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 Ken Walker from United Kingdom.
If you haven’t already, read the SMART Thinking outline at least, to follow this review.
This is an outstanding, dramatic photo. It deserves to be on walls as inspiration, uncluttered, powerful. Why? Read on.
♦ Subject – Similar to “Girl in Yellow” and probably any image chosen to be in this series, the subject is dramatically the bare tree. Your eyes have no choice in the matter and immediately go to it. 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. It’s obvious here of course being minimalist, but in less dramatic images, things can be complicated. The tree is isolated by the bg and given a dark base to bounce off and continue to the tree itself, a circular attention grabber.
Again, a common aspect to great images, there’s nothing in here to distract from anything else.
The Adjective here taking in all the elements? Well, the title gives you the lead. Read the article on Titles here. “Standing Proud” makes your mind automatically associate with words such as strong, steadfast, solid and so on. If you hadn’t read the title, you may have already thought that, but the title cements it. The technique backs up all those things. (below)
Remember, the subject, its adjective and technique used should be all in accord. XXXX
♦ 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.
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 Ken:
Thanks Ken. We’re looking forward to many more.
Find More work by Ken Walker here: