SMART review and Critique
Remember, this critique is to help explain how the mind works, to help in creating the right scene that satisfies sub conscious needs and wants. Any image that doesn’t satisfy those aspects, crunches several gears in our mind, so the image gets ignored, at best, or disliked at worst. These articles may be long but it’s meant as a “lesson”, not a quick club grading.
Image by Ritesh Ghosh from Kolkata, India.
If you haven’t already, read the SMART Thinking outline at least, to follow this review.
♦ Subject – it clearly stands out that the subject is the little girl. Our subconscious is immediately drawn to other humans due to the social/interaction part of our brain. So your eyes immediately go to her and that’s important in any image, for the mind to come to rest on a focal point first then have it be led around by other factors, always coming back, not off the page or scrolled past. Obvious here of course but sometimes it’s hard to know what the hell the photographer is trying to show in particular. She is further isolated by the dark surrounds. Our eyes go straight to her then follow the lines and light around which end up back at the little girl. No hunting or confusion here.
There’s nothing in here to distract from anything else. It’s all as it should be. A rarity really.
Being a candid shot, (I assume – if not, it’s even more brilliant) it’s personal in a subtle way. You know her and what’s happening, from the elements in the story.
The Adjective here taking in all the elements? Hope, stepping out, changing the future? Adjectives (word or specific phrase) should be in the Title to help you really pin point what you’re seeing and putting across. Does it fulfil your mission? Titles also lead the viewer to think more, past the technical, more with the heart/emotions which ignite us more.
What title would you give this? In other words, what do you get from it? All images should be thought of in this way, otherwise they’re technically correct (not many are anyway) snapshots that don’t engage the brain and viewers will scroll past. “Oh, that’s nice” is not an acceptable response to our image.
♦ Mood – the dark surrounds and smoke give it a dingy atmosphere which is in contrast to her bright yellow dress. That really makes the mind flick back and forth with contradictions and assumptions. The mind working again.
Catching her mid step also creates movement, and going forward away from the depths behind her gives us a sense of time passing too.
♦ Aesthetics/Art/Composition – So much here. The bright arrow of light on the ground points from the dark to the girl, further taking your eyes and mind to her. The smoke adds to the story although not clear where it comes from. More mystique. There is nothing in this image that detracts for all we’ve seen and felt, which is a very important factor. Some images are quite busy.
The large highlight does a job here, to point towards the girl. They aren’t enough to distract and they’re in perfect balance/weight to the larger semi dark areas, particularly with the grey smoke buffering the harsh difference. (unrelated large highlights attract the brain which keeps returning to the light – to no avail – article coming up)
The brain likes to look into dark areas for it’s neanderthal based mechanism to be safe (yeah – another article) and when it goes there in this image, there’s enough detail to nod your head in accepting it. There’s also black-black to give a base on which the brain can rest.
♦ Rarity/Uniqueness – To a westerner, even though I’ve seen my share of exotic places, this scene is different enough for me to be attracted to it due to its dark surrounds and conflicting/contrasting clothing and the everyday event of going to school. There’s a good story in here that makes the viewer associate with some normality/recognition. Again, a satisfying emotion.
The feel, mood and emotional attachment all create an attention grabbing, “linger longer to look around” image.
Whether Ritesh took all this in instinctively or not, this is a very powerful story, culturally telling and provides a connection to the girl. Who knows, I might come across her one day in the same place. That’s the feeling I get.
♦ Technique – The natural “unsharp” feel is totally appropriate to the mood. If it was pin sharp, it would lose the candid look and not be in keeping with our actual vision. There’s just enough oomph in the yellow to not look unnatural but to be prominent anyway. Some may have been tempted to saturate it a bit and that would have lost the candidness of it. It aint a magazine advertisement.
The point of view, wide angle to create depth, and the exposure, all perfectly balanced. The shutter speed caught her mid stride and any slower would have created a motion blur, but she wasn’t rushing, so the speed is perfect.
So technically, it fits in with the overall story and theme, so it looks as it should be.
Overall – It’s beautifully engaging, making me linger longer and be interested to look more – that’s damn important! It ticks all the boxes and could be on a wall typifying the culture and mood of India. I couldn’t have asked for a better demonstration for what is now the first image critique on the site.
Initial vision from Ritesh: I received this after I wrote the critique and Ritesh wrote this prior to seeing the critique.
“I am glad you liked this image. It was taken during my recent visit to the ancient city of Varanasi, India. I always prefer shooting during the early hours of the morning when the light is subtle and interesting. While walking down this narrow alleyway I was caught by the rays of light falling down creating a mystical environment. Initially I was struggling to find myself an appropriate subject and just as I was about to move on, I saw this little school girl walking towards me. With my camera pre-focussed and adjusted to expose correctly, I waited before she was close enough as wanted to focus on her. Just as she was about to cross over I took the shot without her realising that (hence the candid moment).”
Well, it seems, we both got the idea right. Phew, that was lucky. 😀
Thanks Ritesh. We’re looking forward to many more.
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Find More work by Ritesh Ghosh here.