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03/12/2010 - 4:52 PM

Mixed Light Question

Mixed Light QuestionHi Barry. It is difficult mixing light sources and getting consistency from shot to shot, I kind of employ one or a number of the following methods:

Take a custom WB setting, rather than rely on auto or presets. (A piece of plain white paper can be used).

Use a grey card in a test shot that you can then use the eyedropper on in software to set the WB and apply to other shots.

Use ambient lighting of one or as few types as possible, and use flash for fill only. I think the flash is overdone in some of your shots (no. 3 for example) killing the atmosphere.

Change bulbs/use filters to make the light colour temperatures more even.

Use ambient light on long exposures, turning the room lights (eg. ceiling lights, lamps etc.) on for a fraction of the exposure, so they record but don't burn out or alter the colour balance too much. Having the lights on at the beginning of the exposure and switching off after a second or so is easiest I find.

And another thing.. I hate to say it because I'm not an HDR fan, but the 'exposure blending' function in Photomatix is actually very good with mixed lighting as well as exposure, and looks way more realistic than actual HDR/tone mapping.

Obviously the approach taken depends on the size of the space, access to plugs and switches, time available, the actual lighting employed etc. I always start by trying to use as little auxiliary lighting as possible, only introducing it if and when I need it. (I don't use any if I can get away with it).

In this location, I would probably have tried to base the colour and exposure on the ceiling lights, because they are a feature of the shop and lend ambience. I prefer to leave areas in shadow if it looks more natural.
21/01/2010 - 12:18 PM

Kira & Taya

Kira & TayaHi, welcome to the site.

I like the position and poses of the girls, the way one is looking assuredly at the camera and the other in her own thoughts, both very natural. Has the making of a classic, uncontrived portrait. The biggest let down in this image, for me, is the inclusion of the car in the background, along with the other object top left, it just removes some essential timelessness and simplicity from the image.
13/11/2009 - 5:21 PM

dancing feet 2

dancing feet 2what I was not expecting from the thumbnail were the patterns in the dresses and tights, which really adds to the image. I really like the section of this scene you have framed, we can see exactly what's going on without needing anything else, it's a photograph paired down to the essential information. Even though all movement is frozen, there is still a strong sense of movement and life. Although people often say black & white brings out more character, here I feel the lack of colour and identifying features really depersonalises the image into almost a pure abstract, it's about the dance and not the people who are dancing.

I'm not sure whether I think the hand should go or not, I would like to see more of the feet in foreground, so perhaps the whole picture could have been framed a touch lower.
05/09/2009 - 2:52 PM

Up and Down the Royal Mile

Up and Down the Royal MileI typed a really long critique of this, for the buddy group, but crashed out of epz before hitting the button & lost it - only just remembered, sorry!

I can't really remember what I said now, but essentially in both images I like the compression of the long lens, and the light. In V2, I think a few more window lights would add something. V1 shows a good slice of everyday like, I like the fairly random feel of it. The downsides for me are the crop, I feel there's more to see of interest outside of the frame, and the lack of strong focal interest.

I like the shapes & flattened perspective of V2, but the people at the bottom seem rather ubrubtly cut off. The white object and traffic light bottom left would be better left out of the composition also.
28/08/2009 - 1:07 PM

Time and Tide Wait....

Time and Tide Wait....Looks like a nice, calming place to be. I can imagine myself standing right here and looking out at that estuary, although I'm not familiar with the location.

From a photographic point of view I find it quite bland, it's a very straight view that doesn't seem to be of anything in particular and without a 'hook'. A more interesting grouping of boats with some more interest in the foreground may have helped.

The most obvious technical issue is the sloping horizon. The light is quite nice. I've done a mod in black & white with a slight rotation and crop, just as a suggestion for a slightly moodier and more artistic presentation.
08/05/2009 - 3:21 PM

Vaisakhi on the Square 2009

Vaisakhi on the Square 2009This is well exposed and processed shot, like the light, and there's something appealing about Nelson towering above all those people. The central, straight ahead composition is bold and works well. The downside for me is that I can't really tell what the occasion is or see what's going on, I wouldn't know without your description. As a single shot I feel it would be better either without the stage, or more prominent clues to the event. A good looking image but lacking in its story telling.
11/04/2009 - 9:31 AM

Merel bw

Merel bwGood looking girl, nice natural expression and eye contact. I like the simplicity and plain background. I agree the hand and face is blown on the left, not sure whether through lighting or processing (or both). I think the processing has gone too far in places, her teeth are a bit too white for my taste. Her left hand doesn't look very natural, she doesn't look like she's leaning on it, and just has it clamped to the side of her face.
24/11/2008 - 11:12 AM


Synchronicity#1, because it's a bit odd and leaves you guessing. Don't like the crop in #2, it removes context.
30/07/2008 - 10:49 AM


LangkawiLooks like a beautiful place. needs straightening, and the contrast is a little flat. Looks like it's taken when the sun is highest and brightest, a polariser could have helped. I've uploaded a mod with these things corrected, to give it a little 'pop'.
27/06/2008 - 11:27 AM

Stephen 2

Stephen 2I'm going to flesh out my first answer a bit....

I can see you'd like to use an environmental portrait, but although the previous two are good, I don't think they're great environmental portraits, because they don't tell us much about the environment. The first one has what looks like a hastily assembled curtain and candle that bear no relation or discernible significance to the subject, and the second may happen to be a church pew, but IMO doesn't obviously connect him with the church. With this portrait, you have a beautifully shot and very arresting close-cropped portrait.

Considering this is for a competition, I think you have to ask yourself whether the others are strong enough environmental portraits to submit as such, or whether it's better to submit a very strong portrait even though it may not say as much as you wanted to.
27/05/2008 - 9:08 AM


MotorcycleThe set-up and depth of field gives this a nice, brochure-like quality, and the exposure is fairly well handled (on a fully manual camera, I note) in what looks like quite harsh sunlight.

My main problem is those logs in front of the bike, obscuring a fair bit of it and becoming a real visual barrier and distraction. Also, shooting earlier or later would have provided a more subtle, more flattering, less contrasty light.

22/05/2008 - 5:19 PM

Portrait 2

Portrait 2Hi Martin, long time no comment!

I like this, it has a real editorial feel to it, and exudes way more character than a studio portrait. The background contains just enough out of focus elements to give the feeling she is in a 3 dimensional space, a room, and not just stood against a black or white background. I think you could afford to go a bit tighter, I don't think you need to show the top of the mirror.

Exactly the sort of image that could be used to accompany a magazine article about the subject.

I don't want to start an argument, but I'm not sure I would have 'greened' Cath's critique.