I have not put together a self-critique post in some time. For any given composition, I may shoot 2 exposures, sometimes only 1. Then I move on to the next target. The result is a greater variety of compositions, but also a greater chance a composition has 0 usable exposures because I dislike what I shot. I suppose this approach stems from many of my photo day-trips the last couple of years where I construct a time-sensitive itinerary the requires I get as many locations into the day as possible. Of course the biggest negative is having a great potential photograph and then flubbing it. The photo in this post could have been really good, but I also didn’t completely flub it, so we will use it as part of this critique post.
(click through on the image to view in 700px)
Issue #1 – Timing. If you don’t prepare for a sunset shoot, your window for getting to or finding a location is greatly diminished. You will eventually get there, but the light will not. So if you are at home and notice some good light hitting the clouds, chances are you probably should have been out there 30 minutes ago.
Issue #2 – Location. Intertwined with #1. I had time to drive 5 minutes away from home, but it was still not far enough to completely get away from powerlines and rooftops. Instead of having wide open pastures, I had to walk around and find areas where the full sky was not obscured by trees, homes, or powerlines.
Issue #3 – Composition. Due to #2. The cloud formation in the photograph? The photo only shows only about 1/3 of the lit up cloud formation. If I had more time, I could have driven to a different location or walked further out, but the light was fading fast. The problem with including the entirety of the formation is diminishing the size of the moon even further. So a decision would have had to be made on whether it was more advantageous to shoot at an even wider angle.
Secondly, the bottom of the photo gives a hint of some really interesting textures and should have been focused on along with the moon in a portrait composition. The elements on the ground were bland at best, so the location itself did not lend to this composition.
Overall thoughts: This is not an instance of having a nice shot in front of you and either messing up the exposure or composing it wrong. This IS an instance of deciding to shoot at the last minute and not leaving myself enough time to even put myself in the position to have a nice shot in front of me.
EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO 100, 35mm, f/8, 1/6 sec
Ione (CA), Sunset Clouds, Moon. Ione, California. August 17, 2013. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.