Photo Review: Jonathan Goforth’s Chain Whip

Jonathan Goforth - Chain Whip

Today’s photo review image comes from Friend-of-the-Blog Jonathan Goforth. Regulars here will know Jonathan from his showing in my BIG Photo Contest over the summer and his regular contributions to the Points of View Photo Project (which will be posted tomorrow and there’s still time to send in your shots by 10pm (Eastern) tonight!).

Jonathan has graciously offered up a few shots to be reviewed and I thought I’d start off with this one titled “Chain Whip”.

The first thing that strikes me with this image is the texture and the depth of field (DOF). I’m a huge fan of contrasting textures whether they exist as part of the actual subjects or whether they are created through creative choices, as is the case here. I love how the roughness of the cracked wood and the worn chain play off of the softness of the focus in the fore and background f the shot. With so much texture in the subject it could be rather overwhelming if shot from a different angle or higher aperture.

I also appreciate how the main focal point along the chain isn’t the closest point. Instead of being hit with the largest portion of the chain down towards the bottom, you are drawn farther in and then invited to explore even more. The curved positioning of the chain contrasts the linear nature of the wood quite nicely and creates some added visual interest to the piece. The angle of the sun creates some great directional light and long shadows adding even more dynamic patterns to the scene. Anytime you have either lines that are off-vertical or horizontal or you introduce triangles and perspective lines you will have a more interesting image.

Speaking of the light, and my love of contrasts, I enjoy the play between the warm colors on the left, created by the sun, and the cool colors on the right, found in the shadows. This contrast provides an excellent balance in the photo that would be lost were the lighting more even throughout. And while we’re on color, it’s no secret from some of my own work that I like to play with a somewhat desaturated color palette. Though it doesn’t work in every situation, I think it really captures the spirit of the subject here, and helps tell the story.

If I were shooting this subject, I’m not sure I would’ve done anything different. I think if the chain or the focal point were more on one of the rule of thirds lines it would’ve seemed to formulaic and less organic. And while some might think to clone over the upper left corner to extend the wood, I think it makes it all the more true-to-life and, in some ways, holds you in the image.

I don’t see any vignetting, which is a popular effect for fine art work nowadays (and can, admittedly, be overdone sometimes), and I think it could help keep the viewer’s eyes within the frame more. Certainly, our eyes are drawn first to the sharpest point and then we are taken deeper in as we follow the chain and the lines in the wood. Our eyes are also drawn to brighter portions of the image before the darker ones, and since the upper area is just about as bright as the focal point our eyes want to keep going up when, I think, you would want to keep directing your viewer back to the main point in the image.

With all that said, however, I think the shadows do a great job of guiding you back down and to the right so you will meet back up with the base of the chain and then work your way up the image again.

All-in-all, I think this a fantastic image and I’d like to thank Jonathan for sharing it with us!

*If you would like to have one of your images reviewed here (even anonymously), please send it along to

  • Jgo9

    WOW Jason thanks for the review, to be honest I thought of some of those items but I never thought of all of them. That gives me some insight as to how you look at shots and gives me a few more things to keep in mind when taking pictures and processing.

    So who’s next!

    November 19, 2009 at 5:31 pm

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