July is traditionally a slow month, photo-wise, but we still received some good submissions for the Plus Photo Critiques. It’s great to see long-time posters raising their game, and well as a few critiques newcomers. Hudson and I picked more than 20 photos from the group to talk about this month; click on the link above to view the video.

Before we get started with some of our favorite submissions, a quick word about the August critiques. Next month will be a bit different: instead of critiques we’re going to have a photo contest, with prizes for three of the best photos submitted. Complete details are at the bottom of this post.

Riding into the Sunset, by Keithadines

We regularly talk in the monthly videos about the rules of composition. They are important things to think about, especially as you’re getting started in photography, but we’re also clear that the rules are a starting point. Sometimes, breaking the rules is the thing that takes an interesting photo into the ‘great’ category, and Keith’s beautiful photo is a perfect case in point. Sure, the horizon is skewed, the painted lines come straight out from the corners of the photo, and there’s even part of a tree intruding into the frame middle-left. Somehow, it all works in a way that adds motion and tension to a photo of a perfect Arizona sunset. Excellent work, Keith.

The Heart of the Island, by Kathryn McBride

Hudson and I loved the simplicity and the color in this great Cuban street shot. The frame within the frame works well, thanks to the balanced processing of the interior shadows. Kathryn’s intent in putting the back wall slightly offset from the centerline gives the photo a lovely balance. All in all, it made us wish we were there with you Kathryn, cameras in hand.

“Mr. DeMille, I am ready for my close-up,” by Patrick McCabe

Patrick’s long-lens shot of a small frog on a branch/stem is picture-perfect, with a beautiful blurred background. It’s a deceptively powerful photo, helped by the sharp focus on the subject (and that pose), the sheer ‘green-ness’ of the frame, and the pieces of greenery at the corners.

Fly, by Matheus Dam

Matheus turned his macro lens on a flower, and a rather amazing fly decided to hang around long enough for its own closeup. The focus is exactly where it needs to be, the composition is beautifully balanced, and the complementary colors are splendid. Hudson remarked that the fly appeared to have a WWF-style headdress sewn onto his head, which makes for one badass insect, in our opinion. Great capture, Matheus.

Cranes in the fog, by Gary Smith

While the shots by Patrick and Matheus are in-your-face, Gary’s shot, taken on a December day at Bosque del Apache, New Mexico, is soft and delicate. It is no less impactful, however. The deft black-and-white processing is just right, and the fact that Gary was able to capture the two crane’s heads completely separate from one another really elevates this photo. Hudson thought it could possibly have slightly more impact if it were cropped slightly. As we say, that’s a small nit: it’s a lovely photo as is.

Cannon Beach Twilight, by David Harris

This lovely pastoral shot is a nice variant on many of the photos we’ve seen (and taken) of Oregon’s iconic Haystack Rock. We especially loved the composition, with Haystack pushed up in the upper corner of the frame. David slowed the shutter just enough to get the blur in the waves, and was brilliant in pressing the shutter when the waves were receding from the shore, which resulted in those wonderful swirls that anchor the photo.

August Photo Contest

As noted above, instead of the standard Plus critiques, we’re going to have a photo contest for Plus members in August. There’s no theme: what we’d like you to do is submit one of your best photos from the past year or so. Other than that, there are only two rules:

  • Only one submission is allowed per Plus member. If you upload two, we won’t consider either submission.
  • The photo should have been taken in the last 18-24 months. 

If you think one of your best pieces is one you’ve already uploaded to the critiques, don’t worry – feel free to submit that. The goal here is for you to think about – and showcase – your best work.

Submissions will begin on Tuesday, August 4, and will run through the end of the day, August 25. The uploads page is at https://www.on1.com/plus/critiques-gallery-upload/

We’ve partnered up with F-Stop for this contest, and, for each of the three finalists chosen by Hudson and me, they’ve graciously agreed to donate a $75 gift certificate, good for anything in the F-Stop store, and a Dyota AG+ Ion mask.