everything smaller)

There are a few other details that need to be taken care of…

There’s a little purple fringing around the hand (which is easy-breasy to fix now, right?). ;)



And I’d like to see this photo taken again without the pole behind his head. I’d suggest cloning it out, but it’s very difficult to clone in such a way that inspectors won’t reject it for “sloppy cloning” when you’re first starting out.

See the difference with and without the pole (please ignore the sloppy cloning):



And this is just probably me being picky, but I’d like to see a horizontal version of this shot with the subject (that cute, sweet, adorably happy little guy) on the right side of the photo and his whole hands holding on. (Well, the more I think about it, the more I think it’s important… providing copy space to the side is much more desirable than copy space above his head would be.)

But doesn’t it capture GREAT emotion and have a nice stock message… enjoyment, childhood, fun, thrill…

So, there you have it (hopefully you were able to load this whole post with it’s plethora of photos). :)

With just a few tweaks, this sweet reader is on her way to becoming an istockphoto contributor for sure!

Thanks again for letting me critique your photos and share them with everyone here! ♥ Michelle (aka SomeGirl)

Hope to see you back tomorrow for Thought Provoking Thursday!

If you like SomeGirl’s Website would you please consider voting for it in the Top 25 Blogs of Faith by Moms contest? Just click the button above and then click the little yellow thumbs up to cast your vote… thank you!! ♥ Daily votes are allowed and encouraged.



Wow…thanks for this critique! I knew I wasn’t quite ready to submit and that my focus probably needed to be clearer. I live in Seattle and we are experiencing an exceptionally dark season. We haven’t had a day over 70 degrees and the sun shows up unexpectedly every once in a while. I need to just learn to drop what I’m doing and run outside when it’s sunny.

I also didn’t notice that purple fringing on the hands even though I looked for it. Just goes to show that you definitely have an eye for this and know what you’re doing.

Oh and I love the tip about hanging tissue or a trash bag on the window!

Thanks again!

Now…back to shooting. :)



sick kids, so can’t read right now, but anxious for the moment I can! It looks like you outdid yourself on this post! I don’t really know of anywhere else on the web where someone is giving out the stock photo tips like you are! thanks michele!


Awesome post!! Great tips, and I loved the photos. :)

Thanks again for sharing all your knowledge with us!

Deb Chitwood

Amazing – I love reading your critiques and tips for fixing photos, Michelle! I’ve been bookmarking all your posts and links. They’re wonderful – and would make a great book!

ali @ an ordinary mom

You really are making this all seem quite “do-able”, and I’m getting rather excited to give it a whirl here soon! :-)


– Emergency Ponchos – These provide warmth and shelter for your family.
In that case you’ll probably pack your bag with
lunch and various handy necessities. When our level of motivation is
low we are a like a car without fuel.

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