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Dustin Mosley's picture

Environmental Portrait - Looking for Critique

Critique please! Shot at high noon on a local mountain top so the light was a bit harsh. Might go back and try again morning/evening. Thoughts on improving edits, composition, etc?

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Matthew Teetshorn's picture

This has the look of an image that was exposed for the sky and then lifted heavily in the shadows, making the detail on the subject look 'dirty'. I'd let the sky blow out and expose more for the subject.

Julian Ray's picture

This is a bit of a challenging location and your idea is sound. Technicals aside for a moment the strength (or potential) of this image should be the composition.
As with most photography what you choose to omit is almost as important as what you include.
So refining your "story" is really where there is room for improvement.
The rock provides a ton of negative space but does it really serve the story, distance us from your model, or just serve as compositional frame?
Also the background is so busy that it tends to distract from her gaze, or pose.
And lastly, the staff or walking stick serves as such a strong leading line that it tends to pull the eye out of the frame, not toward the subject. Because there are no other straight lines in the frame it breaks the rhythm of the lines and does not work organically.
As to the technicals, Yes it was a very challenging time of day for you to craft this image. As someone that makes my living crafting portraits all over the world I have had to work in very challenging locations like this and I can totally empathize.
Some fill flash (I always have a ProFoto A1 with me) or some sort of reflector would have really helped to fill her out and help her stand out from the background. You can use one of those "hamburger wrapper" tiny emergency blankets that you should always have with you in the mountains as a make shift reflector to try and help fill in the model's face a bit.
The best advice I can give you Dustin is keep experimenting and exploring. And sharing your results with us!. :-D
PS -I hope you will not mind I took the liberty to play with your image a tiny bit. The technical flaws in my illustration are due to it being done on a iPad on a very bouncy flight and so please don't focus on the execution but rather use it as an illustration about the points above.

Dustin Mosley's picture

Thanks, guys! All great comments and advice. Ill be posting a few more from an engagement shoot for a friend.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

The only things I would change/edit:

1. Fix/remove the fringing from the trees/branches.
2. Desaturate slightly the teal/cyan from the sky.
3. Remove the light streak reflection from her cheek, right next to her nose.
4. Cleanup the left side of her face of shadow/dirt.
5. Slightly slightly brighten her face, neck, collarbone areas.

Also, something to consider for future shoots, you shot this with a 23mm f1.4 @ f4. Seeing there are branches at the background, you could/should have shot this at f1.4 to help blur the background some.