We had some stellar photos posted this month in the ON1 Plus Critiques gallery. We also saw a group of new folks posting, and we saw a lot more activity in the comments, both of which we love to see. Thanks to everyone for participating!

Hudson and I went through the gallery, and chose 30 photos that we felt showcased good work, or offered some teaching moments that could help us all. And, since we can’t critique every photo submitted, we have gone through and commented on many of the photos submitted. And, with that, here are a few of our favorite photos from the month.

3253 Berry Picker, by Paule Hjertaas

Paule’s shot of a Hepatic Tanager with a berry in its beak is spectacular: the face, eye and the berry are perfectly in focus, as is the claw holding the bird to the branch. And the composition is wonderful too, with a lovely blurred background, and the right amount of negative space at the bottom right of the frame. Just wonderful, Paule.

Pretty Knockout Yellow Rose, by Walter Ballard

The Promise, by William Thomas

We had many wonderful flower photos posted in the gallery in May, and these two yellow roses were among our favorites. Both Walter and William did a great job with getting the proper elements sharp and the backgrounds nice and soft. They also kept the processing to a minimum, letting the natural color of the roses speak for themselves. Good job, guys.

The Universe at Home, by Werner

Werner’s photo begins with a perfect shaft of light and a simple, but striking plant. He uses some textures and blend modes to add tension, and both Hudson and I felt that it worked quite well. If you’ve been watching the critiques videos for a while, you know that both of us are wary of the overuse of textures as a photographic element, but when it works, it is lovely, as Werner shows here.

A Foggy Morning in Cades Cove, by Patrick McCabe

One of the most beautiful pastoral photos this month was Patrick’s foggy morning shot. The lines into the frame are perfect, as are the subtle autumnal colors, and Patrick’s wife walking in the distance provides the anchor. The result is a simple, powerful photograph.

Spring Bee Visit, by Alex Magen

Alex’s shot of a bee visiting an almond tree is another well-done floral shot. The top flower is in focus, and the neutral background lends a stark, but soft, feel to the photo. Without the bee, the photo would be good, but that addition makes the photo compelling — and alive.

#isolation, by Mike Volckman

We haven’t seen a lot of still life shots over the past few months, which is a bit surprising to us given the quarantines and lockdowns. Mike, however, did a fine job of filling that void with this simple still life. His description says it all: “Contemplating life and death in times of darkness and uncertainty — In the style of the Old Masters.” We love the moodiness and the subtle tones in this photo. And you gave us a great idea for a theme for June, Mike. Thanks!

Early Morning Drink, by John Antrust

Hudson and I loved John’s shot of a cheetah pausing for a drink of water. Taken at a national park in South Africa, John caught the big cat perfectly posed, with great side light. Hudson remarked that it was one of the best, and most unique, cheetah photos he’s ever seen.

Sunset Moth, by Amy Perlmutter

We’ll close this month with another tour de force from Amy Perlmutter. Amy is a stunning — and patient — macro photographer, and her latest submission is amazing. Comprised of more than 4,000 images, this focus-stacked pano is mind-boggling in its complexity and detail. This is a magnificent photo, and one that deserves to be seen big. Bravo again, Amy!

A theme for June: Still Life

The June Plus Critiques will open on Tuesday, June 2, and will run through Tuesday, June 16. This month, we would like you to think about producing a still life. You don’t have to emulate the Old Masters, as Mike Volckman did, but think about a group of objects — fruit, flowers, vases and stemware, sets of tools, anything, really that you can arrange in a group. Think about lighting and your background. The subjects should be clear and well defined, and use the rules of composition to arrange the subjects in a way that helps the viewer’s eye into the scene.

If you can’t think of a still life, or would just prefer to submit something else, feel free. As always, we’ll look at all the entries.

Upload specs

Instructions for the file types and sizes are on the upload page, but we’ll repeat them here:

  • The long side of your photo should be cropped to 1920px for best results
  • JPEG format (must have .jpg extension)
  • Size: 2 MB file size limit
  • Quality: 7 (or medium)

As always, we ask that you keep your submissions to no more than two photos. If you want to submit five, take a look at those five and really ask yourself which two best represent what you are trying to say.

If you haven’t yet submitted photos for our monthly critiques, we urge you to do so, and if you have been, but we haven’t yet chosen one of your photos, please keep trying — we’ll do our best to look for new folks.

We love this element of serving the Plus community, and we honestly feel that everyone can learn from their peers. We try hard to be constructive in our criticism; our primary goal with the critiques is to showcase some great work, and talk about the things we can all do to make us better photographers.