Back Modifications (2)
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The Moment between moments

By Balance_78
Taken at the local pub with camera resting on the bar. After intense 20 min rush, the young lady takes a step for a breather.

I was shooting in aperture priority f2.8 to achieve a bokeh effect to blur the coffee machine in the background. In other shots it was too much of distraction. The camera selected a shutter speed of 1/180 and iso of 3200

Tags: Black and white Black and white photography Street photography

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mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.0k 2467 United Kingdom
25 Apr 2021 11:09AM
Ah yes, I recognise the scenario. People gather in the pub or restaurant, everyone settles down to ordering drinks, catching up on gossip...

The photographer quietly places a camera on the table or bar...

This is really beautiful, I reckon it's by far the best of your three uploads so far. It captures a little moment of repose, calm, amid the bustle of the world. Settings look fine, given that the light was obviously not ideal. (As an aside - if you ever get the chance to use one, it's the sort of subject where the Lensbaby range excels, and at F/2.8 would really make something quite dynamic of that blur bottom left... Though not ideal for on-the-table shooting...)

The light on the girl's face makes the image. Personally I would be much more concerned about the blur (someone's shoulder?) bottom left than about the coffee machine, because foreground blur can be a major distraction, particularly when it's so light. Hold your fingers up in front of your eyes and then try focusing on the view beyond them, that's what you are asking the viewer to do...

You shoot in mono for the purity of the take, are you prepared to make significant subsequent changes? I have uploaded a modification - to start with I wanted to alter placement, make her less central; as I think I have said before, space behind a subject is generally wasted space. Cropping there emphasises the space that she has to gaze into.

I cropped to square, which has the great advantage of a) creating the sense of an enclosed, private place, and b) it does not direct the viewer's eye to explore in any particular direction. (Landscape leads the eye horizontally left to right, portrait leads the eye vertically upwards. Square doesn't do either).

The crop also places her eyes 1/3 down from the top of the frame, on the viewer's eye level, which gives a sense of communication.

Then I did a bit of cloning to simplify the left and right edges of the frame. And I reduced brightness a bit.

Just suggestions, the result is more portrait, less context, so not necessarily how you want this. And the original is a really delightful image.
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1885 England
25 Apr 2021 12:31PM
I have a thought about style and approach... It occurred to me yesterday, but I didn't write it, concentrating on the technical side.

Given your modus operandi and manual lens, with the need for very precise focus so that you can have out-of-focus backgrounds, it may be a mistake to classify the images as 'candid'. Perhaps you can redefine your work as something like the work that Martin Parr gained fame for, where you are absolutely not trying to be surreptitious, but are entirely open about taking pictures of people in the street.

Parr used a 6x7 film camera and flashgun, so he was always noticed. There are risks, and you HAVE to interact with your subjects, but you then have freedom to go for technical precision... Finesse in focussing and framing would be feasible.

Just a thought.
Hi Moira and Duddler

Again thank you. I have taken a step back from full manual settings and decided to shoot in aperture priority. The reason I have decided to do this, is to allow myself time to think about composition, framing and narrative. Your advice has been invaluable.

Moira, I love how you have completely changed the image. I shall give it a try

Duddler, I understand what you are saying about interaction but I worry that the subject would become something that would closer to my version of them instead of it being a factual representation. As I mentioned before the lens choice was more of a financial decision and also a technical learning experience too

I'll keep sending you guys images and maybe you'll make a photographer out of my yet.... Also, I love Martin Parr
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.0k 2467 United Kingdom
25 Apr 2021 2:39PM
Thanks so much for your feedback, it makes all the difference. The main function of the Critique Gallery as I see it is to suggest ideas, alternatives, different possibilities. You're not obliged to follow any of them, we just ask people to keep their minds open. We don't make photographers, we do try to encourage them!
pamelajean Plus
15 1.7k 2239 United Kingdom
25 Apr 2021 4:21PM
Hello again, Gregg.

You have successfully blurred the coffee machine behind your subject, but it's a feature of the story behind the image, as is the logo on her shirt, so it's not so much a distraction, but more an important element. I think you have just about avoided the profile of the girl's face from being merged with it, so that's fine.

I have done a modification in order to simplify the image. The blurred arm belonging to someone else IS a distraction, and so I cloned it out. The bright square behind your subject's face shows that the perspective needs correcting, which I have done. I then cropped and cloned out a few bits around the sides of the frame. I wanted to keep the girl's arm that is behind her back because this is a good suggestion that she is leaning against a counter and relaxing. Then I did a small cosmetic adjustment, removing the strand of hair that is falling in front of her face, so that her profile is better defined.

My modification shows less space behind the girl and a bit more in front, for her to gaze into.

banehawi Plus
17 2.6k 4274 Canada
25 Apr 2021 4:22PM
Its a very nice result. Manual focusing I imagine is a bit tricky in this situation as the X-E3 doesnt have a tilting screen?
dark_lord Plus
17 2.9k 787 England
25 Apr 2021 7:19PM
It's a well captured moment.

The ideato include some foreground blur is a good one, but because it's large but more so quite bright makes it a distraction. If the person had been wearing a dark jacket the result would allow the viewr to go straight to the subject.

I know you prefer your in-camera mono but have you experimented with the film simulation settings?
26 Apr 2021 12:46PM
Hi Dark Lord and banehawi

I have and do use the other film simulations for other types of captures bit my heart lies with mono when it comes to the practice of street/ candid pictures.

I have never really used the tilt screen on my previous camera so I when I chose the XE-3, the lack of a tilt screen didn't bother me in the slightest

dark_lord Plus
17 2.9k 787 England
26 Apr 2021 4:07PM
I meant the mono simulations, such as Fuji Acros.
pablophotographer 10 1.9k 414 United Kingdom
28 Apr 2021 1:30AM
Hello, again!

Actually I think you've framed it very well.

Unlike the picture of the lone man in the pub, where the paintings on the wall are decorative and unrelated to his loneliness, this is a portrait of a working person in her workplace. The under-counter fridge is part of the workplace, even if it is behind her, the sealing jar in the top left corner is part of the workplace too. The arm (?) in the bottom left corner conveys the presence of another customer, builds up the buzz of the place.

With just the coffee machine in the background and the young lady, this frame becomes silent, calm as not busy.

Boring day at work? Heck no, this place had been buzzing and you've witnessed that. Notice her co-worker with the back to us, under the shelf with the jar, he still seems doing something actually. All the busy surrounding gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the contrast her momentary calmness brings to balance it. And she shines in it. Literally. Putting the hands back like that is a yoga pose. Caaaaaaalm!


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