We’re back on track with the monthly critiques, and our December session is now live — click on the thumbnail above to view the video.

We saw a lot of great photos this month, and we wish we could write about every one we mention in the video. That said, here are a few of the photos Hudson and I felt deserving of an extra mention this time around:

Tent Building at Night, by DPlockard

This photo jumped out to us as a superlative nighttime reflection shot. The color of the tent building, reflected almost perfectly in the pool, adds a beautiful glow to the overall scene. The edges of the frame have enough detail and light to provide a bit more balance overall, and the tips of the building are nestled inside the frame, as they should be. Hudson noticed immediately that the sign, visible in the facade, is missing in the reflection, which offsets slightly the symmetry of the scene, making it even more powerful. Magnificent work.

Any Mail for Me? by Norma Gabriel

We just loved Norma’s candid shot; it made us laugh out loud when we first saw it. Not only is it fun, but it is a wonderful composition, with excellent depth of field and great color.

In workshops, Hudson will often mention Galen Rowell’s quote that great photos often involve a little bit of luck. Norma had that in spades here, being in the right place at the right time, but also with her camera at the ready.

Cotton Gin Worker, by Patrick Porter

A newcomer to the Plus galleries, Patrick shone this month with his black-and-white photo of a cotton gin and the hubbub surrounding “ginning” time. The dust clouds, with the sunbeams gleaming, the equipment, and the moody post-processing are all subservient to the man shoveling the gin trash, who is captured perfectly. (The pathways into the bin are especially powerful.) If we were to suggest anything, we might raise shadow detail slightly, especially on the right side to the frame, but that’s a small point. Patrick, you did a great job capturing the intensity and drama in the process.

Storm Clouds over the Pier, by Jack Pickell

Jack’s lovely black-and-white photo was shot at midday, but it has a timeless feel to it. The motion of the clouds is perfect, and both the sharpness and the post-processing give the pier all the billing it needs to draw your eye into the scene. We would back off a bit on the vignette — especially at the top; the scene doesn’t need anything to pull the viewer into the frame, and it’s a bit distracting from the overall power of the photo.

Aarhus Postcard, by Bengt Cederman

Bengt’s photo of a canal in Åarhus, Denmark is a different example of someone taking advantage of the midday light. It has a bright, airy look, one that gave me the feel of an architect’s rendering (in a good way), and I loved the detail throughout. The lines are great, the processing spot-on for the scene, and the reflection in the canal adds to the painterly look of the photo. The only compositional change we would make would be to add the very top of the building with the bell-shaped roof, but that doesn’t really distract too much from the photo’s overall impact. We would definitely remove the border, however; it ends up being much more distracting than helpful, in our opinion, drawing your eyes to the edges of the frame when they should be roaming within it.

New Hampshire on a Stormy Afternoon, by Boyd Turner

This is a lovely pastoral scene of a river and waterfall in New Hampshire’s White River National Forest. Boyd got a bit of luck with slightly clearing skies on a rainy afternoon, which added a softbox-style quality to the light on the waterfall.

This is a beautiful photo: it is perfectly composed, with great sweeping lines, expertly exposed in the field, and processed with a nice, light editing touch. If we could, we would suggest using a slightly longer shutter speed (not too much), to give the front waterfall’s spray more smoothness, but it’s a great shot nonetheless, Boyd.

Grizzly Rising, by Rick Weigel

We’ll close this month with the ON1 Plus master of the grizzly, Rick Weigel, who added another wonderful shot of a male grizzly rising from the waters in Katmai National Park. As is so often the case, with Rick’s wildlife photos, the focus is perfect and the expression unique. Keep ’em coming, Rick!

First 2020 critique opens January 7
Our January critiques open on Tuesday, January 7, and will close at the end of the day, Thursday, January 17. For that critique, we’d like everyone to go through their library of photos from 2019, and find one great image that you haven’t yet shared to the community at large. It can be of anything; all we’re asking is that you haven’t submitted it previously.
We hope that everyone in the Plus community has a happy and healthy holiday season, and that you have a roaring beginning to 2020. We’ll see you next month!