Could I get a bit of professional criticism from a Pixoto member?

I'm getting discouraged.

I would appreciate a few real photographers' comments comparing specific features of a single Pixoto duel. (I am strictly a hobbyist, with a hobbyist's camera, the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS.)

Can you - would you - explain why there is such a huge gap between the scores of these two competing photos?

The winner.
http://www.pixoto.com/images-photogra...

(This is mine)
http://www.pixoto.com/images-photogra...

I am in NO WAY disagreeing with the voting.Just looking for a bit of help.

This is me-
http://www.pixoto.com/ratherbefunny/r...
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  • I'm not sure I fall into the "real photographer" category, but at a first glance two things hit me immediately....eye contact and crispy focus. Don't get discouraged. Taking pictures of animals requires patience and waiting for the right moment. On a side note, I don't use Pixoto's voting system as a means to measure how good (or bad) my photos are as there is a flaw in the voting process (imho). I have several photos that didn't go beyond 9, 11 or 12 duels. I don't feel a great need to buy more duels so I can get a badge.

    Below is a prime example after being paused after 5 wins and 6 losses and receiving a score of 228. In my eyes, it should have received a higher number, but like I said, I don't use Pixoto as a measuring stick. I'm here for the cheap canvas. :)

    http://www.pixoto.com/images-photogra...

    Just keep shooting the things you like to shoot and enjoy your photos. Happy clicking.
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  • I do not consider my self as a professional photographer so see this as a personal oppinion of mine whith no correctness claime!
    The Scene of the bird in your Photo is "unspectacular" and for the Viewer characterless.
    The bird is not looking an the Viewer nor you can see his eyes and his pose is not an eyecatcher that gets Attention. The Pipeline with reflection behind the bird makes the Image restless.
    If that would been my Image i would definitely send it to the trush ton.
    I am sorry Chris that i am so "straight" , i could have written nice things you maybe liked to read, but that wan`t help you!
    Next time compose the photo in your mind first before you make it!
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    Hi Chris. The image with the higher score which you mentioned has far more appeal to the average viewer. The composition of that photo follows a set of rules which basically every human being likes. Your image is more chaotic in composition and therefore loses it's appeal.

    Here is a link which describes the basics of composition and what it takes to make a photograph appealing.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF4h9...
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    Not a professional but I would have voted for the other image..good crisp details, eye contact, good background.
    To me yours is slightly out of focus around the head,no eye contact-that is not always essential however- and the background is distracting.
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    Animals especially birds can't convey facial emotions as easily as a human, so it's important to catch some light in the eyes. The eyes give them personality. And your bird is facing away from the lens. It's actually walking away!

    Secondly, composition is very important! A well composed photo keeps it from just being an ordinary snapshot! I actually put the most weight on composition when voting.
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  • Chris, I think you've received some excellent pointers here and I applaud you for being willing to open yourself up for some critique :-)

    I can't really add anything to what's been said above with regards to your photo, but I thought I'd just throw out some tips that we all should be aware of -- sometimes, even the smallest adjustment can turn a photo from good to great.

    1) Composition -- it's always best to get the shot you want when you shoot it. But if that doesn't happen, crop your photo so that the composition is improved.

    Also, concerning composition, it's really important to pay attention to the background. A distracting background can ruin what otherwise was a great photo. This is something to be aware of while you're shooting but you can crop away distractions or clone them out. Or, if the problematic bit is at the edge, try adding a vignette -- a dark vignette will cover it up, and a white vignette will blow it out. Vignettes are also often eye-appealing and they draw the eye into the middle of the photo, to the subject. (You can use the dodge or burn tools in your editing software to do this, but many software programs also have a vignette feature that lets you do this quickly and easily.)

    2) Light -- photography is all about the light. If your photo is under-exposed or over-exposed, it will not be pleasing to the eye. Sharply-bright burned-out sections or muddy, flat images won't have any appeal. Get to know your camera and how to adjust it so you have the proper settings for the conditions in which you're shooting. As well, lighting adjustments can be made in post-processing and can often rescue a photo. If you shoot in RAW (and I recommend that if your camera supports it) then even more lighting/exposure flaws can be corrected in post-production.

    3) Focus -- animal photography needs sharp focus. In particular, the focus on the eyes should be as close to perfect as you can muster. Use a tripod if you can. If you can't, use all the tricks in the book to keep your hands steady so the camera doesn't move. I have had arthritis in my hands for decades (an inherited condition, unfortunately) so I have had to learn to compensate for my often shaky hands and one trick that has helped me was to take my camera off the one-shot-only setting. As long as I hold down the shutter button, it keeps shooting. I typically shoot 3 or 4 photos at once and often, one of the middle photos has the sharpest focus. It works for me :-)

    You certainly can do some sharpening in post-production, but it's important not to over-sharpen, which looks artificial and, a lot of times, downright awful. Your only other option is to go for a soft, dreamy photo and while that can be very pretty, it may not get the vote from many of the Pixoto voters :-)
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