Adam Muzerall of North Andover was a photo neophyte when he requested a Globe Critique last fall. And like many of us with digital cameras, when he took a trip to Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley, and San Francisco, he took well over 500 photos -- including four on display here. But he's looking for advice.
"I love just going out and taking photos of whatever I come across, trying to capture things in different ways than bystanders see them," he wrote. "I want to get better and I want to get more ideas of how to shoot and how to think about positioning myself for photos to capture the best image possible. I find myself simply just shooting at first glance and not exploring the image as a whole."
Adam is shooting with a Sony A200 DSLR with the original kit lens, which the Sony website says is an 18-70mm zoom.
We asked Globe staff photographer David L. Ryan to help us out, and he was attracted to Adam's portfolio because of Adam's willingness to take risks. David is a veteran pro well known for his photos taken from great heights. If you need a photo shot from a helicopter or a construction crane, David's the guy. You can check out his portfolio here.
First, the matter of lenses: David recommends that Adam buy a 70 to 200mm to extend the distance from which he can shoot. And, when he can afford it, he can "have a lot of fun with a 300mm fixed lens."
And now David's critique of Adam's photos:
I think this was your least successful photo, Adam, because it doesn't match the quality of your other work. It's a little washed out in the field area, but mostly, it's not telling me anything new or different, unlike your other photos. It's a snapshot, whereas your other photos reflect a thought-out process. Anybody could have taken this photo with any kind of camera, and I know you're better than that.
If you had that 300mm lens, you perhaps could have done a close-up of the lights on one of the towers in an interesting pattern -- that's more your style.
Adam, you could have had something on the right side in that blank space to create more interest. I feel as though there is something missing here. I like the use of sepia, but you could have burned in better, adding more contrast. (You can find a burn tool in Photoshop Elements.)
Here's what I did with your photo by burning in the upper right corner. I did a little with shadow/highlights (also available in Elements) and a little more sepia.
The subject matter didn't do much for me, but the style is consistent with the rest of your photos.
This photo caught my eye because it is a pattern. And when I saw it was a photo of Alcatraz, that made it even more interesting. You clearly did more composition on this. You created a still-life, a pattern -- you worked on it. That's why it's a good photo, and why it's better than, and such a variation from, the Fenway Park photo.
You changed the color to sepia, which shows a bit of creativity. I think you're enjoying yourself back on the computer, which is a big part of photography for a lot of people. Even we newspaper photographers like coming back and editing.
I think you enjoyed the process of photography with this photo, Adam. And that's important.
I played around with the burn tool on this picture, too -- you can see the results here.
I really like the composition and the pattern of this photo. You have good composition in all of your photos, even the chain. In all of your abstracts, there was what we call good compositional value. (That's why the Fenway photo didn't fit with the rest.)
I burned in this photo, too, and upped the contrast a bit. It's all subjective, of course, but it gives you a different look to consider.
Overall, Adam, it's clear that you enjoy using your camera, so that's what you should keep on doing. Go off and shoot a lot, and keep trying your abstracts and different angles. Practice looking around the entire frame before you shoot; in the flowers photo you had that telephone pole, perhaps inadvertently, and in the chains photo you had too much empty space.
And play around with more of the tools available in editing software. You're already using sepia; try the burn tool and shadows/highlights. You're on the right track, with a good eye for interesting compositions. Good luck!