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LET’S LEARN HOW TO EVALUATE AND EXAMINE A PHOTOGRAPH

posted Apr 9, 2011, 5:19 PM by Anh Vuong   [ updated Apr 21, 2011, 6:57 AM by Tony Le ]

INTRODUCTION

To learn how to evaluate, examine and understand a work of art photography, a photographer must know   how to look and what to look for in a photograph. By identifying clues within an artwork, one can decipher the aesthetic nature of the photograph, thus leading to the development of the “artistic eye” necessary for art criticism and aesthetics.

ART IN FOCUS: EVALUATION AND EXAMINATION

Before a photographer judges a photo artwork by him/herself, it is required that the s/he have a clear understanding of the theories of art and know how to determine and identify the basic of visual art zone system, in focus subject and object of an image, visual art composition - rule of thirds, photo-shop/darkroom work, and photographs’ definitions in each photo category as required by the Photographic Society of America and the International Federation of Photographic Art standard for entry into the international photo contests.

The five critiques standard to follow based on experience and years of evaluating and examining photographs in the salons of international photo contests:

WHAT TO LOOK AND HOW TO LOOK

  1. Tonal range and Density
  2. Subject and Object
  3. Composition
  4. Impression Language
  5. Print Technique

TONAL RANGE AND DENSITY OF A PHOTOGRAPH

Look for the tonal range of photograph. It is the color tone and contrast levels between the black point and the white point of an image, also known as tonal (or dynamic) range of a photograph. This allows the photographer to determine details in the shadows, mid-tones, and highlights of his/hers image. This is greatly beneficial for photographers to self-evaluate and examine his/her photographs.

SUBJECT AND OBJECT OF A PHOTOGRAPH

Look at the appearance of depth and lighting when a three-dimensional object is represented in a two-dimensional photograph, or when the subject is in full view. Also, take into consideration of the linear perspective, fixed point of view of photograph.

COMPOSITION OF A PHOTOGRAPH

Depending on the category of photographs, the image may or may not apply the rule of thirds as determined by the photographer’s taste. If this is the case and the photograph meets the requirement of tonal range and density, then look for the story telling value of the photograph. This should be considered and weighed more than the composition of the pictorial. If it is acceptable, then to skip to…

IMPRESSION LANGUAGE OF A PHOTOGRAPH

Look at the lighting technique for interpretation to identify the expressive qualities, or the meaning, mood, or idea that is communicated. The story telling value of a photograph must be weighed the same as the pictorial quality for pictorial categories. However, in the nature wildlife photography category the story telling value of a photograph must be weighed more than the pictorial quality.

PRINT TECHNIQUE

Look for a realistic photograph with a dynamic range of color, contrast, brightness, and mid-tone with high degree of pictorial quality.

IN SUMMARY

The five critiques standard: *Tonal Range and Density – *Subject and Object – *Composition – * Impression Language – *Technique Print as mentioned above are developed from three main aesthetic theories of the imitationalism, formalism, and emotionalism. Favoring different aesthetic qualities may lead to a difference in judgment.

BE AWARE OF THIS MATTER

  • Imitationalism is based on the realistic presentation of the subject matter—the photograph should appear lifelike.
  • Formalism focuses on the organization of the elements of art through the use of the principles of visual art composition.
  • Emotionalism interprets a work’s success based on how well a photograph communicates a mood, feeling, or idea.
NOW, LET'S BEGIN TO PRACTICE... 



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