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The Discovery of Beauty
The Discovery of Beauty

Photograph Information Photographer's Comments
Challenge: Free Study 2009-01 (Advanced Editing VII)
Collection: Flora
Camera: Canon EOS-5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS
Location: Birmingham, England
Date: Jan 30, 2009
Aperture: f/16
ISO: 100
Shutter: 1/160
Galleries: Floral, Children
Date Uploaded: Jan 30, 2009

I wanted to do something a bit more 'arty' this month and decided I would photograph a flower on hands against a leather background - I was going to call it 'Natural Materials', but the shot evolved in an unexpected way.

The hands are actually my 8 year old son's since the flower was very small and I needed it to look bigger. I used a single softbox over a studio flash for the lighting.

It was only once I took the photo did I notice the boy was a total grub! His hands were really dirty - especially under his fingernails, so I edited to that - cropped first, then desaturating and taking down the luminance of red and magenta, blue and cyan, upped yellow, upped the black point and the contrast (master, definition and 3 tonal width levels). This was all done in Aperture 2 - then I round-tripped it to Photoshop CS4 for 'Smart Sharpen' - it does a better job than the Aperture sharpen tool and a tweak to curves and levels.

There wasn't much left of the leather background by this point so back in Aperture I cloned out a few highlights that remained in the background. All that was left to do was some highlight recovery on the flower and increase the exposure and vibrancy until the flower looked OK and removed one or two tiny stray fibres.

I'm really surprised how black the hands became through the application of the above process and how old his hands look as a consequence too.

Overall though, I love the high contrast and the imagery it conjures up when I look at it. I hope others enjoy it too; I need another 6+ for my front page, so here's hoping!

Place: 27 out of 454
Avg (all users): 6.5062
Avg (commenters): 7.6667
Avg (participants): 6.2110
Avg (non-participants): 7.1132
Views since voting: 1449
Views during voting: 252
Votes: 162
Comments: 15
Favorites: 6 (view)

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07/31/2009 10:18:56 PM
I hadn't noticed this one before Paul............just awesome.....!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/25/2009 03:54:35 AM
such a WOW image .. just brilliant .. !!..:)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
02/11/2009 02:35:13 AM
This is magic!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
02/08/2009 10:40:50 AM
Awesome results.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
02/08/2009 12:40:20 AM
Well you got your 6+!! Very nice work to make what you shot turn into what you wanted, even if it wasn't quite what you had in mind to start with. A good way to show the journey that the process can be. And a lovely photograph.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
02/07/2009 11:24:11 AM
Nice contrast and great sharpness
  Photographer found comment helpful.
02/06/2009 07:16:31 PM
Intricate Design! Job well done.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
02/04/2009 02:18:57 AM
This one stood out to me probably because of the contrast between the hands and the flower. Inspirational and thought provoking. I like the shine on the skin and the depth of field.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
02/03/2009 12:00:30 AM
Looks like you took a great deal of time to edit this photo. Very nice.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
02/02/2009 11:41:27 PM
Without question, a very thought-provoking image and very nicely executed. 10
  Photographer found comment helpful.
02/01/2009 07:32:03 PM
I think this is my favorite. It is so different from the rest and I love the tones and detail. I gave it a score of 8 but I am going to make that a 9.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
02/01/2009 07:14:53 PM
Breathtaking!! The textures are wonderful!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
02/01/2009 06:09:20 PM
Beautiful lighting and wonderful textures. I wish there wasn't such a clear line around where the darkening material on the hands ends into the palms.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
02/01/2009 05:51:51 PM
The hands strike me as an unnatural color, I like the idea and composition but the coloration doesn't appeal to me
  Photographer found comment helpful.
02/01/2009 04:53:56 PM
Very impressive,wonderful tones.
  Photographer found comment helpful.

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