Back Modifications (11)
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By thatmanbrian
Well known beggar in Nerja on the Spanish Costa near Malaga. He got his nickname through his habit of wearing army fatigues and an empty machine gun belt when begging in the tourist season. Off-season, as here, he sits in doorways and half-heartedly begs. I approached him with a smile and used gestures to ask permission to photograph him.

The RAW file is full length but cropped here to shape his face. The original file needed no adjustments at all bar a reduction in vibrance. But I was interested in texture so applied a tiny bit of grunge to this version. The subject lends itself to many other treatments which I'll be exploring later.

Tags: Spain Photo journalism March2013

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S_Psharma 9 1 India
11 Mar 2013 6:56AM
Powerful portrait.
Hermanus 9 4 South Africa
11 Mar 2013 7:01AM
This is a stunning and heart gripping portrait !!
paulbroad 13 131 1293 United Kingdom
11 Mar 2013 8:20AM
It must have been pretty low light judging by your EXIF. If this is from a full length portrait, it is a huge crop and thus very good. It does seem a touch flat to me and I have no idea what grunge is in this context. It is a fine image, but you desaturated a little and I wonder why. I think more saturation and a contrast boost would increase impact quite a bit.

11 Mar 2013 8:31AM
Strong portrait!! Great detail.
thatmanbrian 9 342 3 Spain
11 Mar 2013 8:36AM
Paul by grunge I just mean bringing out the skin texture a little. The mod is just like the original but I felt the strong colour looked too much like a 'snap'? Still in two minds about how to produce a final version - cropping, colour etc. I tried a tight crop to his eyes for example.
iancrowson Plus
11 215 168 United Kingdom
11 Mar 2013 12:52PM
This is an excellent image. I like the crop and the treatment. He has beautiful eyes to which the viewer eyes are attracted . However the catchlights grab my attention and I found my self trying to see the scene in them rather than studying his face. Therefore I've done a mod.
I've reduced the size of the catchlights in his eyes and also cloned out the press stud.
alistairfarrugia 9 164 88 Malta
11 Mar 2013 12:54PM
I like this picture, it freezes you as you make eye-to-eye contact with the person and knowing the backstory the picture takes on a more a more powerful character.

My only question relates to the ISO & Shutter speed combination used. I would have opted for a much lower ISO and a slower shutter speed to reduce any eventual noise in the picture. Given that this wasn't an impulse/"stolen" shot (you said yourself you asked for permission), I would have immediately lowered down the ISO by at least two-stops to ISO 400 and the shutter speed would be around 1/200. Given your 55mm focal length, 1/200 was hand-holdable, and you could also afford to go down to 1/100 and an ISO of 200.

Regardless of the above, I still think this is fabulous work and the ISO issue had virtually no clearly visible repercussions on the quality of the image. Well done!
banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4255 Canada
11 Mar 2013 1:00PM
Do you have a non grunge version you could upload here as a mod for comparison. It appears to me the grunge hasnt helped, so would like to compare?


thatmanbrian 9 342 3 Spain
11 Mar 2013 1:24PM
OK I've posted a "non-grunge" version as a mod.

The catchlights in his eyes are indeed a bit much I agree - probably the sunlit building opposite his doorway. By the way,the exposure settings were because I'd accidentally left my camera on a 'catch-all' personalised configuration. I set a fixed aperture and a fixed shutter speed in manual mode then set ISO to automatic. This way I know the shutter speed and aperture will always be good for general shots and the auto ISO sorts out the optimum exposure. I take pot luck on what ISO is used but it's a handy way to operate and this shot was luckily OK with very little noise and perfect exposure. However, I really should have remembered to switched to a different setting!
alistairfarrugia 9 164 88 Malta
11 Mar 2013 1:28PM
Thanks for the ISO explanation. It's a practical solution that can however have negative effects in very low-light conditions, as the ISO would probably be bumped up too much. Can you set the upper limit allowable for such an auto-mode? Say for instance set it to max out at ISO 1600 or 3200 tops?
thatmanbrian 9 342 3 Spain
11 Mar 2013 1:41PM
Yes it is in fact set to 3200. I have three presets I've configured and find it very handy - so long as I remember to select the right one!!Blush
paulbroad 13 131 1293 United Kingdom
11 Mar 2013 2:04PM
The composition is spot on, it is the tonal range I question. However, having tried a mod, I'm really not sure. What I do think would be rather good is a high contrast gritty mono.

iancrowson Plus
11 215 168 United Kingdom
11 Mar 2013 2:05PM
I see your non-grunge. Which is preferable is subjective, I like your original post. Glad you agree about the catchlights. I don't see anything wrong with changes to an image in PS that improve it.
iancrowson Plus
11 215 168 United Kingdom
11 Mar 2013 2:22PM
I've done another mod, tried to create a Les Miserable type look.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2435 United Kingdom
11 Mar 2013 2:24PM
I much prefer the non-grunge version, though I might reduce reds a tiny bit.
The grunge seems to add a texture layer which isn't a part of him, it's as though we are viewing him through a screen.
I'm interested to see that the strange reflections in the eyes are there in the original, they certainly make me study his eyes though I'm not sure that I like the effect.
This does seem to be crying out for b&w, I'll have a play with it.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2435 United Kingdom
11 Mar 2013 2:36PM
I've uploaded a quick b&w version, based on the original - so the effect is less gritty than Ian's. I worked a bit on the light, and applied a bit of Burn tool to the eyes.
Oh and I added just a hint of dark vignette.
banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4255 Canada
11 Mar 2013 3:06PM
The non grunge version is a far superior shot. The grunge version for one example, has destroyed his beard. This is a street shot, so leave the eyes alone, this is exactly what you would expect outside a studio. if it was a studio shot, then the reflections would be something to work on.

I understand you probably wanted to bring out some of the detail on facial lines etc, which does improve the shot, but that better done with local sharpening and contrast on those areas only.

The shot for me is perfect for a square crop, and works well. I find it a little oversaturated, - but its a personal preference.

Ive used your original for the mod, enhanced the facial wear lines, and cropped. Eyes as they were. Ive tried a number of mono and duo version, none seem to work as well as the colour.

You have a very good shot with intense expressio and eye contact. It needs very little work.


ErictheViking 8 124 102 Scotland
11 Mar 2013 3:11PM
Is this the most moded image? I don't know but you have sparked a raft of mod so I thought I'd add mine.

I find the image excellent, I really like these close intimate portraits, however I feel they need to have good colour and definition and I find this is lacking a bit in your image and may be the reason for so many mods.

In my images I have used both the grunge and original to mod and I have offered both colour and B+W as this image is excellent in B+W.

All my images I used a levels layer to apply adjustments and have concentrated more on shadows and dark mid-tones leaving the highlights as they are.

As you can see this image has so many different variations to its final outcome.

I hope you like them

Erik Grin
thatmanbrian 9 342 3 Spain
11 Mar 2013 5:54PM
Wow, this pic certainly sparked interest! Thanks for the mods, they deserve my reply, sorry if I miss anyone out... All are good, it's a matter of taste.

Ian -just playing: a bit too heavy for me
mrswoolyhyball: OK but a bit ordinary?
banehawi 1: more natural
banehawi 2: better but maybe a little light?
erictheviking colour grunge: too much I think
ditto B&W grunge better but still heavy?
ditto B&W from original: good balance
paul: not that different to my grunge version
iancrawson: good

Well, I'm not sure any single one stands out for me. I'm going to play with it further of course. The broken veins need colour I think but I've had great trouble getting just the right saturation. I even played with orange/red luminance in Lightroom. The feedback has been great and useful. Might be best left alone with just a few tweaks so as not to spoil it.
pablophotographer 10 1.9k 409
11 Mar 2013 9:45PM
11 mods! you had everyone busy, Smile

I will tell you what I like about your photo. It's not the colour, it's not the sitter.

It's your framing (and between the two choices I prefer the tighter one). How come?
It suits the subject and allegorically it represents your subject's situation.
This man is (or looks) trapped in poverty (you don't grow a beard like that in one week).
The burden of a life that has not gone so rosy is on his shoulders, bending him, squeezing him.
His eyes express that "hopeless" feeling (how else could he convince us as a beggar?) and although not crying, they show this dispair. I like the large catchlights, we are not in a studio to see a tiny reflection of flashing umbrellas, the man lives with no roof above his head, it is realistic to see the sky in his eyes, big, grey, cloudy.

And no ciggie of course, not even a smile. Unfortunately, images like that are becoming more popular in Europe... and it is scaring...
pablophotographer 10 1.9k 409
11 Mar 2013 10:19PM
Blush errr on my comment above replace "popular" with common.

banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4255 Canada
11 Mar 2013 11:11PM
My mod 2 is more saturated, + 15 compared to mod1, so it will appear darker, not lighter.

What are you using to view the site images? Laptop, or calibrated monitor?

thatmanbrian 9 342 3 Spain
12 Mar 2013 8:09AM
A calibrated monitor banehawi. (colormonki) An A3+ print from my profiled Canon printer matches it well. But I do notice on several forums my images can look different but I don't know the technical issues. My LR4 & CS6 use Adobe RGB.

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