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redstag 10 100 15 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2009 11:55AM
A thoughtful portrait, like how you've lit it too.

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pennyspike 13 2.1k 29 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2009 11:57AM
HAppy belated birthday wishes. Haven't joined a group yet as I've been bogged down with other things, but I guess you'll let me join in.Smile
I needed to look at it large to appreciate the detail and texture you've used with some care, not too little nor too much.
The pose is good and does give that feeling of reflecting on the year that has gone while trying to remember the more recent past. The background is good, I think I might have muted down the patch of brightness just to the side of your face. I like the crop and presentation.
LesF 10 182 9
11 Jul 2009 12:06PM
Now then birthday boy, Nick you forgot the adult tag.

serious well done can't be easy you've a good job difficult for me to comment on the ins and outs of portrait photography as I don't normally do this but I am sure those in the know will give you far better feed back.

cassiecat 8 39 46 England
11 Jul 2009 12:10PM
know nothing about portrait work but it works for me, look depressed at being another year older or is that just the hang over Tongue lesley
Richsr Plus
9 91 223 England
11 Jul 2009 1:57PM
Like the light and tones in this Nick - good capture well converted too.
I am viewing this on a laptop - to me I would like to have seen the rhs with a bit lighter as the eye seems to be disconnected from the rest of the face.
Hope you had a good Birthday
Regards Richard.
PeelNStick 12 4 United States
11 Jul 2009 2:04PM
Good exposure. Today is my birthday as well (July 11th). Enjoy...
Scutter Plus
8 1.7k 6 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2009 2:17PM
First off belated Happy Birthday! It would be interesting to know the gory details of how you set this up. However you did it it works well. I like the distant look in the eyes particularly. I agree with Rich as my only criticism is that your rhs is a bit dark and so the eye pops out from the darkness. The mono tones work really well.
QuinnyA 7 59 Australia
11 Jul 2009 2:29PM
Great image - really well executed from start to finish.

Not another B&W on my shortlist.
Cheers - Andy
mrswoolybill Plus
9 985 1500 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2009 2:35PM
Self-portraits fascinate me, this is very carefully, consciously composed, but also quirky - the thumb pushing the cheek line out. Different.
Happy belated birthday, hope the head has cleared by now.
banehawi Plus
12 1.5k 3531 Canada
11 Jul 2009 2:40PM
Very nice shot, - captures the meaning of the word "jaded" for me

TrevBatWCC Plus
8 12 10 England
11 Jul 2009 4:48PM
A super self-portrait, Nick, stunning quality and detail.
TrevB Smile
pamelajean Plus
10 969 1832 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2009 5:20PM
I personally like the lighting and contrasts, but what do I know about portrait photography? I am wondering what this would look like without the bare shoulder included because I find it distracting from the face and hand. The eyes are very well defined, and the face has a lot of texture (if you can have texture on a face) but I'd like to have seen a bit more texture on the hand, which seems quite soft compared to the face skin. I think this could have been achieved with a bit less light on the hand (the forefinger and thumb look ok).
Happy Birthday !!!
The_Collector 10 4 1 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2009 6:13PM
brilliant portrait, excellent work.

oh yeah happy b'day
dathersmith 9 550 12 England
11 Jul 2009 6:54PM
A nice gritty portrait Nick, well converted.

Nick_w Plus
9 4.3k 99 England
11 Jul 2009 10:29PM
Thank you everyone, and thanks for the Award Andy.

When the crits are all in from the group I will explain what I did, and what crits I found useful and why.
HectorRivera 9 17 1 United States
12 Jul 2009 3:45AM
Great work Nik. Excellent illumination and composition, The setting, detail and texture are absolutely amazing.
12 Jul 2009 7:12AM
Happy belated etc...does that make you an old gimmer now??
Nick, I'm not a portrait photographer but the thumbnail caught my somehting must be right. I like the light from just one side, gives it a moody/atmospheric appearance. The eye's are bright and the stare almost haunting. Like I said, I'm no portrait photographer but for me this is quality work mate
Fishnet 12 5.0k 5 United Kingdom
12 Jul 2009 10:19AM
Great photo, it's got character and a feeling behind it, it's thoughtful and the lighting is perfect for it, men can get away with a more harsh light and gritty style.

The only niggle I have is your hand looks about 10 years younger than your face, do you use handcream ? lol
franfoto 9 2 32 England
12 Jul 2009 2:05PM
You've certainly captured the reflective look here. I like the lighting and the way you have included it on his right eye which could easily have got lost in the shadows. A gritty character shot with bags of appeal.
SugarDJ 8 1 England
12 Jul 2009 8:28PM
I too think this is a fantastic photo with the only slight niggle being about the dark patch to the rhs under the eye as per Rich's comment. Nevetheless, a very impressive image.

andy_AHG 7 106 6 United Kingdom
13 Jul 2009 3:03PM
A very pensive pose Nick! Great contrast and use of shadow. Good how you've managed to keep the right eye from sinking back into shadow.

discreetphoton 12 3.5k 20 United Kingdom
13 Jul 2009 4:23PM
I like the rich balance of light and dark tones here. Whilst the heavy blacks won't be to everyone's tastes, they sit very well with me, largely because there's been no sacrifice made with the eyes. To an extent, I agree with Penny; the left of your face may be a little bright, but for me, it's only the lower half that needs to be toned down slightly. I do feel however that there may be some oversharpening, particularly below your left eye and around the thumb (the thumbprint seems especially stark), and the high contrast area between you forefinger and cheek is very bold and rigid.
However, I think the pose suits the circumstance, as given by the title, and am keen on your choice of background texture.
Nick_w Plus
9 4.3k 99 England
13 Jul 2009 6:03PM
Thanks for all the comments to date. Right its been a few days since I uploaded this so for a bit of explanation. It was lit with just a north facing window to my left. Im awaiting delivery of a speedlight, so I may try this again. To my right I was shaded by a black card.

I was trying for a very gritty almost over styalised image, for some time I've admired the work of Andrzej Dragan, a polish photographer, and this is my rather poor attempt at replicating the effect. I knew when I uploaded it it wouldn't be to everyones taste, the rich blacks for example. The eye in the raw did pop out of the shadows, I honestly dont know why (its wasn't planned), but I liked it and have emphasised it - yes maybe a bit too much. The sharpening is a very valid comment. The Dragan effect does use an awful lot of sharpening, to which I sharpened as I normally do for the web, I will in future pay more attention to this when I do similar work. The more observant of you may have spotted similar treatments on some of my more recent uploads - some have worked others haven't.

I hope others will continue to use the critique buddies as I find it good to get out of the comfort zone and think about being more creative in all genres of my work. Thanks again for you comments.

EDIT: I forgot to say the background was added afterwards (hence the manipulated tag) I used a free to use one from the net, duplicated, one was set to soft light one to overlay, and opacitys adjusted. I then used layer masks to remove the effect from me. I'm sure theres a better way but my PS skills are woefull.
Coleslaw 11 13.4k 28 Wales
14 Jul 2009 7:54PM
I do like the dark shadow and the details in both eyes. It is pretty amazing to get that using just window light. So hats off to you.
There is definitely oversharpened bits as David pointed out. The shoulder is a bit too bright and distracting. Maybe an angle with less shoulder would be better, but it is so hard to do with self portrait.

I think it is brilliant attempt.
martinl 13 265 2 United Kingdom
16 Jul 2009 1:32PM
As you know, I tried something similar a short while ago, and it ain't easy, especially when it's not a genre of photography that is your norm.

I like the effect and agree about the slightly oversharpened areas, but they would be easlily fixed.

All in all, a cracking effort Nick.

Happy belated b'day too.

Should have a warning though!Wink
Angi_Wallace 8 172 10 United Kingdom
17 Jul 2009 1:19AM
Fantastic work, yours is my favourite from all the self portraits in the members meeting section uploaded so far.
martin.w 14 438 22 United Kingdom
17 Jul 2009 10:04PM
Some quality images coming out of these challenges, this is excellent Nick Smile
ade_mcfade 12 15.2k 216 England
19 Jul 2009 5:13PM
Quite surprised that this is taken just with natural light.

the expression looks like someone quite ill Wink cheer up mate!

First thing that strikes me is the hand - I don't think they work well at all on portraits, despite just about everyone I photograph wanting to connect the hand to their face - though girls sucking fingers is acceptable Wink

The angle of the hand looks unconfortable and large - it almost looks like someone else grabbing you to throttle you because of the angle.

The sharpening on the eyes looks very severe, I've sharpened lots of eyes and I'm guessing you may have had the radius a little to large here, I tend to go for a smaller radius (0.5ish) and a larger amount when using smart sharpen/USM.

Also the skin... you've made it very textured which is good to bring out lines, but the pores on this give it a very strange look - almost unreal like plastic or something synthetic. However, the sking on the hand is totally different, that looks more natural like real skin. You could normally argue that this was down to DOF and the distance of something from the lens softening it, but here, they're equidistant, so the viewer isn't fooled that way.

I quite like the backdrop - nice understated texture there, but what happens to it at the left side? I say that because there appears to be sufficient room to the left of the head for there to be some backdrop - so maybe a tighter crop to the left or some backdrop may help.
Nick_w Plus
9 4.3k 99 England
20 Jul 2009 6:06PM
Thanks everyone. Thought I would clarify a few things. I see what you all mean with the hands, tho I cant explain why, as the hands had exactly the same treatment as the face, probably all those years playing cricket without sun cream Wink , but yes I accentuated the features, and knew not everyone would like it - but the face and hands were treat exactly the same.

I covered the sharpening earlier, it was down to the sharpening for the web, I overdid it, applying the same setting I normally use, forgetting to alter it for the portrait..silly mistake as the process uses a lot of sharpening anyway. Oh, I dont use USM and haven't for nearly two years prefering smart sharpening, if I were to print this I would make alterations.

I deliberatly went for the high contrast - the black on the LHS was I used a black board just out of shot to kill reflections - the background is 'shoped as described earlier in the posts (not something I would normally do).

The lighting is from a north facing window, with diffused light which probably helps explain the lighting, although the mono conversion delibratly emphasised a low key effect.

I may have another go at this now I have a speedlight as I have a few ideas I'd like to try, although I will spare you all the results!
csurry 14 9.2k 92
24 Jul 2009 6:07PM
Not reading any other comments before I make mine, so apologies if I repeat anything.

I like moody B&W portraits and this is a good example. I especially like the way the image fades to black on the lhs.

My main problem is with the processing around the hand, and the distinct line between your finger and face. It needs a little bit of work just to stop it distracting attention.

Good job my "Nikon" stubble did not show up Wink
Nick_w Plus
9 4.3k 99 England
24 Jul 2009 9:10PM
Cheers Cherly LOL re the stubble, you can tell it was taken early on a Saturday, after a day working from home!

Yes the hand is the problem, I overdid the sharpening - thankfully I didn't flatten the image, its a combination between the creative sharpening I do on the large image and the web sharpening. There is also a problem with the heath Robinson light set up, as I leaned forward my hand was in front of the black reflector (otherwise known as the back of the lightbox), hence the reason why its more pronounced, and I think one of the reasons why its not as "wrinkled" - that and years working in a lab with surgical gloves and moisturiser! (there I've admitted it)

I will be having another go soon with the new flash - when I can work out how to use it!
v8dunc 9 333 4 Scotland
27 Jul 2009 12:27AM
Being last in all the tech points have been covered,really like BW portraits.this works really well
Cheers Duncan
HowardA 9 231
31 Jul 2009 8:49PM
Strong work with natural light Nick. I've enjoyed reading the crits on this as well as your comments. Great job and lots of top tips to take forward too.
How are you getting on with the Speedlite? I need some lessons in using that thing I tell you. Hopeless!

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