GOYA :: Verbing Nouns

December 29, 2011 | GOYA


My oldest son, Caleb (pictured on the right), just turned 13 yesterday! We have a real teenager in our house of four boys now. I can’t believe it. Caleb only took a passing interest in photography until he got on Instagr.am. You can find him there as @carias. He and his cousin, Grayson (pictured on the left), are both getting into HDSLR video as well. They are currently taking a 15 week Final Cut class at Cue52 so for Caleb’s Christmas/birthday present he got a Canon T2i with a kit lens so that he and his cousin can continue their video work and dive into photography a little deeper. Aside from getting Caleb a membership to Kelby Training, he and I are spending time going over the fundamentals of exposure, composition, and light. (#proudpapa) We figured what better way to get out there and put this into practice than do a GOYA shootout! Each of us had to find our own photo, edit our own photos, and do the post production on them. No one got any help from the others.

GOYA is my little term for “Get Off Your A$$” and go shoot. We used to do these on a more regular basis but life and work got in the way. Damn life and work. So Caleb, Grayson, and I hit downtown Atlanta yesterday with our cameras to shoot something in motion. Caleb picked the theme. It started with “people in motion” then we found lots of pigeons, cars, water, and other moving nouns so it became “Verbing Nouns”.

Here’s how this works. Below are three photos. Photographer #1, #2, and #3. You choose your favorite photo and use the poll code box to vote. The winning photographer will get a $25 B&H gift card. Also, if any of you leave a constructive critique of any or all of our photos I will choose one of you to win a $25 B&H gift certificate as well!  Here are the photos…

Update :: Voting for this shoot out has ended. You can see the three photos we entered and the poll results after the jump…


Photographer #1 ::




Photographer #2 ::





Photographer #3 ::





(voting has ended)! If I win (which I usually don’t) then I’ll give two commenters a $25 B&H gift card. You’ll have to have a valid email address to win. Don’t put your email address in the comment field. Just in the name/email/web area when leaving a comment. I’ll see your email address in the admin section of my blog.

I’m asking for your critique because I want Caleb and Grayson to hear real world feedback on their photos when you, the viewer, are detached from who shot what. Don’t hold back on us. Tell us what you like and why you like it as well as what you do not like and why. Without critique, we’ll never grow as photographers.

Caleb was photographer #1. I was photographer #2. Grayson was photographer #3.

Cheers, Zack

PS – I had a hard time choosing mine. I had it narrowed down to two so Meg tossed a coin to see which one I entered. Let’s see if that worked. (ETA – It worked!) :)


  • John (aka Wish I Were Riding) said on December 29, 2011

    I like #1, but felt the slightly off angle wasn’t right. At first I didn’t like it at all that the lines weren’t vertical. Then I decided I liked that the angles of the build played off the angle of the guys back. But I decided I liked it only second best because the angle could have been made more exaggerated (doesn’t need a lot more tipping), to have made it a more interesting commentary and shot. So I only give it #2 place.

    #2 is interesting. I think the detail in the sun is exposed well, but I’m not sure I accept what it does for the rest of the picture (putting it in such deep shadow). Nothing wrong her, just personal opinion.

    #3 is the one I chose. I don’t have much to say constructively. I think I just chose it because for me it has the most visual interest. It doesn’t have a lot of detail, and yet still has enough that my eye is drawn around the image long enough that it is more interesting than the others.

    I hope the kids beat you!

  • Lisa said on December 29, 2011

    I liked #1 but, like the another commenter, the off vertical lines kinda bugged me. I also feel like the subject is just a little too far right in the frame.

    I voted for #2 because I love how the subject is so highlighted by the light. I also like the stark shadow and the One Way sign. It just works for me.

    #3 somehow didn’t do much for me. I like it, but nothing really stood out in that one.

    Best of luck. Can’t wiat to hear who wins!

  • Zachary Perlow said on December 29, 2011

    I like the cell phone guy because of the sense of space. The framing, the lighing, and intimate shot of the guy makes me feel like I’m right there. The 2nd one has a nice play on light but I’m not drawn to the composition. Maybe too much going on? The 3rd is my second favorite. Nice lines and framing

    p.s. I’m a little confused a on where to comment so I did one here and in the area for voting :)

  • Adam said on December 29, 2011

    I chose #2 because I really love the way the light draws me into the photo. And then there’s this guy walking within the light. I also love the light/shadows on the left building.

    I really like #1 also. I like the lower angle, the B&W, and the obvious movement of the man. However, the lines don’t feel right (should be straight or more rotated) and the crop/shot is a little too close to the subject.

    #3 is OK. Cool shot of the subject pushing the cart down the alley. Good exposure, but it just doesn’t do much for me.

    Overall, a good batch of photos and a cool idea – GOYA! I look forward to more photo walks with my three girls who are 6, 4, and 1!

  • Stephen Marsh said on December 29, 2011

    For me, #3 seems to have a better balance and feels more compact. The lines draw the eye down to the brighter area that contains the man with the bin. It gives me the impression of a more considered composition vs. #2 which appears more of random chance and #1 which feels like it was shot from the hip. All three are worthy photos.

  • Michael said on December 29, 2011

    #1 is great at the first sight. Good framing, black and white reduces also to the guy. But then I saw the lines in the back are not exactly upright and from then on I had to concentrate on that. And after a while the picture looked like a stock (nothing bad if you want that)

    #2 has a great framing too. Besides the guy in the light (good exposure by the way) you can feel the emptiness. That is really great – if you feel something special – you made it.

    #3 took a while. But it is the most exciting picture. The depth of it, mostly white, but with the colorsplash of the yellow sign. It tells an interesting story, the hard word, the bad street, … phantasy get started with that photograph.
    The only thing that disturbs me a little is the border on the right side. It’s not necessary. But anyway: I voted for #3.

    What a fun. Good luck!

  • C.C. Chapman said on December 29, 2011

    Love seeing these back and congrats on having a teenager in the house. Mine turns 13 next month and I’m not quite ready for it yet.

    My 2 cents on the photos

    #1 bugged me because of the off kilter lines. The guy leaning forward and the pillars all felt a bit off to me and that was a huge distraction.

    #2 I loved and voted for because I love how still everything is and yet the subject is in a perfect line of light. Plus he is walking with the one way sign which made me feel he was headed in the right direction.

    #3 at first I thought was boring. Then I noticed the second individual at the far end of the shot and it started growing on me. I’m a sucker for old rusted signs and the fact that there are people walking towards each other who will be crossing soon made me like the photo much better than my initial reaction.

  • Chris Kale said on December 29, 2011

    #1, just seems rushed. A snap if you will.
    #2, Planned or not, it looks thought out. Like the location was picked and the photog just waited till the right moment presented itself. I almost choose this one.
    #3, My pick. I like this shot. It could be anywhere, anytime. There is so much to look at in the shot. The sign, both people, the brick work. Even the paint markings on the ground.

  • Sterling said on December 29, 2011

    I apparently left my comment on the poll result page and am too lazy to rewrite it all here. Hopefully you can still read it.

  • Derek said on December 29, 2011

    I like different aspects of all three shots. My order was 1, 3, 2.

    The lines in the first one didn’t bother me, as I viewed it as the guy heading down to meet his shadow in a way, but the main reason that I chose it was for the random cow reflection. It is a built in easter egg in the photograph.

    Image 2 was nice, but it just didn’t grab me. I did like the user of his shadow to make it seem like he is walking with someone.

    I liked how image 3 draws you down the length of the street, and then you come back to notice the sign and the details in the brick work on the wall.

  • Ian McKenzie said on December 29, 2011

    I like all three shots, but I particularly like the way the figure in photo #2 is caught in the bright shaft of light which pulls your attention from the dark parts of the composition.

  • shen-chris said on December 29, 2011

    Photo #1
    I feel that the composition is solid, although a bit off for the crop. I like the fact that the person has space to walk within the frame and that it is not cookie cutter rule of thirds, and that the subject was in a clean spot in front of the building.
    Two things that detract me from the subject are the leaning of the building to the left. Buildings stand plum and look odd if they lean. Second, my eyes are drawn away from the subject to the brightest part of the image, the leaning building pillar.

    Photo #2
    I liked the over tonality of the photo. Great use of exposure to get details in the highlights and the shadows. Love the use of the sun light to draw the viewer’s eye to the person walking and the one way sign is a bonus. The building lines are straight so they do not detract from the composition.

    Photo #3
    Strong composition over all, good use of exposure to capture details. I found my self looking back and forth between the crossing sign and the person walking with the trash can and trying to reconcile the two. It wasn’t until I looked at the picture again did I notice the actual pedestrian crossing at the end of the side walk. Nice leading lines into the subjects, and the brightest part of the photo emphasizes the subjects.

  • Michael Montalto said on December 29, 2011

    For me, Image #1 is the strongest image.

    There isn’t too much information in the photograph. Your eye is immediately drawn to the subject. The rule of thirds is considered and you have these fantastic horizontal and vertical lines to give the image some depth.

    The shadow given off by the subject gives a bit of an ominous feeling but what really makes the image stand out for me is the use of the subjects hand. To me, it looks like he is slowly pacing and being very direct with whomever he is having a conversation with on the phone. I don’t get the feeling that this image was simply “of a guy walking down the street” like I get with the other two images. This image feels as if it was selected …. or made.

    The tall stone buuilding gives me a sense that the man is outside of a courtroom or some government building and his attire lends itself to it.

    If I were to make any adjustments to this image, I would say that I would want to see a bit more of the left side of the frame. The crop that is used may be intentional to remove other unwanted aspects of the image and to draw attention to the subject but I definately feel slightly “pinned in from behind”.

    I would title the image “The Deliberate Man” because you really do get a sense that there is a very important conversation being had on that cell connection.

    We were asked to critique an image so I’m going to assume that lending my thoughts on just one is sufficient.

    As an aside, I’m a father of two young boys (Kyle 8 & Luke 6) myself and we get to shoot together now and again as well. It’s fantastic to see you sharing this with your boy Zack. After all the journey together is really the reward and as with all fathers, the older we get, the smarter they become.



  • Brian said on December 29, 2011

    My vote is for #2. I like the way the light frames him as well as some of the tree branches.
    Capturing him walk in the same direction as the One Way sign is an added bonus. Well done!


  • Tom Bricker said on December 29, 2011

    #1 is interesting because there is tension created with the horizontal lines leaning towards the left of the frame. It does seem a little flat for a black and white image but I love the square crop. It is easy to determine the subject of the photo, but it appears he is having difficulty walking downhill while talking on the phone.

    #2 is nice because the subject of the photo is contrast with the brightest part of the image against the wall. There is a feeling of loneliness in such a vast space like walking in downtown Dayton, Ohio on a cold Sunday morning. However, I feel the inclusion of so many objects especially the building on the left of the frame (love the scroll work) doesn’t give the image enough focus.

    #3 is my favorite. Leading lines with foreground and background elements set off the subject wheeling the trashcan down the alley. I love the “pedestrian crossing” sign in the foreground that adds a splash of color and placement of subject in lower right corner. These two elements create a strong diagonal line in the frame.

  • Derek Tipton said on December 29, 2011

    I like number one. However, I think it needs more contrast and to be cropped in from the left a little more. There is a light reflection in the window that is pulling my eye. Also it needs to be straightened up a little, I feel like the guy is falling forward.

    I love the use of light reflections that occur in larger cities. But I do feel that the subject while well framed, is a little small.

    I think I will vote for photo 3. I love the juxtaposition of the sign and the people walking. I would like to see it cropped in from the left so that metal/wood whatever is out of the frame.

  • Tawcan said on December 29, 2011

    #1 is my pick. I love the overall composition I love the long shadow on the ground in this pic. It’s like the guy is talking on the phone but in his mind he is trying to go somewhere else quickly. Like others have mentioned already, the lines in the background aren’t straight. Not sure if this was done on purpose or just not edited. This can be easily corrected in post. Personally I’d love to see more contrast in this pic.

    #2 The fact the subject is highlighted by the light is really cool. However I didn’t like the fact the lamp is cutting the picture in half.

    #3 Very interesting pic. Leading lines in the foreground and background attract where your eyes go. Really like the fact there’s one person walking away from you and one person walking towards you.

  • AngieS said on December 29, 2011

    Wrote my comments on the poll, but here they are again…I chose number 3, trash bin guy. I really liked the pop of colour from the sign, I liked how the subject was framed nicely within the building, and there are lots of leading lines drawing your eye to the subject. The writing on the sign also adds to the overall context. Two lucky boys!

  • jeremy said on December 29, 2011

    “the lines are off-kilter and it bugged me…” Who are these people? What have we done that we expect all the lines in a photo to be perfectly square? I think we’ve become so lost in analysing the minutae of a photo that we no longer let them speak to us and enjoy the image.

  • Chris Pearson said on December 29, 2011

    I went with #3 as that was the one that grabbed me of the 3.

    #1 just seem quite framed right, the man needs to be more in frame for me.
    #2 I am drawn to the flag first not the man.

    The scariest thing is that those are 3 quality images, and 2 of these are by kids half my age and a damn site better than anything I have managed. 2 to watch for sure.

  • Emily said on December 29, 2011

    I think it’s awesome that you did a GOYA with your son! He is one lucky kid! Your reciprocal chart on Instagram yesterday cracked me up and inspired me to sit at my kitchen table and make my own reciprocal charts.
    So I like to pretend that I know a little bit about photography, and I’m jumping in because I want to learn and grow myself by doing some critiques. (And I’m typing this without reading anyone else’s critiques.)
    My thoughts on the pics:
    #1: I love this in black and white. Very simple. A very clear depiction of someone in motion. I love the motion in the guy’s body-walking, talking on his cell phone and using his hand to talk too.  Getting nit-picky, the car glare in the bottom left corner is a little distracting.
    #2: I love the light in this one and how the guy walking is the clear subject of the picture. This picture kind of bugged me at first because it seemed like an ordinary shot of the street—wide angle, lots of info to take in. Maybe it’s just that I am used to trying to get in tight on my subject to get rid of the background. The more that I look at it though, it has REALLY grown on me.
    #3: I love the lines, shapes and texture in this one. The guy at the end of the street in green is a little distracting to me though, because I like to think that the guy pushing the trash can is the subject of the picture.

  • Ashley said on December 29, 2011

    None of these photos aligns well with my own aesthetic, but all of them have something to offer: the story of trash bin guy, the shaft of light of #2, and the clean simplicity of #1. Ultimately I chose #1 because the angled frame (normally something I dislike) matched the angled pose of the subject and added to the tension of his pose.

  • basim.xekxstj27@offlinepag.es said on December 29, 2011

    I’m looking for the pedestrian crossing the street. What do I see in #3? A guy pushing a cart down the street. Then, I see someone else down the road coming at me. Is that the pedestrian crossing?

    What I see when I stop to think about it, is two people moving through their respective days.

  • Basim said on December 29, 2011

    That last comment should have just had Basim as my name. Dang autocorrect!

  • Topher said on December 29, 2011

    2# I really like the lighting, and the crop. The 1# one has a nice crop, and I can feel the movement, but it seems kinda empty. The 3# might look better in black and white.

  • Ian Hayhurst said on December 29, 2011

    #1 I like the bold contrasts and graphic elements of the lines, as it’s uncluttered and a strong background without distracting, I like the animated pose of the subject and the story unfolding as he enters the (odly tilted frame, I dont like that so much as it’s unsettling… but it works in that respect and adds an element to the ‘story’) I do like the hint of the wider scene in the reflections… especially thet ghostly Cow’s head behind the pillar)

    #2 This one got my vote but I have to confess it’s the light that did it not interpretation of the brief! The contrast focuses the attention and that pin sharp shadow thrown by the subject. There’s a story but it’s less obvious than #1 or #3, the lurking ambulance, One way sign splash of furled flag colour. even the nest of cameras on the pillar observing. The light on the first wall is magnificent which distracts from the story, and the crop at the top is not to my taste with the light just poking in and thet little square of blue sky (the hint of that in the upper story windows shows that better)

    #3Like the juxtaposition of the old building with those wavy brick arches now filled in and the modern building bolted onto the right. The story is intriguing (what’s in the bin, The pedestrian?) what’s going on, white coat guy waiting down road… but it’s way too light/bright to really hold that mystery for long,

  • bpj said on December 30, 2011

    #1 because of its vertiginous disorientation that suggests not just a noun in motion but a noun consumed by motion, so consumed as to be an alien on the landscape. Every inch of the noun is verbing motion–the gesturing hand, the upturned foot, the driving declension of his body, already uptight and tense. Even the buildings seem to bend, or warp oddly fighting against force of his motion. Part of motion is instability and #1 destabilizes me more than the others.

    I find the other two images more pleasing in ways others have already described but #1 made me pause in ways the others did not and consider what was being shown. I do love #3 though. A close 2nd.

  • Erin Wilson said on December 30, 2011

    You know, I love that it’s not at all obvious who made which photo. Kudos to the younger members of the challenge!

    I voted for #3…

    #1- Yeah, just couldn’t get past wanting to straighten it. Still want to reach in and straighten it.
    #2- Almost a perfect image for me. The light on the corner of the building on the left is gorgeous. But I wish the image had been made two seconds sooner, with the walking man and his shadow in the center of the shaft of light. Then it would have been excellent!
    #3- It’s clever, what can I say. Love that the two walkers will be crossing each other near the ‘pedestrian crossing’ sign. Love the rhythm made by the brick and paint patterns on the wall. It seems like a simpler image, but it held my eye for a long time.

    Nice work, all! :)

  • Jef Hatch said on December 30, 2011

    I voted for #3 because it spoke to me. I love how the pedestrian sign is so beat up and how it contrasts with the pedestrian. I have to say that I would have cropped a little tighter on the right to get rid of the stairs as they don’t lead anywhere for me. But I don’t dislike them enough to make the image lose my vote.

    #1 has some problems. The horizon isn’t level, and it isn’t enough juxtaposed against anything else to make it obvious that it was an intentional choice on the photographers part. Crop the horizon level and then move to the left to get rid of the relfection of the car on the left edge of the image. It also bothers me that the head of the shadow is cropped off. I’m thinking if you would previsualize what you want to see after observing the spot for the image, you could set up and wait for someone to be in the image perfectly. Don’t cut the head off of the shadow, it’s an integral part of the image for me.

    #2 I didn’t care for two. Because it didn’t speak to me. technically, I think the lit wall behind the walking man could be toned down a little bit. If you underexposed it a little bit when taking the picture, you could drop out some of the distracting elements found up the alley and bring out the walker a little more. I do like the fire hydrant in the foreground. Maybe you could lighten it up a little to bring out the details a little more.

    Just some thoughts, take them or leave them. Great that you’re doing this Zack. Good on ya.

  • DH said on December 30, 2011

    Great getting your kids and nephew out there, lucky them.

    I love the motion in 1 – it’s almost like he’s doing the “robot” or moonwalking. But the over exposed white element in the top middle really draws my eye away from the action, and it is too tightly cropped on the right. If you could recrop and re-align the horizon, as well as bring down the highlight, it would be a stronger image.

    2. Dig the color and exposure and sense of light. Would crop down from top to remove streetlight and blue square. Nicely balanced picture overall, but not as much a story as #3

    3. Winner –for me, the most sophisticated of the group, very well cropped in camera from left to right, top to bottom, every piece works. Especially like the windows at top… also the touch of yellow and the message of the sign which acts as the caption, the silhouette of the closer figure, the inclusion of the stairs on the far right… I’m guessing this is Zack’s photo, too much is right with it :-) It’s “tight,” even in its looseness. So listen up young-uns, you’re responsible for Every Element in the frame!

    Keep Verbing!

  • Paul said on December 30, 2011

    No 3 first. I like the sign, the leading line of the road to the wheelie bin woman clearly not crossing the road. The exposure across the frame is bang on

    Next comes number 2. The shaft of light lighting the building and the walker has real intent. Intent in so far as it appears unrushed and deliberately captured with a pedestrian. A slight crop to remove the top light would have seen this image become my first choice.

    Last but not least, No 1. The verticals I can just about live with but perhaps they should be straightened. Furthermore, the leaning verticals are accentuated by using a square crop. The real problem though is in the cropping. Too tight with no ‘rear’ room to breath.

  • Kate said on December 30, 2011

    I chose #2–I loved the colors, the fact that the guy was in the light, and my eye was drawn around the frame. It was the most interesting for me.
    #1 was a close 2nd, because of the light at the subjects back, and his shadow stretching in front of him. The black and white edit was a good choice. I would’ve rotated the image a bit to straighten out the vertical lines of the buildings and not cropped so close. Including the entire shadow on the L and a little space on the R would’ve improved the image in my opinion.

  • Michelle Feeney said on December 30, 2011

    Thanks for sharing this with all of us!

    #2 is by far my favorite. I love this shot. The light dark light with the person and shadow going in the same direction as the one way sign are all things that pop out to me in a positive way. The only thing I might change would be to crop in a touch and remove the lamp at the top.

    #3 came in second for me. I like the sign with the two people in contrasting colors. I think it could use a slightly tighter crop to remove the black/brown framing on the left side for the sign to be the first thing you see.

    #1 I think it would be interesting to see the shadow going exactly into the bottom left corner. I like the position of the man to the lines of the contrasting tile and his shadow.

  • Michael said on December 30, 2011

    Pick one. Hmmmmmmmm.

    Technical aspects of all three are very good. Nit picking is all that is left and not worth the time to type them out. It is a wash on which one it better.

    Does it fit the topic? (My photo club really doesn’t get this) The first one seems to be missing something, the second seems to have too much, and the third is just right. Call me Goldy.

    Do I like it? #3 has my vote. I’ve looked at each one three times for about a minute each time. I found some new detail each time I looked at #3. The image feels like you are moving with the subjects while the other two have a feeling a stopping and looking.

    Nothing wrong with the other two but we had to pick one.

    It looks like Joey L may have some competition.

  • Josh Mitchell said on December 30, 2011

    #3 was my favorite. I liked the lonely feeling it evoked.

  • James said on December 30, 2011

    First off Happy Birthday Caleb!

    #1 Like the location, I would have liked a little bit of broken rules here with the guy (another guy most likely) walking in the opposite direction but in the same spot (walking out of the frame) Like he is walking into the light with the long shadow behind him, making you think where is he going?

    2. I Love the composition, I also love all the lines and geometric shapes. I wish the shaft of light was the width of the guy that is walking. (this is a grip that I may only be able to complain to God about;) )

    3. I just finished watching Day One of Creative Live…All I could say when I saw #3 was…frame within a frame triangle, rectangle, rectangle, repetitive shape and for, repetitive shape and form….

    Creative Live Plug;) — http://www.creativelive.com/courses/zack-arias-again

  • Stan Banks said on December 30, 2011

    #1 the shadow and hand motion make the image. However I dont heel like the guy has a destination like he may just be having an intense conversation and be pacing out front of the building. I think if there was a little more of the scene maybe the end of the building or the shadow wasnt off frame.

    #2 (My winner) show cases a subject moving with a destination. It shows where whe is coming from and leave you wondering where he is going. I actually wonder whill he turn the corner or cross the street. (I bet he crossed because he isnt hugging the corners edge)

    #3 Shows still motion like I know the people are moving but i dont see it. Or they may not be in a hurry like #2 or care where they are doing like #1. I think the shadows set the other 2 apart.

  • Paul B said on December 30, 2011

    #1 as others have said, the vertical lines aren’t quite right. Good choice of B+W though.

    #2 the highlight in the building just suck you in, fantastic. The flat above helps with the theme.

    #3 My pick, it made me think of the noise that bin must be making and therefore pulled me in more than the other two, my pick.

  • Girish said on December 30, 2011

    The best part is shooting together. I am sure we learn a lot from the kids :), also am very happy for them at this age they are proving and establishing their ground. Love to see their video as well.

    I voted for no.2 and I hope it wins. Hopefully it was clicked by one of the kids.

    Well not that you have asked, here are my cents on the photographs

    #1) The only part which is missing is the complete shadow of the guy and a small note that the photo needs to be straightened.

    #2) Love it. Might reduce the bright color of the light and crop it a little.

    #3) Again a beautiful photograph. Was difficult choosing 2/3. The light play in the second won. For the 3rd I would love it see it in b/w. It’s perfect setting for a b/w image.

    By the way, love the term “Goya”

  • Jessica said on December 30, 2011

    #1 I really liked. I love minimalism, and black and white. It actually seems to be the strongest of all three images, but for all that, it doesn’t really “strike” me as anything terribly remarkable.

    #2 Has something the first one doesn’t have– it grabs you. The light is super interesting, drawing your attention exactly where it should. Everything else is in shadow, so it’s not as important, and yet it’s still enough that you get a great sense of environment.

    #3 Didn’t do much for me because my eyes kept bouncing between the “Pedestrian Crossing” sign on the left and the trash-bin man on the right.

  • Pamela R. said on December 30, 2011

    I really did like them all but I voted for #1 with the caveat that the angle was a bit off- it wasn’t tilted enough to appear intentional and was slightly askew if it was to be straight. (I’m married to an artist/art prof.- perspective is big here.) I liked the crop and how the subject had a nice rim light that set him apart from the dark background. The shot seemed anticipated and I like how the subject was larger.

    #2 I liked this shot and might have picked it were it not for the truck. The lights on it kept pulling my eye, I really like the idea of the the lone pedestrian on a desolate street in the shaft of sunlight- but the truck would not allow for it.

    #3- This one is compelling as well, but I was unsure of the subject. Was it the scene as a whole? The pedestrian in the sun (quite far into the frame)? Or the person pushing the bin in the street? My eye kept going to the person pushing the bin, but I think a lower camera angle would have provided a better/stronger silhouette against the white building. I like all the angles but I wasn’t sure where my eye was to land.

  • graham blouin said on December 30, 2011

    Number 2 is my choice because I have been sucked into imagining a story. There’s some eerie about a major city with with only one person in it . The abandoned vehicle and the one-way sign suggests that its not the only abandoned vehicle and we probably have a Hotel California situation. The high contrast on the dude boldly braving the impeding danger,hints that he is either oblivious or has special powers. At any rate, even the heavens see him as special. I love the cross-walk for pidgeons (on top of curbs) suggests a highly controlled environment where everything living there is George Orwellian. Atlanta? I think not.

  • Jerry said on December 30, 2011

    My disclaimer up front: I am not a professional photographer or anywhere near that title. Unfortunately I am a hobbyist at best, but with higher aspirations. That said, I cannot speak with any authority about lighting, framing and composition, or theory and the like. I can only talk about what is compelling to me, and why. So here we go.

    Photograph #1
    At first glance, it’s off balance. Angled. Then I see the man’s form is angled along with the building column and think that’s nice serendipity. I notice the light on the man’s back and then his long shadow on the ground. Nice, but nothing earthshaking here. Nothing much going on to sustain my interest or make me remember the photograph. In summary, the angle(s) is perhaps the most notable aspect of the photograph, and then the light on the man and building column. Not too exciting. Does not stimulate my imagination or make my mind create a story.

    Photograph #2
    At first glance, somewhat striking. More specifically, the section of light that illuminates the person walking obviously makes the picture. I think good timing. There’s some thought there behind the photograph, possibly some planning. My eye follows the section of light down and up, and I notice the flag. Back down to notice the backpack detail on the man walking. Then I notice the One Way sign whose arrow points in the same direction as the man’s walking. Okay that’s kinda cool. My eye does another quick lap and I notice the white truck parked in the alley and the decorative molding on the nearest building. I’m done.

    Looking at the picture as a whole, there is plenty of detail in the shadow areas for me, and the bright areas also have detail and are not blown out. It’s a nice exposure for highlighting the light and person walking. In summary, there is drama to the photograph courtesy of the dark-to-light-to-dark areas, and what appears to be intention on the part of the photographer. Also a good exposure. These elements make a slightly memorable photograph, but without any other compelling subject matter or activity, it stops right there.

    Photograph #3
    At first glance, no drama. Little energy or movement. No great help from color range, with just the yellow Pedestrian Crossing sign tagging the photo. BUT…there’s a story here, something that inspires my imagination and connects with me. And that makes all the difference in the world.

    My eye examines the depth of the alley, the perspective, the distances of the two subjects from each other and the photographer. This observation is not a conscious directive but an automatic impulse. I try to get more detail from the image about the old woman at the end of the alley and from the worker going down the middle of it. I’m involved now in the photograph. Who is the woman, what’s her story, and who is the man? Do they have a relationship other than location? Do either of them affect the other in any way? And on a different level altogether, I see isolation, possibly loneliness on display.

    That involvement, that participation in what’s happening, and connection on an emotional level is what makes Photograph #3 my choice. If a photographer does not capture the attention, the imagination or the inquisitiveness of the observer with his photograph, he has lost a great opportunity to move them in some way. And the photograph has lost the opportunity to transcend the ordinary.

  • keith said on December 30, 2011

    photography is about light and as much as i might like to get past that, i just can’t stop looking back at #2

  • Alex said on December 30, 2011

    I love #1, other than the angle. There’s such strong lines that you can’t really get away with slightly tilting them, but the subject is clear and the exposure is good.

    #2 is such a great exposure technically, but it doesn’t really tell me a story. Obviously I look at the guy, simply walking, then I look at the surroundings and notice there’s no one else, then I look back at the man and wish he was somehow acknowledging the fact he’s all alone. Obviously, you can’t direct him, but it’s what I see. But technically, I love it.

    #3 kind of bugs me for two reasons; the two subjects of the shot, as I see it, are on opposite sides with a lot of blank space between, which kind of confuses my eye, and the man on the right has his head intersected by the curb. I’m wondering if changing your framing by stepping to the left, and possible changing the height of the camera, could have remedied that?

    Not a lot of critique though, all 3 images are good. I’m happy with them technically, the only thing that gets me (and probably because I’m always trying to do this better myself) is defining the subject and telling a story.

  • Matthew Kunce said on December 30, 2011

    #1 I wanted to see his full shadow. I like the composition overall but with the shadow being cut off on the left I felt like something was missing.
    # 2 What drew me to this one was actually the scale. I really liked the small figure in motion against the large buildings. It gives an impression of where we are in the world that surrounds us.
    #3 I like the color of the sign against the white of the wall. It pops out. The bits to the left of the sign are a bit distracting. The same goes for the staircase on the right.

    Great job everyone though. I need to practice GOYA this year for sure.

  • Christian said on December 30, 2011

    #3 is the best.
    For me it was a simple decision.
    #3 has depth and (especially for the sign) story-unfolding starts right by the first view.
    #1 and #2 both distracted me with slanted lines.
    #1 – once straightened – could work, but I have to go in there and find a meaning, it doesnot come out of its own.
    #2 … no, i cannot find anything in this picture. Maybe if there was some relationship between the flag and the person?

  • Fabio Giraldi said on December 30, 2011

    I chose #1, even if it was *not* a simple choice (and the fact that two of them are shot by teenagers makes me thinking about me -nearly 32 years old!- as a photographer with a bit of frustration :) ).

    #3 is good: the rendition of the street pavement and of the brick wall is remarkable, but my sight wondered around too much before identifying the subject. The road sign does not help, also: it competes too much with the guy. And the second guy in the back? Maybe it’s a limit of mine, but I’m too confused by this choices.

    #2 is very dramatic, like the flash lit pictures I like and that Zack creates often (imagine a gigantic fresnel + mask :) ). The light reflections (from windows?) on the front facing of the shaded buildings add great threedimensionality and interest to the dark areas of the frame. So, we have a small but sharp and contrasty human figure fast wading through a dark urban environment: a conceptually strong image. Even thou, my personal taste is for “clean” pictures, so, since I’m asked, I have to chose #1.

    #1 has everything that I love in a picture: it’s dynamic, but still geometrically strong (and the tele “compression” enforce this geometry). Some people in the comments before mine criticized the non-90°-standard-deg orientation of the architectural lines in the background: guys, it’s only me that finds that a perfect choice for a *leaning* subject? Doesn’t it adds dynamicity? Doesn’t it makes for a perfect metaphor of a city guy (smart suite and mobile) perfectly fit for his environment? The pose is perfect (seems set up), the lighting is perfect (strong light from back of subject + bounced front subject “fill” from walls, again like a set up cross lighting). The sharp, elongated shadow on the concrete is both a perfect geometric complement for the building facings in the back and a “narrative” future trajectory. Black and white conversion is ideal, in this case (please, note that usually I do *not* find particularly attractive BW conversions from digital pics: nonetheless I chose this pic).

    Excuse me for being over-wordy and excuse any possible (probable) English mistake (it’s not my mother tongue), but this “critique the Arias” thing really caught me! 😉

    Thanks for the good work, Zack, first and foremost as an inspirational photographer, and as a teacher and blogger.

  • JohnW said on December 30, 2011

    #1 is a nice attempt at street photography but the leaning angle and cropped shadow lets it down. Still a good shot though.

    #2 I like this a lot and was almost my winner; if the man had been slightly further back it would have nailed it for me, but still really good.

    #3 Very well composed with elements that lead your eye around the frame. I’d love to see this in B&W really, but this is my top choice of the three.

  • Sam Fifer said on December 30, 2011

    What a great way to start the year… for both of you. Congrats!

  • Adam Heiden said on December 30, 2011

    #1 has great emotion, I don’t mind the placement of the guy, but I would’ve like to see his full shadow in the picture with a little space beyond that.
    #2 is great, nice use of thirds, could’ve been shot as a vertical to keep the entire light post and create more height in the the world and make the subject seem smaller.
    #3 is my favorite, the left side could use some cropping to take out that brown cross pattern area, it just doesn’t mesh with the rest of the walls in the photo.

  • steph said on December 30, 2011

    #1 – I liked that I could see his face, what he was doing and where he was going – he’s a real person. The shadow is interesting, and I love the BW. I wish the pillar was straight in the picture.

    #2 – The one panel of light was interesting. I wish the light pole wasn’t cutting the image in half, and that it was straight. The guy is so small, he seems to be just another part of the background rather than the focal point.

    #3 – I love the composition with the alley. The most interesting part of this image to me is the sign. The guy walking appears secondary and not that interesting… he’s in shadow, it’s his back… no matter how long I look, nothing is really interesting about him other than his placement in the image.

  • Jeff Walton said on December 30, 2011

    What a great exercise for you guys! It looks like you were out at a great time of day for nice drastic lighting. I voted #2, but here is my breakdown.

    #1 The photo is very well exposed and timed, but I feel the square format is forced. Only critique is that I usually do not favor square format photos unless they were shot that way, in this instance I feel it was cropped in post. The exposure is excellent!

    #2 The naturally isolated light is fantastic, and the timing is spot on. The One Way sign adds to the photo in that it corresponds to the direction of the pedestrian. It’s awesome to have all elements working in a photo, and when they work this well together I can’t look away.

    #3 Love the composition! My vote went to #2 only because the street sign tied into the photo better there, while here it is more of a visual element that hints at the concept of People in Motion. This looks like it was a difficult exposure to get, so nice job there, even if some burning/dodging was done in post.

    Great effort all around, and thanks for sharing the exercise!

  • Jeku said on December 30, 2011

    #1 was my pick because I was drawn to the subject’s face and hand motions. I thought it cool that the posture of the subject matched piller’s slanted angle. The long shadow adds a nice touch.

    #2 is interesting because of the parallel lines, contrast of light and dark, and other environmental elements that help direct your eyes to the subject.

    #3 least interesting to me. lighting and composition is fine, but the subject is the least interesting of the three.

    Can’t wait for me to GOMA and take photos like this with my friends!

  • matheson rittenhouse said on December 30, 2011

    Firstly, good for all of you for GOYA and getting some good shots. I like all three, but 2 is my favorite.

    I really like that the shooter found that nice bit of light and waited for a good moment. I think the cropping could have been a bit better. I would have preferred to see all of the lamp post. To borrow a Mathew Jordan Smith phrase, your “hero” could be a bit more prominent. A portrait orientation might have been useful here allowing space for the entire lamp post, reducing the amount of unimportant (to my taste) building and road on the left and would have still kept your walking man small, while putting more emphasis on him. I also really like the dynamic road lines and sidewalks combined with the strong verticals of the buildings. The post production is really clean and adds to the overall feel without being all “hey look at me I’m a lot of fancy-pants post!”

    The first image is a nice black and white. I think that was an excellent choice for it. Like the first the post-production is great. I would have liked the size difference between the walking man and the marble(?) square column to be a bit more exaggerated. I would have preferred the cropping/lens choice to make the man look small or large in relation to the column. There is a tension between the two elements that is not maximized. None the less it is still there and so that is well done. I also love the long shadow and would have liked to see all of it. I normally like my verticals to be vertical and horizontals to be horizontal, but it does not bother me so much. I am not sure if the image would have been “better” if the image was more square. It might be an interesting exercise to see if different angles improve the image or not.

    The third image is a good find in terms of scene. I like how it is set up, but I would have wanted a bit more in terms of hero. That said, I like the attempt at developing some tension between the two people. Maybe if they were a bit more prominent it would have more of an impact. The post is good, but I would have backed off just a titch from the contrast.

    Anyway, Zack, you clearly have some competition on your hands!

  • Takki said on December 30, 2011

    I really like pic no. 3. It tells a story. The pic No 2 with the guy and the light is nice, it draws your eye to it. But that’s about it. Not a real story here. Pic one is also a great shot but not so much of a story here. So my favorite one is No. 3

  • Keri said on December 30, 2011

    I love #1, they are all nice photos, but #1 instantly jumped out at me as something i would’ve loved to take.

  • Oz said on December 30, 2011

    # 3 is my pick. Fantastic leading lines got my attention right off the bat. After, my eyes kept bouncing around from the sign, to the pedestrian, to textures, to the other pedestrian….just lots to look at. Well done!

    #1, like others were saying, the off kilter lines bothered me. I would have liked it better if the building had either been straight or at a more severe angle.

    #2 While I appreciate the timing (getting the guy walking in the sliver of light) personally, I think there is too much noise in the shot. Mthe shot itself is well exposed, but I think it could have been cropped better. While running into the street might have been a bit dangerous, zooming in during post production would have been safer!

    Zack, I think it’s fantastic that you’re taking these kids under your wing. I hope they appreciate what you’re doing for them as much as we, your legions of other students do.

    Happy New Year!

  • Drew said on December 30, 2011

    Caleb & Grayson – congrats on your cameras and on your pictures – all three above are very good! The first image would have been *awesome* if the crop wasn’t as tight and if the subject and building were upright. In terms of storytelling, I can play out dozens of conversations in my head that could be taking place in that image (“Get that contract signed!” or “Yes, dear, milk. What else?”) – awesome timing! #2 was good, but cropped too wide. Perfect capture of the shadow and implied motion. #3 was my favorite of the three. Not only was the composition great (loved, LOVED the “Pedestrian Crossing” sign!), but I also played out in my head what could happen when the man rolling the dumpster passed by the person talking toward us. (one nods their head, the other comments on the weather). FWIW, I’d also hang #3 on my wall. All in all, a great outing, guys! And sorry for all the parentheses. Time to GOMA and paint a few bedrooms :)

  • Marc said on December 30, 2011

    #1- Crop just doesn’t do it for me. I need more space on the right to see where he’s coming from, both literally and figuratively.

    #2- Feel like, even though the highlight details are there, I want a little more saturation at the expense of detail in the shadows. Just think it would add more drama.

    #3- This is my pick. I like the contrast of the sign with the people. I like the way it makes me more curious about the setting. Although I have the same criticism as with #2….I still feel like the exposure could be brought down a bit to add a little more drama.

  • Raven said on December 30, 2011

    It seems talent runs in the family. I agree with others about #1… close crop I find myself looking at his shoe…

  • Jason Lykins said on December 30, 2011

    I didn’t read any of the other comments yet, but for me #1 was where it’s at in this contest. I feel like the vertical line coincide with the lines of his body. He is slightly bent forward and his body line matches that of the building (tilting slightly to the left). The only thing that bothered me, or that I would have changed is the small reflection of the car in the bottom left of the frame. It’s bright where it should be dark and that catches my attention. Other than that, love the subject, the black and white, and everything else about the image. It conveys motion and movement. Jason

  • Megha P said on December 31, 2011

    All three pics are very nice. I don’t have much to critique about them except small things:
    Pic #1: I wish the vertical lines were straightened.
    Pic #2: I don’t have anything to say..
    Pic #3: The right guys head is not in a clean spot.

  • Rick Bennett said on December 31, 2011

    I’ve not ready any other comments, so these are my own thoughts on seeing these images.

    #1 I like everything about the composition except that the verticals aren’t vertical. I like the man’s mid-stride stance, I like the B&W treatment, but because of the vertical, it feels just a bit off kilter.

    #2 I really like this one because the man is in a splash of light, and is walking the same direction as the one-way arrow. I like how the rest of the scene is in shadow, but not so much shadow that you struggle to see the detail.

    #3 I like how the pedestrian crossing sign seems to be pointing at the pedestrian who’s crossing a different street. Unfortunately, with two people, and the one facing the camera not in focus, I don’t like this composition as well as I like number 2.

    So, I prefer #2 of them all. All three are well executed, and worthy of being in the competition. There is not, in my mind, a clear winner. I prefer the composition of #2.

  • Jamie said on December 31, 2011

    Loved this post!!! Here goes…..
    #1 Loved the crop of this, exposure on the cell phone dude is awesome. The vertical and horizontal lines in this shot don’t sit well with me…kinda feels awkward but I do like how cell phone dude’s back is mirrored with the vertical lines.
    #2 Really like the light in this one…and the fact that it feels like this guy is the only “moving” thing in the whole block. Super cool shot once I really look at it but it doesn’t grab my eye right away.
    #3 This one captured my attention… Composition is awesome, tones are great, the lines lead my eye right to the subject. I wish there was only garbage guy in this shot and I wish the the area immediately surrounding him would have been a little cleaner.
    I voted for #3

  • Jeremy said on December 31, 2011

    #1 – Loved the simplicity of it. It also seems to capture and freeze the life of what one can only guess is a busy business man. The lighting, shot naturally, really worked for me and uploading in black and white really added to the simplicity. One of my favourites.

    #2 – As was said in some of the earlier comments, the lighting worked great for this photograph. It draws your eye and captures the movement of the man in the photo. It makes him look small and insignificant in a large world. The shadow of everything else works, but still captures movement. The flag blowing, the delivery truck in the background, etc…

    #3 – Great composition. Framing the walkers with the walls works and I find it draws your eye to the pedestrians. I like the reference to the pedestrians crossing and then seeing people walking.

    All 3 photos are great. It was hard to choose a downright winner!

  • Stacey said on December 31, 2011

    All 3 are great shots.
    #1 Good photo but kind of bland.
    #2 Love the shaft of light highlighting the individual.
    #3 My favorite. This photo has that S curve that you hear about which keeps your eye moving through the picture and seems to tell more of a story.

  • Maura van der Linden said on December 31, 2011

    I liked the emotion and moment in the first shot the best. It seemed to draw me in and make me curious what the man was becoming so emphatic about.

    #2 I liked but it felt very distant. I could have been looking through a window and while the ray of light was a nice part of it, I felt no curiousity about the man walking or the truck or anything.

    #3 This is my second favorite. I liked the composition and the shadow figure of the man pulling the trash container but I was distracted by the strong yellow pedestrian crossing sign. I liked the framing, though. But, again, it didn’t make me as curious as #1.

  • Shea T said on December 31, 2011

    #1 – At first glance this was my favorite… I believe it was the simplicity of the image that spoke to me. However, after I nit-picked it to death I settled with a couple minor critiques. First, as few have stated before me, the tilt of the camera is causing the horizontal and vertical lines to sit uncomfortably in the frame… I would have either over emphasized this tilt or made sure my lines were straight in my frame (I prefer the latter as crooked lines kind of freak me out ;). Second, I would have liked to see the shadow of the subject completed in the frame… maybe a different crop or flip the camera horizontal (I’m assuming it was taken with the camera vertical). Other than those few minor details this is a great shot!

    #2 – I like this shot a lot! I love the shadow and the almost spot-light feel on the subject. My critique/personal taste: First, again the vertical lines in the frame aren’t sitting quite right with me… I think a more extreme tilt in this situation might have fixed that. Second, the image seems to be a bit busy and takes away from the subject slightly…too wide maybe? Finally, I would have liked to see the lamp post completed at the top of the frame… the over emphasized tilt might have remedied that as well. In general, I really like the feel of this image… Great shot!

    #3 – In the end this is the image that got my vote. Everything about it is almost technically perfect in my book (which holds no weight, by the way); all the horizontal/vertical lines are straight, the pedestrian crossing sign is in the upper left third of the frame, the trash bin guy in the lower right third of the frame, the wall to the left forms a leading line… its just well executed technically, in my opinion, and that really sparked my interests. Great shot!!

    Overall, each photo was great, and my few minor critiques are just my personal taste. I think each photog in this shoot-out has a bright future in photography 😉

  • Rick said on December 31, 2011

    #2 is the one for me. The shaft of sunlight between the buildings really draws the eye to the walker. #1 also does a great job of capturing movement and the B&W treatment works well here but, as many others have already mentioned, some perspective correction would have helped. #3 just seems a bit static.

  • Giulio Piancastelli said on December 31, 2011

    I like the movement captured in #1: the stiff legs and the bent arm give an interesting robotic feel to
    the whole figure. Usually, tilted vertical lines do not resonate with me. Here they seem to go in accordion with the inclination of one of the two main lines in the man’s body, but I fear it’s too subtle a detail to be immediately noticed, even if you have done everything you could to de-emphasize other elements in the photo (and that’s also the reason for going with black and white, I believe).

    I feel there’s too much in #2’s frame. Too much street at the bottom, too much stuff at the top (e.g. that red thingamabob and the tiny sky portion), an archway too many on the right: these I believe are distracting elements which do not add much to the image. I’m still struggling to understand if the gray building on the left adds to or subtracts from the image: it seems to introduce a balancing element in the light/shadow interplay between the other parts of the image, but I’m not sure that you’d want to mitigate that contrast. I also feel the subject is too far away: that could be an effect of filling the frame with too many things.

    #3 is a nice idea, but I think the subject on the right should have been closer in order to exploit its presence better: the figure is in the shadows already, so you have to get it close unless you are deliberately choosing to render it anonymous. Quite difficult to get it that way, however, because on the other hand the position of the person on the background is just right in the light.

    So, after reasoning a bit about it, I ended up voting for #1, even if, at first sight, I would have gone with #3.

    Keep shooting and enjoying!

  • MWade said on December 31, 2011

    #1. I like the expression. Very much a street photograph. I wish I could have seen the rest of his shadow but that’s it, loved it.

    #2. Too far away for my taste. I love the use of light but I need a full frame to feel satisfied. Just sayin’.

    #3. Similar issue to #2 but I liked this one a little more because it was a little busier. However, the light is pretty boring.

    I’m pumped to see who wins!

  • craiglindner said on December 31, 2011

    #3 was my choice. Interesting use of lines to draw the line in.

    #2 was runner up. Cool capture of the person in the light and nice work with the use of the one way sign. Composition on this one could be just a bit better to make things more interesting.

    #1 was just lacking interest and “movement” that you were shooting for.

    Cool exercise. Good luck guys! Hope you beat the old man!

  • Justin Gill said on December 31, 2011

    It was tough between 1 and 2 for me but I chose #1
    #1 has great composition, contrast, and the lines add some nice geometry. Also, the action seems the most story-telling, and the natural lighting helps add to the contrast.

    I liked the vignette of #2, but it doesn’t tell much of a story contextually.

    #3 has a slightly askew horizon, and I feel wasn’t shot at the right time — The Decisive Moment, as Henri-Cartier Bresoon calls it.

  • inspirado said on December 31, 2011

    I prefer #2 because of the perfect timing and above all because of the interesting light – no: lights! The sun, the lamps and even the red lights of the car. And the shadows. I like the quiet atmosphere, the harmony and it feels like It is taken more by a hunter than a photographer. But I have to say I like all three. If I see an interesting photo that touches me I usually forget the subject. So I did here.. Very nice work.

  • John said on December 31, 2011

    I really like the initial simplicity of #3. At first look it is a guy with a trash bin and a yellow sign, look at it some more and more details start to show up. #2 is also good, the light at the top of the frame bothers me but I really like how the shaft of light frames the walker. The menacing truck in the alley adds a bit of tension to the photo. #1 just didn’t grab me. I like B+W photos a lot but there seems to be something missing in the photo.
    cool exercise. I am going to try that in the 7th & 8th grade photo club I run – B&H gift certs. won’t do but perhaps candy or something like that!

  • bobk said on January 1, 2012

    I voted for #3.

    #1 might be interesting, but the misaligned verticals kills it for me.

    #2 good use of thirds, but too much contrast and it doesn’t say much.

    #3 slightly uncomfortable composition, but it’s clean and tells a bit of a story.

    Happy New Year.

  • Brett said on January 1, 2012

    the shaft of light one is the best one. There is something that drew me into the image the first time I saw it. The subject draws the viewer into the image, and the shaft of light with the rest of the image creates a vignette around the image that I like.

  • Jeremy said on January 1, 2012

    #1 Feels a bit plain to me. I’m not getting as much of a story as I want there to be. It needs more context. And the perspective could be more engaging. A closer, wider shot would be more commanding. But there is that line of just getting annoying.

    #2 This was my vote. The shaft of light immediately directs your eye to the pedestrian. The angle of view also creates a real sense of the city being desolate and lonely. There is a lot of emotional impact in this. Kinda Armageddonish.

    #3 My eye is immediately lost in this one. Instead of focusing on the person walking all I see is the wall. And his back. I recently had a newspaper photo ed tell me if youre showing someones back its just a cop-out. Not sure if I believe that completely but at any rate this is the weakest of the three IMO. Framing the subject more with the archway he’s walking towards would make it stronger.

    They’re all great. Interested to see what belongs to who.


  • Elias said on January 1, 2012

    I voted for #3. The lines lead you to the guy w/trash bin. The fact that he is framed by the walls and the walkway. I smiled when I saw the pedestrian crossing sign and the guy seems to be walking down the middle of the street.

    #1 I liked the exposure and the use of black and white, but I am not connecting with it. I think it because of the lines, they don’t lead your eye in any particular direction and even though he is in mid stride I am not seeing any movement.

    #2I like that the light and dark portions were not either overblown to dark. There are good detail in this shot. I did like that there did seem to be motion in this shot. I didn’t vote for it though because I felt to separated from the subject. A different crop might bring me closer to the subject. I see though why it may not have been cropped down since the wall looks so beautiful.

  • Richard Eby said on January 1, 2012

    I like numbers one and two because they give the feeling of movement – number three doesn’t.
    I like number one better because it feels “up close and personal”. The angles contribute to the feeling of movement. I can make a connection to the subject in number one – which I can’t with number two.
    But I like all three.

  • Marianne said on January 1, 2012

    I had a hard time picking between #2 and #3
    #2- Love the contrasty look from the bright sunlight to the lamp pole to the shadow of the guy walking. This image holds your attention
    #3 I chose this one because it tells more of a story to me. It reminds me of someone that is doing a mundane job for a living, however, a job that still needs done. There is a country song that states something the effect of “not to proud to sweep the floor” and this image reminded me of this. There is nothing glamorous about dumping the trash, however, the photography managed to make it a little more grandiose! Kudos! (oh and I love the lines and the pedestrian crossing sign mixed in with the alley)

  • Ryan said on January 1, 2012

    Cool idea for a post Zack! Here are my critiques:

    #1 – I like this one, but it wasn’t my pick. I like the vertical crop of it, and the way the light is falling on the gentleman. The shadow he casts leads you into the photo and suggests (for me) the movement. I do however find him a bit too far to the right, I think catching him in a different position in his stride would better indicate movement and look slightly less awkward.

    #2 – This is my least favourite of the three, but by no means a bad photo in my opinion. I just find there to be a bit too much clutter in the photo taking away from the subject. To keep with what I mentioned in my critique of the first photo, The person walk was captured in a much more natural part of his stride, which I feel indicates movement better. Also, good job balancing the shadow portion and sunlit portion of the photo.

    #3 – This on got my vote. As others have said, there isn’t as much motion shown in it, but it evokes a lot of emotion for me. I just find the silhouetted man with the trash can moving into the sunlit street works really well for me. I also feel the downhill nature of the alley moves the viewer into the photo and into the sunlit street. I also like how it has very little colour, which really makes the pedestrian sign pop. I do think I would prefer it though if the second man in the background wasn’t there. Great shot.

  • Ian Servin said on January 2, 2012

    Number one was my favorite after some careful consideration. It looks so much to me like the essence of street photography, it doesn’t seem overly composed or contrived. It’s very pedestrian, matching the subject. I also liked that the man was on the phone, there was some intellectual motion, if you will, going on in addition to his walking. It’s just great because of the subtlety, it seems like a simple snapshot at first, but grows on you.

    The second one is nice, if not a bit wide. I think cropping or zooming in on the guy would have made a slightly stronger image for me, also would have removed the bit of lamp on the top which is a bit distracting. I do really like the man’s shadow though and the composition is really spot on, just needs some tightening.

    The third grabbed my attention the most initially, I’m a sucker for these types of alley-urban style setups with old signs and worn brick. I think I didn’t end up liking this one the most because of that initial superficial instant “like.” But, it is a good image, perhaps stronger in black and white since there is so much texture. I think it would’ve been interesting to capture the actual crossing of the two people, those kinds of interactions with strangers are usually pretty interesting to watch. Overall, probably a strong number two for me.

  • Cate Cahill said on January 2, 2012

    Photo 1: Something about this photo doesn’t work for me and it took a while of looking at it to understand why. I think it is essentially the framing. I keep wanting to reframe it. It doesn’t work as a square photo. There is an uncomfortable relationship between the man and the pillar even though it’s in a thirds relationship. The shine off the car in the reflection catches my eye but doesn’t contribute much to the story. The column height could have been played upon differently. The fact that the second column is almost in frame is uncomfortable and I think it’s the angles. Speaking of, the lines in the photo aren’t going anywhere or doing anything to enhance the story. The man himself is a great subject and I like how he’s caught in a visual conversation via his hand. I could stay on this photo and try to “read” different things into the story, but each time I look back at it, it’s not hitting the mark for me as a whole. Evidently it’s controversial because many people seem to like this one.

    Photo 2: I like this photo. It’s documentary. Visually nice to look at and there’s a story in it for me. Like the way that the one way sign underscores the direction of the walker “into the light” from the darker parts of the frame. I wish there could have been some more balance at the top left of the photo. I don’t know what but I instinctively feel that there should be something there. It’s almost there with the patterns visible on the wall. The lamp cut off in the top of the photo I find a bit uncomfortable. I’d rather see it all, or not see the globe at all poking into the photo. Would have been good if it had more visual relationship with the man. Just my opinion :) It’s a busy photo, but still nice on the eye. I think the main drawcard for me is that I’m unfamiliar with the type of buildings and streetscape so it’s “interesting” for me. Had it been a familiar shot from my own town, I’m not sure if I would have liked it as much. Still that’s too objective so I have to say I like it but it’s not my top photo.

    Photo 3: This photo in it’s simplicity and it’s framing, immediately had me. There’s balance and perspective. It’s minimal but says a lot. The pedestrian crossing sign in the foreground completes the picture, balances it and enhances the story. Your eye is drawn towards the opening to the sunlight in the back of the photo. There’s a sense of space. It’s not too cluttered. The two lonely figures in the photo create a story. The balance of light and dark is just right for me. And as usual for a photo that works for me, it’s almost harder to put into words why it IS good – easier to critique why something doesn’t work. There’s something that strikes the eye, the instinct and the intellect is slow to follow. I love the not perfect lines on the road. I can almost hear the trolley bumping down the road. I can hear the silence of the alleyway away from the main buzz of the city. It’s almost a pedestrian respite – somewhere quiet to walk. I would have it on my wall. Could go on, but yep … this is my top photo.

  • Giovanna said on January 2, 2012

    Love #1….the intensity of his hand is what struck me. You can tell he is trying to make a point…or explain his way out of something:) I liked #2…especially the feel of the coloring…cool and crisp. The figure in the light draws attention and the fact that he is going in the “correct” direction. #3 just didn’t do it for me….sorry whomever!

  • Paco said on January 2, 2012

    #1 I get a feeling the guy is about to fall over… Not sure if this is because of the angle the photographer was in relation to the subject or if its just bad framing…Also the large column on the left is fighting for my attention…another nit pick is the subjects foot was almost cut off..
    #2 (the one I chose) I like the use of light to bring attention to the subject, also great use of lines and the rule of thirds.
    #3 I am having a hard time finding anything I like about it. I think it would have been a better shot without the people in it. If the trash guy had been walking towards you or had been a bit closer it may have worked..

  • Desmond said on January 2, 2012

    #1 I first like the choice of black and white for this pic, it gives it a nice feel overall to the image. I like the use of the backlighting which creates a strong sharp shadow- or a leading line. On the flip side of the shadow it leads me out of the pic(cry). Also, I’m not quite sure but the picture or the columns don’t seem quite straight so the pic has a slight lean to it. But no to fear, it may have been a creative choice. This can be taken to imply a man rushing off to his past as he’s walking towards the left or man walking to his future. As for his pant legs, not sure if its wrinkles (which the photog has no control over in this sense) but I like it it conveys a sense of motion in a rather still image. Also like that the subject was not placed in the dead center of the frame and as Zack would say “Head in a clean spot”. Lastly after zooming in a few times which is probably total off topic the subject actually looks like Rev,Dr.MLK.

    #2 This was my pic of choice hands down. And not for the most technical of reasons. The picture right off the back just screams calm. You have an urban backpacker dude just walking the streets which looks like a calm sunday morining who just happens to get caught in this beautiful rectangular swaft of light. The subject appears to be a frame within a frame. also appears to be on a third of that frame within a frame. In terms of technically wrong I mean the only thing that bothers me slightly is since I see a piece of the light pole since I don’t see the entire thing it makes me a little fussy ,but moving a few inches back could blown the shot,missed the shot or changed the entire composition of the image. But again it is just a calming serene urban image.even with the cameras and what looks like an armored truck just behind him. The light on the corner brick wall camera left is again giving a feeling of calm.

    #3 When I first looked at number 3 it really didnt catch my attention, but taking another look I think I’m pretty sure who shot it (blooper) I first look at #3 I say the exposure looks balanced of which is a plus. You have two people walking towards one another but still doesnt seem to be of much interest. So overall I would say well composed sesne of place mmmm.. not really sure. But to my zack’s credit and(thx dani for the x-mas gift) I finally saw foundations of a photographer :-). Which now gives me a fresh eye for this photo (actually I probably should have picked this one. This photo is busting out with shapes and patterns all over the place. first thing i see is the steps off to camera right which seems to be framed in a nice triange shape. If you look above the subjects head 1st thing you see is a repeating pattern of windows or squares. look beneath that you get the stop light signs I’m guessing that is in the shape of a small triangle-square-triangle. How could I forget that big yellow triangle that first pulls you into the scene. and looking again take a look at the triangles before the sign (ok this pic has illuminati written all over it. There are also a half dozen over which seems to be well chosen squares/rectangels through out the image. I also like that both subjects (or just players that happen to in the wrong place at the right time) heads both appear to be in clean spots (if ever so slightly on the dude pushing the bin). Lastly love the mini tri the dudes body and cart form. Also love the leading lines which lead you through the image. Now why didn’t I pick this one ah, the lovely light of #2 just immediately took control of me. because it feels like a place I would want to be and at that time. Just looking at this alley well not so much a place I would want to be, not foreboding like but can’t really put it into words. But I think the point of this exercise is a learning tool for both photog and commenter and I think I learned a few things.

    #1-don’t just jump on the 1st thing becuase it feels right

    #2- take time studying the images at hand/composition carefully, to see what lies beneath

    #3-There was something else but its 7 in the am I need sleep can’t think no more. Great job guys all 3 pics

  • Andy said on January 2, 2012

    #1 feels a bit one dimensional and boring. The tilt bothers me.
    #2 is a great capture and needed a great eye to see it. I like the composition, and link between the guy walking and the One Way sign. The reflected light on the building left of frame is a nice touch. Thanks for including it.
    #3 is very simple and verging on over simplistic. But it has a story to it. I love stories and pictures that have stories. I saw these pics this morning and caught myself thinking about #3’s story while wandering around the science museum with my son. I voted #3.

  • John said on January 2, 2012

    #1 was tilted and the guy was a little too close the right-hand side of the frame for me.
    #2 took my eye directly to the subject. A little hot but effective.
    #3 has words in it. Distracting.

  • Andre Bonnet said on January 2, 2012

    1. The image seems to have an off angling about it, as other have mentioned. It may be just the lines of convergence or it may be the position of the camera when shooting, both of which are composition mistakes. Otherwise it could be a poor crop selection which brings me to the point that the square crop does not lend itself to the movement of the gentleman crossing the frame which seems wrong.
    2. Clean framing, lighting draws one’s attention to the action of the photo while the contrast isn’t so stark that one cannot enjoy hunting out other pieces of the shot.
    3. Very rarely do shots of someone walking away really draw me in, this is not an exception. The lines in the image all do a good job of leading the eye but to what. This composition could have been great if something else would have popped the image with color or action. I also feel that had the camera been lower in angle it might have maybe added to the perspective that the image draws in.

  • Matthew Carter said on January 3, 2012

    Late to the game but all the same, my two cents:
    1. I want those columns perfectly vertical. I’d also like the subject to be in front of the white column. My eyes are drawn to the white column and the subject worts of just blends in to the darker background. I’d just like that separation and since my eye is drawn to that white, I’d be drawn to the subject. Make sense? Lastly, I’d like a more contrast in the image. I love the captured gesture though. This is one of those images where I feel like if the photographer would have rethought the composition and just waited, the right image would have happened. Nice anticipation of the gesture. Jay Maisel would’ve been proud, after cussing you out. :)
    2. Love it. Lighting is pretty cool and those lines and shadows are working… like a boss.
    3. Too much of something that I can put my finger on. Looks like it’s borderline faux HDRish. Midtones out of whack or something. Back off those blacks a bit, losing details. Also, looks like it’s over sharpened or something. Composition is not bad but it’s a rather pedestrian photograph, no pun intended. :)

    Good job gentlemen. Takes a lot of balls to put your stuff out there for every jerk wad like myself to take shots at. Keep it up!

  • Matthew Carter said on January 3, 2012

    oops! I forgot to mention that in #1, I love the dude’s shadow. He’s framed exactly where he needs to be. I just would have liked to have seen the whole thing moved to the white column as earlier stated.

  • Rick Alan said on January 3, 2012

    I was torn between #2 and #3, and of course all three shots are interesting and thought provoking — at least to me. I have not yet read any other posts, so that my little brain can stay pure.

    I finally chose #3. I felt all of the photos had some interesting similarities and I couldn’t help but find myself wondering what day it was and what time of day it was when these shots were taken. For some reason, I concluded a Sunday morning. There is a solitude to all of the photos. No one is there but the subject, and that is what brought me to photo #3 and only after a lot of viewing.

    Photo #3 gave me a sense of tension — the two figures seem to be stoped. I can’t tell if by shutter speed or physiologically stoped. That’s the fun in that photograph. I feel like there is confrontation about to take place. Of course, in reality, I bet the two just passed each other and barely shared a glance. But that is what I like about it. There was a bit more of a potential story right out front. The others not as much. #1 had some tension, the gentleman looked like he was in a serious conversation about something. Not sure if he is on his way to church or to a meeting. Each of the possibilities poses a different scenario regarding the phone call. Again, very alone in the shot, long shadow, earlier in the morning or late afternoon, but I like morning for this scene.

    #2 was very interesting in its textures and shadows. More solitude… it still reminded me of morning for some reason. The subject was on a mission of some kind but I didn’t feel tension. That photo was more of a visual feast with the shadows and textures.

    So the bottom line is that all of the photos were cool in their own way, picking one was like deciding on my favorite summer fruit… I like so many, I couldn’t! Thanks for the thoughtful exercise. Take care.

  • Mills said on January 3, 2012

    I chose # 2.

    1) I like the subject, and the way he is leaning forward in the photograph. I like the shadow that leads away from the subject a lot. The use of black and white made you focus on the subject. The problem is that the background lines are skewed and it took away from the photo.

    2) I chose two because of the parallel of the one way sign and the direction the pedestrian was walking. I also really liked how the pedestrian is highlighted by the sun, and everything else was in darkness. I thought the lighting was more dramatic. I also liked how we have the tall building to one side of the pedestrian, then we have the subject, and then the height of the sign it made it more visually interesting and also emphasized how small the pedestrian is compared to everything else.

    3) This was my second choice. I liked the yellow sign, and lines were nice but instead of focusing on the pedestrians it lead me more towards the wall. I liked the contrast of the pedestrian on the side wall and the worker walking with the trash cart. Now saying that I think the photo was a little boring compared to the second photo. I think if the worker was closer to the viewer it would have made it a little more interesting.

  • Ignacio Gonzalez said on January 3, 2012

    i voted for ‘shaft of light guy’
    firstly i like how contrasty and ‘sharp the colours in the whole scene feel.
    personally i like how empty the city feels, both because there are no other people in the picture and because of how shady/shadowy most of the frame is. the timing is great and the guy fits right in the ‘second frame’ created by the shaft of light. the subject’s shadow is also pretty sharp and i like that he might be ‘alone, but not lonely’.

    i also like the narrative the picture is forming in my head with the juxtaposition of the truck, ‘hidden’ away in the back alley, the ‘one way’ sign pointing the way the subject is going, and the CCTV cameras painting towards where the subject was coming from. (the shaft of light almost feels like a spotlight pointed at some criminal trying to run away)
    yes, maybe a little snapshot-ish, but so is the best street photography.

  • Harry said on January 3, 2012

    I voted for number #1, the man with a cellphone, but I am not sure any of the images jump out at me given the theme you were trying to explore.

    In image 1 I understand what the photographer was going for, but the negative space broken by the pillar of the building destorys the illusion of isolating the man with the cellphone. I know the photographer is having to take what he gets in terms of pose from the passerby, but I don’t get a sense of motion from the man’s stance. If one leg were raise off the ground and swinging back I think there would be more of a sense of motion. He also look very rigid in his pose.

    In image 2 the shaft of light attempts to isolate the walker, but he is so smaller relative to the size of the image that if I didn’t know the theme I would not know the point of the image. Though the shaft of light gives some isolation to the walker, there are still enough visual elements visible that I found my eyes wandering all over the image and not finding an anchor point.

    In image 3 I liked the pedistrian sign reinforcing the theme of motion, but it was hard to get a sense of motion from either pedistrians as they were both shot from the straight on perspective. There is just no sense of motion that way in a static image. If it was a video clip it would make more sense and you would have the sense of one walker receding and one approaching. In the context of a single image freezing a moment in time I am not sure it works for me.

  • Ian Dixon said on January 3, 2012

    #1 – The main thing on this one for me is the angles of the columns and the building in relation to the photo edges…if its supposed to be a veritcal column then thats what i like to see generally unless your going for a definate angle like a 45 degree line and obvious that it is so for composition, the guy i felt could have been into the frame a bit more. I think that there was probably a really killer shot about 10 – 15 feet to the right of the position of this one or as the guy walked a bit further where it looks like you may have had the guy on the cell phone the building columns and the guy refelcted in the glass.
    #2 I voted for this I like the general light in the shadows, 2 seconds earlier with the person in the middle of the shaft of light would have been a bonus and pity that the street light wasnt fully in the frame, the cut off bulb is a little distraction (clone out maybe?)
    #3 My second shot and a hard choice between this and #2. Left edge is a bit distracting and looks a little bit cut off, maybe slightly recroped to remove the dark bars or clone out to the whiter brick..contrast is a little light for my taste..seems to be perfect for a black and white with spot! color for the sign

  • Daniel Dunn said on January 7, 2012

    Love this, love this, love this. Be an awesome dad, and if it’s with photography, than so be it. Just spending time with the boys and letting them see your passion will do more than you can imagine right now. These will be fine young men, and I’m psyched you found time to take them out and just hang. Great job by all!

  • Atanas said on January 13, 2012

    I like №2 the most

  • Michael Gene Murphy said on January 18, 2012

    I think I’m gonna go with Image 3. I kinda feel like it tells a story also. That’s got to be a great feeling Zack that your son is showing an interest in photography. My little guy is 5 and when we are hiking in the woods we always take a camera. I am trying to get him interested without being one of those Dad’s that tries to force stuff onto their kids. So again, it’s got to be a great feeling that your son’s into it.

  • Chris said on March 15, 2013

    Very interesting. An excellent blog – and a lovely way to spend the day – but also so varied an assortment of replies.

    FWIW: I would have gone for 2.

  • Juergen Weigert said on June 16, 2013

    I think the 1st photograph is the best. It isn”t perfect, but it shows the important man. The man goes into the photo and my eyes looks first on him. The next one is the 2nd photo, but here are too much informations on it. Technical it is perfect, but it is all too wide. The last one is the 3d. I miss the point of view. My eyes didn’t found the real message of this photo. It have not enough structure.
    Greatings Juergen (XPro 1 User)

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