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The Little Match Girl
The Little Match Girl

Photograph Information Photographer's Comments
Challenge: Fairy Tales II (Advanced Editing V)
Collection: 2007 Challenges
Camera: Canon PowerShot A700
Location: my place
Date: Nov 27, 2007
Aperture: f2.8
ISO: 800
Shutter: 1
Galleries: Emotive, History
Date Uploaded: Nov 29, 2007

Based this pic on the relatively unknown (at least in N.America) Brothers Grimm story of The Little Match Girl.

Briefly, from what I can recall, the story takes place on Christmas Day. She was trying to sell matches during the course of the day but had few buyers. She was afraid to return home with unsold matches, as her father would punish her, so she stayed where she was.

As it grew dark she began to light the matches for warmth. All around her she could see through windows where people were seated around laden tables groaning with food, enjoying themselves, resting in front of blazing fireplaces...She had a vision of her grandmother smiling at her, and of warmth and happiness all around...

The little match girl was found frozen to death the next morning, the stub of the last of her burnt-out matches in her hand.

*sniff* getting choked up and teary just recounting it, it's such a sad story.

Setup: my camera on a tripod, me in a ratty shawl, huddled against the exterior wall of my house, with a lit match providing the only light. OK, so I'm a little old to depict a girl, but couldn't find any kids the right age to shoot holding a lit match!

pp: rotate, curves, brightness/contrast, shadows/ highlights, flatten, crop, resize, unsharp mask, save for web

Place: 80 out of 82
Avg (all users): 4.1771
Avg (commenters): 4.7000
Avg (participants): 4.3659
Avg (non-participants): 4.1258
Views since voting: 1051
Views during voting: 324
Votes: 192
Comments: 15
Favorites: 0

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12/23/2007 12:00:19 AM
I'm not surprised at the score, because it's not sharp and bright. But your story adds so much to my appreciation of this, and of course the voters didn't see that. This is a good example of the blur helping to sell the story, as if you caught her soul as it prepared to depart. As for the composition, I'd suggest cropping out the dark strip on the left. That will help set up her face in the upper left in opposition to the bright light in the lower right. Ultimately, though, as dahkota said, keep doing what feels right and ignore the score!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
12/19/2007 07:03:43 AM
If this had been taken "technically DPC perfect" I think you would have lost much of the emotion of the shot. It would be like any of dozens of others of a sad woman's face. In this, the wild colors, the movement, the noise, all add to the story. I get the feeling of the little match girl, her desperation, her shivering, by the techniques you did use. It is not always the case that one wants to take a 'stock' image; this is such a case. So, if you want to score high on DPC, follow the advise of others and take a technically perfect but emotionally distant image. Otherwise, keep doing what feels right for the story. Personally, I like this shot. I like how you did it and what you did. there are a million ways to change it but then it wouldn't be the same. Good luck and keep following your heart!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
12/15/2007 05:11:06 PM
Critique Club :)

Well personally I like what you did, and more what you were trying to do. This is outside of the normal DPC 'box', but I commend you for trying. More us need to do this.

I am familiar with this tale and I think you had a great idea. The main issues with this image are technical. First it is almost impossible to get a good image with such low light. Maybe a 5D would have gotten this, but certainly not a Powershot. The high ISO is going to give you LOTs of noise, the color will be shifted, and you will have lots of motion blur. It is not clear which way the face is moving - but it seems to me it moved one way and then the other. So even though there is movement within the image, it is not clear in which direction.

In post processing you could have tried to remove the noise.

I think in order to pull off a shot like this you would really have to increase the lighting significantly which would have allowed you to use a lower ISO and faster shutter. If I were doing this I would have used artificial light shining up onto the face to emulate the match light. And then used enough matches to preserve the effect that it was the matches that made all that light.

You can over expose (without burning out highlights) and get a sharper image with less noise, and then use levels and/or brightness to reduce the brightness of the image to get the dark effect that you wanted. You would then have a cleaner image, less motion blur. This would take some experimentation with a flashlight or other highly focused light.

But starting with such low light, most all of your options were gone.

Keep trying. Good concept.

Please feel free to use the PM system if you have questions or comments.


  Photographer found comment helpful.
12/10/2007 08:04:22 AM
I really thought this was a good idea and the glow on her face was just the perfect effect for the moment and the story. For me tho, there was just a little too much movement on the face... It was her last desperate moment and I would have wanted to see more of that.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
12/10/2007 12:25:30 AM
Good fantasy shot, Susan. I like the effect. I am particularly drawn to your left eye.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
12/09/2007 09:32:10 PM
I'm not sure if the camera shake was an intentional effect or not. Except for that afterimage, I like it.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
12/08/2007 11:34:06 PM
Looks to me like you're experimenting to see what effects you can achieve with the camera. That's a great attitude to have. I don't know if you've quite pulled off "sorrow" or "fading away" but you have achieved a creepy sort of ethereality that makes this one of the best of the challenge.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
12/08/2007 11:12:38 AM
This might be an interesting idea, with the blur, but there are some things I personally would have fixed... the colors, first of all, are a little wild. Maybe less saturation would help, although perhaps you wanted the wild colors. There is lots of grain as well, which you might be able to fix by lowering the ISO. But then the picture can get too dark... Also, the picture appears rather washed out and overexposed. Overall, I would suggest a lower ISO setting, and a longer shutter-speed, and maybe a tripod or even a table-top or something to keep the camera steady and prevent the picture from getting too blurry. Hope some of that was helpful! :)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
12/08/2007 05:08:16 AM
Some people really dig these types of photos: blurred movement, out of focus, and colors shifted to the red. Sorry, I am not one of them.
12/06/2007 10:07:50 PM
This one freaks me out a little bit in a trippy kind of way. The movement aspect of the photo adds interest.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
12/05/2007 07:14:46 AM
A bit sppoky and a different take on The Little Match Girl, you have captured such sadness in her eyes and the composition. Now I've had time to absorb it, it really does deserve a bump up.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
12/04/2007 08:52:22 AM
Too blurred I'm afraid, simply not enough light to capture a moving subject. I can see you used a tripod as the brickwall is sharp but as this is essentially a portrait, the girl needs to be sharp too.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
12/03/2007 03:25:05 PM
haunting. good use of long exposure for effect
  Photographer found comment helpful.
12/03/2007 08:32:07 AM
Not liking the motion blur effect here. Colors seem harsh and I dont much care for the noise. Not my cup of tea.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
12/03/2007 12:50:37 AM
She does look like a pyromaniac ...
  Photographer found comment helpful.

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