1 – Portraits of People We’ve Never Pictured Before

October 19, 2009

I found this challenge quite… uh… challenging. I’ve been out of town on business quite a bit and busier than usual, so finding time was difficult.

I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to take this portrait of Ruth, the 91-year-old mother of one of our neighbours. Ruth graciously agreed to sit for me with very little notice and was a perfect subject. I owe her a debt of thanks.

Although I’m pleased with this shot overall, there are things that I would do differently next time. I’d like to be more conscious with the play of light and the background of the shot. I took care of the busy background with a bit of Gaussian blur in processing, but I am unable to do much with the burned out highlights on Ruth’s hand. If I were to pursue portrait photography seriously, I can see that I would want to have handy a diffusing screen (to reduce the strong afternoon light through the window); a reflector (to bounce a little more light into the subject’s face; and possibly a portable backdrop (although the blurred spinning wheel in the background is not out of place in this shot). If possible, I’d also like to give subjects more advance notice, so they could prepare themselves.

All told, though, this was a good challenge and it’s given me food for thought.

For challenge 2, I’m proposing that Patrick and I shoot and post a series of three abstract images shot with a macro lens.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing the portrait Patrick shot and discussing what we’ve learned. Over to you, Patrick!


One Response to “1 – Portraits of People We’ve Never Pictured Before”

  1. Patrick said

    Absolutely superb Alan – really. I love the light, the semi-formality of the pose, the 3/4 view, her obvious nobility, and the interesting but rightly out-of-focus background. I also like the cross, her hands (I can’t see burnt out hightlights except on what looks like a tissue where they don’t matter) and her expression. First class. And I haven’t even mentioned the warm, brown tones that dominate and the slight smile, the direct-to-camera eye contact…. I hope you are pleased with it because you deserve to be!

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