Back Modifications (2)
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Evening Shadows

By Philo  
I took this one evening just as the sun was disappearing behind the hotel buildings. The idea was to catch the warm light on my daughter's face but it was still too bright for her to turn towards the sun. So I had to settle for the sun on her left side with her hair shielding her eyes. I forced the flash to fire hoping to lift the shadows on her face but this was only partially successful. That said I quite like the shadows but then I am extremely biased. I know the background should be blurred out but once again I was hampered by the compact. I had a go at blurring in PS and whilst it would probably look ok on epz it certainly wouldn't be printable.
Could I have done anything different given the circumstances? If I had a similar situation here could I improve this with reflectors or could I diffuse the light so she could turn into it?
Compact settings: f/4, 1/250s, ISO 100, forced flash.
As usual all comments and mods welcome and thanks again to all those who contributed on yesterday's upload.

Tags: Portraits and people Flash and lighting

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Tooth 13 5.8k 227 Ireland
28 Aug 2010 12:23PM
Personally I don't think the lighting is a problem here - yes it's a bit harsh and shadowy but the exposure's well controlled, and that kind of light is probably typical of the place anyway. I agree with Frank re the BG - depends what you're looking for. I think the BG here gives it context (I'm guessing) the memory of a holiday, so no need to blur it away...but it can be done if you specifically want to concentrate on your daughter. A shot I think you'll look fondly on in years to come

CathR 11 151 564 United Kingdom
28 Aug 2010 12:41PM
I am not a portrait photographer Phil but I have read a couple of books on portrait lighting, so I'll jump in and see what other have to say.

First of all the background doesn't bother me because it gives the context for the shot.

I think the light is just too strong even though it was evening - was it Turkey? - strong light there. What you need is soft ,even lighting. So I think diffusing it would be the best approach. If you are in the pool area I wonder if there was an umbrella you could have used to shield the light? Or there is that awning type structure over the other side of the pool.

I am not sure you want your daughter to be looking into the light. The best position for the light is coming at about a 45 degree angle from one side, so you get a bit of modelling for the face. But you may need something reflective to bounce back the light from the shadow side.

It's really difficult to control the light in these situations where it is stong and you do not have all the paraphernalia to help you. Plus I expect your daughter is not going to hang around for too long while you try this and that. So I would just accept the shot for being a lovely memory of the holiday.

Best wishes

banehawi Plus
13 1.8k 3866 Canada
28 Aug 2010 4:40PM
Phil, - only thing I can think of is to wait until the sun is much lower and softer, - there quite a lot of ambient light. This will also affect the flask power, as the more ambient light is present, the less power the flash will produce.

A pro shooter would likely have used a large diffuser to reduce and soften the light, and also have had an assistant, - so with a compact and no support crew youve done well.

pamelajean Plus
12 1.1k 2008 United Kingdom
28 Aug 2010 5:02PM
Hello, Phil. When I opened this image, I thought it was lovely, what a pretty child and the dress is so beautiful too. I like her glittery scarf and the catchlights in her eyes. I think you have handled the strong light extremely well and am even wondering if it was necessary to shade her face with her hair. The shadow of the hair across the face is my only real niggle. I like the context that the background provides and don't think it is necessary to blur it, your daughter definitely hogs the limelight anyway, and I don't find the background distracts from her at all. I do like the way you have placed her to the side of the frame, and compositionally would only suggest a slight crop to the top because there is no detail in the sky.
Philo 8 99 83 England
28 Aug 2010 10:05PM
Well thank you everyone I'm not sure I was expecting such a good positive response. I will just try to clarify a few points:
Catherine, I wasn't trying to get her to look at the sun just turn her head slightly so it lit her face and lost the shadows, but without her hair shielding her eyes she was squinting.
At the pool side this was as low as the sun would get before disappearing behind the buildings so it was actually still relatively high.
Yes she was hungry and I only got one shot at this before she was gone.
This may be the last of the holiday snaps as I get depressed about not taking the DSLR. Something a bit different tomorrow!
Thanks again for all your feedback.
Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
28 Aug 2010 10:51PM
Hi Phil,
I don't think the lighting detracts from this at all. It is, after all, a reminder of a time that you've all enjoyed and it looks as it really was.
I wouldn't worry about blurring the background either, for the same reason.
The only change I'd make would be to crop it slightly to alter your daughter's position and to remove a couple of distractions from the background.
Hope my mod's. OK.

Philo 8 99 83 England
29 Aug 2010 7:05AM
Thanks Bren, the mod works well: it takes on board Pamela's note about losing some sky and gets rid of the lifeguard's chair which does pull the eye a little.
paulbroad 10 123 1238 United Kingdom
29 Aug 2010 7:39AM
I would simply leave it alone. Very nice indeed - pleasant, a good memory, sharp, what more do we want. I think the flash has actually helped rather a lot here, softening the shadows considerably. Too many people do not use the camera mounted flash ewnough, especially on holiday in bright sun.

I carry a small Nikon compact on the beach on holiday if the main interest is not photography. I leave the flash forced on all the time. I get funny looks, but who cares because, 95% of the time, it works.

Philo 8 99 83 England
29 Aug 2010 8:35AM
Thanks Paul I actually had flash forced on 90% of the time on holiday for that very reason. When I posted my first DSLR shot on here, my daughter among bluebells, someone offered a tip about using flash in bright sunlight so I took it on board. It works!
Suehh 11 39 6 England
30 Aug 2010 12:22PM
Phil, I think this is a very pretty shot and when you look at it in years to come, it will take you right back to the moment you captured the image. I like it just as it is - bg and all.

Thank you for posting a comment today and I do not think you will have any trouble with the babyshoot. You will have to put one or two up - be lovely to see them.

Philo 8 99 83 England
30 Aug 2010 12:50PM
Thanks Sue, yes I will hopefully put some in the critique gallery to look for improvements as I am sure they will want more as he grows.

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