Daily Photo – Sarah in Hat

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.

Sarah poses for a head shot.


  • Shutter: 1/250
  • Aperture:  f/5.6
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
  • Lighting:  3 Zeus heads, one a a large softbox low camera right;  another in a beauty dish high camera right;  last one in a strip box camera left.

Composition and Processing

  • The hat was too tall in this shot, so while I planned to crop closer anyway, I ended up going in very tight to minimize the impact.
  • Little things can make a pretty big impact on how the face looks.  Compare this shot to the earlier one I took of Sarah, where her face is rounder and softer.  Adding the hat and bringing the hair in tighter to the face created much more angular lines and a harder look.  Both shots have a certain intensity in the eyes, but the emotions conveyed are completely different.
  • A minor aside about Canon’s 50mm L lens:  it definitely has a back focus problem.   This shot’s at f/5.6, but if you look closely the brim of the hat is soft.  I’m doubtful this was user error, given that all my studio shots of Sarah had this problem.  There’s a well documented history of back focus problems with this particular lens, so I’m not entirely surprised.  I’m just disappointed that it’s still an issue given how long this lens has been around and the absence of this problem on so many other L lenses.


April 28 2009 05:37 pm | Photography

5 Responses to “Daily Photo – Sarah in Hat”

  1. profetaparanoia on 28 Apr 2009 at 11:21 pm #

    great, as usual.

  2. ConorwithoneN on 30 Apr 2009 at 4:13 am #

    Good choices here. Sorry to hear about the lens.
    I’m interested to know what the processing itself was – other than the cropping choices.
    I read your blog feed every day but I’m often at a loss to know exactly what you’re doing to get the colour effect.

  3. KG on 30 Apr 2009 at 6:07 pm #

    I did some experimenting with Nik’s Pro Contrast filter back in Feb, and this is one of the examples.

    Truthfully, there’s not much point to that filter because you can get the same result by simply adjusting the white balance and tone curve in Lightroom.

    In either approach, you get that slight shift of the background and hat to blue. I further enhanced it by mucking with the HSL sliders in Lightroom.

    I do make frequent use of Nik’s color filters though. There’s nothing going on there that can’t be done with various filters and adjustments in PS/Lightroom, but I find them fast and efficient for examining a wide range of looks before settling on a specific approach.

  4. ConorwithoneN on 01 May 2009 at 3:37 am #

    Thanks for that. I have Nik’s Silver Efex Pro, but didn’t know whether the rest of the suite was worth a look. I think that colour management in CS4 is wonderfully straightforward and would a filter/plugin just complicate that unnecessarily?

  5. KG on 01 May 2009 at 5:17 pm #

    I find it convenient for a few styles that I’d probably struggle to re-create otherwise (specifically, the bleach bypass and cross processing filters).

    But if it’s an added step, then yeah, it’s going to slow down the amount of time you spend processing. If it’s a replacement step, it’s probably a wash. Although if I’ve decided to use one of Nik’s filters, it’s unlikely I’ll need to use any of CS4’s more general purpose adjustments (e.g. selective color, etc).

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply