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Critique of an autoportrait

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  • Critique of an autoportrait

    Hi all of you,

    I've been a member of this site as of August this year, but I've been sort of lying low since then. Mainly because I haven't had time (long story).

    If I were to briefly introduce myself, I would say that I've been doing photography and retouching for the past five years. I've never had a major job so far, or anything like that. Recently I've been starting to look for a potographer to work with, as my equipment - a Sony Cybershot (4.1 MP) - doesn't quite match the caliber I beseech. The quality of the photos taken is usually of a poor worth. This can sometimes be a blessing, as it allows me to more easily temper with the image. However, most of the time it's just annoying. Anyhow, enough about me and over to the main issue.

    The purpose of this post is for you to evaluate an autoportait I shot while me and a group of friends visited the town of Leawenworth this last Saturday. I was sort of goofing off, experimenting with taking pictures in different light settings. The one linked to here, was shot in backlighting. Being bored the other day, I decided to improve and create something out of it. As they are larger files, I uploaded them onto my webspace. I hope that's ok.

    The shot before retouching...

    ...and then after:

    I would just like to hear someone else's point of view, beside my friends', for a change. Not that their's isn't valid, but getting input from people actively engaged in this type of business is more...interesting. Thanks in advance,

    Last edited by Arandel; 10-26-2005, 06:15 PM.

  • #2

    Well things get sort of subjective. I took your original and just ran Image/Adjustments/Shadow Highlight. I dialed a few numbers and then ran Neat Image. Is this better??

    Whatever you want to do is important.

    Attached Files


    • #3
      Well done Arandel. You took advantage of the dramatic lighting to express something about yourself. I would suggest three things however.

      First the eye catchlights are unusually placed and suggest glaucoma (a nice zombie look for Halloween). Catchlight angles are usually between 11 and 2 o'clock, especially with a bright sky in the picture.

      Second, avoid shiny skin. Yes, this also applies to men. So fix the nose.

      Lastly, erase that pole growing out of your head.

      But those are minor details. Overall, it's a portrait, rather than a mere snapshot.

      I couldn't resist giving my own interpretation.

      Attached Files


      • #4
        I like what you've done Arandel however I would lose the reflection in the eyes. The light is coming from behind you so it doesn't look natural. You gave yourself a lot of depth which is fantastic but since your original is so dark it's hard to tell if it stays true to your real detail.

        One more thing I have to add, that little cloud over the sun, takes away from you. I would go ahead and get rid of it. You want your face to capture attention not the funky little cloud.


        • #5
          I think its very good. Looks like it could have come straight out of NME (british indie music paper)
          Its got great dept and emotion - very moody. The light's a little strong on right, which is a shame, would have been nice to get your full silhouette.
          I love the dramatic sky.


          • #6
            Thank you all for the feedback; I really appreciated it. Yeah, my friends thought the eyes were a bit too "zombieish" as well. I don't know, I guess I have a faiblesse for weird looking eyes. )

            What regards the streetlight in the background, which I seriously considered erasing at first, I later decided it went well with the fence. The cloud though, I have to agree with twinkissed, is a distractive element; I will remove it immediatly. As same with the shiny nose: the present state makes it appear plastic. Not sure if that is a desirable effect... My initial thought was having the gleam accentuate the nose in a artistic sort of way. Hm...

            Once again, thank you guys & girls for helping me out on this one.


            • #7
              I visited your site.... you're right you do love those eyes lol. I like the orangy ones on the gentleman on your site. My eyes sometimes have an orange color to them so maybe that's why I like them?? Who knows. I really like the photo on your main index page too. It's very rock star. Anyways, glad if I was any help at all.


              • #8
                I also like the effect you went for. But I had to play around and came up with this version. After using some custom RGB profiles to lighten the image, I took it into LAB and used some extreme curves in the a and b channels to turn the image into a neon monstrosity, but with red, blue, yellow and green all prominent. Then I dropped the opacity to about 20%. Borrowed a black channel from a copy converted to CMYK as a layer mask in a second curve layer to keep the luminosity curve from plugging everything back up. Blurred a and b channels to smooth out color noise. Used Neat Image on the Luminosity channel. Borrowed the original Red channel and put it on top in luminosity mode, to bring back the sky and masked out the face from that layer.
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  It is not clear if the retouched portrait was intended to have that look or not, but in keeping with the others I duplicated the background, blending mode screen, then copy merged to a new layer which I then copied again and inverted and desaturated before setting blending mode to overlay. Using a dodge and burn grey layer, put darkened a bit of the background, darkened the eyes and then ran a smart blur over another copy merged new layer. A highpass overlay and then a slight recolour of the sun flaring in the hair. Thought the pole was optional so did not remove it.

                  The eyes in your retouched version sort of look spooky
                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    I really like your edited version, Arandel. I personally like the eyes. The only thing I might change about it is like someone else suggested, clone out the light pole and the dark spotty clouds that catch the eye, and maybe crop it tighter to get rid of some of the sky. I LOVE the sun effect! I'd probably play with the lighting effects in PS to bring it out even more! (I'm not sure how it would look, but that's what I'd do. )


                    • #11
                      Arandel, I like what you did too. Also some good comments to improve. Thought it could also lend itself to a bit of a Dragon approach.


                      Attached Files


                      • #12
                        well, i wasnt happy with the lighting at all, so i changed it.

                        Attached Files