Duncan Rawlinson

Hello John.

Another very well composed photograph. Your informal balance and your objects alignment along the imaginary lines of the rule of thirds looks great in this photograph. Many sculpture photographers enjoy moving in closer to the sculpture to capture the texture of the material and the reality of the small details in the carvings. But once again you’ve stood back and captured the entire form of the object. One way isn’t right over the other, I would just feel very tempted by all of that texture in the sculpture, the look on the face, the muscle control of the arms and so on.

From the standpoint of a black and white photograph you’ve done a great job. You have a very wide tonal range here. Your whites couldn’t get any whiter and you’ve included a few dark black highlights well. Your tonal balance is tilted towards the bright end of the spectrum, but as you’ve learnt, tonal balance isn’t necessary to make a great black and white photograph, but tonal range is, and you’ve accomplished that objective.

I only have 2 concerns with this photograph. First, your exposure level is a little off. Your whites seem a little “blown out” to me. This is a problem with many digital cameras as they have a hard time handling wide ranges in contrast. Take a look at the brightest part of the sculptures legs, or arms or the tall grass in the background. Notice how it’s so white that it looses all detail? This is due to overexposure. I feel it may have helped to push your exposure down 1 full notch to try to bring the detail back to these areas. It’s not always wrong to have blown out areas in an image, because pushing your exposure down could hide details in the dark areas of the photograph which are otherwise well exposed. In this sense, with digital cameras you might find yourself debating which compromise you want to make. It’s a matter of preference, but the reason I bring it up is that you’re aware about having to make this technical decision.

My second concern has to do with your area of focus. You have a slightly shallow depth of field in this photograph which is great, but I feel your main area of focus should be your subject’s eyes. However, I think the main area of focus is somewhere just slightly before the eyes or just slightly after the eyes. They just seem a little out of focus to me. In portrait photography the eyes are usually the main area of focus if you’re using a shallow depth of field. It’s hard to accomplish because the small differences in depth and focus are heard to see in your viewfinder or LCD. I would recommend using an ‘expanded focus” feature on your camera if you have that when you’re taking pictures of people to ensure your focus is on the right body part.

Other than that, once again, I think your work is incredible.