Back Modifications (4)
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By suzy1962
Not a portrait photographer at all. This is a little experiment with one flash gun and a bag of flour after seeing the idea on an online tutorial.
Please feel free to comment.

Tags: People portraits Portraits and people

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rhys47 12 3 2 United Kingdom
23 Mar 2014 9:55AM
A wonderful image, that on line tutorial wouldn't be Gavin Hoey by any chance would it?SmileSmile The only thing i might add in my humble opinion would be just to ease off the lighting on the flour as it seem to be a little bright and fighting/ detracting from your lovely models face. Brilliant lighting of the models face and great detail. Really well doneSmileSmile
Regards Rhys
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.8k 2404 United Kingdom
23 Mar 2014 10:03AM
Hi Sue, welcome to the Critique Gallery. I see that you have been on the site for a few years - I hope you are enjoying it and learning from it.

First off, I love the pose. It's fun, engaging and alive. I particularly like that stray lock of hair framing her cheek on the right and then drifting off away from the face.

This is a fascinating idea. I'm trying to imagine the set-up (and the cleaning afterwards... ) It has created a really dynamic, lively background plus great backlighting to highlight your model's hair. I think I would prefer her to move a little to the right against the light, to achieve a better balance in the background, but that's a minor point.

The problem arising from the backlighting is a slight flatness in the hair and face and particularly a lack of sparkle in the eyes. I'd like to add a bit of brightness and contrast to the face, possibly tone down yellows a bit, and possibly try to add some catchlights to the eyes. Catchlights are a cliché but they really bring a face to life!

I'll try a quick Modification, if I can get something that I am satisfied with it will appear in a little while under the Modifications button below the upload, click on the thumbnail to view.
DonMc 12 4 United Kingdom
23 Mar 2014 2:43PM
Stunning Portrait but could do with a tweak to give a little more sparkle to the face in general. If you have Photoshop could try curves.
Regards Don
paulbroad 13 131 1293 United Kingdom
23 Mar 2014 3:50PM
At first sight, this is excellent, and the idea definately is just that. You do not mention the type of lighting? Is it studio flash or continuos light sources? The back light works well with the flour, but the facial lighting is a little weak resulting in slight flatness and loss of hair detail. A touch of added brightness and contrast will help, but a touch more light in the first place.

I would toy with trimming the whole of the left to near the middle. Yku loose a lot of the snow then, but the face is entirely on the right and the face should be considered the subject, the snow just effect.

dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 768 England
23 Mar 2014 4:25PM
You have captured an appealing portrait

Her right eye, the one nearest the camera looks less sharp than her left eye. Normally you want both eyes sharp and you should get that at f/8 that you used. If you can't get both sharp then it's the nearest that should be. Something to watch out for.

The lighting and flour work together to produce a great effect. It's easy to overdo the brightness when backlighting this and you have controlled it well.
I'm guessing the flash is just illuminating the flour and it's daylight illuminating the model, which is why she looks a little flat. As the technique uses just one flash, then Iother than suggesting a weaker second flash as fill in, use a reflector. You may have done so. Bringing the reflector close in would have given more sparkle, especially to the eyes. A silver reflector in this situation would be more successful than a white reflector as the reflected light would be more contrasty and produce a nice catchlight in the eye.

banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4233 Canada
23 Mar 2014 8:29PM
This is very well done, and has produced a very attractive image.

Though this might be as intended, I persoanlly would light her face quite a but more, using some fill flash perhaps; this is typical of back lighting. The skin tone is overly yellow IMO, - but again, ad you were focused on the effect and the backlight, its easy to overlook.

I have uploaded a mod that had more exposure on her face; sharper and more detailed eyes; skin colour less yellow.

Well done,


Tish1 Plus
8 32 5 United Kingdom
23 Mar 2014 8:38PM
Instructions please!

dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1841 England
23 Mar 2014 11:07PM
Tehre's very little to add: a single flash behind has given exactly the look you were after with the flour, I suspect, but the face is definitely a bit underlit, and has a different colour balance. The flash on the hair has made it appear very sharp, and the face suffers a little by comaprison. So my feelign is that this needs two lights: one behind, and the other, with a softbox, beauty dish or brolly on the model herself.

It's a lovely idea, and your model is worth shooting a lot of pictures of. Whether the time with a vacuum cleaner afterwards is worthwhile, only you can decide! I know what Mrs Dudler would say if i tried this in my studio, aka the Front Room...
24 Mar 2014 11:45AM
Thank you all for your very helpful comments and super modifications! Whilst taking this photo and being in panic mode, I forgot to ask my partner who was holding the silver reflector to stand behind me to bounce the flash light onto the face, I asked him to stand at the side, I could kick myself. I also agree that there is too much flour. On the plus side, the model has agreed to go through all this again next week. I am looking for entries into a camera club portrait comp but I only own one flash gun so this was an idea from an online tutorial. For those of you who asked, it wasn't that messy at all, just popped a plastic decorating sheet on the floor and simply rolled it up into a bin liner - job done. Hope the results will be better next week and thank you all once again.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.8k 2404 United Kingdom
24 Mar 2014 1:04PM
Hi again, thanks for the feedback! The more we know about the circumstances (including the problems), the easier it is to give advice.

Definitely aim to get some light onto her face next time. Try to get that sparkle in her eyes, I'm fairly sure that the judge will look for that.

Post-processing adds further possibilities for improvement - what software do you have?

Looking forward to seeing the next stage!
24 Mar 2014 2:46PM
I use Aperture on my Mac. I do have photoshop but it is completely and utterly beyond me!

banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4233 Canada
24 Mar 2014 3:50PM
Aperture is utterly beyond me! If you want to really progress, you should take some on-line tutorials for Photoshop, theres lots available for free.

gwynn56 9 88 England
10 Sep 2014 11:02PM
beautiful captureSmile of a beautiful looking young lady

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