From the New To Photography Critique Challenge:
Originally Posted by PhoTomD
Critique - how to guide
Things to consider
* Emotive response/connection
* Visual impact
* Posing (when applicable)
* Technical details (exposure, colour balance, contrast)
* Treatment (mono conversion, sharpening, dust spot removal etc)
Critique the composition/subject choice
Is the main subject in the centre of the frame? Is it on a third? Somewhere else? Does the chosen composition work, or would you have done something differently? Look at the composition or content in the photograph. What is the centre of interest in the picture? Where did the photographer place it in the frame? Did the photographer get close enough to the subject to include only what is important, or are there wasted parts of the picture with elements that do not add to the message of the photo? Would the photo have been improved if the photographer had taken it after changing location (ie moved 2 steps to the left) Is the main subject in focus? Is it sharp focus, or a "soft" focus? Is the focus appropriate for the situation?
How does the photo connect with you on an emotional level? Does it remind you of happy times, sad times, traumatic experiences, a sense of excitement or acheivement? Why does it invoke these emotions? Do experiences from your past influence how you perceive the photo? Maybe the subject is your favourite sporting star, or a tropical island reminiscent of your honeymoon or a much remembered holiday. All these things impact the way you see the photo you are critiquing. Comment on this, cause your emotive connection will be different to the next person's.
Fore, Middle, and Backgrounds.
Does the photo contain all three? If not, do you think it would be better if it did? Next, observe the areas outside the main subject in the photograph. How did the photographer represent these areas in regards to focus and depth of field? Is the DOF shallow or deep? Does the DOF work in this shot, or should more (or less) of the photo be in focus? How do these areas of the photograph add or distract from the message of the photo? If there is an horizon, is it straight and level?
Is there wasted empty space is the photo? Should the crop have been tighter? Is it cropped so tightly that important parts of the photo have been cut off?
Colour / Tonal Range.
What type of colours do you see? Did the photographer use a lot of primary colours? Secondary? Complementary? Are the colours too vivid? Not vivid enough? Is the light soft or harsh? Does the type of lighting enhance or detract from the things in the photo? Is the white balance set correctly? Is there a yellowish, orangish, blueish or greenish cast to the photo?If you are looking at a B&W photo, is there a true black, true white, with a large tonal range in between, or is the photo too "grey"?
Do the lines and overall composition make you want to look deeper into the photo? Is your eye drawn into the photo, or out of it?
Is the photo "balanced"? Would it be better if there were other objects or other light/dark areas in the frame to improve the balance? If the photo is off balance, is there a reason for it?
Is any area overexposed or underexposed? If so, can you say why you think that happened? How could the photographer prevent this problem in the future?
Finally, offer your own personal feelings on the photograph. What do you like about the selected subject? Is it an emotional shot, a story, a statement, a humorous photo? What would you do differently if you had the chance to take the same photograph?
You could just say "Great photo", but why not add that bit more "Great photo, I really like the colours of the sunset, the clouds grab my attention"
'I like this", why not add "I like this cause its not an insect I have seen so close before, I didn't realise they had incandescent wings"
Constructive critiquing is a learned skill, start off easily, and just add a sentence to your comment. Do not try and write whole paragraphs to start with. Read others critiques, look at the points they raise and look at the photo. Learn from what you read. Not only will the skill of critiquing well, help the photographers you critique, but it will help your own photography as you take on board what you learn reading others critiques.