CT&D #12. Critiquing Photography

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Image: Aerial Photography of a River and Nearby Green Hills by Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The subject of the image above shows a meandering river and its tributary cutting through a lush valley of rolling hills. What draws me immediately to this image is its simplicity; I love how the river in the photo captures one’s attention from the upper right (the furthest part of the river) to the center bottom (the closest); I myself am also drawn to the aerial position of where the photo was taken, which enhances the view of this subject. I especially think that the height of where the photo was taken also draws viewers in as it isn’t too low or too high; the height shown is just right as we can clearly see depth of scenery distance and adequate detail.

The feelings that this image evokes is one of peacefulness and relaxation, to the point where I myself would want to be in this photo and bask in the beauty of the landscape. Moving onward, the theme that this photo suggests is simple: spring and life. Spring is self-explanatory but why life? Life because flowing waters and green grass symbolize the lushness of it whereas traditionally frozen waters and snow evokes death or maybe still life (reminding me of winter, the opposite of what we consider to be ideal life). Therefore, the mood or tone of this photo is best described as dynamic and representing vitality. On a sidenote, analyzing this photo doesn’t really give me new perspectives on the subject of photography because I am used to reflecting on art forms for both fun and study. As with the case in reflecting on  this photo, I can strongly say that the work idealizes the subject of life as it shows the main visual component (the river) accompanied by its natural scenery, both of which complement each other in support of what this photo is telling us.

To go into more detail, the composition and placement of the components are in my view, perfect. Composition-wise, the green hills adequately enhance the river’s presentation where its range becomes increasingly bigger as it approaches the center bottom (with the added effect of having the river split in two which makes for a great shot to begin with; the photographer’s position clearly achieved that). Overall, the lighting is excellent; as typical with environments such as these, the darker areas are noticeable with changing topography as seen in the hills and lighter areas with low-lying lands that make up a large majority of the photo. The exposure is good too as I can see closer details much better than the farther lying scenery. The use of color may not be much (only blue and green are prominent here) but there definitely are shades of these colors observed such as the lighter blue waters vs. the darker blues seen upfront.

The focus and depth of field as already alluded to are great; the more focused parts of the photo are emphasized closer while the less emphasized are farther behind. The angle shot is perfect, particularly the river in how it enters and exits in the photo. Likewise, the (vertical) distance from the subject is ideal: as previously noted, the height provides for a widespread area of detail. In all, what is to be learned in photography from a photo like this is to be mindful of places that may look plain at first sight, but on another look may end up having more than what meets the eye. Coming off of that, some my ideas in what to photograph for the future would be similar to this subject but with emphasis on various techniques I have learned throughout my photography course thus far.

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