Before and After — Leslie in Window

The Before and After 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.

Leslie leans into the frame, backlit by the afternoon light.


  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/1.4
  • ISO:  400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • When in doubt, when shooting with a shallow depth of field, make the eyes sharp (or in this case, the eye closest to the camera).  We have a natural tendency to want to look at faces first, and from there to the eyes.  They also feature some of the crispest lines in the face, so softness is particularly noticeable there.  There’s plenty of exceptions, but the eyes are a good fallback when there are no other artistic demands.
  • I cropped Leslie to the left, to give her plenty of room to lean into the frame.  The lean itself is intended to suggest motion, or at least direction, so that the head turn looks more natural (i.e. “I’ve interrupted what I was doing to look at the camera/viewer”).
  • This is one of several photos I took last year where I tried to match receding sharpness with increasing light.  I didn’t quite get there with this shot, but it’s close.

Black and White Version:


February 15 2010 08:56 pm | Uncategorized

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