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1940's child

By IanSR    
I was two minds to put this on or not, but I thought I need the advise of other photographers.

Q. What was I trying to accomplish?
I was trying to go for a 1940's style. My son has the raincoat and I just love the 40's style and film noir look of images.
I'm experimenting with light and shadow. I asked him to pose and with a few adjustments with the light setup I got this and a few where one side of his face is in total darkness.

I had him sitting about two feet away from a cream coloured wall.
I used a Godox V860 C flash with a small honeycomb attachment.
I also had a small silver reflector placed underneath to throw some light onto his coat.
I shot with a Canon 7D and a 50mm f/1.4 lens
The settings are:
ISO 160

I used CS6 to create the B&W image.
Hue/Saturation/ Blur/ four layer masks/ and spot healing brush to remove a few spots.
I am missing that final aging process where you get the cracks on old photos. Not sure how to do that yet.
I brought his eyes a little making them a little sharper and cleaner.
I'm happy with it so far. I like the light hitting the left side of his face and the shadow with the Rembrandt lighting on the right side.
Enjoy and have fun.

Tags: Black and white Digitally manipulated Canon 7d Portraits and people Flash and lighting



mrswoolybill Plus
16 4.1k 2607 United Kingdom
15 Dec 2014 5:03PM
Hi again, good to see you back in the Critique Gallery.

A question - you were looking for a 1940s style, could you perhaps give some links to examples of the sort of effect you were trying to create? I'm not seeing 1940s here, but I may be thinking of totally different work to your inspiration!

This sort of processing isn't my area but my initial reaction is that you have pushed it too far; it's important to know when to stop but tempting to carry on adding just a bit more sophistication, and then a bit more... I find the extreme softness, with no gradation and just the eyes and a bit of the lower lip sharp, slightly disturbing. And in particular the fact that his right eye (left to us), on the side of the face that was in shadow, actually looks lighter than his left eye.

I do like the pose, angle and expression, he occupies the frame perfectly. Styling-wise, the checked underside of the collar rather drags the eye away from the face, I like the idea of it being turned up as a story, but visually I think it would work better turned down. Maybe turn up the other side of the collar instead, so that the check is out of sight?

I shall be interested to see what other people say.
TanyaH Plus
20 1.3k 411 United Kingdom
15 Dec 2014 5:14PM
Hi Ian

First of all, it's a very effective image the way it is. The lighting is lovely as well. There's something very intense about the stare, and I think Moira's got it when she says that the eyes (and the lips) are perhaps a touch oversharp for the rest of the image.

Anyway, to my mod. (All changes were done in PS6, by the way.) I've always thought 'Film Noir' was more contrasty in feel than you've got here, so that's what I've done in my mod - using a Black and White adjustment layer set to Soft Light blending mode, and used at 75% Opacity. (Adds contrast without the mono effect.)

I then added a Dust and Scratches filter effect, with the settings of Radius=4 and Threshold=20. It's not a noticeable change at first, but it does soften things down just enough, particularly the eyes.

I then added Noise (filter) at just 1% - I wanted just a touch of it, and didn't want it to overpower the image.

In order to bring back a bit of life into the eyes, I used a layer mask and painted back the lightness in the irises (including the little catchlight in each).

In order to add 'texture' (as you said in your description above) I just added a very simple cracked paint effect image and overlaid it using Soft Light blend mode again, but set to just 12% this time.

I'm not sure if that's the kind of effect you were after, but I'll let you decide if it gets anywhere near what you were thinking Smile

salopian 11 3 28 United Kingdom
15 Dec 2014 5:43PM
A lovely soft and engaging image of your son nicely presented, but it does not give an impression of the 1940s to me
I was in my early teens then, and the hair style in that era was typically short back and sides and the coat and shirt would not have been of such good quality, except perhaps in quite wealthy families. Come to think of it, we were quite a scruffy lot !
Nevertheless a great mono portrait of your son.

banehawi Plus
19 2.9k 4354 Canada
15 Dec 2014 7:43PM
HI Ian.

This is difficult to critique, as you like it as it is.

Its a nice image, but for me its not at all evocative of the time period, and its not really a noir style.

I believe your son wears contact lenses? They are visible here, and make the eyes look a little odd, - re work the image so the lens edges are not visible.

The blurring doesnt work well for me; in the "40s there were lots of sharp images; but there were also a lot of images that has a diffuse light appearance; so, perhaps a diffuse glow would serve you better than, or along with less blur.

The check collar s such a strong eye draw that it doesn work. I replaced it in some mods.

Ive uploaded three mods. All have the eyes re worked; all have more of a contrasty appearance; 2 and 3 have the collar changed; take a look and see what you think.

Also, if you have the original colour shot, could you upload it so we can see where you started?

If you have a trilby type hat, try using this as a prop also.


paulbroad 15 131 1294 United Kingdom
15 Dec 2014 8:53PM
I like this. Very well done. It doesn't say 1940's in particular to me, but who cares.

The softness is interesting. It doesn't say you softened it, but you have done something. This is not unsharp, it looks diffused. That is the effect of a diffusion filter on the camera lens, or, in the wet darkroom, a diffuser over the enlarger kens.

The former bleeds highlights into shadows, the latter shadows into highlights.

This seems to emulate the latter and U like it. It tajpkes me back.

Tell us how you softened the image. I do hope it's not just unsharp.

dark_lord Plus
19 3.0k 836 England
15 Dec 2014 8:59PM
It's great to see such experimentation in both taking the original image and in post processing.

However, it doesn't say 1940s to me. The softness made me think of 1930s images from the cinema but the hairstyle has a hint of 1960s.
Neither of those statements takes anything away from your image. If we ignore trying to put a decade on it, we just appreciate it as a portrait.

I'm not sure how the fashion side of things stacks up, but that collar is not easy on the eye, and looks awkward. It's not so much the check pattern but the fact that one collar is sticking up that doesn't work or me as it's quite bold and fights with attention for the face. Having the other collar up would be fine, as would boith of them, but not the nearest one.

It appears you have a willing subject, and certainly trying to emulate or mix different styles you can create your own unique looking images.

dudler Plus
19 2.1k 2018 England
16 Dec 2014 9:09PM
As a longtime (and continuing) darkroom worker, I always feel a bit of a quandry looms with ageing pictures.

A real 1940s shot would not be cracked: meticulously done and processed, it would - if not ill-treated - be better than your inkjet can manage.

The characteristics would be slight softness everywhere, but with a core of sharpness. You've got this, but with a slightly unnatural look to the eyes: they scream "digital" because you have made them sharper than everything else... It's often the unevenness of an effect that looks wrong to the darkroom eye - and it happens a lot with digital portraits.

The beautiful sidelit effect in the eye on our left is not in tune, either, I think. Maybe this is because I really don't believe that a light above and on our right would give that look... Strong light from the left would, I reckon. Did you do any special processing on that eye?

There's also a small white mark in his left eye (on our right).

The raised collar looks very odd in the thumbnail: and also in the full-size pic: I think that it's the tartan that strikes the false note. It would, I reckon, have been the same material as the upper surface.

But otherwise... A really good piece of work. The softness is good. My only suggestion now would be a tiny bit of sepia tone, which would say "old" better than the cracks and blotches, I suspect, even though not everything was toned...
Fogey 10 101 13 United Kingdom
21 Dec 2014 10:16AM
Ian, Try this.

Take the shot, process and sharpen.

Duplicate a layer. Then Filter > Other > High Pass and set the pixel count to 4.6 or thereabouts and click OK. From the layers panel, select overlay.

The image will be grossly over-sharpened. Select Image > Adjustments > invert. This will alter the over-sharpening and soften the image. Adjust the opacity to create the softness you want.

Create a mask and paint out the softening on the eyes, nose and mouth - again use the opacity of the paintbrush to suit.

Then shadows and highlights.
IanSR 9 United Kingdom
21 Dec 2014 2:19PM
Hello everyone,
Sorry for the delay in answering your critiques. Has been a very busy week and it doesn't help when the Internet company promised 1 day down time but it gets to be 4 days!

I will start from top to bottom.

Here is the link that you requested

I will look at the graduation as I thought there was. I used Photoshop and chose the Iris Blur so I thought it would give a graduated blur.
One of my main mistakes maybe, is that I didn't have hin in a 40's type outfit (maybe)
I can see his left eye to be a little too sharp.
Thanks for the pose. He works at it as he is a child model, so I leave it to him to do what he wants in the posing department. I just gave him the idea and did what he did.
I didn't think about the check. I thought it would give the image a visual style.
Thanks again Moira for the constructive critique. Trust me it all helps Smile

I worked hard for the lighting, watching lots of youtube videos from Robert Harrington, Mark Wallace and Karl Taylor
With the eyes and lips, I am happy I used a layer mask so experimenting with the eyes and lips will be no problem.
I love the noise and scratch effect, you did something I was looking to do but not so sure about the scratch effect. I think I know now, but then not so sure. You did an excellent and pleasing job on the image. The only this is that the eyes do look strange after the effects added.
I will take your settings and experiment with them. Awesome stuff. Thanks.

Thanks for your experience. I really like that. I have to say, which I did not write in the description, as my son is a child model we have to be careful with his hair. Can't really do much with it at the moment. But I get what you mean. I have been looking for a Fedora hat but it didn't come in time.
I really appreciate the experience you have told me about. I have made a not of it for when I get to do another shoot.
Thanks again.

My son has no contact lenses, just natural eyes. I didn't think that it looks like he has contacts. He is only 8 so I wouldn't want him to have them. Maybe because he is half English half Taiwanese, maybe? Or maybe the angle of light?
Interesting point.
You mention about the 40's have a lot of sharp images, interesting as I was watching a video and the gentleman mentioned that in the 40's they would use a blur filter on the lens to add that diffuse image. I will look for information on sharp images in the 40's
Thanks for that point. You have added a lot to my 'homework'
I will upload the colour version, no problem.
I like the new version of the collar and version 1 of the image.

1940's who cares? I like that. Thanks Smile
You seem to have experience with film development? Fascinating.
How I got the softened images was by:
1-making a copy of the original
2-on the colour image I used Hue/Saturation
3-Niks Software Color Effects 4 and turned into B&W
6-Gaussian blur
7-Smart Filter
8-I diffused the look.
10-Photo Filter
That's what I did.
Have fun.

1930's Thanks for that. I will do some research on the 30's. I think I was inspired by Victor Mature The Kiss of Death, I love that film.
Yes, I keep looking at the collar and it is proving to be a distraction.
We all need to experiment to see what works and what does not.

Excellent points. I appreciate the comment having the light on the left. I will try that again when I can book my son in for a session.
Serpia tone I will use and leave the crack effects. I think some of us do get carried away with the ageing technique and expect to see cracks and forget that the images would have been crisp and new.
Thanks again for the comments and from your experience.
At t the beginning I did write I was two minds to post this image, but looking on actually I am glad.
The comments have been very useful.

I will do that tonight. Thanks for the tutorial. Excited. I will post the original colour one for you to try.

Thanks to everyone for your comments. I won't be so shy next to post an image.

Kind regards to everyone.
Have fun!
dudler Plus
19 2.1k 2018 England
21 Dec 2014 2:53PM

Such an engaged and detailed response to everyone makes it well worth the wait!

Looking forward to seeing further results...
IanSR 9 United Kingdom
21 Dec 2014 3:03PM

I really appreciate the time that people have put in when commenting and on ephotozine.
I have found a tremendous group of talented people that are happy to share their knowledge.

In fact, your images are something I am impressed with. I really like Alexis, again. the pose is very simple but it creates a lovely smooth shape, peaceful and the light that catches her hair is nice.

Thanks again.
TanyaH Plus
20 1.3k 411 United Kingdom
22 Dec 2014 10:16AM
Ian, that's probably the most intensive, involved and engaged piece of feedback I've ever seen on an image from the original photographer! You're a star Grin
Critique is a great thing, but really only works well if it's a two-way thing ... which you've very definitely made it here.
IanSR 9 United Kingdom
22 Dec 2014 2:21PM
Smile That is one encouraging message.

Everyone, Happy X'Mas!!!!!

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