Daily Photo – Doa Landing

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Doa skates along the top of a large brick wall.


  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/4
  • ISO:  400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Composition and Processing

  • This shot is obviously heavily processed, but the pose itself is also faked.  The wall here is about eight feet up and no wider than the skateboard.  Doa had a sprained ankle, so she wasn’t planning to do anything crazy in such a precarious spot.  She suggested balancing on the board in place and throwing her hair back.  I doubted this would suggest forward motion, although the final result does give the impression she just landed from the previous step.  Anyone who looks closer will notice the board is far too close to the step, and while there’s some motion blur from Doa’s hair, there’s none on the board itself.
  • There are three separate pieces to this composition:  the metal background, the stone wall Doa is on top of, and Doa herself.  Each was processed in a separate layer.  For the back wall I used two gradients in Lightroom to show a transition from light to dark along a similar color spectrum.  I wanted something that really popped, but it had to be clearly separate from the other elements in order to make it look like paint as opposed to a color cast on the whole image.  I chose a light to dark transition to drag the eye in that direction (helping reinforce the idea of forward motion, perhaps).  The colors were chosen to best contrast with the processing of Doa, which I handled more or less conventionally (to make the shot, as fanciful as it is, seem more realistic).  The stone bricks at the bottom looked so bland after I had finished the background wall that I had to do something with them.  Strong colors would have competed with the wall, so I instead amped the contrast dramatically to bring out the texture.  That was enough to bring it in line with the rest of the image.


March 12 2009 04:58 pm | Photography

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