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Mom-to-be with flowers
Mom-to-be with flowers

Photograph Information Photographer's Comments
Challenge: Free Study XIII (Advanced Editing IV*)
Camera: Nikon D200
Location: Placitas, NM
Date: Sep 3, 2006
Aperture: 7.1
ISO: 200
Shutter: 1/200
Galleries: Portraiture
Date Uploaded: Sep 5, 2006

Thanks to my beautiful wife for posing, especially because this was someone's property and she was sure we were going to be shot or arrested.

This is my first entry ever, but don't be shy, please critique!

Color Range - to mask the yellow
Invert Selection
Adjustment Layer - Channel Mixer to get the BW background
Unsharp Mask
Save for Web

Place: 250 out of 615
Avg (all users): 5.7143
Avg (commenters): 6.4167
Avg (participants): 5.6204
Avg (non-participants): 6.0000
Views since voting: 669
Views during voting: 301
Votes: 182
Comments: 15
Favorites: 0

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10/13/2006 11:29:47 AM
Thanks for the comments! I appreciate it. I do love Mexico! This one happens to be New Mexico. Anyway, I will remember what you've said here.

10/13/2006 10:51:23 AM
**** C R I T I Q U E C L U B C O M M E N T ****

Side Note: I see you've been a member nearly 3 years, and this is your first challenge entry. You've never participated in the forums either. So I'd like to encourage you to do more of both; it's a great way to get involved and learn. I also notice most of your images are of Mexico, so I'd inject as a personal note that I'm a native of San Diego, and it feels like I've spent half my life crawling around in the wilds of Baja California, going back to the days before they built the trans-peninsular highway and it took over a week to travel from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas... Anyway, on to the image:


First, you entered a month-long Free Study, where the competition is fierce, and scored a 5.7, which is really quite a decent score; so to whatever extent you care about scores, you done pretty well :-) I'm going to base at least the first part of this critique on discussing how to improve the image's score at DPC; to a large extent these "improvements" also represent fundamental photographic principles, but they are also DPC-specific.

First off, the image is overall very "muddy" looking: it feels dark, it lacks luminance values, there's no "glow" to it at all, and this is disturbing to the viewer because we "expect" a scene of a woman in a field of flowers to be more luminous, you know? Now it's a pretty simple matter to process it using curves and a bit of local dodging on the face to get a better overall luminance. The face is especially important, because we really want the face to pop out of the BG here. Here's a quick makeover to show what direction it's possible to go in:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/410826.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30861/thumb/410826.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Note especially that the flowers now have a distinct, backlit look to them. This was down by opening a new hue/saturation adjustment layer and amping the yellow saturation up and then adjusting the brightness slider for the yellow to produce more contrast between the pure yellow of the flower rims vs the more neutral yellow of the flower centers.

So this is a distinct improvement in overall tones here. As a rule it would be best to do all this BEFORE doing the selective desaturation, but this was what I had to work with. Selective desaturation, incidentally, rarely works well in DPC challenges; the voters tend to see it as "gimmicky". I haven't seen the original, but it is possible that had you done a 75% partial desaturation this would have worked better...

Compositionally, the image is pretty good. You have your wife on the 1/3 line left, as opposed to centered int he frame, and that's excellent. The image feels a little static in the sense that it tends to break into two equal horizontal bands; if the face were not so centered vertically on the division between these bands, the composition would be a little more dynamic.

You need to be careful of those dark, smudgy shadows around the eyes. I have worked on them a bit with the dodging tool, but there wasn't a lot of value there to work with. Possibly in the original image, before all the processing, there's more detail to be brought out with careful dodging.

All in all, a nice shot, very wistful feeling to it. I encourage you to participate more.

I hope this critique was helpful to you.

  Photographer found comment helpful.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
10/07/2006 03:33:01 PM
GREAT SHOT,I would of liked the girl and background to have more contrast though.I still love it
10/07/2006 07:33:38 AM
needs more contrast ! coulda been an 8!
10/04/2006 04:51:38 PM
I'd like to see this without the selective color, but in a slightly desaturated full color.
10/04/2006 01:53:27 PM
Neat selective colour draws me in.
10/03/2006 05:11:52 PM
I don't like the selective desat, as the mom gets lost in the background and the flowers become the subject. Maybe just taking the greens out would have been better.
10/02/2006 08:51:53 PM
tones too dark in her face... love the selective desaturation 6
10/02/2006 10:36:40 AM
I'd suggest dodging her eyes a bit, to give a little more definition to her face. Otherwise, great shot, and I like the selective desat.
10/02/2006 08:45:43 AM
Very nice composition and great detail. Nice job!
10/02/2006 07:38:30 AM
lovely selective desat...nice relaxed pose...perhaps the composition needs some work as far as where you have placed her against the horizon eyc...but lovely image and congrats to the mum and dad
10/02/2006 02:17:32 AM
nice selective desaturation...and composition is really nice.
10/01/2006 07:32:35 PM
Its a interesting portrait, a bit under exposed as the yellows are muddy, and theres no true white or black points in the photo. Maybe a tweak to the contrast would help.

I'm curious, why did you choose to color the flowers and not the girl?
10/01/2006 05:40:58 PM
pretty girl, nicely composed, vibrant color...selective desat isn't always received well here, though, but it doesn't bother me in the least
10/01/2006 12:55:03 AM
Nice! Her face is a bit dark in parts, but I like the pic overall.

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