Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The One That Got Away: Episode 5

Good Morning Everybody,

We headed out yesterday from Denver and made the nine hour drive into Kansas City arriving about 9:00 p.m. last night.  I’ll tell ya’, 9 hours driving is a pretty good push even for those of us that enjoy the driving.

Why do we do it?  Because it’s a great way to see the country – parts of the country most people never get to see. I doubt many folks make the 600 mile I-70 trek from Denver to Kansas City.  Even as we were relaxing after Monday’s program, one of our volunteers commented that there wasn’t much to see for most of those 600 miles.

Hay Bales For the most part he was right.  But just seeing the vast expanse of “nothingness” for miles and miles was an amazing site to me.  The fact that you don’t see hardly any evidence of civilization for that long stretch of Colorado sure makes you check your gas tank;~)

Wind TurbinesBut, in spite of some of those long stretches, our county’s beauty presented itself many times along our trip.  Maybe it was the round bales of hay, the wind turbines, or the beautifully varied clouds we witnessed as we crossed the country that were wonderful reflections of the diversity and beauty of our great country.


For most of the journey one travels without the radio, too.  Even the stations’ radio signals are just too weak to be heard along much of that long stretch of road.  Henry AaronWe unusually resort to listening to a book on tape that we pick up from a Cracker Barrel restaurant along the way.  We are currently listening to the biography of baseball legend, Henry Aaron [link].  This audio book’s fast paced “read” almost makes you not want to stop the car at the end of your travels. We have two more days of driving before we arrive home on Friday and we can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

The ultimate drive for me may be coming up right after Thanksgiving.  We always head to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with our friends, Kent and Sara Smith for a week or so just to chill before the holidays.  This year Kent wants to drive his newly acquired 4x4 Jeep all the way from Columbus, Ohio to the tip of the Baja – about 3000 miles – and has asked me to ride/drive along with him. Hey, it sounds like a great adventure – I’ll keep you posted when we hit the trail.

Now, on with today’s post…..

The One That Got Away: Episode 5

I’ve been doing this series for the last few weeks and a lot of people really seem to be enjoying it.  Many individuals attending our CBTL 2010 come up to me and comment on how much they enjoy it.  Since it seems to be a favorite, I keep running the series for the next few weeks.

I think what photographers like about it is the fact that it touches on the finer points of what can make your photograph, or more importantly, the people in your photographs, really look their best.

Last week I discussed an image of a groom [link].  This week, let’s review an image of a beautiful bride.  But, more importantly, let’s discuss how we can flatter her even more in the image.

Hit the “Read more…” link link below to see the image and hear the rest of the story.

First, take a moment or two and look at our image today.

Episode 5 Hunched Bride - 2BA23295We have an image of a beautiful bride against a simple background and the start of a very nice bridal portrait.

First, let’s look at what was done right.

1 – The first thing I notice is a very nice expression on our subject.  That is half the job of making our subjects look good.  The easy expression is a good start on his portrait.

2 – The lighting is dead-on.  It’s coming in from camera right and creating a beautiful loop lighting pattern on our bride.  All our DPT readers know I’m a big fan of loop lighting – I feel the most flattering lighting we can use on our subjects.

3- The lighting ratio is quite good too.  I prefer a 3:1 lighting ratio on my subjects.  That means that the light falling on the bride’s face is 3x brighter (or 1 1/2 stops) than the light on the shadow side of her face.

4- I also like the diagonal line of the railing running through the image. The bride has a flattering C-curve to her positioning that I find as another positive aspect to this image.

OK, all good points, but how could the maker of this image make it even better?

Here are the areas I would concentrate on to take this image to the next level.

1 – The biggest thing I want to address in this image is the “slouchy” posture. See how the bride seems to be leaning over the railing.  The easiest way to fix this was to simply ask the bride to stand taller.  That would have fixed most of the “slouchiness”.

She may have to bring her hips closer to the railing but that’s OK – she just needs to be standing taller so she doesn’t look like she is falling out of her dress.

Episode 5 Hunched Bride - 2BA232952 – A minor point, but when showing the subject’s hand as we see here, always ask them to bring their fingers together.  It’s just more flattering in the shot.

3 – Hair can sometimes be an issue.  See the strands on hair on the bride’s right shoulder.  I may have brought a lot more of her hair over that shoulder to balance out her hair on her left side.  Clearing out the hair completely on both sides is also an option.

4- Now the veil – see how you can see so much of it to the right of the bride.  I always try to create a balance of the veil on both sides of the bride so that it frames her up nicely in the portrait.

An easy solution would have been to pull more of the veil over to the bride’s right side and maybe just pinch a bit of the veil under her right elbow to hold the veil in place.  That would have brought a lot more of the veil into view.  In this case, it would have been illuminated by the flash too, instead of shadowed as we see here, and the photographer would have created a nice framing element for the bride’s face.

5- How about the “horizontal” option? The bride is in no particular quadrant although she seems to be closer to the 2nd quadrant.  That may have worked, but I would have explored the horizontal crop.  That way we could have made the railing a more important element in the composition.

So in you mind’s eye, image this.  The image is cropped horizontally with the bride positioned in the second quadrant – top left.  She is standing tall in the image giving almost a regal look to her posture.

The railing leads the viewer’s eye in from the bottom right directly to the bride.  She is illuminated with a beautiful loop light pattern and the portrait would have been compositionally more dramatic and thus pleasing.

That’s pretty much the changes I would make to this image.  I think what we see is close but with just a few more tweaks, we could have a dynamite portrait of our bride.


Hey everybody, that’s it for me today.  Once again, we’ve got quite the crowd in Kansas City  for tonight’s presentation – well over 200 strong.  I figure they heard about all the door prizes we are giving away and want to be part of the action ;~)

How about I see everyone same time, same place tomorrow for another episode of Business Day Thursday.

Hey, and if you are at the program this evening, please come on by and say HI.

See ya’ then, -David


  1. I used to make runs out to western Kansas all the time in my college days. You are right about no radio signals for miles on end. My best source of entertainment those days, a cheap CB radio from Wal-mart. It was interesting to hear what was going on with people out in those parts.

    Cant wait to see ya in KC.

  2. David,
    Love your site and I've learned so much. Was at your Captured by the Light Tour in Minneapolis. Drove 8 1/2 hours from North Dakota to be there. I bought your little Love Lightz and have been playing around with them. The only thing I'm stumped on is how to get my flash to fire later. I shoot with a Nikon D700 and have a Nikon SB800. Any suggestions (other than shoot Cannon?)