Back Modifications (3)
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Princess Ali

By joycetalks
I managed to capture my little granddaughter with her princess outfit on. She was fairly still as she was absorbed with Tom & Jerry. I had her sitting against a plain background. I have cropped it as a side on. It is a conversion from a colour shot. Also have fiddled with the histograms and black and white droppers. I feel it still need some more work to give it an oomph! Any suggestions? I may enter at club level but I know the judge will spot the crown being too sparkly. One of her eyes stand out as being a bit bright too. Being new to Photoshop I have not yet figured out how to give a mono image that special wow factor.

Tags: Black and white Portraits and people

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kirkoid 11 1 England
13 Jan 2015 6:10AM
The mono gives this portrait a timeless feel. Well captured.
Andysnapper 14 109 25 England
13 Jan 2015 6:33AM
It is a lovely portrait and the crop works well. However, because you have shot it a f16 the shutter speed has reduced to 1/8th of a second and therefore the image is not really very sharp. For a portrait in this sort of of lowish light and as there is no need for a large depth of field (i.e you really only need from the tip of the nose to the eyes in sharp focus) f4 or 5.6 would have been sufficient and would have given you a faster shutter speed and therefore a sharper shot.

As to giving mono images some pop, try moving the contrast slider up. Contrast is the king for b&w and is what replaces colour. I would also try moving the black point up just a little as well.

As I said, a really lovely shot and it would need very little to make it an excellent one.


mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.2k 2527 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2015 9:04AM
There's a gorgeous face here, very calm and composed. But it's so soft! That's why you don't get the oomph, the sparkle that you want in her eyes. They need to be sharp and they aren't.

Andy has covered the main point. You were using shutter speed priority - why on earth did you set to 1/8 second?? Even if you were using a tripod (and I suspect that you weren't), that won't freeze a living subject. She needs to breath, and even if she's sitting still her eyes are following the cartoon - and that's enough to give movement at this speed! Even if using a tripod, I wouldn't want anything slower than 1/50 second here, and I would prefer a bit faster.

Plus - the small aperture has given the background texture prominent and gravelly - a larger aperture would soften that. You need softness in the background, not in the subject.

You mention that the judge will criticise the tiara as being too sparkly - for me the problem is that it competes with the eyes, draws attention away from them. The crop doesn't suit the subject, this needs the eyes higher in the frame, space for them to look into. As it stands it looks cramped at the sides, as though she's squeezed into a corner.

Can I suggest that you reshoot? I'm sure your granddaughter would oblige (particularly if Tom & Jerry are available...) If she's wearing her tiara use landscape - horizontal format, place her on the left of the frame with space beside her for her to look into and to balance the height or the tiara. Or photograph her without the tiara, her hair looks beautiful.

Aim for faster shutter speed, larger aperture (higher F number). Concentrate on focusing on the eyes, get them sharp, that's what matters.

You mentioned that yesterday's was for a college assignment - what course are you doing? It would be useful to know what it focuses on (so to speak... )

I hope that doesn't sound too negative, you have a real eye for a subject (and a delightful subject too!), but you need to think about technique as well
banehawi Plus
18 2.7k 4311 Canada
13 Jan 2015 2:36PM
All of the above Joyce, and Im with Moira, its a do-over, especially if it a competition entry. I did upload a mod, but its not near good enough.

The rule of thumb for shutter speed is without a tripod, and shooting a static subject (nothing thats alive!) is shutter speed = 1/focal length at 35mm equivalent, which for this is 1/(85X1.5) = 1/125 minimum. So always use this as a guide when you use shutter priority, and also, iv tou use any other mode, CHECK whaich speed the camera has chosen; if its less that this formula, adjust something to make it faster (ISO or aperture).

The tiara is super sparkly due to f/16, as well as being bright. The aperture is at f/16 because you dialed in a -3.0 exposure compensation, so the only way the camera could achieve this was to make that aperture opening very tiny.

The image is way underexposed, and I imagine you went to -3.0 because of the tiara; better to shoot to exposure her face properly, and either move her to a place where theres less light reflecting off the tiara, or tilt it, or remove it.

MY guess would be 1/125, f/5.6, ISO 1600.

BEWARE of spot metering; using default matrix metering will be more successful more of the time.


mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.2k 2527 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2015 4:21PM
One horrible typing error in my comment above -

Quote:Aim for faster shutter speed, larger aperture (higher F number).

Should of course read larger aperture (ie LOWER F number).

And I should have added, if not using a tripod you need a considerably faster shutter speed in order to be sure of holding steady. Willie's suggested settings are the way to go.
dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
13 Jan 2015 4:33PM
My simple advice is to use aperture priority, and to check the shutter speed you're getting! Willie's advice on what the shutter speed should be is solid. And raise the ISO, if necessary, to get the shutter speed you can handhold safely.

The sparkle... Tricky.

If you've played with the histogram, you've probably arranged it the way histograms are 'supposed' to be, with a full range of tones. However, with the sparkly crown in the shot, that has staged a takeover for all the brighter tones, and pushed the face (and particularly the eyes) way down the grey scale.

There are various ways to deal with this. Others (who know how to use layers) will have a refined version: I shall deal with it the way I do in the darkroom, by dodging the face, and particularly the eyes. (Dodge tool, soft edges, 9% opacity, and sized big to cover the face, then small to cover the whites of the eyes.)

Now, that's the plan. The next couple of minutes will show whether it works.

It would be better to address a lot of this in the original, before the manipulation you did to get to monochrome, and before your work with curves. Could you upload the original, unprocessed picture as a mod, please?
dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
13 Jan 2015 4:38PM
And... Willie's mod is far more effective than mine!

Second mod, with a tweak to Levels (brightening the midtones with the midtones input slider) coming.

Spot metering can be very accurate, but it's not a set-and-forget thing. You need to meter from the right area, then recompose with the exposure locked. Not, generally, a good mode except for working very slowly, and with your mind focussed firmly on how to control exposure. As Willie says, matrix is generally safer, though it's not perfect. As for the minus 3 compensation - I wonder if the Princess had played with your camera when you weren't looking? Exposing for a pale face, plus half a stop would have been more helpful.
13 Jan 2015 5:34PM
Looks like I have loads to learn! Thanks for all you comments! ......really like the first mod! My course is only an improvers course, there is no real homework being given out. I am going through Joel Satore's National Geographic photography course at present on DVD. I just need more practise I fear! A lot of it seems very hit and miss. I am also in a camera club. The competitions stretch me.
dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
13 Jan 2015 6:06PM
Loads of practice!

Take at least 20 pictures every day, and look at them in the evening. Check what works, and what doesn't. See what's sharp, and well exposed. Upload queries here.

And it can be a good idea to find a tutor, formally or informally. I was lucky - Fred Jackson ran his camera shop around a hundred yards from where I lived in Leek, when I started. I could run down the Market Place with a wet and fixer-sodden print in my hand to ask what I'd done wrong.

These days, there are a lot of companies selling courses: if you can find someone local and knoweldgable, you may be surprised how much cheaper they are - and they will work to your agenda, not tell you all about things you don't need to know.
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.2k 2527 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2015 8:12PM
To add one further suggestion to John's - if you are partly or wholly retired, see if you have a local U3A (University of the Third Age) and if they include a photography study group. We run the photography group for our local U3A and get a lot of refugees from camera clubs, what we do is more about explaining and practising together, less about competitions.
paulbroad Plus
14 131 1294 United Kingdom
14 Jan 2015 6:42PM
Mostly said. You are going to need to go back to basics and work from there. Being on shutter priority and setting 1/8 is a recipe for an unsharp image due to camera shake.

Spit entering should not be used on automatic settings although you did apply compensation. However, it was too much resulting in under exposure. Spot entering must be done from a tone that equates to 18% grey reflectance.

There is, indeed, a lot to learn. Crack a full understanding of exposure and image sharpness first, then work from there.

Otherwise a pleasant image with a pretty model. Possibly needs a bit more on the left to balance the image.


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