Wedding Critique of the Week (Available Light 2) 9/6/10

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by picturesque, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. This week's image (Available Light theme) was taken by David Schilling.

    This is Part 2 of Wedding Photo of the Week. You can see all submissions in the thread with that title. In your critiques - include what you would do to improve the shot or why the shot is perfect as it is.

    Remember that this is not a contest. Sometimes an image will be a winning image and sometimes an image that needs some help. Try not to just say "great shot" but explain why it works. Or - "Doesn't do it for me" without explaining why.

    The photographer up for critique for this week should remember that the comments expressed each week are simply "opinions" and the effort and focus of these threads are to learn and to take images to another level. There will be times where the critique is simply members pointing out why the shot works which is also a way for others to learn about what aspects contribute to a good wedding photo. In reading all critiques -- you may agree or disagree with some points of view - but remember that there are varying approaches and often no right or wrong answer.
    David's Notes: B/G pose augmented with some fill flash. Speedlight mounted on bracket over the lens.
  2. I feel this image looks a little flat and slightly underexposed. A little adjustment with levels and I think it would make it really pop.
    I do like how she isn't that close to him, it gives it a flirty teasing feel.
  3. Her dress is rather burnt out and bright, especially compared to her face. It is raw and jars with the tones in the rest of the image. I find the slightly sloping background a bit disturbing, gives the feeling of the bride falling backwards and him falling onto her - which might make a good photo though... Her skin tones are just a bit too dark and mucky, and generally the tones are bit too sombre for me. It's not helped by the vignette and black border. Black borders built into digi images have an association of amateur camera clubs for me anyway.
    On the plus side, the pose is not too stiff, but might be better if he jumped on top of her like he looks like he wants to do. Only half-joking.
  4. David, that's a nice relaxing picture of a beautiful couple! :) yet i have a couple of notes on it: 1. seems that you have overdone with contrast. was it in RAW? i am not sure you needed fill flash so much. 2. you could have improve the composition by choosing a place without that lonely cropped tree, placing bride closer to her groom (she seems to get away from him) and involving a more even (concerning the light) background. :)
  5. The thing that first caught my eye is the mis-match in colour temperature. The left side of the frame and the treeline has
    soft, warm light typical of a summer evening. The right side of the frame is cold, almost blue light, especially on the
    groom's face where he's lit by flash. A CTO gel would have warmed the flash exposure to give a consistent feel to both
    sides of the frame. (Or in post with a blended white balance).

    I also wonder what the image is trying to say. It has two good looking people, a nice setting and a summer evening. I want
    it to say romantic, sensual, carefree. But to do that it needs a lot more light; in fact, a moderate over-exposure would have
    produced a very different picture - light-hearted, warmer - with a real glow from the bride's face. The slight underexposure
    has led to loss of detail in the groom's legs and torso, making the overall feel slightly cold and at odds with the subject and

    The posing is excellent and appears relaxed and natural. This could have been a really strong picture - and still could be if
    it were processed slightly differently.
  6. David, can you send me the original so i could try to make it my way? :)
  7. I would echo what's already been said, it's a lovely shot, and I wouldn't mind the blue colour so much if I thought it was
    taken with late dusk light, although even then I would warm him up a bit, but the background shows that it's taken earlier in
    the day so the coldness slightly jars. If the exposure was lifted it would also lighten the blacks slightly which I find too
    heavy particularly on the right. However the first thing I noticed was the vignette, I hate it when a vignette is so obvious, I
    use them occasionally to frame an image, but try to blend them so you don't look at the image and immediately think, 'oh
    they've added a vignette', which to my mind breaks the spell of the image. Having said all that it's a nice pose of a
    handsome couple..R
  8. If you are going to do posed works, this is how it's done. While it is hard to get any posed subject to be uncontrived looking, this pose is structured and well designed, yet fluid and natural. Her relaxed posture, the Groom's hand, the expressions, the lay of the dress all contribute to this. Kudos to David for getting a Bride to sit on the grass in her precious dress.
    I do agree that the darkish and cool post processing takes away for the image rather than adds to it. But that's the advantage of digital ... don't like it? Do it again.
    Subjectively, I'm not a fan of sloping horizons, especially ones that cut the image in half ... nor trees growing out of subjects ... which sometimes just can't be avoided. I decided a long time ago that if I do a contrived posed shot, then I can do anything I want to it later because it isn't real anyway, it's manufactured fantasy. So if (IMO) Mother Nature put a tree in the wrong place, I remember that Adobe also gave me Photoshop to get rid of it ... LOL!
    Here's my subjective take ... exposure lifted, warmed up, selective use of content aware fill to add more environment and remove the tree (in seconds) ... as best I can do with a sub 1 meg jpeg.
  9. Here is my take. Curves, colour balancing and localized dodging
  10. This image was taken at a local country club/golf course so much of the scenery included sand traps, artificial elements such as posts, pathways, etc... I was also limited by time, we had just arrived for the reception and I had 15 minutes to use which included the walk out & back. I prefer working with a slope when I can as it helps to position the horizon line in a more appealing manner. This was in open shade about a half hour before sunset with the camera facing West into a late September sun with most of the sun blocked by the trees/bushes f/7.1, 1/100th sec., 400 ISO, direct flash mounted on bracket. Here's the original without the vignette and paper toning on the original which also includes some bare grass spots & twigs if anyone would like to play with the PS tweaks and effects. Thanks for all the comments.
  11. I see it in 2 versions.:)
  12. i flipped the couple to show how i would have done. to mee it seems more balanced now. and without that lonely cropped tree the pic gains.:) what do you think?
  13. An interesting effort at PP, although his wedding ring is now on the wrong hand...
    I really like the pose, very natural and a bit different. They also have a genuinely happy look in their faces, and there is a certain intensity in the way they're looking at each other. They were obviously very comfortable with you. I find posing the hardest thing to do.
    Maybe a bit more light in the face of the bride, and a tad more detail in the blacks and whites, that's all I'd do.
  14. I think the picture is pretty dark and found the tree a little distracting too as it looks like it is growing out of his arm, I warmed the picture up a bit too, here is my version.
  15. Sorry I should have taken the original in your last submission David without the blurring, I cropped it too so tight to erase it as it didn't look right when I increased the exposure.
  16. This is a beautiful picture as it is. I think most of the comment, even though there are some valid observations, are on the nitpicking side. The image works as it is. Nice contrast. The dress is white because it is solid white: what can you do? The faces are clear, the composition is lovely, the couple is not too distant in my opinion: I give it a strong thumbs up.
  17. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    i flipped the couple to show how i would have done. to mee it seems more balanced now. and without that lonely cropped tree the pic gains.:) what do you think?
    It puts the Groom's Wedding Ring on the wrong hand, (for his culture or belief).
    I understand the boutonnière is never worn on the coat's right lapel, in any culture - it looks odd.
  18. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    When I looked at the image for critique this week, my first reaction was "it is too cold" – and also that such was unusual for David’s work. I am used to seeing (immaculate) portraiture using predominately Flash as Key and Fill, or Dominate Fill.
    But then I thought about the criterion for this weeks POW:
    “Remember--the subject must be lit primarily by available light.”
    and I realized that the “Available Light” at the time, was indeed captured.
    Considering that we have in excess of 100 posts on the accompanying “Have you seen the Light” thread I find it interesting that we have not discussed in any depth the value or the misappropriation of significantly manipulating the available light, in which we choose to make the original capture.
    Given that the original was obviously taken in open shade with the sun close to the horizon, the subtle chill of the night air begins to intrude. There is only soft light.
    In this regard, if it is to accord with AL capture - I disagree with the zealous use of PP to make the image look as if it is a Spring or Autumn Day and the couple are basking in filtered 2:00pm sunlight.
    The connectivity between the couple is warm enough.
    The warmth of the sunset on the trees in the background left is a little annoying and perhaps intrusive: if anything that area could be cooled to keep it in kilter with the whole.
    To be no less than blunt, the tree trunk behind the Groom annoys me. It would annoy me much more if I had pulled that shot. I am having a second guess here . . . that was a mistake made under the pressure of time. I would remove the tree trunk.
    I have commented separately on the flipping.
  19. I'm not really a fan of flipping a photo and the groom's boutonnière really looks out of place as William mentions above......
    As I look at this image and critique it myself, I wish I had used a bit more power from the flash. What would have been ideal would be to move the flash away from the camera pointed at an angle to the couple and feathered just a tad off the bride's dress. The image was shot almost 5 years ago in jpg, however there is detail in the tux and nothing is blown. Print film would have given me more latitude but for digital I was pretty happy with this. Most of this wedding was covered with print film, btw. I agree the image would look better without the tree but every area in this location was a question of trade-offs between the background visuals and the burned/barren grass spots.....a little to the left was icky and a little to the right was icky-er.
    To give you an idea of how directional and specular the sun was, I have attached another digital pic taken from the West looking East. You can see the direct light from the sun contrasted with the shadows over the couple's shoulder on the trees behind them. I used fill flash, & got some nice fill but the light was too hot to avoid blowing out the sky. The film print was acceptable though.
  20. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "i flipped the couple to show how i would have done. . .
    David, I have been thinking more about this:
    Perhaps Rusla meant "this is how I would have posed them in that setting" as opposed to "this is how I would PP this image"
  21. Could be WW, but I'm pretty old school and almost always pose the groom to camera right which matches the traditional groom's side of the church and puts the boutonnière on the outside area of the center frame.
    For anyone that wanted them posed closer to each other, I did capture the obligatory kiss. (The groom's foot isn't amputated in the original image but the frame was tilted and I lost some feet area when I straightened the horizon).
  22. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "almost always pose the groom to camera right which matches the traditional groom's side of the church and puts the boutonnière on the outside area of the center frame."


  23. Kiss image sans tree..........
  24. There is a highlight on the Groom's forehead that anymore flash power would might have become more problematic in my opinion, any global adjustments can't be done here as the dress is nicely exposed and without getting into masks etc I think the easy answer to correct the white balance.
    This was just one click in Lightroom3 I think it's what the picture needs, as William mentioned it is a little too cold.
  25. William, you are quite right - i don't mean just a simple flip nor changing ring finger. That was how i would have posed the couple at the beginning. :) David, i am very old school too so i was embarrassed by the way you placed the couple. Well, if you and your couple are happy - what more can i be thinking of? i've had some PP tricks about your pic to express my idea, sorry to waste your and my time...:)
  26. I think it would be improved by taking out the tree and warming the colour. The pose and expressions are excellent
  27. Overall, I like this composition/pose.
    Here's how mine might look, really nothing new added, except some re-sodding in the foreground.
  28. I like the mood that the original creates. I think to over warm and lighten it too much destroys that late afternoon quality of light. Maybe just some little touches would do? Here's a poor attempt including some straightening, though the grass line doesn't really bother me, and poor attempt at cloning out the tree with just a small amount of local brightness and warming to keep focus on the faces which by the way, are really good. You really got great expression and feeling. They both seem to be enjoying the idea of him pouncing on her on the spot :)
  29. Got to say that of all the versions, I prefer the original it looks a lot more like real life.
    I know we as photographers have photoshop, but we don't always have to use it.
  30. Steve, we have to use it if the original has unbalanced pose, dull light and poor placement of the couple.
  31. I appreciate everyone's comments, enjoyed seeing the different PS versions and am glad that the image elicited as many comments as it did. Part of my agenda in presenting this image was to suggest that fill flash doesn't need to be obvious and that it can actually add some measure of "pop" and extra specularity to the subjects. The couple would look just as attractive without the extra fill but I also think that the overall light would look dull without it as well. Because of the wide open shade, reflectors would have proved of little value. I'm also happy that in spite of the thin latitude of light tolerance digital affords, I avoided any blown highlights while retaining some details in the shadows. The pose was purposeful, I first placed the bride and fluffed/messed the dress for the somewhat crumpled look to give the dress some details/highlites/shadows. I kneeled and demonstrated the pose for the groom before he joined the bride on the ground and ensured that I had a nice profile of their faces for the camera. To really see this image in it's best light you'd need to see the job my pro-lab did with a large print :)
    It's rare That I ever take portraits of people outside and not use some flash (typical example: . IMO, it's handy, dandy, available, and predictable. I'm also likely one of those "bread & butter" style shooters that tend to rely on tried & true formulas when shooting weddings and generally reluctant to experiment with lighting at a paid wedding shoot. A current master with flash, available light, and creative use of light IMO is Parker Pfister. One of the best bridal portraits that I've ever seen was taken by Parker using a $25 deer spotlight purchased at Walmart. Be sure to catch his wedding coverage on the Photovision instructional DVDs if you get the chance (his people skills and personality also creates a style apart from his photography that must be seen to be appreciated).
  32. David, sorry to come late to the party--it's been a busy week for me.
    My eyes love late afternoon light. My camera, not so much. It lacks the mind's remarkable ability to assimilate warm and cool tones into a cohesive image. In David's image, the cool blues of open shade and the warm golden afternoon sunlight are both present. The bride and groom are bathed in blues and reflected greens--not the most flattering tones for light skin. Additionally, the f7.1 aperture has rendered plenty of detail in the foreground grass--which is not in good condition.
    The good news is the classic pose and lovely energy between the B&G. My compliments on getting this shot within tight time constraints.
    I've done a few adjustments to give the image a more consistent tone, one which is in keeping with the classic portraiture look of the pose. I've also done a bit of PhotoShop groundskeeping with the grass and tree behind.
  33. Thanks David, I agree with your observations and am smiling that the discussion centers on the cool light in combination with the warm light while the flash lighting is tertiary. My pro-lab did a better job with color control than I did, but then, they always do :)
  34. I think there's so little discussion of the fill flash technique in this shot simply because you got it right. Less fill and the faces may have been shadowy; more fill and the dress would have blown out, and facial features would have been modeled less naturally. It's difficult to offer a critique, or even a compliment on something which, if done correctly, shouldn't be noticed at all... as is in this image.

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