Back Modifications (4)
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Lift me up Mum!

By purplehaze

Tags: Black and white Portraits people b and w

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


banehawi Plus
13 1.7k 3807 Canada
6 Sep 2011 12:53AM
Welcome to EPZ Andrew. This is a good site for learning, especially when youre willing and interested.

Can you let us know what image software you use, and what your level of expertise is? We can provide feedback better suited to your situation.

So lets start. This is a candid shot, - no planning, and youve caught her in a search and destroy mission Im sure. Lots of quick candids work out very well, however it dows help to be just a little prepared.

This is not a bad shot overall. Its sharp, focused well on her eyes. Its a b&w, either shot in camera, or converted from colour. let us know which, - and also why you decided on b&w and not colour? If you have a colour version, you can upload it here by clicking the add a modification link.

For b&w to work well, there needs to be a good tonal range, that includes black, and white! This image is mostly grey, and that might have something to do with the flash and how it detected the return ing light, - and since theres some bright light behind, the flash output may have been reduced. Just speculation.

It can be made look a lot better quite easily, - and once we know you levele of competence with software, you can learn a lot more.

Ive loaded 2 mods. Mod1, your original shot, has the exposure on the girls face increased, as well as the detail in her eyes; and its got a little more contrast. I used a curves adjustment in Photoshop CS4 to do this, - it can be done with other versions of software.
Mod2, is a tight crop in an 8 X 10 format, with a simple frame, and a little diffuse glow - a Photoshop filter applied.

Take a look at the techniques section, - theres lots of good tutorials there that will help you along the learning curve. I would guess that most of us here on the site have spent very little on formal lessons, - just enthusiasm and interest.

Hope this is helpful,



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Omg thanks Willie, that's really helpful, I like the close crop. I am a newbie as you probably realise. It was converted to b&w in lightroom. I have a few shots of Sadie that I will put up on wednesday. These are all around a faiground stall, this wasn't my favourite but I just put it up to start. I'm really struggling with actually reading the photo, I could see what was wrong but no skill to improve it!
I changed it to b&w because her skin was pale and a bit blotchy, and my software competence is nearly nil. I can see the faults in my photos but I can't fix them! I will investigate the tutorials, if you could have a quick scan when upload the others I would really appreciate it, once again thanks a lot
banehawi Plus
13 1.7k 3807 Canada
6 Sep 2011 3:20AM

paulbroad Plus
10 123 1216 United Kingdom
6 Sep 2011 7:42AM
This is a nice candid family shot, but the mono conversion lacks tone. Not sure of the method in Lightroom, but you need control over the reds, green and blue channels independently for mono - and CMY if it is available. The Channel Mixer in Photoshop is ideal, or a dedicated conversion software program that gives this control.

Virtually all good mono images should have a white, a full black and a range of grey between. You need to see that to fully understand, but mono is rather more of a skill than many now believe - a really good mono image is more difficult to achieve than full colour in my opinion.

paulbroad Plus
10 123 1216 United Kingdom
6 Sep 2011 7:51AM
Just tried a couple of mods. I had 40 odd years in a darkroom - a converted garden shed at home - mostly doing mono, and a full range of tones should always be your first target in any mono image.

Paul, thank you so much. I knew the picture was flat but it did look punchier on my monitor tbh. As I said to Willie I am a newbie. I am going to put up some similar pics tomorrow so feel free to play with them!
Do you think I should buy elements 9 or cs5? I can get cs5 very cheap via software for students but I'm worried I would be daunted by it, would elements be more simple to use or is it a scaled down cs5 with similar controls?
Thanks again

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