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Looking to the future

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  • Looking to the future

    My daughter's 8th grade dance was tonight. It was raining and foggy for outdoor pictures on the lake. That did not stop us!

    One of the pictures just caught my eye and I thought it would make a nice B&W, with some other slight adds.
    I am posting for critiques on the subject, B&W style and lighting, or anything else you would like to add.

    I will add that I am not a photographer - just a point and shoot type of person.

    Also anyone who would like to post the image with the suggestions is welcome. PM me if you would like the original color image to work with.

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  • #2
    Smaller version to view on the monitor.
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    • #3
      Jill -- She is a lovely young lady!

      I like these kind of images -- somewhat high key, kind of ethereal feel -- light coming thru a translucent fabric, non-detailed background. There may be too much light coming from behind her head, but it seems to work. Someone here will have good ideas about the lighting.

      What JUMPS out to me as needing a fix is her eyes - she has turned her gaze too far to the side and the white of her left eye (facing) is not showing completely. This is not surprising since it would have been difficult to notice in the reduced lighting available, but it detracts from the image.

      There also aren't any cute Marines in the background, but you can always add them later. [Note: for new readers -- this is a joke]

      Besides B/W, I can see this toned -- cyan or gold or ...


      • #4
        Jill, beautiful girl and photo, I can see why you are attracted to this one. Here are my thoughts. I took from your post that it was OK to post the photo with adjustments ...

        Try to think of the photo in these three different areas seperately;
        -Composition, the shape of the shapes
        -Brightness / Contrast, where is the eye drawn
        -Tonal range - rich or flat - how does it match the mood

        The photo has a madonna kind of composition that pulls the eye in and supports the mood of the lighting and posture of your daughter. All tranquil and powerful at the same time.

        What makes this hard to look at is the way the light behind her head pulls the eye away from her face both because of contrast and tone. Also the whole photo is flat, from medium grey to darker grey, so nothing but the hallo pops. Having her eyes hidden adds tension and mystery / sadness which goes contrary to the rest of the composition which reads strength and quieteness for me.

        If you were to adjust with levels you would just loose detail off of the ends and you would loose the delicate feel that this has. If you just adjust with curves we havn't solved the problem of the face, so this is what I ended up doing, trying to keep the original feeling in the photo - I could have gone further increasing tonal range but I thought it would change the mood too much;

        Used overlay layer (I love that technique) lightened the highlights on the face, fabric, dress, top of arms, flowers, etc. My goal was to add tonal range and detail until the eye went to her instead of the background. Darkened between the light areas on the dress. Painted in a suggestion of eyes with catch lights. Added a slight bump in cantrast with a curves layer.

        I tried not to change the direction of the light too much on her face, but too keep a natural light feel with a softness.

        That's it, hope you like it, Roger
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        • #5
          PM - yes I think you hit the points that I need to improve on. I gave this my best shot ---hence this form. I am at a loss on how to accomplish the look I can see it in my head. Thank you for your comments and insight. Your on the money with your comments.

          CJ - the eyes --- yes I missed that! And the light, now that I take a second look, it is too much - yet the "ethereal feel -- light coming thru a translucent fabric" is what I am trying to atchive -- so I might be close. Ah! Marines --- HEY this my daughter! LOL

          OH! Roger - thank you for adding an image with your comments ---- I am a very visual person who needs to see what your suggestions will accomplish.
          You are seeing what I saw in the image and tried to pull out. I have a few questions for you and don't know if I should PM you or post here --- but learning with critiques I hope is OK for this part of the site. --- GREG ??????

          "used overlay layer (I love that technique) lightened the highlights on the face, fabric, dress, top of arms, flowers, etc."

          did you dup then overlay? - how did you highlight?

          "Darkened between the light areas on the dress" --- How?

          And I think CJ (along with me) agree what you did with the eyes works!
          Thank you for taking the time to work on the image and posting.


          • #6
            Thanks Jill,

            I think the face might be a little harsh in tone still, because of lack of detail in the dark parts of the eyes and lips. If you can pull more out from one of the channels or from a b&w conversion through LAB that would be good.

            Tonal adjustments were done with overlay, Flora's method of creating a new layer (empty) and changing the mode to overlay, then paint on that layer at about 10 to 25 % brush opacity with white or black to lighten or darken. We had been previously filling the layer with grey before painting, but Flora's way of leaving it empty is soooooo much easier!

            All of the lightening and darkening was done this way except for the eyes where I painted a little on a seperate layer.



            • #7
              Originally posted by TwinbNJ

              I have a few questions for you and don't know if I should PM you or post here --- but learning with critiques I hope is OK for this part of the site. --- GREG ??????

              It's more than ok! That's the purpose of these critiques - to be constructive, honest and hopefully everyone can learn something from one another.

              I really think this photo has fantastic potential. It's a bit rough as it is at the moment but I really like that you went outside in the fog and rain and took these photos. Most people would have stayed indoors but you guys went out and really tried to get something a bit more interesting than the average snapshot. Good for you!

              Roger was right on the money when he described this image as having "a madonna kind of composition that pulls the eye in and supports the mood of the lighting and posture of your daughter. All tranquil and powerful at the same time." It does look almost like an early Renaissance painting!

              Strong points -

              1. The crop and composition is perfect in my opinion. The background is simple and ethereal...that little bit of ground showing really helps the overall composition. Her face looking away lends mystery to the image and the light behind her head is what really makes this image unique. The only thing I might have changed would be to have shot a photo without the corsage on her's a bit distracting and detracts from the overall softness of the image.

              2. This image would not work in needs to be black and white or a tone. The ethereal quality you are going for demands B&W...good decision.

              Things that need work -

              1. Tonal range...The image is too dark in the lower two thirds and burned out around her head. The figure should really be pulled out from the background a bit, especially the face. The hard part is making those adjustments without loosing the soft and mysterious quality of the image!

              Since you are a visual person ...I made some adjustments to the image. Hopefully this might give you some more ideas to build upon Roger's excellent version. This was all done using Photoshop.

              1. I used a Levels adjustment layer to fix the tonal range a bit. I set the highlight dropper to a light gray and clicked on the burned out area around her head. I then adjusted the middle slider to lighten the image a bit. Flattened the image.

              2. I wanted to soften the image and also build up some density. I duplicated the background layer twice. The top layer I set to "Screen" and middle to "Multiply". I then applied a Gaussian Blur to the top, Screen layer. This helped smooth the image out a bit and got rid of some of the jpeg artifacts. I then adjusted the opacity of both the Screen layer and Multiply layer until it looked the way I wanted. The Multiply layer helps build a bit of density to the image.

              3. I took CJ's suggestion and made the image a sepia tone. I converted the image to grayscale and then to Duotone. I picked a sepia color and adjusted it until I got the look I wanted.

              4. I had to make a few more slight curves adjustments to get the image right. I used masks with the curves adjustments to help pull the figure out while not over contrasting other area.

              Hopefully these adjustments maintain the original quality of the image and helps you make some of your own adjustments. Thanks for providing a great image for critique Jill!
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              • #8

                Love the face, it is a little softer than mine - like the toningb ut when I looked at it, maybe because of the fog I thought that a silver / blue might fit the mood better, so here it is

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                • #9
                  Greg - wonerful, yes CJ's suggestion works very well with the image. IIt adds a softness that was missing
                  Thank you for listing everything for me.

                  Roger - oooh the blue/silver does add a different feel --- very nice, this adds softness to the image also.

                  I am going to start with the original color image and try the steps and suggetsions that have been made.


                  • #10
                    Roger - I think you are right...a blue tone fits the mood of the photo better.

                    Jill - Looking forward to seeing what you come up with! Good choice to go back to the original color image...that will have the most pixel info to work with.


                    • #11
                      Hi, Jill. This is a VERY noisy image, which adds evidence that the initial black and white conversion technique was probably the wrong one. Whatever different colors might have been in the original have blended into one, leaving it very flat to look at. I can see the effect you are going for, but the face and dress are left without any contrast. I think the eyes are too dark. A soft focus might have been more what you had in mind. The flatness of contrast is extreme, but can still be recovered with curves layers. I like the warm gold coloring for this! So this is what I came up with, although working with the original would of course be easier.
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                      • #12
                        Thank you Bill for taking the time to work on this.

                        I do have a question --- I did try curves on this and it just did not look right. I assume you used curves on the image you submitted, how did you keep the soft look? -- the color you added is very soft and does enhance the image to atchive the look I want. Roger addressed the eyes very well (am hoping I can duplicate).

                        I am going to re-do this from scratch and any tips will help!


                        • #13
                          Hi, Jill. We have available some great soft look actions such as the Dream Filter, but the same basic results can be achieved with the simple steps I used for your photo:

                          1. Duplicate the background layer.
                          2. Set the blend to Soft Light
                          3. Select gaussian blur and play with the amount. More will result in a lighter image, less will make a darker image.
                          4. Use additional layers to increase the effect.
                          5. You may then wish on a duplicate layer to set the blend mode to screen to lighten parts of the image more. Reduce the opacity to, say, 30 percent, add a layer mask, and selectively add or subtract some glow.


                          • #14
                            I want to thank everyone for the comments, suggestions, and step by step instructions - with samples for me to go by.
                            I know it takes time to work an image, and I do appriciate all of your time.

                            I wrote everything down and spent the night learning, and working the image. I will not say that what I have produced even comes close to the samples provided -- but wanted to let you know I have learned soooo much. So here is one in a kinda gold tone and one in a blue tone.
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                            • #15
                              and the blue.
                              I did put the first one I submitted next to these two I did tonight and I can see the difference in the depth -- so I know I am getting close. Now it is a matter of practice.
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