Photo Review - Godley Head Walkway by Maureen Pierre

Image taken on the walkway at Godley Head on the north side of Lyttelton Harbour, New Zealand

F11, 1/160s, ISO200, 18mm

Initial Thoughts & Plus Points

Since this photo is done as a 'high dynamic range' (HDR) photo, it has a specific look and feel to it. There are a lot of different opinions and views on HDR photography, but from my own point of view, it's a nice technique, especially when the scene demands the use of it. This photo surely did need HDR, as it was probably impossible to capture the sky, river and the walkway in one photo that would contain dynamic ranges of these elements. For this reason, it was a wise and a logical move to go for a HDR photo.

A good thing to include in a landscape photo is the different elements that are in contrast in terms of distance. To be specific, that means that our main object in this scene (the walkway) is the primary view, but at the same time, it's greatly backed up by an appealing secondary view of sky and the river which represent the background of this photo.

One aspect that makes this photo harmonised is that the colours don't stand out from the scene. What do I mean? Well, as we can see, the sky is a dark greyish colour so the pale yellow wheat is a perfect pairing for.

Possible Improvements:

Composition. Even though the current composition is solid, it would look even better if we were to put the middle of the walkway on the right vertical line of our rule of the thirds grid. This way, the composition looks a lot better, giving the photo more of a professional and sophisticated look. See the photo explanation:

There are two main ways we can achieve this kind of composition:

  1. The best way to do it is by setting our scene up before the shot by angling the walkway to be on the right vertical line of the grid. This is always the preferred way, because it's best to set our composition before we take the shot.

  2. Since it's not always possible to put yourself in a position to take a photo with a perfect composition, a solid alternative is to crop it in post production. We just need to crop it in the way that the right vertical line 'slices' through the centre of the walkway. See the photo explanation:

Background to main view ratio. One more thing I'd improve on this photo is the amount of the background that is shown in the photo. This is because of the dynamic range of the background which includes appealing elements such as the sky and the river. Since landscape photography is shot with high aperture values, it opens up room for interesting backgrounds to show up. That is exactly the case with this photo. We can easily achieve this aspect by following one of the options (the scene set up and cropping) as described in the previous point.

One more thing to note is that it is possible to fulfill both of the aspects that were mentioned for improving the photo just by regulating one of the two, because they compliment each other. For instance, if we cropped the photo following the rule of thirds, we would automatically get more background involved in the photo. If you have similar shots you would like to have reviewed, make sure you check out Excio membership options!

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