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Thread: In a Dream

  1. #1

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    In a Dream

    I finally feel able to take a look at this picture and try to do something with it.

    In a Dream

    This picture was taken two summers ago at the family cottage. I was getting bitten by the photography bug and was snapping family shots all over the place. This is my nephew Matt I think I caught him unaware after a swim. I never really did anything with these pictures because I didn't have any real post processing software at the time so it was filed away and forgotten about.

    This shot resurfaced because Matt passed away this past March. My sister, Matt's Aunt (who owns the cottage) remembered this picture from the set of pictures I made her from that summer. She said it had something in his expression that touched her, so she sent it to be included in his remembrance video pictures set to music, some of his he was a talented jazz musician and some of his favourite songs.

    Enough time has passed that I feel able to work on the picture without too many breaks to try and put something together for his Mom. I came up with this and I like it I just want to have eyes look at this that are not so emotionally involved and a whole lot more experienced. Ideas are most welcome.

    In a Dream

    Thanks
    Diane

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: In a Dream

    I think that is a very, very good image that you have created, Diane.

    I'm no portraitist and those who are may have some thoughts and ideas. My only comment for your consideration is that he is very much in the centre of the frame. Indeed there is less space at the left (into which he is looking) than at the right (behind him). It might trying some crops at the right so that there is less space there than at the left.

  3. #3

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    Re: In a Dream

    Thanks Donald, I had been wondering if a crop would help I will give it try.

  4. #4

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    Re: In a Dream

    Diane,

    This is a really creative presentation. I really like the tone of the image.

    Rather than use a different crop per se, another alternative worth considering is to increase the size of the canvas by adding space to the left. Even if you do crop some off the right side, I think you should still consider adding space to the left.

    Also consider backing off on the strength of the vignette. Whether or not you do that, at least leave more bright space for Matt to look into before the vignette begins to take effect.

    To be more nit picky, notice that Matt's ear is the brightest part of the image. If you tone down his ear, the viewer will be instantly drawn to his face.

    By the way, I also am not a portrait specialist.

  5. #5

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    Re: In a Dream

    Thanks Mike, I went back and reworked trying to incorporate what you suggested. Donald I cropped from the right.

    In a Dream (take 2)

    In a Dream

    Thanks again
    Diane

  6. #6

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    Re: In a Dream

    That works really well for me. I also like that you eliminated the horizon. The brighter background makes Matt's eyes immediately draw my attention. Well done!

    I just now got an idea: try making the vignette a beige/brown tone. Also perhaps lighten the shadowed area around his eyes.

  7. #7
    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: In a Dream

    Hi Diane,

    Iím truly sorry for the loss of your Nephew. And I understand the importance of this photo.

    So Iíd like to offer to you a comment or two if I may. And I would like for you to take them with a grain of sand.

    When I opened your shot in ACR, I noticed just the slightest blown highlights on Mattís face, and the area around his face is blown bad. When I reduced the highlight for his face, it naturally helped the area immediately surrounding it. Just seemed to make for a little better overall look.

    You have significantly altered his skin tone, eye color, and hair color with your processing. Now if that is what you are looking for then so much the better. I canít say I donít like what you have done.

    I think your new crop is much better and positions Matt much better in the frame.

    The new background works well. I can still see a little of the horizon peeking through. Either way, if you went with the original BG or your new one, the horizon could possibly be straightened if you still have room to do so and get your desired crop. Regardless, the blue and yellow thing at his left (camera right) shoulder should probably stay gone!

    And speaking of shoulders? Mattís shoulders are getting lost in your new BG. Especially his left (camera right) shoulder. If this were mine, I think would try to restore them at least to the point to where it adds a little more definition to the outline and see if I liked it. If not, then just restore and nothing lost!

    I would heal the little blemish on his nose for sure. And the dark spot on his upper cleft between the lip and nose. I agree with Mike on the dark areas around his eyes. The new processing brings these out more than in the original.

    I would do some selective sharpening on the eyes, a tad on the eyebrows, the teeth and lips.

    I would take my burn tool, set it for midtones and at about 7-8%. With a largish soft brush and using broad strokes I would run it across his face, ear, and shoulders. One pass at a time and gradually burning in the mids to suit. Being careful not to get too carried away. Staying away from the lips, teeth, eyes, and eyebrows. (I would also be wary of the dark areas around his eyes with the burn tool. If I hadnít already lightened them by this time I wouldnít want to accentuate them any more.) If needed, and as Mike mentioned, that might be a good time to darken his ear a little more.

    I think I would probably enlarge the catch-lights in his eyes a tad and see how that looked. It might add a little more sparkle!

    Here, I would like to give my opinion on vignettes, Diane. And here is where Iím probably going to get hammered for my trouble! And that's okay too!

    For me, vignettes serve only one purpose. And that is to target the subject. The look of heavy vignette in the corners of a photograph with a large amount of BG showing through before the vignette starts isnít appealing to me for the most part. Sometimes it gives an Olde Timey ďClassicĒ look, but in general I donít want my photos looking like that.

    So I like to bring my vignette in fairly tight around my subjectís face. Feather it quite a bit and make sure the edge is shifted out enough. Adjust opacity such that it (hopefully) isnít so noticeable unless you are looking closely for it. If you add a vignette on a separate layer, you can even take an eraser tool at low opacity and customize (fade) it as needed.

    All these happy comments are just little things, Diane. Your photo of Matt rocks!

    So Iíll just add one last thing and then shut up! I am a huge fan of monochrome portraits. I would suggest that Mattís would make a good candidate for a conversion.

  8. #8

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    Re: In a Dream

    Thanks Terry I really appreciate all the suggestions. These are all things I would miss as my eye is drawn to his face because of the emotion when it comes to this particular picture. I think everything mentioned will definitely improve this image and I will definitely redo might be a little bit of time as my son has the flu (started last night) and I'm putting on my Mom hat right at the moment . My sister Matt's Mom will be in Canada in the summer they live abroad and I want to have this ready for her when she is here so I have lots of time to get it right.

    Thanks again I really appreciate it.

    Diane

  9. #9

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    Re: In a Dream

    Stomach flu crisis over had some time this morning I came up with this version.

    In a Dream (take 3)

    In a Dream

    Thanks
    Diane

  10. #10
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    Re: In a Dream

    I like the way the last one looks for the skin tone but I think the orignal background is better. It sort of gives a reason he is wet and not wareing a shirt. But that is just me.

  11. #11

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    Re: In a Dream

    In the last one, I really dislike the tone of the vignette. So sorry that I suggested it!

    Also in the last one: I now realize that you added a texture to Matt's skin that actually has a repeated pattern in the previous one. I noticed it in the last one because it's more prominent even though it can be seen in both images. That texture doesn't work for me in either photo.

    Yet more about the last one: I really like the tonal relationship (the amount of contrast) between the shadow in Matt's eyes and the rest of the skin. Whatever style you ultimately decide upon, it might be helpful to keep that relationship the same.

    Yet even more about the last one: The skin tone looks the most realistic in the last one. However, considering that you titled the thread, "In a Dream," I need to mention that the more natural skin tone no longer fits that theme, at least not for me.

    If I had to vote right now, I would vote for the second image but using the toned down shadows of the eyes in the last image.

  12. #12

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    Re: In a Dream

    Thanks Mike since I did it I have been wishing I hadn't done the texture so future trials won't have that included. I'm glad you voiced your opinion on the vignette I have been going back and forth about it since I did it. I like it then I don't. I do like his eyes in the last one and the skin tone. I did put it up for the family to see and there have been a couple of requests for a copy of the last version, I think that is due to the eyes. I'm all set to try again, I'm also considering trying Terry's suggestion of monochrome. Thanks for all the help I really appreciate it.

    Diane

  13. #13

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    Re: In a Dream

    Diane,

    Consider the possibility that you are presenting your image to two different markets. One market is Matt's family and friends. The other market is the group of CiC participants, who perhaps are different in that they are regularly exposed to styles of photography that are relatively creative. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Matt's family and friends would prefer the skin tones in the last version because that is how they remember him. Similarly, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that CiC participants, especially those who take the time to post comments in your thread, find your more creative versions refreshingly appealing. So, as you make your decisions, you might want to keep in mind who you are trying to please in a given situation.

  14. #14
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    Re: In a Dream

    Hi Diane (again)!

    I, too, like your last version as far as skin tones and especially the eyes. I like the bit of outline definition you have made with his shoulders in this version too. I kind of noticed a double outline in the previous version.

    I opened your last version in my editor and now I know what I was seeing! I couldnít figure why there were these strange patterns in his face that I wasnít seeing in the other versions. I understand now that you added texture and I guess I didnít even think of that. I really donít see much of that added to the subject in portraits and I have never done it myself. Now, conversely, I have seen a lot of textured backgrounds.

    I was wondering if you took these to print as keepsake quality prints how visible this would be and if you would find that acceptable down the road. I just (maybe wrongly) assumed this shot would be printed for the wall. And maybe in a relatively large size (meaning anything 8x10Ē or larger). So my suggestions were and are presented with this in mind. As Mike possibly intimated, your family might never notice some of the things we are talking about here, but I promise you will every time you see it.

    Just in case you maybe havenít noticed in your latest version? Now I donít really know what you have done as far as creating your new background, but you are getting some ďsmudgingĒ or some kind of background bleeding in his hair directly behind his ear. Your other ďfixesĒ look great. Meaning the blemishes, etc. I also agree with Mikeís considered opinion regarding the relationship of the tones in this version relative to the dark areas under the eyes. But since you are looking at those areas, I know you will deal with them as you see fit in whatever future versions you produce.

    But again, the eyes in this version are very nice and if it were me I would, and always do, pay particular attention to them. They are what makes (or breaks) a portrait. If I may further elaborate on why I think this? The eyes on the previous version have been toned way down somehow and were duller looking than your later copy. The eyes in the latest seem to have a lot more spark. I believe that one the reasons for this is that the iris is lighter, has more tonal difference, and is able to have a bit more contrast between the darks and highlights in the iris. Plus, there is a nice spectral highlight in the lower left ďcornerĒ of his left (camera right) iris that I think adds some spark.

    I actually like the toned vignette with this style of processing. I think it goes nicely. I find that I have to balance a vignette with a light background. If it is too heavy it will become a distraction bringing the eye to the corners of the image and away from the subject. I think more so the further out in the frame from the subject the vignette begins.

    But, when I first saw this version I thought it looked more like you actually lit the background, which is a nice effect. A nice lighting halo around Matt.

    A couple of other suggestions as you have fun with Matt and get to spend time with him on your mind? Which, as an aside, is one of the major reasons I love shooting family and friends. You get to spend extra time with them when you have them up on your computer making their photos the best you can! Very cool!

    Maybe keep an eye toward his hair such that you donít start losing the detail in shadow? And if you go monochrome (or even if you donít really) you can always dodge his hair as the feeling strikes and even emphasize the highlights in it.

    Diane, I just want to say I think you are really tracking with this. You are on to something that you and your Family will really, really love here.

    This is when photography really shines!

    Thank you for allowing us to be a part. (And please accept my apologies for being so windy! )

    Well done Diane!

  15. #15

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    Re: In a Dream

    I heard from Matt's Mom today and she really likes the last one with the brown vignette so I took out the texture and I lightened the brown just a touch for the final. Thank you so much for the guidance I hope the photo will bring my sister, brother in law, and 2 nieces joy when they look at it. This exercise has been very helpful to me as well I think Matt would have really liked this or he would have laughed and said "Oh Aunt Di!"

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    Re: In a Dream

    I have just been reading through this thread and found it very educational. Diane - Really nice work and I love the way you have embraced the suggestions and tried them out.

    I am glad somebody already suggested healing the small blemishes in order to make the image more flattering.

    You have done this young chap proud. Great work.

    Regards.

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