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Man in Picadilly Circus

By onetrickpony
Another shot taken on Saturday night. Using my D90, Sigma 18-200 and balanced on my monopod.

For this shot, I set my camera to vivid picture mode with +3 saturation to bring the colours out a bit. Exposure was manual.

I think I did this shot all wrong. I think I should have used a tripod, closed the aperture, fired the flash in 'slow' mode at a closer subject and let the background burn out / blur a bit more. I could have even tried motion tracking a bit (might have creeped people out a bit?). What do you think? Anything else I should try?

Basically, I personally like the colors and the cluttered background, the London busses/taxis etc but the end result looks cluttered and unfocused with no real aim. I'm going to go back to the same spot, or there abouts, this weekend hopefully with a tripod. What do you think I should do to make the next shot better? What techniques can I use to isolate an interesting subject better?

Tags: General Landscape and travel Flash and lighting

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


Sooty_1 6 1.5k 220 United Kingdom
18 Mar 2013 8:46PM
I think the idea is ok, but you could have waited for him to be a little closer, and you could have edged either way to keep him in the light reflection from the white light. It also looks slightly better (darker) if you crop the 'Sports Direct' sign out, IMHO.
At the moment, the subject is a little lost in the clutter, but if he was closer, he would stand out more as the focus of attention.

I think I might have been inclined to push the ISO a couple of stops to give more leeway with the exposure, then you could choose whether to freeze or blur the movement.


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mrswoolybill Plus
9 985 1500 United Kingdom
18 Mar 2013 9:10PM
For motion blur to work effectively he needs to be closer to the camera. And looking for someone walking nearer to you and across the frame would allow you to use a slightly faster shutter speed and avoid camera movement. Have a look at the motion blur in this upload from the Gallery yesterday. OK it's b&w, totally different conditions, longer focal length etc etc but it shows how motion blur can be effective against a sharp background.
Can I mention before I forget that the coloured light reflected in the wet pavement is a wonderful find. Worth returning next time it rains - that shouldn't be a long wait... Look for a slightly different angle, a bit to the right, to maximise the coloured lights and reflections rather than the white ones.
I cannot really imagine flash giving an effect that I would find satisfying here.
A tripod would allow you to use a slower shutter speed and get really ghostly blur.
18 Mar 2013 9:56PM
Thanks both of you for your very helpful comments. I will take all of them on board when I go back out, definitely. No, mrswoolybill, it should not be a long wait before it starts raining Grin .
ErictheViking 3 124 102 Scotland
18 Mar 2013 10:18PM
I agree that your idea is OK however I find the very bright sign age is distracting and reduces the effect of the bright colours. In the Mod I've loaded I cropped the image to remove most of the bright white area, I also played with the motion blur effects in PSE11. I have motion blurred the image in a separate layer and then masked the figure to allow them to appear unblurred. I set the opacity to 75% to allow some of the original image to show through.

This is just to show the options available, the main figure needs to be sharp for this effect and I think you know your figure is slightly blurred.

Erik Grin
Jestertheclown 8 7.4k 249 England
18 Mar 2013 10:22PM
Hi again Jonny,

I know precisely where you were standing and I don't imagine you'll be very popular placing a tripod there!
However, I quite like all the clutter in the background but the railings around the entrance to the tube are a bit distracting.
You could try stepping to the left to avoid them which would add more clutter to your shot.
Another idea would be to get down lower, perhaps even quite a lot lower although that would mean stepping well to the left to avoid the really bright signs in the background here.
As Nick says, I'd up the ISO a bit too.

paulbroad 9 116 1064 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2013 8:08AM
I would definitely get rid of the bright shop sign and sky, but then there is the very bright burnt out area on the left. The idea is good but I wouldn't use the in camera settings for vivid etc. You can do all that later if you really think it necessary. Concentrate on a good well exposed fully toned image from the camera. Fiddling is what software is meant for.

A tripod in such a location could be a problem, plus drawing the attention of the wrong sort of people. The picture is about clutter, so that is OK, but a higher ISO, thus faster shutter speed for sharpness and less exposure to control highlights.

Bring the shadows back with the dodge tool. Motion blur? Well, if you want that you may well need that tripod and chance it.

Fogey 3 96 13 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2013 9:51AM
Have you considered using a delayed flash to get motion blur. A long exposure followed by a flash to get the subject sharp. Experiment and you will be surprised at the results. Smile

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