Back Modifications (4)
Views: 140 (47 Unique)  Award Shortlist   

Why The Long Face?

By WeeGeordieLass    
Met this character on a day out walking in the Lake District.

It was difficult to get a decent shot of him as he was quite active.

I tried a variety of settings and, although I know that the widest aperture is not the best setting on a lens, this was the best shot, so I've uploaded this one.

I tried to ensure that the eye was sharp - it looks ok to me. Please would you let me know what you think?

Any comments, ideas, advice are most welcome.



Tags: Pets and captive animals

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


AJG Plus
9 6 Scotland
12 Jun 2012 8:25PM
I like it. Well captured. Eye looks sharp to me!

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12 Jun 2012 8:44PM
Thanks Andrew,

I keep missing the eyes when focusing in this type of shot, and this was awkward as he was moving about a lot.

Seems I did ok this time though.


arhab 6 43 2 Indonesia
12 Jun 2012 9:26PM
this is good, the eyes look calm to me. the composition is ok too.
vickyf 12 8 8 United Kingdom
12 Jun 2012 9:29PM
Nice sharp image and you did well to capture his great expression. You seem to have chosen a perfect aperture as well. My main problem is whatever is between his head & quarters (a fence?) which you could clone out and, although the background is lovely, it might have helped to try to capture him from a different angle so he does not have a tree immediately behind his ear. Also the angle of view makes him look rather ewe-necked. That said, I think it's a good effort, especially as it's so hard to capture loose horses. Smile Vicky
puertouk 6 1.1k 17 United Kingdom
12 Jun 2012 9:33PM
Hi Elaine, Lovely image, but the tree and branches above the horses head spoil the image. I put it into Photoshop, copied the background layer > removed the tree and branches with the patch tool, put in a new sky > layer mask > painted in black to remove the sky from the lower part of the image > added a curves layer to boost it. Hope you like the mod.
puertouk 6 1.1k 17 United Kingdom
12 Jun 2012 9:37PM
Hi Elaine, I just noticed on my mod, the tree growing out of the horses rear end, so I removed it with the patch tool
nonur Plus
9 17 13 Turkey
12 Jun 2012 9:49PM
Great focus and colour rendition!
wynn469 9 157 Wales
12 Jun 2012 9:56PM
Great detail lovely image
Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
12 Jun 2012 10:57PM
Hi Elaine,
This is a decent enough effort and I would have thought that your shutter speed would have been sufficient but although his eye does look pretty sharp, so does his nose!
I think the actual point of focus falls a bit short of his eye.
In fact there are signs of movement about him altogether. That would be because he was moving, presumably!
Hope this helps.

Sooty_1 7 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
13 Jun 2012 11:02AM
In cases like this, a small blip of fill-flash will help freeze a small motion and catchlight the eyes, which otherwise look a little dead. Not full power, but -1 or -2 flash adjustment (not the usual exposure adjustment). Here you could have shot at 1/250 @f/5.6 and a -2 flash adjustment and it would have helped darken the background slightly. Though for me, the background isn't bad as it's out of focus anyway (adding a sky just gives the eye something else to look at and detracts from the horse IMHO).

rhol2 7 369 1 United Kingdom
13 Jun 2012 11:56AM
A very attractive portrait. I wouldn't worry about the background, as noted above, its out of focus and doesn't really intrude.
No disresepect but the modifications make the background look artificial to me

As for the eye, on my screen there is just enough detail and sharpness. Oversharpening images such as this can spoil the appearance in my view

Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
13 Jun 2012 1:59PM
Hi again Elaine,
I've modded this, selectively sharpening the eye, using the erm, sharpening tool, increased the existing catchlights by dodging, then sharpened it overall; USM, amount 50%, radius 0.8 and threshold 3.
As has been said, The background's fine, in fact, changing just the sky wouldn't really be an option as there's no real demarcation between it and the rest of the shot.
I've also left the tree trunk between his head and back. Cloning that would remove the hair detail beneath his chin and it's really diffused anyway.
Hope this helps.

Edit: I've just had a thought. In mod #2, I've slightly desaturated the yellow channel only, which reduces the greenness in the shot.
13 Jun 2012 8:38PM
Hi Arhab,

Thanks for taking the time to comment on my shot - much appreciated.

13 Jun 2012 8:42PM
Hi Vicky,

Thanks for your feedback. I agree that some may find the background a bit distracting.

I like his expression too - he had loads of character, and was quite friendly.


13 Jun 2012 8:50PM
Hi Stephen,

Thanks for the mods - I like's clever what you've done with the sky and trees.

I'm not far enough advanced in photoshop to achieve results like yours.

I've made a note of the steps you took though and will have a try.

Thanks for taking the time to help me.


13 Jun 2012 8:52PM
Hello Nezih,

Thanks for taking the time to leave your nice comments.

I'm glad you like my shot.


13 Jun 2012 8:53PM
Hi Wynn,

Hope you've washed all of that mud off yourself now!

Thanks for taking the time to let me know what you think of my shot,


13 Jun 2012 8:58PM
Hi Bren,

Thanks for the great mods - the eye looks bright and more alive - I like the increased catchlight.

Yes, he was moving quite a bit, and I thought 1/500 shutter speed would have been enough to keep the image sharp.

Thanks for the tip about the yellow channel - this is one I'll use in future.

Your mods do help me to see how an image can be improved - thanks very much.


13 Jun 2012 9:07PM
Hi Nick,

Your advice on the fill in flash is very helpful to me.

Using flash confuses me, and when I've tried it in the past I've not liked the results. I've never thought of using the flash adjustment to reduce it's power, but now I know how it can be used as you advise, I'll experiment.

Thanks for taking the time to post a comment and help me - this is very useful.


13 Jun 2012 9:11PM
Hi Roger,

Thanks for your advice - your opinion is much appreciated.

I'm glad you like the shot.

P.S. Your "Eventer" shot in your pf is very beautiful - love it.


Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
13 Jun 2012 9:35PM
Glad to be able to help.
rhol2 7 369 1 United Kingdom
13 Jun 2012 9:40PM
Thanks Elaine, pleased to be of help and I appreciate the compliment re. the Eventer.

banehawi Plus
13 1.8k 3880 Canada
13 Jun 2012 9:42PM
Its a good shot Elaine.

Its quite sharp in the eye, sharper through the nose.

Question is, what was you focal point, (assuming not the eye) and did you use a single focus point to take the shot, or use the multiple points which is the default for the camera?

I will guess multiple, - (let me know if Im wrong), and you should check you manual on how to select a single focus point (for a Canon camera the focus points are red squares, so something similar fir Nikon Im sure). Then use that point to place it on the horses eye, and shoot.

About aperture and fully open. Theres two things to know, - first is that fully open works, BUT its the setting where the the image will be LESS SHARP even when focused properly. So stopping down to the next lower, say f/5.6 will render the exact same image, focused on the correct place, SHARPER.
Second is that larger apertures (smaller numbers) have a shorter depth of field. Assuming you stood 15 feet from the horse, at f/4, your area of sharpness starts at 14 feet and starts to get soft at 16.2 feet. That 2.2 feet is called the depth of field.
Now lets look at f/5.6, - the area of sharpness starts at 13.6 feet, and extends to 16.7 feet, a depth of field of 3.15 feet, - almost a 50% increase, and sharper also.

Heres a site you can check out:

Then fill flash. If you are using Aperture Priority, force your built in flash to pop up. The camera will use the ambient light for metering, and fire the flash on low power without any other intervention. This is just enough to lift shadows and add catch lights if you are close enough. A larger flash is needed for longer distances. Im basing this on Canon, - so if Nikon is very different, someone can correct me.

Hope this is helpful,


13 Jun 2012 10:09PM
Hi Willie,

I think it was multiple focus points, but can't be sure.............sorry I can't remember. I've just checked the settings in the properties section of the photo details, but it doesn't say what I used.

I have used single point focus before, but usually on still life shots. I need to practice with moving subjects - I'm not very good at that.

Thanks for the info on the aperture and dof - just checked out the link - that looks very interesting I think I'll print it out and keep in in my camera bag - I need to study it to get my head around it.

Thanks for the tips on using the flash.

Your advice is very helpful Willie, thanks so much.


Tooth 13 5.8k 227 Ireland
16 Jun 2012 1:36AM
Hi Elaine,

lots of good advice there, but I just one to throw in a bit of party pooping..

firing a flah at a horse you don't know should be approached at least with caution. Horses are very unpredictable and can "spook" at the slightest thing. Now if you've come across the horse and you are photographing it over a fence,and it's in an enclosed field,then maybe the worst that will happen is that it bolts and runs away...but certainly don't expect it to stay around for any repeats

the really worst scenario is that the horse is thrown into a total panic....just be careful . Personally I'd only use flash on a horse that I knew and had chance to acclimatise to it (though still rather not...)

16 Jun 2012 10:49AM
Hi Stephen,

Thanks for your very important advice, which I will certainly heed..........

I wouldn't want to cause any harm in any way to any animal.........especially when they're as friendly as he was!

Thanks again Stephen, much appreciated.



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