Tips for Reviewing Your Photos After a Shoot

WendyMay

Well-Known Member
  • #1
We can take as many photo as we want, but after we do so, we need to develop a system for reviewing what we've captured. After all, if we're screwing up shot after shot, there's no sense in continuing on. Also, it's a great idea to review photos to see where we succeeded and where we failed. And finally, it's really a necessity to review our photos to keep the good and weed out the bad. After shooting for a while, we'll likely have quite a few images stored on our data cards. There's no reason to keep duplicates and those that weren't taken with our specific intentions in mind. What might some of those intentions be? I'll discuss them below.

In this post, I'd like to discuss a few different areas of inspection we might consider at as we review our photographs. This can either be done right via the LCD viewscreen on the back of the camera or on a computer later on. Reviewing photos can be a big learning tool, so take this part of educating yourself about photography seriously.

Proximity: Was your goal to feature a specific subject in your photograph? Were you after clarity? Detail? Did you want to show your audience how a specific item looked up close? If so, you'd need to fill your frame with that subject. If you were to merely capture your subject from a distance with the hope of either enlarging or cropping the photo during post-processing later on, you wouldn't capture nearly the same detail you would if you were to shoot up close. Close up shots reveal all the goodies you want to display, while far away shots include defects like blur, grain, and chromatic aberration.

Composition: While you can crop your images during post-processing to obtain the composition you want, by cropping, you lose pixels and every pixel you lose, you lose size and detail. It's much better to compose your scenes before you take the pictures. So before you set up your shot, ask yourself what you'd like to see as a final result. Will you follow the rule of thirds? The golden ratio? Where will that person be located in the ultimate image? What about that tree? The horizon? The sun? Think before you shoot. Granted, this will get much easier after you've been photographing for a while, but in the beginning, it's much more beneficial to plan things out.

Focus: This is an easy one to see when it's not correct, but not so easy to fix what you did wrong. Focus is a huge topic that I'll be writing future posts on, but for now, ask yourself if the correct item in your photograph is crisp and clear. If it isn't, you may need to learn about the different auto-focus options available to you through your camera and you may need to practice using them. Panning, zooming, and moving while keeping things in focus can be tricky at times. It really does need practice.

Exposure: This is another huge area that entire books have been written about. I'll get to all this in subsequent posts. For now, look at your photos. Are they too dark. Too light? Are the shadows pure black (clipped) and the highlights pure white (clipped)? If so, recognize the problem and decide to study up on why your errors may have occurred. I will tell you though that sometimes over and under exposed photos were the goal. If this is the case, you most likely already understand how exposure works. All you need to do is review your shot to see if you got what you were after.

Cropping: I see it all the time. Real estate agents taking pictures of houses with phone lines in the scene. Moving slightly closer to the home would have eliminated the eye sore. Taking photos of kids at Disney World with the creepy dude in the background who's scratching his belly. I mean, really. Taking a picture of your freshly painted hot rod with an overloaded garbage can sitting off to the side. When taking photos, make sure you use your position and zoom to crop out the undesirables. No one wants to see the power lines, creepy dude, or garbage can. Get closer to your subject. Move to a different position for a better angle. Review your images often to make sure you haven't made any of these types of mistakes.

Lighting: You'll know it when you have it. Getting the most out of your lighting can take patience and experience. Oftentimes, the light in your scene is less than cooperative. You need to know what to expect, how to manipulate it, and when the best times to shoot are. Review your shots to see how the lighting looks. While you can somewhat compensate for this in post-processing, there's nothing like the real thing.

Depth-of-Field: If you meant to take a portrait that includes a subject whose head is in focus from front to back and only the front is sharp, you've got a big problem. This type of error will need immediate correction so you don't end up with a wasted shoot. Review your images to see how deep or shallow your depth of field is. If it's too shallow, either adjust your distance from your subject or close down your lens' aperture. If your depth of field is too deep and there are objects in your scene that you'd rather be blurred out, you'll need to either get closer to your subject or open up your aperture.

Prioritization: This one goes hand in hand with cropping and composition. Basically, when reviewing your action photos, ask yourself if you actually captured the piece of action you wanted. Did you zoom in on the quarterback handing off the football? The player's foot kicking the soccer ball? The skates spraying off ice as the skater leaps from the rink? If those types of things aren't readily apparent after review, make your adjustments and continue shooting.

It's good practice to review your shots often while you're in the field. If you're merely using your review as a learning tool, sure, it's fine if you do it at the comfort of your desk at home, but if your photographs matter, then you better take care of things while you're doing them. You certainly would want to discover that all of your wedding shots had grave errors in them after the wedding was over.

How do you feel about the areas I chose to write about in regards to reviewing your photographs? Do you have any further suggestions that might help budding photographers? If so, please share them down below.
 
Top