The Naked Camera - Image Break down - #TheNakedCamera

The breakdown of an image #TheNakedCamera

Karl Taylor Advanced Photography Skills, Karl's Viewpoint, Photography Knowledge, Professional Photography Knowledge

The breakdown of an image #TheNakedCamera

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Here is another image related to forthcoming #TheNakedCamera. On the previously posted image I asked for people to give me their thoughts on how the shot was made and this sparked some interesting debate. As such I decided to post more pictures in the coming weeks and offer a prize to who ever is most consistently accurate with their deductions.

But first I’d like to give you my breakdown of this next image its content and composition and what works and why I chose to shoot it a certain way. And remember because this is #TheNakedCamera my aim is for as many useable ‘straight out of camera’ shots as possible. So let’s get started…

When we evaluate an image like this we do so on an emotional level and that first evaluation is subconscious. Initially we draw from our memory banks comparisons or suggestions to the mood being depicted and expressions or body language and light that we have been subjected to in the past (whether real or through other suggestive imagery).

In this image the first thing that you will be drawn to is the facial expression, then body language and it’s correlation to the location. The brain will ask things like is this a threat? Is it suggestive? Is it sexual? We will then subconsciously evaluate things like colour, warmth, surroundings and the light to inform us more about the scene. All of this type of evaluation is a survival reflex which will take place before you more consciously evaluate the content of the image.

As you can see I shot this in a warm tone, in fact I intentionally asked the model to keep her orange jacket on (even though it was a hot day) and I intentionally deceived the camera by overriding the camera’s white balance and creating a much warmer tone in camera than was actually there. Yes of course as I was shooting raw I could have done this in post but I like to see the effect there and then to see if my ‘pre-visualisation’ is working and whether to continue with it or not.

The late afternoon light induces a ‘retro’ romanticism to the image, as does the backlighting on the hair and long grass. The body pose and expression is quite suggestive and seductive and the location and warmth of the scene adds to that impression. The depth of field (aperture) and perspective (focal length) have been carefully selected to keep the attention where I need it. Only the model and a few strands of grass on left and right are in focus and sharp.

Let’s move to the composition next. In this scene I’ve placed the model quite central and many commentators will argue that it is too central, but it’s not. The model is balanced in composition with the next most dominant object (due to its higher contrast) which is the tree. The strength of the tree and model combined mean that the model appears more left balanced in the shot than she actually is. But remember there is nothing wrong with a central composition if the overall balance in the shot works. In this case notice how the grass on the left tapers down from the left towards her legs and the grasses on the right do the same. This helps hold the models position in the frame and avoids the eye from drifting out of shot and helps achieve symmetry in the foreground area. The background is less symmetrical on first impression because of the higher contrast of the tree on the left but you will come to notice another lower contrast tree on the right and then see some symmetry of the two trees with the model placed between them. So the shot works in a symmetrical and non-symmetrical manner, which I find interesting.

Regardless of this we will always be initially drawn to the face (facial recognition is our strongest initial impulse as it is a survival process to determine friend or foe) and following this our eye will be drawn to the tree on the left as this is the highest contrast area and we have neurons that are strongly drawn to contrast (again as survival mechanism to detect movement which is basically contrast change). So those are the reasons I’ve chosen to compose the shot this way and remember this is my choice based on my understanding of the subject and knowledge from studying human visual response and then combining that with what the location was able to offer visually. For example in this shot I also chose to remove some of the more distracting strands of grass to help shape my image accordingly. I simply pulled a few pieces of grass out of the ground that were a distraction.

Let’s briefly move back to the light, notice the line of lens flare coming across the body and the slight haze to the lighting, which is also caused by the flare. This again was intentional. I decided I wanted to work with the flare, which I often do, to enhance the sort of ‘retro romantic’ feel to the shot. I do this by moving very slightly to allow just enough backlighting and the angle of light into the camera to cause this to happen. In fact I often allow a greater amount of flare than I need and then gradually move my hand across to shade the lens until the desired amount of flare is achieved. Whilst many would argue that the flare across her body is a fault or a distraction or should have been removed then I’d like you to consider that if that were true I could so easily have removed it in post but for the reasons outlined above I chose to create it and keep it.

Now that gives an initial overview of my choices on the image but there is so much more to understand from the process including why, when, lens, aperture, angles, location, lighting, subject and how, but all of that will be revealed in #TheNakedCamera when we really get into the heart of creating great images straight out of camera.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments. Please post them below…