A boy in his temporary house where he lives with his 3 brothers. The house is supposed to be built...

by Ursu Mihail

a boy in his temporary house where he lives with h seeking critique ursu mihail

Gallery: Single Photos

Tags: seeking critique

Category: Journalism

Exif Information:
Model : NIKON D300
Date Time Original : 2010-10-13 15:57:26
Focal Length : 24/1
Exposure Time : 1/50
F Number : 2.8
Iso Speed Ratings : 1250
Metering Mode : 3
Focal Length In35mm Film : 36
Orientation : 1
X Resolution : 300.000000
Y Resolution : 300.000000
Software : Adobe Photoshop CS4 Macintosh

Published: Wednesday 20th of October 2010 06:14:19 PM


George U

Sunt total de acord cu Lex! O prelucrare ulterioara afotografiei ar da un alt efect! Toate cele bune!

Lex Jenkins

I just visited your website on which other photos from this session were hosted.  I can see that it appears the light quality was due to a very bright overcast sky, and diffusion through the fabrics.


In the context of the other photos I wouldn't say the light in this particular photo here on your portfolio appears "fake" or even too bright.  It appears to be an accurate representation of the actual light quality at the time.


I suppose that to some extent our expectations have been conditioned by decades of viewing documentary photography in National Geographic, Life and other magazines.  Those photos were mostly taken using slow color film or only moderately fast b&w film.  As a consequence we have become accustomed to seeing documentary photography of people with a heavy chiaroscuro effect.  Perhaps that familiar style was, in its own way, manipulative and created an excessively romanticized view of life.


Many digital cameras enable us to take photos in lighting that would have been impossible during the days of Kodachrome and Velvia.  The ability to shoot at ISO 800 or higher with little or no noise, and capture more dynamic range than slow speed slide film challenges us to view some types of photography in a different way, without preconceived notions based on earlier styles.


At this point I would hesitate to recommend that you modify your editing in any significant way.  For example, a heavy application of vignetting or other technique to selectively darken the background and create more dramatic lighting on the boy's face might present an ethical problem in terms of accurate photojournalism or documentary photography.  It may be more appealing on a superficial level, but might also be considered excessively manipulative of viewers' emotions.


Under the circumstances you've probably done the best you could with the light available at that time.  Lighting closer to sunrise or sunset might have been more visually interesting, but we don't always get to choose when to take documentary or journalistic photographs.  And even if no single photo stands out on its own merit, when viewed in the context of a photo essay consisting of several photos telling a story, it works pretty well.  You have a good eye for this type of photography and I hope you'll pursue it.

Mihail Ursu
Interesting questions

First, let me thank you for your time and knowledge. I've learned a lot from your posts and comments in the photo.net forum.

You are right, the room was dimly lit but there was a kind of cloth doorway which you can see at the www.noillusions.net site and then another cloth doorway to the exterior. I held one and the other one was open, so there was a streak of light coming from both and that was the light i used here.

I did have a flash on my camera and I thought about trying to fill the room a bit, but then decided it would look fake, also I didn't feel like I had the time to adjust it to look proper.

Regarding the light and how it affects the story behind the picture, it is very interesting because this was a discussion I had at my university today (i study cinematography) and honestly I do not know now how I could have done it differently, except with the flash, but I do understand that it looks fake even though it isn't and that is a flaw.

If you have any editing suggestions, please tell me. I am not good with post processing.

Thank you again.

Lex Jenkins

How do you feel about the quality of the light in this photo? Does it convey the mood, atmosphere or message you intended, or believed was appropriate for the situation?


I ask because I don't know anything about the circumstances. I see the technical information and EXIF data, which indicates no flash was used and a high ISO was necessary to make this exposure. The EXIF data indicates a fairly dim scene: ISO 1250, 1/50th @ f/2.8; that's around EV 5, roughly equivalent to a typical dimly lighted indoor home. But this lighting and exposure gives the impression of very bright light coming from a single source, either an off camera flash, a bright light from outside the area in which the boy is seated, or some other source.


So I'm wondering whether this exposure reflects how you actually saw the scene at the time? Does it either accurately convey the actual lighting at the scene, or, alternatively, does it convey the interpretation you intended?


The photo itself is technically okay. It appears sharp and "well exposed" within a purely clinical context. But given the scenario you've described - a boy isolated in a cluttered area, homeless due to some misfortune - I'm wondering whether the choice of exposure and light works for or against this photo.  Since you were there you would be in the best position to decide and help the viewer to interpret the scene you witnessed.

Mihail Ursu
Thank you Lex

I am trying to remain in the field of documentary film making and photography but as time passes i find it harder and harder.


Mihail Ursu
Floods and people suffering a boy living with his 3 brothers in a temporary house while the house that was destroyed by floods is being rebuilt.

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