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On the face of it

By AM74
Taking portraits feels like a big responsibility to a novice like me. Been reviewing and editing some images taken over the last year, and this was one of a sailor at sunset on the Nile. This guy had an air of ambivalence and indifference that I wanted to capture. I like it that I got a lot of facial detail and also the view in his frames.
I have reflected on the image and am going to guess what the team might say. I should have gone for F8, higher ISO and faster shutter speed? His left hand is blurry- maybe because of the aperture size.
An EV of -2 was most likely as I would have been getting highlight alerts. Was that right or should I have gone for less?( I have increased exposure in Lr) Any other tips and thoughts will be gratefully received. Thanks!

Tags: Face River General Boat

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pablophotographer 10 1.9k 409
3 Jul 2020 11:29PM
Consider the background for a minute. It's just water. How much descriptive you need to be of it? f/5.6 or f/4 would open the lens iris more, the more the amount of light through the lens the faster the image is recorded.
I like you have caught the sunset in his sunglasses. You could crop a bit from the area of water above his head (most of the brown reflections on the water).
banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4255 Canada
4 Jul 2020 4:59AM
Its quite a nice shot.

You used exposure compensation of -2, while, when shooting into bright water, a +2.3 would be better.

This leaves the face underexposed, in addition to shadow on his face.

So it can look better with the face brighter. as in the mod, which is also cropped to 5X4, and sharpened a little


mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2435 United Kingdom
4 Jul 2020 7:33AM
This I reckon is by far the best of your uploads here for critique so don't be hard on yourself. F8 was fine, his left hand is behind the railing so why should we need to see it sharp? The main problem was that minus exposure compensation, but a good quality image is easily adjusted as Willie has demonstrated.

What I am enjoying is the way that when eyes are not visible we imagine them.
James_C 12 38 57 United Kingdom
4 Jul 2020 8:15AM
Personally I like the fact that his left hand isn't in focus. The subject is his face - not his hand, which would have distracted the eye. If anything, the sharpest focus is on his cigarette and mouth - interesting, but if the reflection in his sunglasses was the greater attraction to you then spot focus here would have been better. Spot focus on the point of greatest interest to you and crop after allowing both sharp and soft focus can work really well. I'm not a professional photographer, but its how my mind works. Remember, photography is an art form and as such you should show your art, not what you think others do. Smile
dudler Plus
18 1.6k 1870 England
4 Jul 2020 10:24AM
This is a really good portrait. He definitely exudes an air of indifference, a sort of calculated shell all around himself. A cool character, the sort of hard-boiled character that Humphrey Bogart played.

Inside, maybe, and at home, there is a softer, gentler man.

It's hard to take a portrait of such a direct and challenging look, so well done for that, in the first place. (Mind you, if you asked permission first, he should pursue a career as a professional model!) Normally, I'd say that dark glasses are the ultimate evasion of a portrait, as the eyes matter: but here, that's precisely the point. He's got so much quiet attitude, so much intensity.

1/400 is fine for steadiness - you could go lower. Aperture is also fine, and you could have gone much wider without losing the intensity, only risking not having the crucial parts of his face in focus. Nothing else matters apart from the face, unless you stop right down and get too much sharp(ish) detail in the background. And if the aperture and shutter speed are fine, then the ISO setting is OK, too.

A tiny bit more exposure might be good (I suspected you may have had to pull the image up a bit at -2, and reading your commentary in detail confirms it), but you don't want brilliant highlights or more neutral colour. Willie's mod is excellent, but a lot of people would go somewhere between his mod and your original as posted. [Additional thought after doing my mod: the highlight warning may well have come from the reflection of the sun in his glasses: you'll never fix that without making everything else far too dark! So maybe -1 would give the facial tones that you want. After all, his skin is not pale - it almost feels politically incorrect to say it, but it's important to render skin tones accurately for the individual, and not turn everyone into pale Anglo Saxons.]

My only niggle (and it's a pretty minor one) is that part of his left hand is cut off. It doesn't matter at all that it's not sharp, but I think it might be more visually satisfying if all of it was in the frame. But I can also see a tighter crop working well, and an even tighter one is possible - there's plenty of quality in there!.

However you decide that you like it, I strongly suggest posting your final version in the main gallery, and see how people there react to the image. It could go well!

capto Plus
9 6.7k 25 United Kingdom
4 Jul 2020 11:23AM
I can't advise on the technicalities. I like the shot because of the interesting face, no eyes has made the shades and the secondary image reflected in them more compelling, I have concentrated on this in my mod.
chase Plus
15 2.2k 566 England
4 Jul 2020 2:32PM
The slight movement of his hand don't bother me, I am looking at his face and the reflections in his sunglasses.
The only thing I would have done here is lighten slightly and crop off some of the darker bg right at the top as the mods you already have show.
You could have gone for a slightly wider aperture but I don't think that would be crucial here.
AM74 3
4 Jul 2020 10:15PM
Thank you all for your encouraging comments. I am pleasantly surprised by this, as I was in two minds about whether the shot was even worthy of critique! I should go and look more carefully through my photos which I class as B, C or D grade.
I love all 3 mods esp Willie's.
Special thanks to John for your very detailed and interesting input.

Quote:My only niggle (and it's a pretty minor one) is that part of his left hand is cut off. It doesn't matter at all that it's not sharp, but I think it might be more visually satisfying if all of it was in the frame.
Now that you have mentioned it John, it is annoying not to have it in the frame and I should have been aware of it.

Quote:After all, his skin is not pale - it almost feels politically incorrect to say it, but it's important to render skin tones accurately for the individual, and not turn everyone into pale Anglo Saxons
Haha,fully agree and it is a fact, politically correct or not!

Too big a leap for me to upload in main gallery but I will give it some thought Smile
Really appreciate all your thoughts again.

pablophotographer 10 1.9k 409
5 Jul 2020 1:34AM
You should definitely post in the main gallery.
dudler Plus
18 1.6k 1870 England
5 Jul 2020 10:41AM
The most important thing in a portrait is the connection, the humanity. You have that here.

I won't say technical stuff doesn't matter, but without the connection, a picture of a person is sterile.

The main gallery is calling.
dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 779 England
5 Jul 2020 4:42PM
It's a good portrit.
John makes a good point about the sunglases but here they're part of the character and you can feel the direct eye contact.

The face is the interest, an out of focus hane isn't a worry.

You're right to think about highlight warnings but specular higlights will always show that and are fine. It's when large areas of the image that are blown when you need to worry.
Imagine a night shot with street lamps. Those lamps ar point sources of light and will always generate a warning. If yu underexpose that much to stop a warning you'll not record anything in the scene. An extreme example but the principle is there.
Study the histogram and if your tones are ll bunched to the left with a few on the right giving a warning, you're safe to increase exposure.

I don't expect to see detail in that tiny spot reflection of the sun.
But I do expect to see it in the rest of the scene. Yes you can lift exposure later, but if you underexpose then the less detail you;ll be able to get before noise becomes evident. Even cameras with good dynamic range will have a limit.
AM74 3
5 Jul 2020 11:05PM
Thank you Keith for the critique and for explaining this so well. Much appreciated.

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