Stephen Racette. Technique: Motion Blur.
This incredible image sets a very high bar. Please don't be intimidated by it and not send me photos you shot during the workshop. This image does have blur and it does have motion but it doesn't illustrate Motion Blur. Motion Blur implies that something (the Center of Interest) is in relatively sharp focus. In this case, the Center(s) of Interest are the bird and its reflection in the water. What makes this image so strong is that it is an excellent illustration of Diagonal Lines. The strong lines of the water are abruptly interrupted by the figures of the 2 birds placed just off of the Rule of Thirds. The other point I want to emphasize is perhaps the best image isn't in front of us or behind us; maybe it's above us or below us. Always be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to exploit a special moment.
Here is what I mean by the diagonal lines.
Rachel Cain. Technique: Center of Interest
This marvelous image applies a myriad of rules and successfully breaks a couple of others. Nice work! You clearly identified the Center of Interest, the white furry flower. Ok...I helped you. The flower is very sharp and, in contrast, the rest of the image is pretty fuzzy. The flower is also the best exposed part of the image which is a basic rule of Composition. You broke a major rule of photography by shooting into the sun and creating a bunch of flare. But, this really works for you because the flare actually is interesting foreground that draws you from the top of the frame to the Center of Interest. The concept of Build Foreground is NOT exclusive to the bottom of the frame. The flare actually makes the image blurrier. I'm guessing the content to the right side of the image wasn't helpful so you creatively cropped the image to square. Square images, particularly, florals can be very attractive. My web site has a whole section of square florals.
The image also works successfully illustrates the Rule of Thirds.
Jack Young. Technique: Motion Blur.
Excellent! This motion blur technique is accomplished by using a slow shutter speed (low ISO, stopped down all the way) so you can spin the barrel of a zoom lens during the exposure. It's a fun technique but takes practice. This is an even better example of Converging Lines. The lines created by the blur draw you from the front of the image to the back. Symmetry (breaking the Rule of Thirds) also strengthens this image. The only weak part of this image is the cropping. Unfortunately, no metadata came over with your images so I don't know what lens you used. I'm guessing you probably used a wide angle zoom so that you had enough "spin" in it. One drawback is that you ended up with too much foreground with too little content. You tried to overcome this by cropping to a 2:1 ratio.
I would tighten this image up even more by cropping to a 3:1 ratio as displayed below. It eliminates more foreground. Now the converging lines come right out of the bottom of the frame. I also used the Nik Color Efex Pro Photoshop Plug-in called Pro Contrast to "jump" the image a bit.
Carol Jacobson. Technique: Golden Ratio.
This is an excellent image! It has a whole bunch of things going for it but it actually fails as a Golden Ratio example. What works: obvious center of interest, the bench; using natural elements (the trees) as a framing device; building foreground by drawing your eye from the bottom of the frame through to the bench (the plants look like they are bending in that direction). I like the way it's exposed, too. It's a bit on the dark side but enough that some detail in the background clouds is preserved.
By cropping and moving the bench slightly, the image can be cropped to a Golden Ratio. Is it a better image than the original? Hmmm...I'm not so sure.
Consider different processing options (including overexposure while shooting) to add drama to an image. This is the Infrared Effect in Lightroom. It serves to isolate the bench and perhaps tells more of a story about what is happening. Combine this with Golden Ratio cropping and this image goes to a different level.
Barb Tholkes. Technique: Depth of Field.
This is a hard subject to create a truly iconic image because it's so unpredictable. If only that darn bee would hold still! This is a pretty good image. Obviously, the bee is the center of interest and is pretty sharp. The problem is that there are other items which are also measurably in focus, particularly the flower petal to the right of the bee and the bloom below the bee at the bottom of the frame. Those items detract from the impact of the bee. I like the diagonal line of the stem going from one end of the frame to other with all kinds of curvy lines (represented by the blooms and other stems) in the background.
This image also is weakened because the bee is not on the grid of the Rule of Thirds.
How to improve this image: Move around more (don't startle the bee and get stung!) to get the bee into the Thirds grid. In other words, shoot more! In the process, you might get that lower bloom out of the frame. A fast macro lens with IS (Image Stabilization) would enable you to get closer and open up even more. This would further isolate the bee and take the other blooms more out of focus.
Jeremy Petrick. Technique: Leading Lines.
This is a beautifully created image. It is NOT, however, an example of Leading Lines. This image works by using Color Contrast as a compositional technique. The bright primary color of the fern is contrasted with the dark, murky, (colorless?) texture of the tree. Was this "found" or did you place the fern in that position?
Leading Lines "leads" you into the frame to the Center of Interest. The fern does indeed lead you but it ends up nowhere. The fern IS the Center of Interest. As a side note, I "jumped" the green in this image by applying another Nik Color Efex tool called Foliage that only effects the green parts of an image.
This image gives you the opportunity to create numerous images, perhaps an entire portfolio. I hope you took a boat load of photos here. The image below illustrates Converging Lines. The fern leaves go to the point of infinity which happens to be in the very center of the image.
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