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How to critique and evaluate your images

We all enjoy making pictures.  For me personally I am always excited to copy the images to the computer and start picking the winners in Lightroom.  If the trip was a big one I may have quite a job filtering through the images.  I want to share a bit of my workflow of how I select images to process to completion.

First step:  The “easiest” step-get the images transferred.  Even given how easy this should be I have several shoots sitting on my card that haven’t been transferred yet.  Don’t delay-get it done.

Second step:  Get rid of the obvious “losers” of the shoot.  Out of focus images, under/over exposed, poorly composed images, random tourist or other extraneous distractions, etc.

Third step:  I always like to go through and flag/star images off impulse.  I don’t spend more than a few seconds on each and it each image gets an up or down vote.  This isn’t a permanent classification.  I may find an image that I initially rejected that I like or vice versa.  I am not spending a lot of time contemplating why I liked an image-I am mostly going off emotion.

Fourth step:  Now it is time to go through the flagged “winners” and select from this set which ones I will spend time in post processing.  Factors to consider here are focus, composition, exposure, etc.  This is a good time to pay attention to cropping.  IMHO it is always good to look at the image and see if cropping it will make the main subject more clear and the composition better.

In the coming weeks we will be rolling out a series of posts related to composition.

Here are a few random thoughts when evaluating images:

  • Out of focus images,  blurry images, noisy images (beyond artistic effect) will not mean much to viewers.  “I know this is blurry or out of focus but I still thought it was cool” is a good sign that you should not share with others.
  • Images that need an explanation for viewers to understand what is the subject of the image are good to avoid as well.  That does not mean that context or backstory should be excluded.  Context or backstory to images help give greater meaning or emotion to images.
  • Resist the urge to post multiple variations of the same image.  Pick the one you like the most and share it.

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