Saturday, January 13, 2007

Troubleshooting: Underexposed portrait

Turning teenager
Originally uploaded by Phil Widewood.
There are a number of groups on Flickr where beginning photographers post their pictures for others to critique and offer advice. Some of them ask others to “fix” their pictures for them in a computer photo editing program. Ready, Aim, Click will feature some of those photographs from time to time to pass along some tips to help you make better pictures.

This is a candid photo of a gentleman’s 13-year-old daughter. She’s making the transition from childhood to adulthood and anyone who has raised teenagers knows *that* look. This photo is quite nicely done; the framing is good, as is the focus. It successfully captures a spontaneous moment in the life of a young adolescent. The photographer did well in using a zoom setting. Facial features are portrayed better with moderate zooms than with wide-angle or extreme zoom (professional portrait photographers use a moderate telephoto lens).

There is a problem with the exposure, however. The bright background behind the girl tricked the camera into thinking the subject was brighter than it really was and rendered the photo too dark overall. The photographer should have used an exposure value (EV) of +1 to compensate. The girl’s creamy complexion and gorgeous green eyes are lost. The second photo shows the portrait with the exposure corrected in PhotoShop. There are the eyes!

The third photo shows a tighter crop on the face and a softer focus on the girl’s ear. For some reason, having it in sharp focus was a distraction from the main part of the picture – her eyes.

Do you have a photo that you'd like critiqued? Fixed? Send an email to jjrdns6[at] and write "Troubleshooting" in the subject line.

Top photo: Turning Thirteen posted by Phil Widewood on Flickr. Click on pictures to enlarge. Ready, Aim, Click © 2007 James Jordan.

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Blogger Sheila said...

James, I am so excited to see that you have a new blog to help us amateurs. Like so many people, I just tend to point and shoot with my digital camera and hope it turns out decent. The technical angle is often an after-thought. As a designer of sorts, I know enough about cropping to be dangerous, and I think your crop of this photo is great. I'll be back.

January 14, 2007 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger james said...

sheila, thanks for stopping by. Sometimes a little forethought before the button is pushed can make the difference between a good photo and a great photo. Hope you find the info here to be helpful!

January 14, 2007 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger RAC said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 15, 2007 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger RAC said...

Great Job, Hope you continue to add more related info! I will return.I am a novice but do have the eye for a good shot! Check out my site some time.

January 15, 2007 at 4:47 PM  

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