One of the benefits that I offer to students of our workshops, or those who purchase one of my books, is access to the private CreativePath Community forum.
The concept behind the forum was my desire to create a community where members experience a sense of connection to others around a common goal: to support each other in their creative efforts. It’s a private space where like-minded people can learn from each other in a way that is healthy and generous. It’s a place you can ask for help and never have to worry about feeling judged or criticized.
Studies have shown that if we surround ourselves with those who support, motivate, and challenge us, we can reach greater heights than we could have alone. And that’s the mindset that I want to make sure always remains at the forefront of this forum.
I’m proud in that we’ve grown to almost 200 fantastic members that maintain a very high-quality conversation across many different topics. I’m really excited for the future as we gain more members and expand what we offer.
One of the things I encourage members to do is upload their images for analysis and critique. After all, the only way to grow is by getting feedback not only about what’s right, but also what can be better. That’s a critical part of creative growth since you can’t get better unless you know what needs improving.
To give you a look at some of what goes on inside the forum, I thought I’d share two images uploaded for feedback by members and how we helped them clarify their vision.
(I was given explicit permission to share these specific images by the photographers. I’d never share or use any members image without permission and all images uploaded retain full copyright ownership by the photographer.)
Image Critique 1
The first image is by Wynne Phillips and it’s from my neck of the woods, so I was excited to see this great perspective of a very familiar location.
Overall the image had very nice lines, and captured the beautiful light that emphasized the detail and texture throughout the scene. But I felt it lacked depth and a clear path for the viewer to follow. The trees on the left were also distracting, and there were graphic shapes that I thought could be better developed through careful dodging and burning.
Below is my analysis of what could be improved.
- Red lines- a crop that helps simplify and helps to make the tree the center of interest
- Yellow lines – show the repeating elements that are most interesting and need to be emphasized.
- Blue – Darken and make cooler with an adjustment brush
- Green – the leading lines and path that the viewer should follow to make the composition simple yet strong.
- Add more clarity and vibrance, and darken the sky slightly.
I made adjustments to the image based on the notes above, and the result is below.
I hope you can see how these changes improve the composition and create a stronger sense of movement from the foreground to the background.
Image Critique 2
This next image is by Judith Miller and captures a beautiful forest scene filled with soft light, lots of detail and color, and a painterly look and feel.
However, notice how everything inside the frame has the same tonal value, and contains the same amount of detail making it hard to discern the center of interest.
It’s paramount to consider where you want the viewer’s eye to go. What is the focal point? Is the foreground more important than the background? Or visa versa? Can you tell from the image? In other words, the composition it too complex as presented.
Here are my suggested changes:
- Darken the foreground considerably and simplify by reducing saturation and clarity slightly.
- Brighten the green bush on the left to better see the backlight.
- Add depth and dimension to the background trees (and their reflection) – the focal point of the image.
- Darken the edges slightly
Overall, I tried to simplify the image using the principles of composition I advocate which I refer to as LCU: lead the viewer, create a strong center of interest, and maintain maximum unity. This is done both in the field when composing and in Lightroom when developing. Both contribute to a successful image, and neither can be left to chance.
I think Judith had a strong sense of that in the field – it just needed to be continued in the editing. The idea behind this is not to create “the final image,” but rather to promote a compositional approach to developing your images. Use these ideas, create your own vision.
I hope this has been helpful and provides you with some ideas you can use in your own editing workflow. You can get access to the CreativePath Community forum by taking one of our field workshops, registering for one of our online courses, or buying one of my books.
If you purchased one of my books on Amazon, email me your receipt and I’ll send you an invite to the forum.
A big thank you to Wynne and Judith for their generosity and willingness to let me share their images.