Rifqi's photo

My photographic journey

It’s time for another installment of my new humorous shots and this time I have mixed feelings. I think there are several aspects in these shots that can be improved so lets pick them apart and see what we can learn.

First of all I have to say that you really need to check out the larger version of these shots to see how cute my daughter is – seriously, I know babies are usually rather ugly but mine really is cute, promise. When you’re done marvelling at the cuteness, take a minute to consider what could be improved in the shot. I have trouble putting my finger on what it really is that keeps these shots from being as good as I had hoped. However, there are some specific areas where I can see possible improvements.

Some of the issues could perhaps have been helped by more time. I know, I keep mentioning time as a problem but it really is. Sure, I can set everything up before I bring my models into the scene but I have to use myself as a test subject and I can’t be in more than one place at the time. Consider this: after I set everything up, the whole shoot took around 20 minutes, and that included a 10 minute break to get some cookies out of the oven (mmm, cookies…), time that I used to move a light (though of course I couldn’t test it before my models were back). In other words the effective shooting time was just over 10 minutes and most of that time was used to try to trick the little one into standing where she was supposed to.

Let’s have a look at the setup and discuss things from there. The photographer was positioned under the umbrella in a slightly cramp inducing contortion.

The first thing I would have liked to vary more is the fill light, the LP160 in umbrella. In particular I would have liked to try the scene with more fill light; it would be more consistent with the previous shots in this series and I think it would produce a better look. The reason I started out with the fill stopped down so much was that I wanted my wife to look really tired and worn out while keeping more light on the little tornado. I thought that would give a nice contrast but something about it just doesn’t click with me.

A helping handNext up for scrutiny is the LP160 with softbox and ctb gel hanging in the window. For some reason this light didn’t really add much to the scene. Perhaps I was too concerned with making sure I didn’t get spill light from it on the background. Actually I think this light would have been better at the other side of the frame as a rim light for the little one. It would help eliminate some shadows on the right side and keep things bright and nice while not really losing much on the left side. Again, time and the willingness of my models was an issue. Even though the light itself didn’t work very well, I have to say that I was pretty pleased with the placement of it. If nothing else it looks kind of funny with a flash hanging in the window.

The other lights (two gridded YN560s) seem to do their job fairly well. The one coming in from camera left also has some cto gel to give the scene more separation.

Another thing that I can’t really decide if it’s a problem or not is the composition. I like the low angle because it makes the little one look bigger, since she’s closer to the camera and the wide angle exaggerates the perspective. However, the low angle also means that the mess on the floor isn’t shown very well, which is a bit of a shame since I had intended for that to be one of the key elements of the scene. It would also have been nice to try it with the little one in front of the vacuum (actually I even wanted her to sit on the vacuum) – good luck with that though, it was difficult enough just to get her to stay in the frame; at one point she walked over to me and climbed up on my back…not helpful.

So, those are some of the things nagging me about these shots. I still think they’re ok, just not as good as I would have hoped. With any luck I’ll learn something from it though, so that next time I’ll have improved and the results will be more to my liking. Let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions about what could be improved.

Join Rifqi’s photo on google+ to take part in more in depth discussion.


Peace offering A helping hand

4 Responses to “Always something to learn”

  1. Matthew Kunce

    I love the fact that you share your whole process and how you are analyzing your photo, Thanks for sharing. Looking at the larger version I want the background even a bit darker, and a bit more light on the mess as well. The low angle is great but some of the mess seems to get lost since it is darker than the two main subjects. Great shot. I think it is so cool that your family will let you do shots like this.

    • Rifqi

      Well, about them letting me do these shots, it’s more that I sulk if they don’t let me so they don’t have much choice :p I’m glad you like reading about the whole process since that’s what the blog is about. It’s also one of the reasons I usually don’t use very large images in the posts; the focus is on the discussion, there are other ways to show off the photos.

      I think one of the problem with making the background darker is that it makes the main lights look harsher, which isn’t the look I want, at least not for the little one. Maybe if I had a big softbox so I could control the light and keep it on the right side of the frame, leaving the left side dark. That way I could get the moodier look for my wife while still avoiding the harsh look on the muppet. An umbrella would be useless in this situation since it spills light all over the place. I’ve actually been doing research for a big softbox so maybe next time.


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