Hi Sharon, thanks for sharing this image with us all and allowing me to critique it for you. Here is what Sharon had to say about her image: I like this picture and have left it as comes from the camera. It was taken at Lake Glenmaggie one day when I was filling in time. I have used the stump as a focus and the shadow to distinguish the foreground. The bit of tree on the right I feel is distracting and I probably need to crop that side off to make it more of a square but are open to your thoughts. I am looking forward to going out to the lake again now that I have my new camera to try it out with manual settings.
Camera Konica Minolta Z20
Lens eqv to 36mm
This image has been taken on a compact camera not an SLR, can I first make the comment that camera type is irrelevant as to wether we make a great image or not. Sure SLR’s will give you more control and better quality, but an awesome expensive camera will not mean that you will automatically get awesome images. One of the greatest insults I use to get while doing markets was “Wow you must have a great camera” Do we watch Federer play and say “Wow he must have a great racket” Do we go to a restaurant and compliment the chef and ask what type of oven he has. NO but there is this misconception that a good camera insures great images and all we do is push the button. Technically all the settings are fine, f4.8 on a compact is probably around F8-11 on an SLR so that is OK, Shutter speed is fine at 250th for hand holding and 50 ISO wow didn’t know compacts went that low, some SLRs start at 200 ISO.
So all good there
Composition is what I mainly want to talk about in this image, as these are all the decisions we make and can have such a dramatic effect on the image we end up with. Can I start by saying that I find compacts really hard to compose with as the screens are so small and in daylight are so hard to see, there is nothing better than looking thru a view finder to compose an image, Sharon I think you will enjoy your new SLR for this aspect alone. The two strong elements in this image are the tree stump and the dead tree in the middle of the frame. Sharon felt the tree on the edge of the right hand frame was distracting and it is. It either needs to be out or in. By taking it out takes away the distraction, but we could also include more of it (but not all of it) to act as a barrier on the right hand side. This would redirect the viewer back into the image, its tricky to do but when done properly it works really well.
Cropped version taking out the tree on the right hand side
Here is a crop, but now I think the stump is too dominating and more of the tree we just took out could have worked. The stump is very dominating and a strong focal point of the image, I want to see more detail but it is in shadow, so a bit of fill flash could have helped, or lighten it up in PS or move more to the left where the sun is on it. Also with strong elements like the stump it is a good idea to separate them from other elements, see the tree in the distance on the LHS, by moving to the left a bit would have eliminated this, also a higher angle would bring all of the stump into the lake area and then we would see the complete shape of the stump. Separation of elements is a major concern for me when I compose an image, sometimes it happens quite quickly other times you spend quite a bit of time shuffling around to get the optimum angle. I love the tree off in the distance, I think it breaks the image up and also adds to the story of the image. Quite often I will place elements diagonally, it is a great way of balancing an image. I wonder how a longer lens from further back would have worked, my thoughts are that it would compress the image and bring the stump and tree closer together.
Light and Shade
I think the time of day here really plays a large role, the light is quite harsh and with your new camera Sharon I would suggest you use a polariser in these conditions, if you are not sure how to use them get someone at the camera club to show you, they are money well spent on sunny days. The edit below has had the sky darkened and the stump lightened and a light vignette applied, the beauty is that even if the conditions are not perfect we can help them along a little.
This version has the stump lightened, the sky darkened and a light vignette applied
I think Sharon that you have seen the image well, its a busy scene and to find an image in these conditions is not always easy. Once you have your focal point, be critical of everything around it, take that extra bit of time to explore different angles to separate it from the background. All in all I think you have done really well, Oh yeah and I forgot to mention the grass texture in the foreground.... love it !!