Suggestions for editing our xmas card picture?

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by shane_hughes, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. I was wondering if some of you editors out there could lend me a hand with some suggestions on how i could edit this further. I have already done some minor cosmetic edits, but nothing that really makes this stand out. Any suggestions are appreciated.
    Also, though it may be too late to take this years pictures again, if you have critiques on setup/positioning/lighting for next year I welcome those as well. But mostly looking on how to improve the photo I am using for this years cards.
    Thank you in advance =)
  2. It's not very sharp. And your eyes are closed.
    All the orange stands out. All the red stands out.
    Do some Photoshop peroxide on teeth.
  3. Hi Shane, I thought cropping it might reduce the cluttered look and a B/W treatment gets rid of the excess red. See below:
  4. No edit can not save that picture, Sorry, just an honest, if blunt, answer.
  5. Why did you shoot that at ISO 800 and f/10? Also, it is really hard to look at with what seems (I hope) way too much compression. If the base image looks like that, I'd just reshoot it.
  6. Hi everyone, thank you for responding so quickly. And now to go down the list of responses =)

    Richard, it does seem to be quite soft, I'm not sure if that is from the compression i did to upload here or not? Also, it is literally impossible for me to open my eyes if i smile, the smile pushes up my cheeks. and by the red and oranges standing out, that is kind of what i had originally been going for, but from the sounds of it, it sounds like i over did it? i'll include the original which is not nearly as saturated. and the teeth, i did whiten the teeth some already, but didn't want to pull a ross and have them glow in the dark, but you think i should up it still more?
    Michael, I really like the crop, i'll run that by the wife and see what she thinks. I will probably stay away from black and white on this one as being an xmas pic i want to iterate the "autumn" feel with color.
    Frank, while i appreciate the response, it was not very helpful. That is fine if you think it is a bad picture, but as i stated earlier it is too late to retake at this point. so if you are going to include that bit of opinion, i would also appreciate some tips on how to make it "better" than what it is.
    Joel, the ISO is just plain a mistake. We were done for the day and heading back to the car out of the cold with a cranky wife and daughter who wanted to be done when i saw this spot. I convinced them to do one more shot and rushed it. But you are 100% correct, absolutely no need for iso 800. also, again i did compress it quite a bit (and this original) to post it here.
    Thanks again for all the help so far! please keep throwin them at me =)
  7. Agree with Michael. Horrible distracting background. There is nothing interesting in that image except the faces. Fill the frame with the faces!
  8. In order to fix this, I would need a shot of you with your eyes open in similar light.
  9. gdw


    For gosh sakes, it's a Christmas card picture--not something to hang over the fireplace. It is bright, cheerful, colorful—very much in the spirit of the season--and it's not going to be sent to a bunch of technogeeks for analysis of the EXIF data. It will receive many more oooohs and aaaahs than it will OMGs. It is very much a feel good photograph of a happy, smiling family, what more could you ask to spread the joy of the season? In the first place critiquing a photograph without considering content or intent is silly. Shane, if you were a relative of mine I would be very pleased to receive this in a card—just as it is. Merry Christmas!
  10. Okay, so it appears as though there is a lot more wrong with this picture than i thought. I posted thinking that i would get a few "fun idea" edits out of it that I wasn't coming up with, but have since learned it is basically trash, technically speaking. By the way, thank you Gary for the insightful words =) they were very uplifting, especially after reading so much nega, err constructive criticism.
    I may sound bitter, but I think that is just because it's early =p I really do appreciate EVERYONE taking time out of their own lives and viewing/critiquing this. I realized what i was asking for when i posted it, just maybe not what i would receive. =p
    But due to the numbers of "Its a tosser" vs "its not bad, maybe just fix a couple of things", what about this other picture as an alternative? as a heads up, it is intentionally over exposed, the wife wanted to get that "dreamy/bright" look. What was not intentional was the ISO again, I thought i had it auto ISO with a max of 800, but must have had it set to 800. anyways, i'm a little hesitant to open myself up to a whole new round of "omg, you would consider showing that to someone?!" i must do it in the name of the holidays =p
    so let me have it, but again, please include at least one item you would fix to make it better for every "it's a terrible picture, just toss it" comment please =)
    Thank you all again!
  11. While I agree with Gary that it's a fine picture of a happy family and would do OK as is I also agree with some of the advice that you might want to try next year. A darker green background might be nice to help the people and their red clothes pop even more. I would shoot at the lowest ISO my camera can do if it is tripod mounted (as I assume it was). I'd also tuck in my shirt.
  12. Thank you Jim! this is EXACTLY the type of advice i am looking for =)
    Green is not hard to come by up here in the NW with so many evergreen pines, so I will definitely be thinking on that for next year. If we wanted to do another "Fall" type picture with Oj's and reds, perhaps we should wear different color sweaters? And yes, it was tripod mounted, and I will most assuredly make it as low as an ISO as i can next time. Lastly, I let my wife do the "costumes" as i will call them =p but now that you mention it, the untucked look may not be the best for this type of picture.
    Thanks again Jim =)
  13. To Jim's advice I'd add -- move the people further from the background. Use fill flash (I like -1) to add a little overall specularity, contrast and color fidelity to the foreground.
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
  14. I would go with B&W and crop even tighter, from just under the woman's right arm to just over the man's head. Then go into unsharp mask and book the sharpenss as much as you can without making it look artificial. I've seen much, much worse than this on Christmas cards.
  15. IMO the most important part of any portrait-type picture is the eyes, and the most important feature of the eyes is that they be visibly wide open. Granted that a subject's wearing glasses makes that more difficult. But I think you need to shoot (or reshoot) with the lighting conditions such that everyone's eyes are fairly wide open, not squinting or blinking.
    As for the glasses, somebody else can probaby give a more definitive suggestion, but I suspect you will have less touble if the glasses are relatively 'square' with the camera, this is, the glasses are parallel to the plane of focus / not at an oblique angle. But my wife and my dad both wear glasses most of the time, so I have the same issues.
    As for blinking, those who have suggested fill flash have a point, but on many modern systems, you get pre-flashes that can have people blinking when the main flash fires / the picture is taken. That's one reason I like my trusty old Sunpak 383 Super: no preflashes. I can either set it and the camera on compatible settings, or I can set it manually and use a flash meter. Either way, it only fires once.
  16. Wow, what a turn around with suggestions. Excellent advice I must say, though maybe I shouldn't have posted a second picture, as now I'm not sure which advice pertains to which picture.
    Henry, if you are referring to the 1st pose or the "red" photo, do you mean we should stand farther away from the wooden fence and foliage? If so that is an interesting way of doing it, I set us up there to try to get a "cozy theme" but standing farther out from it might employ the area to be more of a background than a theme/scene if that makes any sense? interesting thought though.
    Hi Craig, I am assuming you are referring to shot #2? M. Chang had also suggested something similar for shot #1, but I want to retain as much color as possible for the xmas card, but cropping is definitely an option at this point, thank you for the input.
    And Dave, I agree with you about the eyes 110%. Eyes to me are by far the most interesting thing of any portrait. But alas, I am, and will always be plagued with mine not being visible, with or without glasses. It truly is impossible for me to smile and show my eyes, even without smiling they are very very narrow. I did try to time the picture right so that the sun was semi behind the clouds so that we did not have squint while taking the shot, but that timing has to also line up with getting a 3 yr old smiling which is tough to say the least. In fact, on the second photo I posted, the "yellow" one, I had to photo shop the little one's eyes in from another picture because she was looking to the far left.
    So thank you again for such wonderful feedback, this is what I was looking to get out of this forum to the T.
    And I apologize, but hindsight being 20/20, could I ask that you list which photo you are referencing, and/or which one you would suggest is the better photo to use for a Christmas card, for future posts?
    Thank you in advance! =)
  17. I don't know what is with all the high-and-mighty attitude today. I think your original photo is fine. It is a Christmas card; get over it, guys. Aunt Norma loves to get Christmas cards where everybody is dressed up in red in front of red leaves with a red barn. Also, if Shane can't help but squint his eyes, lay off of him. My dad is the same way. Maybe if we got Shane some Clockwork Orange-style eyelid openers we could see his irises, but that wouldn't be too pretty either.
    Shane: here is a quick edit of your photo with reduced saturation, cropped, some curves, color correction by choosing the gray on your shirt as neutral, and a small vignette/gaussian blur around the edges to lessen the distracting background.
  18. Shane
    Like most of the other posters, I think the first image was just fine. For my own taste, I never like the background to be stronger than the subject matter....
    You have a beautiful family, so I would sharpen the image and add just a little more saturation to the subjects and tone down the background, matching the colors at your feet.
    Where do I send the invoice? :)
  19. Hehe Danny, I appreciate the backup =) and excellent edits, those are the types of examples that I was looking to get out of this. I have tried to figure out with Paintshop, how to select a neutral grey/white/black for the program to do it's own calibration. Also I realize this isn't a tutorial thread, but for the gaussian edging, did you create a new layer and apply the gaus. blur to that, then just use a soft eraser to erase all but the edges on that layer? or is there a faster/better way that I'm not aware of?
    LOL Phil, skip the invoice, I'll just send you a blank check =p. But really, I LOVE the edited version, is that background one that you took yourself? the colors you chose do seem to work perfectly with that scene. I will look through some of my scenery shots to see if I have something I can use for a similar result =) I will at least take your suggestion for the subject matter, to make us stand out more.
    I would also have to say, thank you to all again for such helpful and constructive feedback thus far. My mood has done almost a complete 180 with this thread. It is nice to see that all is not lost, and in fact, looking at a few of the examples that have been provided, I may be able to salvage this into a decent portrait shot.
    Thank you =)
  20. Shane
    A blank check, WOW. My kind of client. Anyhoo, if you like that version and you can't find a background you like better...feel free to use that one. Happy Holidays..just add snow
  21. Well I appreciate that Phil =) but besides the fact that I wouldn't want to use your work like that without being able to give proper credit (though I could put it in bold across the picture "partial credit to Phil Hardy", I think it would lack that certain something that Christmas cards should have =p), it is also still a compressed version that I would be trying to use. So I'll probably have to pass, but I'll take the offer itself as an early Christmas present =p
  22. Hi Shane,
    my edits. Cropped tight, sharpened some and adjusted the saturation and temperature a little. Hope its worth it from your perspective
  23. Danny, overall, I don't think people are being "high-and-mighty"; they're offering advice. Shane wrote in his original post, "[T]hough it may be too late to take this years pictures again, if you have critiques on setup/positioning/lighting for next year I welcome those as well." Some of us have done this sort of picture more than a few times, and often have learned lessons the hard way.
    Shane, I understand about kids, poses, and 'the moment'. I've got four kids; the older two are pretty manageable, but my four-year-old is a challenging subject, and my youngest (who will be two months on Saturday) of course at best gives you brief and unpredictable moments of photogenic behavior! Good luck.
  24. There are a bunch of free templates online. I don't remember where I got this one, but I Googled free Christmas card PSD templates and I found this one. I was looking for something a little more green to offset all the red, but I didn't see a ton of them in my quick search. Just an idea...
  25. Shane... A very nice Christmas card picture that is just what the friends and relatives want... a picture of your family looking natural. I've attached another version that is slightly different that others. Not to say mine is better, just another version. First cropping to 5x7 since that's the size of many cards, white/black point settings, light level adjustments and some (hopefully) subtle vignetting, and slight overall sharpening. Anyway, an early Merry Christmas to y'all... Mike
    P.S. Actually, David's card above is excellent and much better than mine.
  26. Wow, thank you everyone for all the excellent advice and examples! You have been so helpful, and I think I can go in and rework this to create a much better shot now thanks to this thread. Also, a special thanks to those who gave that extra bit of lengthy advice or took the time out to work up an example of how you would edit it, I really appreciate all that time you put into into it for a complete stranger.
    I hope everyone has a merry Christmas, and even though it seems that the advice has hit a plateau, I will still keep an eye on this thread for future posts.

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