Daily Photo – Dagny in the Creek

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.

Dagny walks up the dry creek bed behind the Austin Music Hall.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/500
  • Aperture:  f/2
  • ISO:  400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Composition and Processing

  • The image quality of this shot isn’t great, but the expression and natural look trumps those considerations.  The shot has a very candid feel, almost like an out-take.  It wasn’t though– I had Dagny walk this route half a dozen times, picking over the rocks in her bare feet.  In fact, her need to focus on the surroundings so she could balance (and not step on something sharp) made her less aware of the camera, leading to a more realistic shot.
  • Most of the bottom half of the frame was all white and gray stone;  the top half various colors.  That seemed really out of balance to me, so I converted the whole image to black and white.  That balanced things out a bit, and Dagny’s now detail-less dark black really made her pop from the scene.
  • I could have shot from further back with a longer lens, but I wanted the sides of the gully to widen as they ran off both sides of the frame.  The 35mm had just enough distortion for that without being obvious (the way, say, a 14mm would be).

Original:

May 13 2009 | Photography | 3 Comments »

Daily Photo – How To Look Good With A Polaroid

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.

First, make sure your name is Dagny.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/1000
  • Aperture:  f/1.2
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • I originally wanted to show Dagny shooting Stephanie directly in the foreground, with a shallow enough depth of field to make it solely about the photographer and not the subject.  I changed my mind later though, and decided to crop horizontally.  I pushed Dagny to the left of the frame, leaving space for her dress and hair (both of which were being blown to the right by the wind).  If I’d had more room I would have moved her even further left.
  • I picked this shot out of the set largely because of the contrast between Dagny’s pose and the implied movement around her.  The intensity of her grip on the polaroid, how she’s holding it to her face, the shoulder posture– all these suggest she’s pushing against the wind blowing past her (or at least trying to hold still against forces that would have it otherwise).  A static subject in a fluid environment.

Original:

April 25 2009 | Photography | No Comments »

Daily Photo – Dagny in Blue

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.

Dagny poses in the creek bed behind the Austin Music Hall.

Exposure

  • 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

  • Unlike the last shot of Dagny, the color in the background enhances the scene.  That’s largely because of the tigher crop, where Dagny herself takes up much more of the frame and anything else is necessarily crowded out.  So the soft green foliage and brown bank behind her provide a nice contrast to her red hair.  If anything, the blue might be a bit strong against the white rocks.
  • When taking pictures of the subject in motion, however minor, I like to shoot at least one frame past the intended shot.  Sometimes the pose is too stiff or awkward, but the subject will relax toward the end of it because they think the shot is done (they can hear the camera shutter, after all).  That’s the case here, where the somewhat cliche “playing with hair” shot wasn’t working.  This frame is after the inital shot appeared to be done.  Most of the hair has already been let go, and Dagny’s expression has relaxed a bit, leading to a far more natural shot.

Original:

April 19 2009 | Photography | No Comments »