Before and After — Shari and Carissa

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.

Shari and Carissa rehearse for the KDH Dance Company.


  • Shutter:  1/500
  • Aperture:  f/2.0
  • ISO: 1600
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Composition and Processing

  • The initial focal point for this shot is Shari, but I’ve got her set pretty far to the right in order to give equal space to Carissa.  Normally I wouldn’t want to space two subjects evenly like this due to the tension created for the viewer (where to look first), but since Shari’s facing forward, the eye naturally travels there first.  The real reason for this choice was the identical pose, appearing head on and in profile, making that the central topic of the shot instead of the dancers themselves (symmetry in a different fashion the viewing plane).
  • I generally lean toward black and white for rehearsal photos because I think it expresses “unfinished” and “hard work” better.  In mixed lighting it also covers up other potential processing challenges.  I stuck with color for two reasons:  first, the subjects did not stand out sufficiently against the background in black and white;  and second, the mixed lighting ran front to back not side to side, making changes in lighting at least even on any given plane moving backward in 3D space, even if it was different on different planes.  That’s a much easier processing problem to deal with in post.


February 26 2012 08:22 pm | Photography

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