The lionfish is one of the animals which always make me take a look at a picture. It is a wonderful subject for any photographer because it's relatively easy to get an attractive cadre out of it - nature has simply done most of the work. But there are certain hidden difficulties as well.
One of the commonest issues is composition. The many growths of the fish complicate things and most photographers simply try to compass the entire fish within the frames of the photo. Here, the decision "cut" part of the body out of the photo resulted in a good composition, a more intimate and influential portrait. It only seems a little "tight" in the bottom of the cadre because the main focus of attention is always in the face of the animal. In this sense a little more space in bottom would look better.
Another issue with lionfishes is focus. With so many beautiful fins, where do I focus? The answer is the golden rule of fish photography: always focus the eye. The eye looks a little blurry to me on this photograph and this irritates a bit. Nevertheless, the focus is satisfactory as it made the stripes of the fish very clear. Another good thing is the perfect sharpness in the focal area. There is no motion blur, nor any other distortion caused by movement or refraction.
Yet the best thing about this photograph is the colors. In them one can see the truly artistic touch of the author. Since the fish is mainly black and white in colors, she combined it with a colorful background to both strenghten the impression from the animal through color contrast and to make the whole cadre more pleasant to look at. I like the rainbow-ish overall gradient very much. It is vivid, but not overly saturated, it really gives life to the piece. Also, I like how the fins' hues delicately blend into background to the left and upper right. It creates harmony between the elements of the cadre.
Shortly said, this is an excellent and very attractive work. The author took a masterpiece of nature and managed to recreate it into its best light, creating a masterpiece of her own.
Wow, I am really astounded about your critique - mainly about your in-depth analysis of composition, colours and other components like focus.
The general issue with animal-photography is the shutter speed vs. iso issue - as it was with this image.
Animals tend to move fast, requiring the photographer to use a fast shutter speed to get them properly focussed, however raising the shutter speed darkens the image if one keeps all other values constant. So in order to compensate for the lack of light, there are two options: raising the ISO or shooting with a larger F-Stop. The last one reduces the depth-of-field dramatically.
Actually it is true that this beautiful motiv, provided by nature, delivers generally nice pictures, but to get the "one" picture without many issues, it took me 20 shots to balance all values
As for the colours one can truly say that they had a life-saving function. Even if some smaller issues went wrong, they were truly helpful as an eye-catcher and all-over quality enhancer element in the work.
However I think that you were too gently with your rating - one could've deduced at least one star at the technique, as too many things went wrong and one star at the vision, as the focus wasn't perfect.
This issue is usually even more serious in aquaristic photography. According to my observations what is proper as a lighting system for an aquarium to look good and function well is usually far not enough for the camera exercise. I would recommend (as most others) the use of an additional light source and/or a flash. But if you're using a flash it's best for it to be positioned at an angle, away from the camera, for various reasons.
Now, in this cadre particularly I didn't even think about the exposure, aperture and ISO simply because they look quite alright to me in the final picture. As for the number of shots.... that's more than natural. With fish, you'll actually usually need even more.
But I'd like to ground my rating. Technique includes not only the "purely technical" part, mentioned by you. It also encompasses the focus, the composition, the post-processing and generally everything which concerns how the piece was created. Provided the fact that the final image is really good, I'd say the technique was rather successful.
As for vision, it is a more philosophical category (nothing to do with the focus actually). You could say it's the same "vision" I'm talking about in that other conversation with you At least that's my understanding.
So, the very high rating doesn't mean the piece is completely perfect. It only means there is very little I would wish to change about it.
After your detailled explanation of the category "technique" and the differences from "vision", I got a clue about both. To be honest, my picture analysis skills are rather rudimentary, due to the shameful fact that I reeeeeealy abhored my art lessons back then in school (our teacher was a real freak and far away from someone with a sane mind).
Well, at least I wouldn't call someone sane drawing with his own body fluids (I'd prefer to not specify this any further) and explicitly describing this process to his pupils....
After reading your definition of rating, I feel honored about the fact that there'd be only few things you'd change, yet as the one who took the picture (there are lots of things I would like to change personally )
Yeah, I've heard about freaky art teachers myself.... and drunkards, too. That kind of people, sadly, give a bad name to the whole lot of artists who just try to express themselves and manage to do so without excessiveness. But some schools seem to need to filter their teachers better than that.
You're welcome. And I'm glad to hear that, self-criticism is the best way to grow as an artist, imho. You can never reach perfection, but this doesn't mean you can't go for it