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peek a boo

By Honeydeaton
This is a photo of my friend's daughter taken in my front yard. She always does stuff to get my attention as soon as she sees my camera

Tags: Lovely Wave Perfection Child portrait Springtime Portraits and people


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mrswoolybill Plus
13 1.7k 2117 United Kingdom
19 Jun 2019 8:08AM
Hello Jana, welcome to the Critique Gallery! This is the first time that you have ticked for critique, you've been a site member for a couple of years so I hope that it was deliberate. It has the effect of disabling votes and awards, but invites more in-depth comment. You don't get 'Lovely picture!' comments, you do get an honest appraisal here.

This was potentially a delightful shot. A sweet, shy but delightfully open face, and that little hand. It's well timed and very nicely composed, with the child off-centre. But the face is very soft, the focus is on the wood grain, which is the least interesting detail in the photo. The child is the centre of attention, the fence is the frame. A frame should not dominate the image within it. So the but big question - did you intend to focus on the wooden fence, and if so what was the purpose?

The normal expectation is that the focus should be on the eyes, they are our principle channel of communication. There are circumstances where focus elsewhere can work wonderfully - here is one of my all-time favourite uploads on this site. But the focus does need to be on something significant!

I think this might work better with a much tighter crop - just the juxtaposition of wood and face. I'll give it a try...

So if this was the intended effect I'd like to know how you see it working. If it was accidental, how do you focus? Are you seeing a single AF point that you can move around the screen, or are you seeing a pattern of points? You need a single point, and use it carefully!

One other point - you were using a program mode, and it gave you a perilously slow shutter speed. We are not seeing the aperture used but it was clearly large (low F number), giving very limited depth of field - ie the distance between the nearest and furthest area in reasonable focus. As you extend your lens your depth of field reduces significantly. I hope that you are learning about what the settings and what they do, in order to take a bit more control.

paulbroad Plus
12 131 1288 United Kingdom
19 Jun 2019 8:11AM
The potential is superb but her face is very soft indeed - far too soft. The fence panel in front of her is sharp. You have focusing issues!. You must use single spot auto focus and you must use it on her eyes, locking focus on them if necessary.

I fear it is not a wonderful portrait, but could have been.

mrswoolybill Plus
13 1.7k 2117 United Kingdom
19 Jun 2019 8:15AM
I've uploaded a modification, you'll find it under the blue Modifications button below your upload. A much tighter crop so much less fence, and some work to make the grain look a bit sharper as a contrast with the face. It works better for me but I still want the focus on the face!
mrswoolybill Plus
13 1.7k 2117 United Kingdom
19 Jun 2019 12:02PM
One further point is that although the focus is on the wood grain it isn't actually sharp, and I suspect that this is because of that too slow shutter speed.

As you extend the lens the centre of gravity moves away from your hands, and stability increasingly becomes an issue. So you need an increasingly fast shutter speed if hand-holding, in order to avoid the risk of camera-shake. (Your camera's program mode may well assume that you are using a tripod for longer focal lengths, it has no way of knowing that you are not!)

The standard advice is to use no slower than the reciprocal of full-frame focal length, which isn't as scary as it sounds. Your camera has a 1.6 crop factor, so your full-frame equivalent range with this lens is 88-400 mm. So aim for a sliding scale of no slower than 1/100 to 1/400 second. Here you were on 1/100 second, you really needed 1/320 second, three times faster.

dudler Plus
16 996 1552 England
19 Jun 2019 3:12PM
Welcome for me, too.

Moira's given a lot of good advice: I'll add that you will need to raise the ISO setting quite a bit to put it into practice in such low light. More light gives you headroom with all the settings - but beware direct sun, which makes people squint...

A really good thing is shooting more or less level, rather than looking down: hard on the knees, but so good for the pictures.
pamelajean Plus
13 1.3k 2099 United Kingdom
19 Jun 2019 3:38PM
Welcome to EPZ's Critique Gallery, Jana.

Your photo has the ingredients of a very fine shot, but the focus is letting it down.
The child's peek-a-boo attitude is endearing and the eye contact will engage any viewer.
You sought to capture her personality, so waited for her to appear from behind the fence and express that interest that she has in you and your camera. Well done for that.

So, you have a potential model here, a child who loves to be photographed. I hope you show your pictures to her, so that she can see the end results.

And I hope you will try again, using the advice given here.

dudler Plus
16 996 1552 England
19 Jun 2019 5:06PM
A further thought...

Sometimes, instead of relying on automation - which, as you've found, doesn't always work - you can achieve a lot by anticipating where your subject will be, and focussing on the spot before they get there.

In this case, I'd have focussed a few inches past the end of the fence and waited for the girl to appear.

A sneaky but effective technique...
pablophotographer 8 1.4k 357
20 Jun 2019 8:18AM

I will second what dudler says about anticipation. You can make this a child's play! Call her in next time you hear her being around.

I will not comment about perception, each is entitled on their own.

Photographic language is like Esperanto. It was meant to be universal but not anyone understands it or speaks it.

I noticed your image fairky soon after uploading it and if I had the tools with me at the moment I could do you a square crop. But unlike the one suggested mine would have included that green metal box on the right, rather contain a big chunk of the garden door. This is a colour image and that green box which makes a nice contrast to the brown consists a part of the reality of your property as the young girl consists a real part of your neighbourhood. Color is a celebration of life and light, same as young children, literally and metaphorically.

That said, you probably know of my opinion about yurning this to black and white. I am not an adversary, my fridge has stock of film rolls to be used. Appropriately and wisely.

The focus issue? Yes, well, being imperfect may stress the element of your surprise and unreadiness. This was not a posed image after all.

20 Jun 2019 9:57AM
Nice photo!

I just thought it needed to be cropped, and did some adjustments.
21 Jan 2020 3:33PM
Thank you all for the critique. I don't know if I'm supposed to respond but would like to address some of the unknowns here. I had not really notced how much more my focus was on the grain than her eyes thanks for pointing that out for me. This was nme.
21 Jan 2020 3:42PM
This was not a planned shot at all but anytime this adorable girl sees my camera she starts doing things to get my attention. This shot was during a bar b at my house and I had just pulled
in the drive from a grocery store run. I grabbed my camera and took the shot without changing anything at all because it was better than not trying to get it. It's imperfection may just be part of it's appeal to some lol

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