Friday, October 2, 2009

Constructive Feedback Friday....I Heart Faces

I love this picture of my son, but I still could not get the lighting adjusted correctly, too dark or too light. I use a Nikon D40, but have not learned how to use all my settings, I usually shoot on auto.

f-stop f/7.1

exposure time 1/800sec


Max aperture 4.3

focal length 78mm

Thanks for any suggestions, I use Photoshop Elements 6 for editing.

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Catharine said...

Great crop! The color of the water is stunning. MCP actions has a great one that may fix those shadows called touch of light/touch of darkness available for free for Photoshop.

Laura said...

I think this photo could benefit from a little less saturation on the red channel. Not sure what to do about the lighting, though.

Good luck!

Amandalynn said...

The water is lovely, and I'm so glad it's not blown out because it has a really great feel to it.

To correct the darkness on your subject, on his face in particular, I would create a duplicate layer and set it to screen, then I would add a layer mask and with a soft brush mask out everything but the dark shadows and then adjust the layer opacity until it felt natural.

AJ said...

Let's talk about shooting in auto and why your camera made the choices it did.
ISO200: I shoot Nikon, too, so I understand that ISO200 is as low as your camera will go. Because there was so much light, the camera knew it did not need a lot of ISO sensitivity. Therefore it chose the lowest option available.
f/7.1: This is the aperture your camera chose. All that light bouncing around made the camera choose a smaller aperture (higher number) to let in less light. This was to hopefully give you a "correct" exposure" in the camera's opinion.
1/800: This is the shutter speed that resulted from the other two choices. In the camera's digital brain, a+b will always get c. That means you have no creative control at all.
All of that was to give you what the camera thought was a correctly exposed picture. To the camera that is making sure everything is in the middle or 18% gray. When you realize why the camera is choosing the settings it does, you can in turn make your own choices creatively.

I would suggest next time you go out to shoot, put your camera in Aperture priority mode. That means you get to pick the ISO and aperture and the camera picks the shutter speed for you. Now I change my exposure compensation to acheive the brightness in the photo that I want. I'm usually one tick overexposed according to the in camera meter. Sometimes as much as a whole stop over.
Don't be afraid to shoot in aperture priority or even full manual. You don't have any film to develop!

Now let's talk about light. I'm thinking you took this shot in the middle of the afternoon. I would have waited until closer to sunset when the sun's rays are longer and warmer and don't create as many harsh shadows. Then I would have positioned myself so that the children moving around would have resulted in a shot that didn't have dappled light on the face or clothes. Dappled light is your enemy. It's really hard to edit the dark and light parts to come together and be smoother.
In PSE you can try the Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Shadows/Highlights. to see if you can get them to come together a little bit. You'll also want to warm the shot up as it is very cool. It will make a great b/w though!

One more discussion: composition. Your sooc shows him smack in the middle of the shot. This is probably the only way you could get him because of the other child moving around. If you can get him to pose and position yourself so there's no dappled light. Then take the time to use the rule of thirds to create an interesting composition. One of the things to avoid is cropping at the joints (neck, elbows, knees, ankles and wrists). So I cropped to an 8x10 ratio with his face in the upper left hand quadrant:
and a b/w:

I hope this helps. Please let me encourage you to take just one thing I've said here and google it. And take your camera off auto! You will love it even more than you already do :).
Good luck on your journey!

Life with Kaishon said...

Wow! AJ is a GREAT teacher! I was going to say that I love your picture too! Next time, try to shoot with the sun at a different angle. It looks like it is giving him harsh shadows. Love your crop : )

Julie Rivera Photography said...

Go, AJ, go! I agree with EVERYTHING she told you and wholeheartedly second the motion to shoot Av or Manual.

Beach shots are something I can't take here in the center of Texas, so I don't have a lot of practical experience upon which to draw. I can only imagine the challenge with all that sun, glare from the water, sunburnt bathing beauties, etc, etc. And a white shirt! Your camera just didn't know what to do! :)

I used Photoshop CS3, hopefully some of this translates to PS Elements! I opted to crop the image at 5x7, as I prefer that ratio. I placed your son a bit offcenter, just to improve the composition. To help the deep shadows on his face, I lassoed his head and adjusted the blacks and mids with curves by pulling both of them above the slope. I then also used the dodge tool on the left side of the face, where the shadows were most pronounced. The dodge tool can reduce some of the "depth of color" (my terminology, might not quite be accurate), so I went back with an adjustment layer for exposure and put the offset to -0.0037 and the Gamma Correction to 1.09. I also used the sponge tool on desaturate to eliminate the blue cast that typically occurs on anything white. I then switched it to saturate and ran the sponge over the water to enhance the blueness of the water.

My end product is here:

Keep practicing and learn the Av or Manual settings on your camera. You will love it!