Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lesson learned

My sister wanted me to take family pictures for her this past Saturday. Naturally I was completely stoked. I am honored to be asked to do this type of thing.

Saturday morning...bad news. My niece, Chelsea, had the flu and would not be able to make it for the family photo. My sister, with more faith in me than she should have, asked me if I could just add Chelsea to the photos.

Um....suuuuuure. I've never actually superimposed anyone (successfully) into a photo before. But, this is the type of thing I need practice with, so I leaped at the opportunity to try.

But before I get to that, let me just say that the family photo session was kind of a flop. All my fault of course. Here they had made this lovely Christmas arrangement by my sister's beautiful fireplace. Unfortunately, there wasn't much light in the room other than some afternoon sun shining through an adjacent window. It was casting some pretty harsh glare on the faces of my family :( I was too excited and caught up with snapping away to notice. Lesson learned: always look at the people you are photographing and make sure they are in the best light...sans glare.

One thing that helps with the problem is using the flash. However, on this particular day, I didn't use the flash as much as I should have. The reason being, I can snap pictures continuously, one right after another, without flash on. When I have flash, after two or three pictures, I end up waiting for the flash to recharge (maybe 5 seconds, but it seems like an eternity) before I am able to go again. And when you are photographing children, those seconds matter! They are fidgety which means you better capture it, and NOW.

The downside to not using a flash is 1)in a low light situation like this, blur is almost inevitable 2)I had some areas that were so badly blown out because of the glare that I couldn't use the photo unless I spent an hour or two copying, pasting, healing, cloning, smudging, etc... It's intricate, detailed work, and it takes a ton of time and patience.

Now, I did spend some time on the picture below. It was one of those wrecked photos. No flash, badly blown out areas of the left side of the face and hair. You should be able to tell the difference in the two photos. I also superimposed Chelsea. I used a photo from a month ago when we went outdoors for some picture taking one Saturday afternoon. I was a bit concerned that it would look too obvious since the lighting situations were so different. But I think it didn't turn out half bad for my first time.

You see how in the second picture, it's just too bright? And portions of the heads are white? I did the best I could to fix it. Still a far cry from perfect, but I think it is better.

So here is one with flash:

The coloring is way different: cooler and flatter. Got some red eye going on. And there is still glare (because they are still next to the window) but it isn't quite as dramatic. It's a good picture, but it could be better.

And here is another picture where I spent some time trying to rid the photo of that terrible glare. I've also taken a head from a different image and stuck it on someone who wasn't looking at the camera ;)

It's way better to get it right the moment you take an exposure than to rely on dinking around and spending all that time on post processing. A fine lesson learned.

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