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The steps of Santo Tomas

By tom_earwaker
Taken at the SantoTomas Church in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. The church was built on top of a Mayan temple and its now used for both Christian and Mayan rituals. Lots of people leave donations of food, incense and flowers on the steps.
I've increased contrast, darkened the flowers a little and added a bit of a vignette. Any comments welcome, thanks for looking.

Tags: Portrait Flowers Street Church Man People Guatemala chichicastenango santo

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dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
27 Jun 2017 9:53PM
Jolly good as it stands: good reportage.

Again, I'm slightly distracted by the highlights - this time at the top. Getting rid of them would mean messing up the composition as it stands, so I wil lsimply ask if you looked at options.

Maybe a 'handmade' vignette at the top, using burn to darken things?
pamelajean Plus
16 1.7k 2257 United Kingdom
28 Jun 2017 12:14AM
I agree with John, the image tells a story, the man's smile is engaging, and you have placed him in a good position in your frame, with the offerings to one side. ( They also hold a market here, so could these goods be for sale?)

I wonder if the light area top right is incense burning? It doesn't look like glare, more like smoke. I've googled for the church and find that a lot of incense is burned there.

I have done a modification where I cropped the top and right, maintaining your aspect ratio. This eliminates a bit of the bright area at the top, and a bit of "dead" space on the right.
I then used the burn tool on the flowers to get a bit more definition, after which I brightened the image overall and adjusted contrast slightly.

My second modification has the bright area darkened a bit by using the burn tool, as suggested by John. It could be done more, but I am finding that I quite like the "smoke" effect.

banehawi Plus
18 2.7k 4311 Canada
28 Jun 2017 12:43AM
Not east light conditions. Its best if you upload a version thats prior to your own tweaks so we can see what the original looked like.

It helps a lot, as it can show why, for example, you increased contrast. One of the issues I see (its a good shot BTW, comment is about possible improvements) is that the contrast is too high. In addition, this seems that it should be a daylight white balance rather than cloudy judging by the newspaper, the garbage back and his shoes.

But you can change this if you shot RAW, - did you?

Mod then is based on the comments, less contrast, less yellow. Lower contrast makes the area above the head much less of an issue.


mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.2k 2527 United Kingdom
28 Jun 2017 6:32PM
Slice of life, moment in time. Beautifully done. He's enjoying this by the way, I reckon you made his day. Nice to see happy interaction.

I've uploaded a modification with just a few suggestions. I cropped tighter to make this more about just him and his flowers. Keep it intimate. Oh dear, why do I always seem to come back to a square crop? Because it gives that intimate feel.

I also made a small Levels tweak to boost midtones, for a bit more substance. Then I did a bit of gentle dodging and burning on the face and the flowers, and aded a hint of dark vignetting.

As I said, just suggestions. Well done on a super image.
28 Jun 2017 9:01PM
Appreciate the comments, useful as always and I like the mods.
Pamela - the smoke in the top right is incense. There was a big market around the church but the flowers are an offering I think.
I've uploaded the original, with just some tweaks made in camera raw: WB slider to reduce yellow, shadow exposure increased and clarity increased. I think you're right it is still slightly yellow. Maybe the guy on the right in the uncropped image threw the auto WB off a bit with his bright blue shirt, but I have found that I almost always need to move the WB slider towards blue for my photos.
I wanted to include the incense for the atmoshpere but it is a bit distracting in the corner and I guess its not obvious what it is anyway... I had read that people may not be too keen on photos here, so I didn't have my camera out too long. I think it may have been nice to either include more incense/offerings or try to get a better angle to show just the man.

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