Before and After — Claire and Mariclaire

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.

Claire and Mariclaire (again) rehearsing for the KDH Dance Company.


  • Shutter:  1/1000
  • Aperture:  f/2.0
  • ISO: 1600
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Composition and Processing

  • One of the first questions you might ask after seeing the settings is:  why such a high shutter and ISO?  Surely it would have been fine at 1/250 and ISO 400, or perhaps 1/250, ISO 800 and f/2.8.   And it would have been.  When shooting any sort of action, I find it helpful to have a base setting to shoot from, and then reserve one value I can change on the fly.  In this case I was shooting in a room that varied about two stops from one end to the other, so my base setting was what you see above only at 1/250.  And shutter speed was the value I chose to adjust on the fly, mostly because I wanted to control the depth of field (I didn’t want to go smaller than f/2.8 due to background distractions;  that wouldn’t leave me enough latitude in exposure and would have required changing a second value rapidly as well).  ISO was another consideration, but I’d have to change my camera’s UI to put that on one of the dials instead of, say, aperture or shutter (I’d really like to have 3 dials on the back of the camera now that ISO has become such a versatile tool).  So my settings were based on the darkest part of the room and my range for adjustment was along an axis that didn’t change composition.
  • I would have chosen this shot even if Mariclaire’s hands were simply holding Claire in place.  Nevertheless, catching them in motion adds a little bit of intent and energy to an otherwise static shot.  They’re also conveniently framed against the black clothing, making them all the more noticeable.


March 01 2012 06:28 pm | Photography

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