Nice idea and well taken. On my monitor the lower part is very dark except for the arm of what she is sitting on. She also seems to be sharing the limelight with the sofa. I would make a horizontal crop just below the elbows. As she is not looking at the camera this would also give some space for her to be looking into. Maybe a vignette too. Something like...
Nice. I like the tone and the pose and the setting. All round a good job.
In terms of improvement, the two stars or flowers seem a bit bright and draw attention. I would consider toning these down a little. My only other consideration is what was mentioned above - the lady's dress is dark and you have lost some detail. Whilst that is ok, I think it probably isn't consistent with the rest of the image ie all other parts have detail.
I love the shot. It gives me feelings of the 1940's. However, I agree with Peter K. about the cropping and with Peter of Perth (one of my favorite cities) about the stars...
I prefer Peter K's crop, because it removes some of the pattern distraction, but I think I'd tone down the exposure on the remaining bright parts to our left.
Yes, there is a bit of a detail-less black hole where her dress is, but that doesn't worry me anywhere near as much as the print patterns.
Lovely model too,
My two cents: Two things to pay attention to as you try to improve; one is to pay attention to the separation you need from background. Specially the hair. Portrait is easy if you don't have to do that. It can be natural light or a flash. I admit it usually not that easy to achieve specially when you are not equipped with the right gear.
Second issue in your two portraits: distracting bright areas/reflections in the background. I think you should try to keep them to a minimum.
Overall, i think both are pretty shots!
Few quick thoughts ...
- Good job - some natural talent there, darn it!
- If something doesn't contribute to the image, get rid of it ... in this case there's too much space above the head not doing anything.
- Overall levels need to be raised slightly
- Image is sharpened badly - we might need to review your sharpening workflow.
- Get rid of the watermark -- it draws the eye away from the face.
One minor thing to add. Be very careful when you have a model put her hand on or near her face. It's all to easy to get some really strange shadows and distortions that do not add to he image. If you want the hand there, make sure that it does not press against her skin. Also watch the positioning of the hand. It's all too easy to get something that looks distorted. I prefer shooting hands along the side to slim things out a bit.
Starting with the full resolution capture, you'll probably want a USM of around 300% @ 0.3px for capture sharpening, 40% @ 4 pixel for content/creative sharpening, and then after you downsample the image for online display (say, 1000px long side) then a USM of around 50 to 100% @ 0.3px for output sharpening.Here is only "unsharp mask" used for sharpening(1,4px). Maybe if I use different tactics for sharpening I can get better result.
I've written a little about sharpening in previous posts, if you're interested ...
When/How to Best Sharpen a Digital Photograph
Sharpening and Noise Reduction Sequence
If you still have the RAW file I can take a look and see how it processes using my normal workflow if you like.
PS: Still waaaay to much space above the head too (don't worry about maintaining a 2:3 aspect ratio).
But back to your image ...
1. Would be great to see some separation between the black & the black, but
2. Far more noticeable is the models skin - it's VERY plastic looking (and very unnatural looking) - I'm not sure what you're doing to it in processing, but it's something we really need to get sorted (sorry!).