Back Modifications (2)
Views 103 Unique 48 Award Shortlist   

Wise Woman

By joycetalks
Spotted this lady in a hut on a recent holiday to Cambodia. I feel that considering her age she must have experienced the horrors of the Khumer Rouge. I think her eyes say it all. I took the image very quickly as we were being hurried along...story of my life! I have applied a bit of Photoshop to this... vibrance contrast and burn tool ...a wee crop too. Not too much. I have entered this in club marks but came third! Ah well! Must try harder!

Tags: Portraits and people

Save 50% on Affinity software including Affinity Photo and Publisher! Use Code: AFFINITY-EPZ22


ColleenA Plus
9 502 8 Australia
15 Jan 2015 6:09AM
Welcome to epz...I like your processing...a face that has seen and experienced the ravages of life...well seen and captured
bluesandtwos 12 542 1 England
15 Jan 2015 7:08AM
Welcome here and what a stunning picture. If this is the quality of your grab shots then I can't wait to see what else you'll produce. A beautifully taken and processed image.

Rev2 12 302 2 England
15 Jan 2015 7:22AM
A thought provoking image, perhaps a little less shadow on the top of her head?
johnke Plus
9 232 17 England
15 Jan 2015 8:30AM
Hi Joyce, a terrific Image with lots of stories. If you don't mind me saying, the eyes tell lots of stories and are the focal point of any portrait, i thing you just missed getting the camera to focus sharply on the eye's, they do look cloudy anyway, that's just an opinion of course,

collywobles 18 4.1k 10 United Kingdom
15 Jan 2015 9:04AM
Wonderful portrait, such great detail. Lovely skin tones and the dark background suits the image well. If this is the quality you can produce after just 3 years experience you have great potential as a photographer, I haven't created such a good image with 50 years experience......... SadSadSadSadSadSadSadSadSadSad
paulbroad Plus
14 131 1294 United Kingdom
15 Jan 2015 9:09AM
The content and crop are excellent and, despite the following comments, a fine image in many ways.

There are a couple of technical issues which, had I been the judge, I would mention although I assume, in a competition, you submitted a print? The sharpness is just off and, for this kind of face you needed it pin sharp. I guess this is a tiny bit of movement. You have a shutter speed rather too slow for the focal length and, even with VR, you can shake enough to cause softness.

I would have wound the ISO up a bit for the circumstances. Sharp with a bit of grain is better than soft.

You are a touch under exposed. Spot metering is not a good idea with any auto setting unless you meter from a suitable tone and then use shutter lock to hold that reading. To use a spot meter reading without any compensation, the tone must equate to as near as possible, 18% grey. That is how the spot meter is calibrated.

You should never use spot metering on auto for snap shooting.

dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
15 Jan 2015 10:59AM
Paul's nailed it: the one thing this needs is higher ISO to allow you to raise the shutter speed and stop the lens down just a fraction. ISO 1600, f/8, and around 1/200 and you'd have had it bitingly sharp, and in first place in the competition.

My Alpha 900 has three custom settings as well as the various exposure modes: I have one set for studio work (100 ISO, flash white balance, f/11 and 1/125 second), and one for low-light shooting (3,200 ISO, AWB, sepia tone, f/2.8 and aperture priority) so that I can just turn the dial and not have to alter everything! But just upping the ISO should be one of the things that you can do without taking the camera from your eye, I'd suggest... (Professional practice is to be able to set all of the camera's controls by touch in the dark. It's a good thing for the rest of us to aim for!)

The other side of pictures like this is the interaction: you clearly have it sorted: your subject is calm and gently amused. The late Jane Bown ( look her up: she was wonderful, and there will be obituaries all over the place just now ) was a photographer for the Observer (a major British Sunday paper) for many years, and the opposite of the stereotype. She turned up with a camera, a lens or two and a couple of films in a shopping bag, and worked in the background. Completely self-effacing, and so her subjects were always relaxed.

A really good piece of work.
banehawi Plus
18 2.7k 4311 Canada
15 Jan 2015 1:10PM
This is really good.

I wonder if you cropped this from a much larger image, - say twice this size? I can see some noise or artifacts in it. Though underexposure his likely the culprit.

Theres is so much more you can do with this as it is.

I have uploaded a mod with exposure increased +0.5, some noise reduction, sharpening, and cropped to place the woman further left.

Stay away from spot metering. It seems theres an epidemic of spot metering recently on the site!

Hope you like the mod,


TanyaH Plus
19 1.3k 411 United Kingdom
15 Jan 2015 1:52PM
Hi Joyce Smile

First off, I think this is a very powerful image of a woman who, as you rightly say in your description above, must have seen all sorts of things during her lifetime that many of us will hopefully never have to face. As such, it's a very emotive image irrespective of the technicalities and what you could have done differently at the time.

Which kind of brings me onto an explanation of what I've done in my mod. Although there's nothing at all wrong with your image, it is a little underexposed as Paul says above, so I wanted to address that and see what else I could bring out of the image.

Like you, I'm someone who thinks people carry their souls in their eyes and because of that, I really wanted to bring out more 'life' in the eyes here. I also wanted to see how converting to mono affected the overall feeling of the image as well.

For the eyes (and I did all these adjustments in Photoshop CS6) I duplicated your original image and adjusted the contrast a bit by using a Shadows/Highlights adjustement layer. I then duplicated that layer and lightened it (again using a Shadows/Highlights adjustment layer) with the eyes in mind, not worrying about what it did to the rest of it as I was going to mask it anyway.

Adding a 'Hide all' layer mask (the black one), I painted over just the eye area with a white brush set to about 30% opacity. Doing this let the lightened eyes show through the mask onto the more contrasty image below in the layer stack. I then flattened these two layers to create just one layer.

I converted the image to mono using a Black and White adjustment layer and used the Maximum Black preset, but with some further tweaks to a couple of the individual sliders (Reds=56; Yellows=76 and all the rest remaining at 0).

On top of that, I added another adjustment layer, this time a Curves one, which I tweaked a bit along the linear line (a couple of points down in the shadows/midtones area which I pulled downwards, and one up towards the right hand top corner, which I pushed up a bit ... To be honest, I wan't that techy about it; I just fiddled till I liked what I was seeing!).

I then cropped the image ... not because there was anything wrong with what you'd done originally, but I thought I'd use the Golden Spiral compositional guide as it's not one I've ever really played with before, and it was a bit of a learning curve for me too Smile So, in theory, the viewer's gaze sweeps up from the bottom right hand corner, over the point of the shoulder and continues on upwards towards the ear. It then travels round the lines in the woman's forehead, passes the furthest eye and spirals in towards the closest eye before coming to rest on the furthest one.

(Other people may have used a different compositional guideline or 'rule', and that's more about personal preference than anything else. I don't often use the Golden Spiral, so thought I'd give it a go and see what happened Grin)

A little bit of sharpening finished things off.

I've uploaded the mod in the normal place - have a look and see what you think of what I've done. It's absolutely fine if you don't like it, by the way ... it's just a different interpretation for your consideration.


Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.