A recent post (“Today We Are All Party“) explored one of the celebrations that erupted in San Francisco after the Supreme Court decisions involving gay rights. Unfortunately, most of my pictures turned out blurred (my fault, not the camera’s), including this one of two highly companionable women oblivious to all around themselves:
…which was a shame because for once (for a very rare once), I had captured what Henri Cartier-Bresson called The Decisive Moment. The highly companionable subjects deserved better, so after spending a fair amount of time in the editing room, I present some of my attempts to get the shot right.
The specs: iPhoto, 8×10 Landscape crop, Exposure 0.07, Definition 100, Sharpness 100, Temperature 4977, Tint 29. A slight lightening, less redness in the faces, and about as focused as I could make the shot. I also straightened out the shot a bit (the original tilts too much to the left).
One of the most important considerations consists of the crop. Leaving the shot alone gives the viewer a good sense of the size of the event, the big guy on the right edge balances the composition (at least, I think so), and conveys the intimacy of the subjects within the context of a big mass of anonymity–they’re the only two whose faces we see. The portrait 8×10 crop conveys the intensity of emotion best, whilst the 8×10 landscape crop is a fair compromise of intimacy and context. Of course, this is only my opinion–I could be wrong about all of this and what I have are a bunch of new versions as flubbed as the original picture. So I experimented with some shareware photo editors.
Right or wrong, I have drawn two conclusions. First, I had in my grasp a truly great photograph that could have equaled some of the greatest pictures ever–and I blew it. Second, when trying to salvage a flawed shot, conversion to Black & White will become one of the first tools I’ll try. Many of the iconic photos in history technically had some flaws; for example, Robert Capa’s Magnificent Eleven all have technical problems, tilt, shake and blur only the most obvious. Perhaps the advances in camera technology have forced changes in how we see and evaluate the pictures we take today, and a photograph we could have called great decades ago we must dismiss as flawed given the digital camera technology we have today.
Vonn Scott Bair