Daily Photo – KDH Question

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.

Shari in mid-movement during a KDH Dance Company rehearsal last fall.


  • Shutter:  1/500
  • Aperture:  f/2
  • ISO:  800
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Composition and Processing

  • When shooting backlit subjects, I find that shape and form figure more prominently in the composition.  Even in cases like this where the foreground has been pushed up a couple stops, the detail isn’t very strong and the shot relies predominantly on Shari’s “question mark” shape in transition.
  • It would be tempting to blow out the background completely and let the floor vanish into the distance.  That may have worked here, but often times it leaves the shot unbalanced due to the remaining floor.   So I left in faint elements of the wall.  If the fade is in the shorter dimension though, it’s less of an issue and can work well (as in this other KDH Dance Company shot).
  • Backlighting can sometimes help in mixed lighting situations.  If you look at the original, there’s window light and overhead flourescents in the scene (along with tungsten track lights that are off).  At this angle, the window light is overwhelming everything else, but the subject is being lit more by the flourescents (or a mix of flourescents and back wall bounce).  That nicely separates the lighting types though and is a bit easier to deal with than shooting with the windows to the side.  In that circumstance there’d be an ugly transition of light from natural (as it falls off) to flourescent, with the latter varying in intensity and color as it cycles.


June 15 2009 05:19 pm | Photography

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