Back Modifications (3)
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"The Copperman"

By Rose73

I used my long lens for this shot because I wanted to fill the frame just with the head of the statue and blur the background quite a lot.
I used a tripod and shot at 70mm focal length with an aperture of 4.5. I wanted the head to be on a diagonal in the image, but achieved very little DOF not enough to get the entire face/head in sharp focus. My point of focus was just next to the nose more the inner cheekbone.

I entered the settings into the DOF tool that Willie gave a link to and see these settings only give a few inches of DOF. Im not sure what the camera to subject distance would have been Ill need to really practice at gauging this. It could have been maybe 6ft or so not sure.

Ill go back and experiment with different focal lengths and varying apertures to see if I can successfully blur the background but also have the DOF required to get front to back sharpness on the entire head. There is a stone right behind the head which actually looks better a bit blurred I think. What settings would you have chosen?

The original image was shot in colour but I decided to convert it to B&W as there was too many competing colours which looked messy and distracting. I converted it in RAW initially, but cant say I was happy with the outcome not enough contrast. Id increased it to 3 during processing but now have increased it all the way to 4.

I was reading some of your comments about this issue on the site the other day, and have tried to follow what you said about ramping up the contrast in RAW and then playing around with the highlight/shadow sliders in Elements to try and improve the tones. Can I add the after Elements version as a modification to let you see both? The second one looks a bit darker as I reduced the highlights. Do you think it looks a bit overdone? Its not something Ive experimented with much.

I look forward to your comments and suggestions. Cheers.Smile

Tags: Statue Black and white

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banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4227 Canada
14 Feb 2021 4:18PM
Yes, please add the modification!
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.7k 2395 United Kingdom
14 Feb 2021 4:57PM
Both versions have their pluses. The big change that I would be to both would be to get rid of the horizontal line background right - that's the top of the stone.

Now... Photographing sculpture is a passion of mine, I see it as being about creating one's one image while respecting the intentions of the original. With figurative sculpture that's perhaps best done by treating a face as though it was a living subject, think of this as a portrait.

A diagonal face, slanting away from the camera, means that you need to be very careful to place the focus on the eye and then decide how much of the rest of the face you want in reasonable focus, because the slant means that the area this side of the eye will recede into softness much quicker than with a vertical face. I reckon you got that right.

But my main criticism is - would you choose to photograph a living subject with the lead side of the face in shadow? You have evened the light out very effectively in the version, but I would still want to look at photographing from the other side.

I'm going to upload a quick mod, based on your main upload. I darkened mid and dark tones on the face, did a bit of very gentle dodging on highlights on the cheek, and then I lightened the background. I also got rid of that line.

I think the message is - choose your angle for the light on the face, that's the priority.
Thanks Moira for your feedback on this - great! I'm planning on going up again soon, so will look at shooting from the other side of the statue's face and think carefully about where the shadows are falling
I didn't think about treating sculptures as portraits - when it came to focusing on the eye area - thank you.
I'll try and have a go with this image at getting rid of the horizontal line on the stone - not sure how to go about it - but I'll have a read and see what happens. I appreciate your suggestions and comments. Smile

Edit: Just looked at your modification Moira and it looks very good. I can see looking at them all that the one I tried to play around with in Elements looks very overdone. Yours still has the softness to it. How did you get that horizontal line to disappear so well?
Was that done in Elements? I can see I've got a lot and lot of practice to do!! Sad
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.7k 2395 United Kingdom
14 Feb 2021 5:01PM
Thanks for coming back so quickly! Re the line on the right - the clone tool or the spot healing brush will do this, I used the latter.

For return visits, see if you can get this in flat light and strong directional sun, and compare the results.
I think we were writing at the same time! Thank you so much for your comments and help. Have noted it all down!!! Smile
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4227 Canada
14 Feb 2021 7:39PM
Toning down highlights in the mod is a good move; it also has more mid-range detail.

The original has deeper blacks, so perhaps in between could also work well.

Ive tried that in my mod, reduced highlights, deepened blacks, and sharpened, which in itself enhances contrast.

You goal was reached out of focus areas as planned,


chase Plus
15 2.1k 562 England
14 Feb 2021 7:55PM
A good subject , dof looks ok to me and I think your modification looks better as far as tonality is concerned.

But....that line on the right has to go, the result is demonstrated very well in mods 2 & 3, what a difference that makes to the whole image.
Your mod has plenty of detail but just needs the blacks deepening a touch to give his face much more form and shape.

Your camera settings look sensible for where you were going with this although I reckon Moira is right about having a go from the opposite side to avoid that big shadow cast onto his left cheek.

Maybe a small step back would have been in order just to include a wee bit more of his chest and shoulder.
Thanks Willie for your feedback and your modification. Yes, I think lots of practice with Elements is the key! Smile
Thanks Chase for your feedback much appreciated.

When I go back Ill experiment from different angles and as you suggested include a little bit more chest and shoulder in the shot.

I never really noticed that shadow on the near side of the face! That's what good feedback makes you become aware of. Thanks again. Smile
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1832 England
14 Feb 2021 9:09PM
I want to pick up Moira's comment about treating this as a portrait, and mention something that she often comments about portraits: a view from below is often not thee most flattering, making the nostrils a leading feature.

I want to suggest alternative views, and something about backgrounds. If you shoot from the side, then depth of field becomes less critical - you only have to accommodate half of the width of the face, instead of all its height. Alternatively, shooting from slightly above eye level of the face is often a more natural view.

I know that when you are photographing in public spaces, a lot of decisions about desirable angles are closed off - for instance, you can't go round the other side of something on a riverbank, unless you hire a boat, and the precise position that you want to stand to get the right angle on a building may block the entrance to the offices opposite.

However, if you have a choice of angle, and can arrange for a plain background behind the subject, depth of field becomes less of a problem - similarly, if the background is much lighter or darker, you can let it fade to white, or black.

And a bit about depth of field and distances. To get the best separation between subject and background, you want to be close to the subject, with the background a long way behind it. I'd say that you've done rather well here at f/4.5, and if you could have arranged the angle to exclude that solid dark line, there'd be no problem at all.

The pulling back on highlights doesn't seem overdone to me: though you might have done better to reduce exposure slightly in the camera. Blank highlights are often hard to pull back, and look ugly - again, you've done well here.

Finally, the tripod: at 1/800 and 70mm, there was very little risk of camera shake indeed - though working on a tripod can help you frame exactly, even if you don't need it for stability.

Camera-to-subject distance won't have been enormous at 70mm, if the statue is somewhere near life-size. Lenses used always to have distance markings on them, but this is becoming less common these days, even with relatively upmarket kit. It can be useful to teach yourself to estimate distance roughly - it doesn't take too much practice. And if you are working relatively close, why not carry a tape measure?

I'm sorry - this has rambled a bit, because there are so many things obviously going round in your mind, and therefore in mine, too. I will say one last thing, though - as well as the formal depth of field calculations, it's well worth trying a series of exposures at f/4.5, f/8, f/11 and f/16 at 70, 135 and 300mm focal lengths, and various subject differences - the aim being to get a feel for how it will be when you are out and taking pictures, rather than testing things out.

And keep on taking pictures, and having fun with it!
15 Feb 2021 10:20AM
Thanks so much for your great feedback Dudler! Sorry about not replying to you last night had just switched PC off 10 mins before you posted.

No apologies needed for length of your post lots of valuable information here. Smile

First, view up the nostrils yes, not good even in real life! Will take that on board. That was good advice from Moira regarding treating figurative sculpture as a portrait. You say shooting from slightly above eye level is a more natural viewpoint Ill try this when I go back. The statue was quite high up on a plinth, but not too high I think depending on how close I am.

You say DOF is less critical when shooting from the side, so in this instance, is the fact the far side of his face not sharp ok for the picture? Its really just his brow and the top of his hat out of sharp focus.

You wrote that if the background is much lighter or darker you can let it fade to white or black. Is this something which can be done in Elements 11? If so, which tool would I use? Not much experience in this field Im afraid.

Lastly, I had thought about taking a rule with me but didnt want to look a plonker! Must get over being self-conscious. I dont have a smartphone to download a DOF calculator to take with me, but have created two to print off for my 10-22mm and the 70-300mm lenses with staggered distances. Every little helps! Thanks again Dudler. Smile
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.7k 2395 United Kingdom
15 Feb 2021 10:58AM

Quote:You wrote that “if the background is much lighter or darker you can let it fade to white or black”. Is this something which can be done in Elements 11? If so, which tool would I use? Not much experience in this field I’m afraid.

Re adjusting the background separately - the simplest method in Elements 11, and this is what I did, is to use the Quick Selection tool. Have the tools menu open down the left of the screen, it's bottom right of the Select group at the top, under the same heading as the Magic Wand and Selection Brush.

Go for the Quick Selection option, it will then give you a choice of pixel setting. A low setting will allow you to select a small area accurately, a larger pixel setting will select a larger area but with much less discrimination. Move the curser around . Once you have selected the basic area you can nudge at the edges to push it out; go to the Select menu at the top of the screen and tick on Inverse to nudge from the other side. Once you have selected the area fairly accurately, make sure that you have the right section of the frame selected to work on, not the inverse; then go back to the Select menu and click on Feather - this will allow you to choose how many pixels overlap you want at the edges. Best to avoid a tiny setting as this will give a hard, cut-out effect.

You can then adjust your selected area independently of the rest of the frame. With practice this really is very quick and simple - I am a simple soul when it comes to processing, I use this a lot!
15 Feb 2021 11:20AM
Hi Moira,

Yes, have gone into Elements and found the Quick Selection Tool - thank you. And thanks for giving feedback on this so quickly!

I've noted down the steps you've outlined. Just a quick question about this. Is it ok to copy and paste from postings, advice given on steps to follow about post-processing, rather than have to type it all out? Don't want to infringe any copyrights! Smile
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.7k 2395 United Kingdom
15 Feb 2021 11:35AM
Copy and paste what you want!

I suggest that you call up a photo at random, something you are not emotionally involved with, and experiment like crazy with the settings. After a while you'll get to know approximately what pixel size you will need for a particular job, for selection and for feathering, in order to get the edges to look right. (Here you want a crisper outline on the left, softer around the side of the cap on the right). After a while it becomes very quick and easy. Be patient and practise.
15 Feb 2021 11:48AM
Cheers Smile
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1832 England
15 Feb 2021 4:26PM
Actually, I meant that you can let the background fade because it is either so much lighter or darker than the subject - so a bit of dodge and burn, or a tweak of contrast may be sufficient. Always look to have the right background where you want it when you shoot - often, you can adjust the camera position to avoid complications behind the main subject.

When I wrote 'above' I meant - in this case - round to the right.

And you need less depth of field when there is less depth of the subject in view. For instance, in this portrait in my portfolio, it's sufficient to have the near eye and the nose sharp (though I haven't quite managed that). There's no EXIF data because it was shot on film, and I don't record my exposure details. But I'm guessing f/4 or f/5.6.

Looking forward to the next one up...

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