Trying to Get the Shot Right (Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable)

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Good Morning:

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:

DSC_0291…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.

DSC_0291_3 Graphic ConverterThe 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).

DSC_0291_2 Graphic ConverterSpecs: iPhoto, Exposure 0.15, Saturation 0 (produces B&W), Definition 100, Sharpness 100, Temperature 8341, Tint -55, 8×10 Portrait Crop.

DSC_0291_1 Graphic ConverterSpecs: No crop, Exposure 0.25, Saturation 0, Definition 100, Sharpness 100, Temperature 6318, Tint -44.

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.

DSC_0291 Sketcher Oil 79-76-55-86 Contour PencilSoftware: Sketcher. Settings: Oil 79-76-55-86, Pencil: Contour.

DSC_0291 Sketcher Watercolor 60-100-80-25Software: Sketcher. Settings: Watercolor 60-100-80-25.

DSC_0291 FX Photo Studio Pro B&W Grained 25-70Software: FX PhotoStudio PRO. Settings: Black & White Grained, 25-70.

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

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12 responses »

    • sustainabilitea: I did most of the editing in iPhoto, using nothing more sophisticated than random movements of various sliders until satisfied with what I saw. Something I have never done is take classes in something like PhotoShop, and that counts nowadays. The recognition that your photograph is no longer the finished product but rather the raw material, and the ability to transform the latter into the former, are what elevate modern pro photographers above someone like me. Vonn Scott Bair

    • bashert04: I don’t want to play devil’s advocate, but it seems to me that what will happen next will consist of the opposite. Frankly, I expect one conservative state legislature after another passing one “protect marriage” law after another, followed by a string of court challenges to each law ending in a Supreme Court ruling of one sort or another. And the USA has a heck of a lot of states. Vonn Scott Bair

      • Oh, I disagree. The wording the supreme court gave will allow for many law suits to inundate those states who don’t have marriage equality. It will cost more money than the states have to deal with those suits. I think it will come down to money which, hey, if that works, then fine. 🙂

      • bashert04: Very well reasoned! I should note that today nearly 30 House GOP Representatives introduced a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as solely one man, one woman. I would like you to be right, I would like to be proven an incorrect pessimist (that way, I can only be pleasantly surprised), but in the near term it appears that we will see a flurry of laws and litigation. Vonn Scott Bair

      • I understand your apprehension and your valid worries. It’s so incredibly frustrating when we think we’ve moved one step forward and when we do, we often take ten steps back. However, I do like to think positively. Just two generations before me, my grandparents lived in Russia and experienced the wrath of the Czar and his army. They watched their own people being killed and mistreated simply because they were Jewish. They were able to leave and came to a country they had heard had “streets paved with gold.” When they arrived here in 1919 they were not prepared to again experience anti Semitism in the country they had heard was for everyone. How could that be? But, even so, they kept moving forward. Refusing to give their bigots the control they kept their heads up and moved forward. I won’t say they weren’t pessimists as that seemed part of their genetic make up, however they never stopped believing life could be better. And so, here I am just two generations later and my life is nothing like that of what my grandparents had experienced. So, I’m hopeful. I refuse to give my enemies the power. So, I will keep my head held high and I will move forward (even when it’s not so easy to do). 🙂

      • Well to equal out your worries, there have been an on slot of lawsuits filed from same sex couples in many states. As Doris Day sang, “Que sera, sera-Whatever will be, will be
        The future’s not ours to see-Que sera, sera-What will be, will be.” OK, so the rest of the song is a bit sexist but …. Point being what ever will happen we will deal with it, move forward and make the necessary fight for those changes. 🙂

      • bashert04: Well put. I do wish that the “necessary fight” won’t take too long. Indeed, I wish there won’t be much of a fight at all. Vonn Scott Bair

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