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Photograph Information Photographer's Comments
Challenge: Failure (Basic Editing III)
Camera: Canon EOS-20D
Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Location: Abandoned Workshop - Bloomington, CA
Date: May 19, 2006
Aperture: f/4.5
ISO: 100
Shutter: 1.0 sec
Galleries: Emotive, Persuasive
Date Uploaded: May 22, 2006

I had several ideas about what to shoot for the "failure" challenge, but the general theme of drug abuse captivated me more than other ideas. Knowing several people whom have fallen prey to drug addiction and seeing how it tore apart their lives has led me to believe that there are very few things that epitomize failure more than giving into drug addiction.

The main source of foreground light is the lit candle on the table. To further emphasize the power and destruction contained in the syringe, a small flashlight with an amber gel was set up outside the right edge of the frame to add a glow to the tip.

I wanted a noticeable color contrast between the warm tones of the candle and heroin paraphernalia on the table and my "junkie model" in the background. To achieve this, another friend of mine put a blue gel over my portable spotlight and pointed it towards the ceiling near the back of the room. This provided that cool blue cast.

My post-processing usually involves Noise Ninja, but I actually decided to leave that step out this time because I wanted the shot to look as gritty as possible. I used adjustment layers for Hue/Saturation, Brightness/Contrast, and Levels. The most important adjustment was completely desaturating the reds in the photo. The disadvantage to using a candle for lighting is that it gives off a very red glow to everything. This resulted in the original photo having a heavy red cast to the junkie's hand and the table. As soon as I desaturated the reds, the glow went away and the hand took on a rough, gritty appearance (which is exactly what I wanted for the shot). This shot was actually a blast to shoot. I'm lucky that I have very patient friends that put up with my photo obsession. :)

Place: 41 out of 129
Avg (all users): 5.5759
Avg (commenters): 6.6364
Avg (participants): 5.1923
Avg (non-participants): 5.6919
Views since voting: 1103
Views during voting: 336
Votes: 224
Comments: 17
Favorites: 0

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09/05/2006 07:42:13 AM

To this recovering addict, this hits hard!!!

The sharpness of the "tools of the trade" in the foreground with the blurring, of the addict, as well as the photo is very significant IMHO.

VERY good work!

You're right in that drug abuse tears up lives.....it tears up families, friends, your work.....I've lost too many people to addiction, but then haven't we all.

I have so far been graced with not having a relapse, and try fervidly not to after two years clean.

One thing that my new lease on life has done is seriously sharpen my "eye" and my mind.....the perspective I have now enables me to see subjects and photographs with my heart as well as my eyes.

And this pic, to my eyes that have seen too much, is outstanding!

So.....though I missed this challenge, I submit this comment anyway.

Livin' life for the first time....
On my second chance!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
07/28/2006 03:36:41 PM
Wow... powerfully emotive for me, and great lighting choices. I love it. I like the focus on the needle tip, despite the way the candle pulls our attention to the lower right. I keep looking back and forth, then sometimes back at the guy's face. That really drives the message of the photograph home for me. The paraphernalia are a fine addition, and give us a cluttered messy impression to go with his clothes and the cap over hs eyes. Blue light is a great decision, and the long shadows and the deep contrast make the mood. Depth of field is very effective.

It's not gritty enough. I appreciate that you didn't use your usual workflow so that it could "look as gritty as possible", but there's not enough. I think this is one picture that would really benefit from some added noise. I would have really made this noisy, and, despite how great the colours are, I may have chosen duotone to enhance the effect. If it were advanced editing, I may also have added additional noise on the table and drug stuff via a gradient masking layer. And, if it were not a challenge at all, I would have added a texture layer of some kind using overlay or darken to hit the viewer over the head with it all. (I know not everyone likes that technique, but it really enhances certain photos in my opinion.)

I think it scored lower only because of voters' weak stomachs. In my view, this is a superior photograph. Really awesome, congratulations.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
07/28/2006 03:17:44 PM
I like the contrast between the warm and cool colors. Composition is a bit off but can be fixed easily. Very emotive, good job.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
06/05/2006 06:35:00 PM

::: Critique Club :::

Hi, my name is Kari and from the critique club.

First Impression - the most important one:
heavy ... but that is the impression you want from a shot like this.

Its ok .. and it works for this shot ...the table hits the horizontal thirds ... but I think the spoon should maybe have been set to hit both the horizontal and vertical lines of thirds ... to just entice a little more for the eye.

Yeah .. this one certainly meets the challenge. its a pity really that it happens.

Technical (Colour and light):
The candle has flared at the wrong moment and wiped the detail from that portion of the picture. DOF is good .. we really wouldn't want to see his face anyways. I like the colours that you have pulled from this shot.

To grow its vote?:
Think a little more about the photography rules when setting up a shot ... this will help in accessing the layouts that you are creating.

Good picture ... a bit of gritty realism never killed anyone :)

If you've got any questions about this critique, please feel free to contact me via
the PM system.


  Photographer found comment helpful.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
05/30/2006 06:22:31 PM
This should get a 10 for meeting the challenge (all the way around), but the picture bothers me; but then I guess that's what it's supposed to do.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/30/2006 01:48:33 AM
Good capture of the theme and use of lighting/glow to really show our subject.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/28/2006 04:30:41 PM
A bunch of thesee but several work including this one
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/28/2006 01:24:22 AM
Sad, but very vivid and emotive image of a tragic escape from reality. The lighting, tone, and ominous mood of this image speaks volumes. Well done!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/27/2006 01:09:43 AM
Looks like the real thing.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/25/2006 08:09:56 PM
I see the failure very well, but I'd like to see a bit different composition. The depth of field is nice, but centering the focus really leaves nowhere for the viewer's eye to go.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/25/2006 06:49:49 PM
well done !!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/25/2006 11:36:16 AM
relapse certainly is a failure but the fire is too distracting and takes alot from the mood of the pic
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/25/2006 11:34:23 AM
The flame in the corner burns out the colors adn distracts the viewer.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/24/2006 06:29:48 PM
Failure yes... fits the challenge....7
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/24/2006 12:27:09 PM
I hope this is staged and you aren't fighting this. I love your picture. Well done.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/24/2006 12:21:20 PM
I like the lighting that comes from the candle, just not that th candle is in the shot as it´s blown out, it draws too much attention. Had it been just out of the frame but everything else the same I probably would have given 1 more point. 6 from me, this is pretty good.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/24/2006 09:15:41 AM
Wow...yeah that about sums it up.
  Photographer found comment helpful.

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