Before and After — Annette and Chair

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.

Annette rehearses at Cafe Dance.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/500
  • Aperture:  f/2.0
  • ISO: 1600
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Composition and Processing

  • This shot probably would have worked just fine if the background were completely empty, floor fading to white.  But the out-of-focus dancers waiting in the background increase the sense of depth in the image without distracting from the subject.   They also make the shot less private — imagine how much greater the feeling of isolation would be if they weren’t there.  As a result, this is as much about the performance Annette is giving as the fact she is rehearsing.
  • Those dancers in the background do another interesting thing for this image:  they lead your eye back to the subject.  They’re all clearly focused on Annette, providing a subtle re-direction any time our eye wanders off the main subject.  Normally I think about the lines in an image in a purely planar sense, but in this instance we’re talking back to front in 3D space.
  • One minor detail, important for balancing the image:  I left in the barely visible corner where the wall meets the ceiling at the back of the room.  Without it, the weight of the bottom 2/3 of the image would have felt off balance.

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September 06 2010 | Photography | 1 Comment »

Before and After — Zion on the Steps?

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.

Zion relaxes on some stairs at the Austin Music Hall.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/500
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II IS USM

Composition and Processing

  • I was aiming for something similar to this composition when I took the shot, but was hoping to get all of Zion in the frame.   Two compositional distractions made me go tighter:  first, the unevenness of the light on her legs;  second, the metal railing was a distraction.  Clipping a subject low in the frame can feel a bit odd (your eye wants to wander down off the edge), but it’s counterbalanced by Zion’s gaze looking across a fairly large expanse to the upper right corner.
  • With such a simple, clean image, the scuff marks on the stairs in the upper right were out of place (particularly with Zion’s archetypal white dress).  So I removed them.
  • An interesting question to ask is whether the background still looks like steps.  The shadows in the upper right are a visual clue, plus the slight softening as the go up, but without the title to this post, is that what you’d think they were?

Black and white version:

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April 10 2010 | Photography | No Comments »

Before and After — Lisa and Erica and Chairs

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.

Lisa and Erica rehearse at Cafe Dance in Austin.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/800
  • Aperture:  f/1.6
  • ISO: 1600
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Composition and Processing

  • Lisa’s face is the focal point of the image, and a striking number of lines lead in that direction:  both her legs, her arms, her left hand, Erica’s arms and Erica’s gaze.  Erica is slightly out of the plane of focus too, providing some separation between her and Lisa.  That sort of thing can often be problematic when shooting two subjects interacting, but since the primary subject is just Lisa (Erica is a supporting element), that’s ok here.
  • The chairs provided a natural symmetry to the shot, and the subject matter is evenly distributed in all directions, so I square cropped it.  A slight bit of tilt, combined with the asymmetrical form of the dancers, kept it from getting too static and boxed in.

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March 20 2010 | Photography | No Comments »