Daily Photo – Dagny in the Creek

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.

Dagny walks up the dry creek bed behind the Austin Music Hall.


  • Shutter:  1/500
  • Aperture:  f/2
  • ISO:  400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Composition and Processing

  • The image quality of this shot isn’t great, but the expression and natural look trumps those considerations.  The shot has a very candid feel, almost like an out-take.  It wasn’t though– I had Dagny walk this route half a dozen times, picking over the rocks in her bare feet.  In fact, her need to focus on the surroundings so she could balance (and not step on something sharp) made her less aware of the camera, leading to a more realistic shot.
  • Most of the bottom half of the frame was all white and gray stone;  the top half various colors.  That seemed really out of balance to me, so I converted the whole image to black and white.  That balanced things out a bit, and Dagny’s now detail-less dark black really made her pop from the scene.
  • I could have shot from further back with a longer lens, but I wanted the sides of the gully to widen as they ran off both sides of the frame.  The 35mm had just enough distortion for that without being obvious (the way, say, a 14mm would be).


May 13 2009 05:30 pm | Photography

3 Responses to “Daily Photo – Dagny in the Creek”

  1. tao on 13 May 2009 at 8:05 pm #

    i like the composition of this one, and the original had the right lighting – but the post processing blew out the lights too much methinks. very candid and nice shot though.

  2. RON! on 14 May 2009 at 1:01 am #

    I really like how you took those people out of the background and it almost looks like she’s in the snow or winter time. How much time did you spend on this photo until your end result?

  3. KG on 14 May 2009 at 4:23 pm #

    I tend to prefer blowing out the highlights in a shot like this, although it probably shows up more since it’s adjacent to the original. I don’t like things that distract from the subject, so while I could have brought more detail back in for the rocks, I preferred the cleaner surroundings immediately around Dagny.

    Removing the folks in the background (Janus and Stephanie, also along for this shoot) was fairly fast, mostly because there’s plenty of background material to draw from (the bricks and foliage). I could have asked them to move, but I didn’t want to break momentum and I knew it would be an easy photoshop job later.

    More time was probably spent trying other processing styles. Overall, I’d guess this photo took about 10 – 15 min (keeping in mind I spend 10 – 30 min on ave).

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