Back Modifications (4)
Views 75 Unique 21 Award Shortlist   


By James124
An outdoor portrait of my friend Colin. Like all my portraits it was taken "on the fly" using available light and with a minimum amount of post production - quite a lot done before conversion to b&w after which I increased contrast, blurred the background and added a light vignette . Lightening his eyes was probably the most effective adjustment. Colin's expression and the direct look do reflect something of his character and how he was feeling at the time, although I was just after candid portrait; just the one shot!

Tags: Portraits Black and white B and amp w Portraits and people Portrait b and amp w

Save & earn with MPB; trade-in and buy pre-loved


banehawi Plus
18 2.7k 4311 Canada
4 Jun 2015 3:18AM
This is really good James. I cant suggest a lot that would improve it.

Ive tried a different crop that may focus attention more on his eyes, - and they are also a little sharper, but only a suggestion.

I also notice you have not enabled voting on your other shots, - is this intended?


Robert51 13 7 128 United Kingdom
4 Jun 2015 8:35AM
Great portrait John, hope you like the mod...

pamelajean Plus
16 1.7k 2257 United Kingdom
4 Jun 2015 12:32PM
This is very good, James.

When someone wears a peaked cap, their forehead and eyes often get shaded and spoil the image because the eyes are not engaging the viewer. Here you have done well to brighten the eyes.

Your work on the background is excellent. A good clean background is perfect for a portrait.

I've done a modification where I cloned out the grey circle on the right, just above his shoulder.
I noticed that you have the eyes one third down the frame, so well done for that. I simply sharpened the eyes a little, then accentuated one of the highlights, and removed the others.

TanyaH Plus
19 1.3k 411 United Kingdom
4 Jun 2015 1:01PM
I think this is a beautifully effective portrait. Your friend has a wonderful face for this kind of strong mono image and your one-off candid shot has produced something very striking.

Technically, I've nothing to add to what others have said above, so I've just done you a mod which explores an alternative composition within the frame. I've taken the face right over to the right hand side of the image and cropped quite closely in, to focus on those gorgeous facial features Smile I did lighten the eyes a little and applied a bit of smart sharpen, but then used a layer mask to only apply the sharpening effect in certain areas - mostly the eye area, the lighter side of the face and the cap.

James124 Plus
7 49 51 Portugal
4 Jun 2015 1:28PM
Thanks everyone. I will use your suggestions for asome more variations. My post production skills are still pretty basic - I've yet to get t grips with Photoshop and use Aperture3 for nearly everything.
I've just learnt that this photo (along with three others) has been selected for our club exhibition this summer, so I'll be doing a reprint but I'm not sure I can make too many changes!
TanyaH Plus
19 1.3k 411 United Kingdom
4 Jun 2015 1:52PM
Well done Grin If it's been chosen for the exhibition as it currently stands, I wouldn't worry too much about changing it for the exhibition to incorporate any suggestions we've made - unless you want to, of course. Go with what you've currently got - after all, they chose it as it is now. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!

Good luck with the summer exhibition.
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.2k 2527 United Kingdom
4 Jun 2015 4:55PM
It's been said. This is good, as Pamela says it's important to brighten the eyes a bit when they are shaded by the peak of a cap, it looks as though you have done that, and very well. The only technical quibble I have is the vertical band of dark shadow immediately above his right eye (left to us). It looks a bit odd. I think you've done a bit of dodging between it and the edge of the brow?

Tanya's modification makes it special for me. Space above head and below collar-line is really wasted space, it dilutes the impact of the gaze. And for full impact that gaze needs to be on the viewer's eye-level.

By placing him off-centre and cutting of the empty space to our right, the crop makes him seem more hesitant, questioning. Not taking centre stage, inviting himself cautiously into the frame.

Placement in the frame is crucial to the emotional impact of a subject. It makes a big difference here.
dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
4 Jun 2015 6:59PM
An intense portrait, and there's nothing wrong with natural light portraits taken on the fly. You get good stuff doing that!

There are technical perils, though - I think the sharpest focus is on the neckline, an inch or two behind the plane Colin's eyes are in. Do you use matrix focus, or a selected spot? The latter is near-essential for this sort of shot.

In truth, I usually use the central spot over the eye, and then recompose: this sometimes allows slight movement (of the subject, or me, or both) before the shutter fires, and I get exactly the same problem. So I take multiple shots...

If I knew Colin, I'd take his picture regularly...
James124 Plus
7 49 51 Portugal
4 Jun 2015 8:13PM
Thanks again everyone. I've tried out some adjustments including Tanya's crop. But I'm going to submit for the expo a slightly closer crop with a bit more sharpening.

Dudler, My Nikon D50 has five metering points, I generally try to use the centre one but focus point seems to move around at random. Maybe I should go back to manual focussing? Unfortunately Colin lives in Switzerland and I in SW France, so we don't meet often.

dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
4 Jun 2015 9:15PM
Most cameras have options to let the AF rip, or select the central spot only, or to allow you to use the controls to select any one of the focus spots.

The AF system on its own will move things round - it tries to match the picture to a set of standard setups in its memory - and while these get more and more sophisticated over the years, really careful composition continues to defeat them.

I recommend looking in the menus, and finding the bit that allows you to select the central spot. (After all, the earliest AF cameras only had one spot. Primitive, but not in the least confusing!) See how that goes, so you're ready next time you see Colin!
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.2k 2527 United Kingdom
5 Jun 2015 5:54PM

Quote:focus point seems to move around at random.

That's weird! The D50 is one of the few Nikon DSLRs that I haven't handled, but I suspect that you are perhaps accidentally jogging the multi-selector button? If not, it's a case of sitting down with the manual and checking your settings.

I'm not sure how many focus points you have to choose from but always use just one, and use it carefully. Generally the central point is the safest. Focus carefully and lock the focus by half-depressing the shutter button, then recompose. But for subjects that are close to the camera and / or when using a large aperture (low F number) be careful not to lose the focus when you recompose.
James124 Plus
7 49 51 Portugal
5 Jun 2015 6:32PM
Hi Moira
There are five points on the D50. I usually try to use the centre one and as you say half depress and recompose, but there's not always time or this if one is trying for impromptu unposed shots. I'll just have to work on camera handling skills and stop wishing things were as simple as my old Pentax Spotmatic!
Thanks for your advice

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.