Before and After — Zion

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 poses against a wall near the Austin Music Hall.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/2.0
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Composition and Processing

  • I love the texture on this concrete wall.  The natural light is super soft at this location, bouncing off a cement floor and then a steel blue roof before hitting the subject.
  • I square cropped this to lose the floor.  There wasn’t anything wrong with it, I just liked the uniformity of the wall and didn’t want anything else to interrupt this background (particularly since Zion herself is drawing enough attention in the red dress).
  • I had Zion point her left hip out a bit to match the gaze, in effect creating two parallel (invisible) lines extending into the open space on the right.

Original:


April 18 2012 | Photography | No Comments »

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:

Original:

April 10 2010 | Photography | No Comments »

Before and After — Zion Up Close

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 poses near the Austin Music Hall.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/2.0
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • There’s nothing quite like a whole lot of soft light to enhance the skin tones of a subject.  I took this at one of my favorite outdoor locations for creative portraits, a deeply recessed patio out behind the Austin Music Hall that faces west.  In the afternoon, the light bounces off the light concrete floor and blue metal roof to completely encase the subject (you can see the width and direction of the light from the catchlight in Zion’s eyes).
  • The background for this shot is fairly bland, but combined with the soft light offer a wide range of processing options that all seem to work.  Good photos can usually be processed multiple ways — that may say something about the primacy of composition over other variables.  A couple extra examples are included below.
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Zion’s smile.  Even if all the other variables — light, crop, color — were perfect, this photo simply wouldn’t work without that tangible emotion on the Zion’s face.
  • I cropped this tight to make it more intimate, but I had a secondary goal as well:  the hair wasn’t quite working.  Cropping in a bit eliminated the issue.

Version 2:

Version 3:

Original:

February 20 2010 | Photography | 2 Comments »