Thanks to everyone who submitted photos for our April critiques. For a theme this month, we asked you to come up with photos that addressed your feelings about the lockdowns and isolation related to the current pandemic, and we received some wonderful submissions. In the video, which can be viewed directly above, we chose 30 photos from the group to talk about, to showcase some stellar shots, and to offer constructive criticism on others. (Since we can’t critique every photo, we’ll also comment on some of the others in the gallery in the coming days.)

Here are a few photos from this month that caught our eye, including some of our favorite variations on the theme:

The Bench, by Charles

This wonderful shot was taken before sunrise, during the early morning blue hour. The gentle arc of the path takes you into the scene, by the bench, and off into the fog. The tree is framed perfectly, with the spectacular lights in the background acting almost as a halo for the tree against the sky. Hudson and I gravitated to this photo immediately as one of this month’s best. It’s a magnificent capture, Charles.

Cabin Fever Troll #1, by Kathryn McBride

Kathryn created a great composite image of this 20-foot-tall troll found in the Morton Arboretum near Chicago. Merging a photo of the troll with a moodier background, Kathryn captured the feelings of cabin fever und uncertainty in today’s world. Great job, especially on the compositing work: like any great composite, it never even occurred to us that it might be one. (We might back off a bit on the vignette near the bottom, though.) 

Guiding the Photographer, by Ian Wade

Another great composite. Taking advantage of sheltering in place, Ian contribution to this month’s theme was to create a composite of ‘multiple Ians.’ The composition is quite well done, right down to the way the left and the right Ians looked into the center of the scene. This is both a fun and educational project that makes good use of layers, and it’s easy to do, with a little bit of planning. (I did a tutorial on this topic in an issue of my old Photoshop Elements magazine back in 2009. While the tools are dated, the basics remain the same, and you could easily adjust it to work with ON1 Photo RAW 2020. A PDF of that issue is available here.)

Empty Playground, by Andy Sae

Andy captured his own lockdown moment in the loneliness of an empty school playground, one normally filled with children. His photo, taken through the chain-link fence, is aided by the spare black-and-white treatment, all of which “adds a feeling of melancholy to the neighborhood,” in Andy’s words. Well done, Andy.

Honeybees, by William Holmes

There’s a lot of attention paid these days to focus stacking, but there is still something to be said for a well-executed macro shot with the right combination of focus and blur. William’s excellent photo captures a group of bees swarming inside a crocus. He noted that, out of 30 shots, this one “was the only one that had composition AND focus.” We concur — this is a brilliant photo that shows off control of one’s camera and lens, and the patience that we all need sometimes to come up with the right shot. Bravo, William.

Oh no! I forgot my mask, by Chris Broshar

Chris has submitted some wonderful shots over the past year, and we just loved this month’s photo of a fruit bat in the zoo. It’s perfectly in focus where it needs to be, and has a beautiful, soft background with muted colors. 

St. Bart’s Daffs and Tower, by David Price

David aptly described this photo by saying, “nature does not seem to have noticed the outbreak of Coronovirus” with the coming of spring (in the Northern Hemisphere). Getting low to the ground and capturing the gorgeous colors of the daffodils, set large against the perfectly framed – and closed – church, David found a lovely and evocative photo to describe the world as he sees it.


Please check out the rest of the April video, and think about submitting your own photos for the May Plus critiques. The gallery will open for submissions on May 7.

If you’re new to Plus, or haven’t submitted in a while, here’s the basic FAQ for the Plus photo critiques:

Where do I go to submit photos?
You can bookmark this page and come back every first Tuesday of the month to submit a new photo.

When and how long is the Photo Critique submission period?
The submission period always opens on the first Tuesday of each month at noon Pacific time. The critiques will remain open for submission for at least one full week, closing no earlier than the second Tuesday of the month at midnight Pacific time. (The submission page will have the official end date for that month’s critiques.)

How many photos can I submit each month?
Please submit no more than two photos. The coaches put a great deal of thought and preparation into providing a valuable critique. We ask you to give the photos you submit each month the same amount of effort and intention.

What happens after the submission period ends?
The Plus coaches take time to review all the photos. They hand select some of the best entries to highlight the give accolades. They also choose a few photos that are great learning examples and provide a constructive critique. A video is posted to the website near the end of the month. Since we can’t critique each and every image submitted, the coaches will try to go through the gallery and add some constructive criticism to many of the photos. We also actively encourage other Plus members to offer their own (helpful and constructive) criticism in the comments section of the photos.