After an unexpected break, Crit My Pic has returned! The street photo we are going to be analysing this week has been submitted by Michael Schmitt and it is titled ‘Boardwalk Biker’. If you need reminding of the criteria we use to analyse each photo, they are point of view, focal point, composition, exposure, subject matter, and mood. As we have a large collection of photos to analyse, for the time being at least we won’t ask you to send us in any more photos for Crit My Pic. Now it’s time to get into the analysis of the ‘Boardwalk Biker’ by Michael Schmitt.
Point of View
It looks like ‘Boardwalk Biker’ has been taken from around standard head height as the tops of the tents are above the centre line of the photo. Obviously this photo is a side on one, and in this case it is exactly right for the shot as it works really well in combination with the background to create a powerful effect that is quite graphic in style. I would find it difficult to suggest any alternative viewpoint in this case as the one Michael has used has clearly been carefully chosen to work effectively with the composition. Well done!
The focal point of ‘Boardwalk Biker’ is of course the biker! His red t-shirt is quite eye-catching, and really stands out well against the background. The fact the biker is moving through the frame from left to right also helps to emphasise him as a focal point, as this motion also catches the eye. Our biker is also moving towards our all important first third vertical in the frame, again which helps to not only make the photo visually appealing, but also to make it clear he’s the focal point. If someone were to be hypercritical, they may say that the presence of the woman entering the far right of the frame challenges our focal point a little, but I think it actually creates a nice counter balance in the photo that serves to improve the composition.
Michael clearly shows great consideration for composition in ‘Boardwalk Biker’. Note for instance how he has taken care to ensure that the lines of the pavement run virtually parallel to the bottom of the frame, and Michael has also made sure that the tents are neatly vertical too. This was clearly a shot where Michael chose his background and frame very precisely and waited for a good subject to appear, and it worked. If we add a rule of thirds grid overlay to ‘Boardwalk Biker’, we can see that the biker is almost at the first third vertical from the left and the top of his head virtually touches the second third horizontal too. Another nice element of this photo is the background itself. I like the collection of three tents, which not only make an interesting shape, but also create a nice area of negative space in the frame too. The fact there are three tents makes for a nice balance in the shot too, and they are well placed in the photo, occupying the middle third of the frame.
As I have mentioned above, one of my favourite elements of this shot is the way it is able to mix both dynamism and graphical simplicity. It’s a very static, stark photo but the viewer gets a sense of implied movement by the biker moving from the left of the frame to the right (the direction many of us read of course). On the far right of the frame the only other figure in the frame – the woman – is walking from right to left. This creates an interesting effect where both of our figures are actually moving towards one another, due for an impending collision in the centre portion of the frame that is populated by the negative space created by those tents. The only suggestion I can think to make to improve this shot would be something Michael can’t really fix. Ideally perhaps there would be no objects or the fourth tent in the far left of the frame, and maybe we’d be looking directly head on at the tents too. But this is very much nitpicking, and of course the lines probably wouldn’t work for the pavement that way either!
Exposure & Colour
I like the exposure and post processing treatment in ‘Boardwalk Biker’. There’s some nice contrast and strong shadows and blacks opposed by the bright whites and colours. As for those colours, they really help to make this shot. The biker’s red t-shirt stands out brilliantly against the stark white of the tents, which in turn appear very bold against the lovely blue sky with its soft fluffy clouds. Looking closer, we can see that white creates a colour link between the woman’s top on the far right of the frame, the tents in the centre, and the frame on the bike and the boy’s sunglasses too. There’s a nice connection between the sky and the boy’s t-shirt too, as blue and red have a connection to each other in the colour wheel, and complement each other well, which helps make the photo more attractive. Overall, this photo is nicely colourful, and better for it!
I guess we could say that ‘Boardwalk Biker’ depicts a fairly typical seaside scene and that’s no bad thing. It has a very summery feel – shown by the clothing worn by the biker and the woman – both are in shorts and flip flops – and also by the lovely blue of the sky too. Boardwalks attract all sorts of people, and our characters here are fairly standard for what we might see there. If I had a suggestion, it might be that the photo could be made even more exciting if it featured some more eccentric characters to add even more interest. That’s a small complaint though, and the shot works pretty well with its current subjects I think.
As I said above, the mood of ‘Boardwalk Biker’ is pretty summery. We’ve got strong sunlight, bright colours, and a clear sky. It certainly feels like an archetypal scene you’d see in lots of different seaside towns everywhere. It’s an immersive photo, and looking at it you can’t help but be transported to a warm summer’s day by the sea, and this sense of immersiveness is often a sign of a good photo!
To conclude, I like the work Michael has done with ‘Boardwalk Biker’. I like its graphical simplicity and bright colours, and the composition is very strong and quite clever too. It’s the sort of shot that I could see appearing in a series of photos focused around the seaside or boardwalk – they are often so interesting! My only main suggestion for improvement in this photo would be for it to include some more off-the-wall characters to inject a bit more drama and surrealism into the shot. Imagine how great that would be! As things stand it’s a very nice photo that just needs to be a little bit weirder to be absolutely amazing. Almost all the ingredients are here, keep it up Michael!!