Community Critique – Manuela

Today we have an image critique from German photographer and mother, Manuela of Manuela Niederreiner Photo & Design. Below is what our 3 contributors, selected by Manuela, had to say:

Boys on Jungle Gym - documentary family photography

Chrystal:
I feel immediately drawn to this image because of the interesting lines. The crop is great with the upwards diagonal line going straight into the corner. The movement and energy also add energy and tell a happy story of summer and outdoor play. I’m glad you chose an image with his foot moving up onto the next bar because it really highlights what’s happening in the scene. Typically, I prefer black and white conversion only when there’s dramatic directional light (like direct sun from the side) or when I’m trying to highlight a dramatic emotion. Because the light looks more even and the mood is playful, I would love to see this in color also. The boy on the net seems to be a little camera aware so it might be more impactful to see him laughing bigger or concentrating harder just for effect but it’s still very happy and playful as is. If I had this playset I’d definitely make one from square below the net shooting up as well. Seems like endless possibilities! Thank you for sharing this with us, looking forward to looking at more of your images!

Jodie:
What a fun image! Really screams out Summer holiday fun!

I love the flow through the image that the positioning and framing makes! The action of the climbing up and over the play equipment really cements the feel of flowing through the image as the frame of the ropes follows right through to the outer edge of the image.

I do feel that the silver pole that is very prominently centre and eye catching with the sun’s highlights hitting it a bit distracting and eye catching. I wonder that if by moving slightly to the right this may have been avoided as well as be able to minimise the tree in the bottom right corner, and be able to see a little more of the climbing boy on the ladder’s expression slight more completely. However as a mother of boys I am totally aware that these moments are so fleeting that telling the kids to hang on a sec to get in a  better position is paramount to not even getting the image LOL I love the hint of the smile on both boys.

I would love to see it in colour – especially if the blue skies were really popped as I feel that it can add to the feel of the fun and happy emotions of the image. I suspect however that the technical side may have been a tad more difficult to achieve this as I suspect getting the right exposure on the boys faces would possibly blow the sky without using some sort of fill flash ( and again fast moving boys LOL) the pops of colour in clothing and the play equipment may help bring the story together. But I love how the BW eliminates distracting elements if the colours were clashing and distracting.
The conversion of BW is well contrasted and I am bump the shadows up a little bit to brighten the kids faces just slightly but that is more a personal preference than a must do next time statement. The exposure seems consistent with the intent of the image and the conversion shows that.

In a post processing thought I would probably have removed the tree in the bottom right corner. I know that it gives a sense of location but I feel that the clean feel of the image is drawn away a little bit with it almost cluttering the corner. The rest of the image is really clean lines and clear background. Its not a game changer for the image though, just a personal thought of an editing possibility.

Overall I feel this image is a solid documentary image that tells the story of fun spring/summer day at the park or play ground that really captures the essence and feelings of that experience.

Vicki:
This is a great image which is a strong and bold image of play. It has a strong composition, using the play frame to give structure to the image. The lines are well placed to frame the children and the tree in the background gives the sense of being in the park. I love that this is a different perspective of playing in the park too which adds to the composition.

To make it even bolder you could isolate the first child more by either hanging on a second until his face was in the grid of the netting or moving slightly more underneath, that way there would be a gap of sky between the frame and body and so gives more focus to the subject. I like the black and white here but am wondering if a little more contrast could help make it a touch more punchy. I tend to use colour for these kind of images as I think it can add to the story of play and the fun they are having. It depends on the colour of the sky and how bright it was, as you have exposed for the children the detail in the sky gets lost but this adds to the composition here in black and white.
That said, they are clearly having fun and I love the feeling of adventure and you can see that the first boy (big brother?) is being very brave and is eagerly followed by the second boy. There is a strong sense of story telling, I’d like to see the image once they’d made it over the top too!
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