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a quick drag at a fag

By EveLine1  
Hi to all who are interested in my photos. Without being too intrusive I snapped this shot focusing on the face instead of on hands and face. I would very much appreciate your comments. Thanks for looking and keep safe, Viola

Tags: Mexico Leisure Travel photography Character portrait Portraits and people

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dudler Plus
18 1.8k 1894 England
6 Jul 2020 8:25AM
On the plus side, this is an expressive frozen moment, and that's a considerable achievement.

We all recognise the gesture here: the thoughtful moment and the relaxation that cigarettes seem to bring to smokers.

Technically, almost everything about it could have been a fraction better - and your use of Program mode is the reason, in all likelihood.

Program has given you a low ISO, quite a wide aperture, and a lowish shutter speed. The sharpest focus is on the hair on the left side of the subject's head, rather than on her eye and the characterful lines in her face, which is where most viewers would probably like to see most detail.

A higher ISO setting would have allowed both a faster shutter speed (reducing the risk of subject movement and camera shake) and a smaller aperture (making precise focus less critical).

Program mode is a 'good enough' setting, a catch-all that takes away detailed control of how the image looks - choose Aperture priority and make sure that you are aware of all the settings and the effect they are having. There's more to say about that, if you want, but for now I'll keep it short.
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.1k 2476 United Kingdom
6 Jul 2020 12:05PM
Hello again! It's an interesting idea. Interesting ideas don't always translate into successful visual effect though...

We do need to see the hand sharp, because that's where the smoker's eyes are looking. So it's where our eyes look. If she was gazing into space it would be different, but she is making it clear that the hand and cigarette are her focal point... That's the problem that I see. I think this would actually work much better without the hand, just leave the mystery of what she is looking at. I shall try that...

It needed a faster shutter speed and a smaller aperture, and that meant a higher ISO. It's the juggling act that we need to consider, particularly when taking something personal, intimate like this. And the camera cannot be relied to make that decision for you because it doesn't actually know what you are photographing.

So this is really about the need to take greater control. Program mode is a bit like a general household wash setting on a washing machine. You wouldn't use it for lambswool jumpers...

I like the fact that you avoided intruding, but stepping a wee bit to the left would have made things easier, because it would have brought hand and face nearer to the same distance from the camera.
pamelajean Plus
15 1.7k 2243 United Kingdom
6 Jul 2020 2:19PM
What an amazing difference Moira's modification makes, removing that hand. We are still left with a shallow depth of field, but the empty space adds to the idea of the lady being deep in thought. Yes, you focused on the face, but a lot more of the face needs to be in focus. This lady has such a characterful face. As John says, a smaller aperture would have made it easier for you to focus better and get more of the face sharp.

Your camera has a good brain but absolutely no imagination or initiative. So using programmed settings doesn't help you to learn and doesn't tell your camera exactly what you want. Take control. By all means, use a program setting and look at what the camera is suggesting for a particular scene. Then take a note of those settings and use them in Aperture Priority, for instance, and adjust your camera options according to the conditions prevailing. You will get a greater sense of achievement when you look at the results and know that you were in charge.

Most peoples' photography is done using Aperture Priority and this is where you need to start once you are comfortable enough to leave the auto controls and venture into the world of creativity. In this mode you set the aperture and the camera makes a decision about what shutter speed is appropriate for the conditions that you are shooting in, so some of the work is being done for you. In AP, take some shots at the largest aperture you can (small numbers) and see how it blurs the background (but also increases the shutter speed) and then head to the other end of the spectrum to take some shots at the smallest aperture (large numbers) to see how it keeps more of your image in focus.

Please excuse me if I seem to be trying to teach my grandmother to suck eggs, as they say, because I see from your portfolio that you don't always use programme modes.


chase Plus
16 2.3k 600 England
7 Jul 2020 2:47PM
You have some nice images in your pf, nicely taken and composed.
I can see why you snapped this one but that hand is very oof, at 1/80th on a moving subject that is always going to happen.
Some good advice above and I do like Moiras clever mod.
Thank you so much John, Moira and Pamela for your critique!! I aprreciate it a lot and you are very kind to dedicate your precious time to photos taken by amateurs. Actually I have been using Aperture Priority and Program mode for the last years, but I still am very insecure when it comes to taking snap shots and being sure of the outcome. Often with difficult light situations at home the results aren't pleasing and glaring white in certain areas, even tho I know that it is best to focus on a point between the light and dark areas. Being shortsighted the photos often aren't as sharp as they could be so I usually also take a photo in AE. Iactually know the theory but I'm still far from the results I would like. Especially in spontaneous moments. So I often opt for the quick AE mode where I can take a quick shot without the person noticing it..But John of course you are right! Thanks for pointing out that ocusing on the profle would have been the better choice and I have to remember raising the ISO to be able to react faster in unexpected situations. Moira, I like your modification. It does improve the picture ans It is so interesting to see what s.o. else can make out one's photo. You are absolutely right that the hand should have been sharp because her gaze goes in that direction and your eyes follow where she's looking. A valuable piece of advice! And thanks Pamela for the suggestions and advice. I do use aperture priority often in landscape, macro and some other situations but still lack the confidence as soon as I feel it is trickier. I will work on that.. Kindest regards to all of you and stay safe and well!
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.1k 2476 United Kingdom
7 Jul 2020 4:14PM
And thank you Viola for coming back with such feedback, it makes all the difference and it's good to know when we have given someone something to think about.
dudler Plus
18 1.8k 1894 England
7 Jul 2020 6:15PM
Yes indeed - thank you. A conversation works best here.

I'm shortsighted, too - but with the viewfinder adjusted, I see more clearly through the camera than round it. Achieving sharp focus is a matter of technique, not eyesight - and how you set the camera's AF system. The G3 is very flexible, but you do need to learn to work through and in the menus to get what you want in terms of how and where the camera focuses!

Also - and it's impossible to overemphasise this - practice, practice, practice. You don't need a great subject, but you do need to rack up loads of shooting experience.

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