What is a Critique?

I have been thinking about critiques a lot lately, so I decided to look the word up. Google, Merriam-Webster, and Dictionary.com all have similar definitions, so for the purpose of this post I will paraphrase and combine a few and go with:

cri·tique:

a detailed analysis and assessment of something

evaluate in a detailed and analytical way

to review or analyze critically

As we struggle with the isolation mandated by the pandemic, photography seems more important than ever. The ability to reconnect with happier times by looking through our photographs is truly a gift.

I am reminded of so many great photographic experiences as I look through all the old hard drives, prints, books, magazines, featuring my images.

Simplicity in photography has always appealed to me. Many of my best-selling bird photos are just simple, naturally and front-lit bird portraits. A close up of the bird against a clean, distraction-free, background. This always appeals to me because at the core of photography is the need to tell a story or convey a concept to the viewer.

I’m getting excited about the upcoming spring migration because it means more hummingbirds passing through.

To get ready for hummingbird photo season, I have prepared a checklist. It’s somewhat exhaustive although I would never claim that you can think of EVERYTHING you might need to do to get ready, but these are the basics.

Since it’s almost time to photograph hummingbirds in the Pacific Northwest, I thought I’d show everyone a few of the tricks I use and how I do my setups.

The first step is to get hummers used to coming to your yard to feed. Three months ago, I set up two feeders near the spot where I plan to do my hummingbird photography. I want the birds to get used to the feeders, me and the general area where I will set up my background and flashes.

I know you all have heard me talking about Topaz stuff lately, and there’s a reason for it. The one good thing that has happened during the shelter in place order in my state for purposes of defeating COVID 19, I have actual spare time on my hands. And that means going over my old images and seeing if there’s anything I missed in my first culls or anything I liked, but didn’t think worked for some technical reason.

Well, here’s today’s shot and proof that there is a bright side to everything.

I photographed this bald eagle in the Cook Inlet of Alaska from a moving boat. The weather, and light were iffy. I was reacting to him swooping by and I slightly under-exposed him by about a third of a stop. (When photographing eagles I have to be careful to hold detail on the white feathers, which is difficult given the broad dynamic range between those feathers and the black feathers on the same bird.)