Photo Critique: Winter in Berlin

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This photograph was submitted by Nate Pinckney of California. It was made with an iPhone and processed in Lightroom.

I really like the high-key effect of this. (High key images are those that are overall very bright, or light in tone.) It really evokes the feeling of a cold winter day. I like that the sky is nearly white, with no detail. In some pictures this would be something to avoid, but here, it really works.

The picture displays a strong sense of depth and dimension, which is conveyed by the proportions of the people and buildings within the frame. Through the application of perspective effect, we can gauge distance and scale. For example, since we know roughly what the size of a person is, that a person appearing smaller in the frame is much farther away from the camera. This is a device used to show distance and adds a lot of depth to the photo.

A couple of suggestions that might make the photo stronger:

  1. At first glance the photo seems a little “crooked”, or tilted. I might suggest rotating it clockwise a bit, to straighten out the tall structure and the light posts. With all these vertical lines, this may be tricky – sometimes things that really are straight don’t look straight because of optical illusions.
  2. The photo would have been a little more dynamic with the feet of one or both of the people shown lifted. As it is, with both feet on the ground, there isn’t much sense of movement. Timing is everything in a shot like this, and if the photographer was to have captured the walkers in mid stride the photo would have more impact.
  3. I’d suggest cropping the right edge of the frame a bit. I find the angled lamp post a bit distracting, and more importantly, the car that is cut off by the edge of the frame draws my eye to the edge of the frame and out of the picture. Always look carefully for distracting elements around the edges of the frame (and especially in the corners).
  4. The position of the foreground person’s head and the street sign in the distance creates a merger point that is less than ideal. A little more space above the head would have lessened the potentially distracting effect of the sign appearing to “grow out of the top of the head”. This is something to always watch out for, especially in photos containing people.

Overall, I think this scene is well captured and processed for good effect, and really conveys the feeling of the moment. Attention to the little details would make it even stronger.