It's A Long Way Home....

by Lynn B.
(USA, Georgia)

I am just now getting into photography in the last month and wanted to learn my camera, which I have had for a little over a year. The camera I used was a Canon s5IS.

I shot this photo near my local city park. There is a railroad track running beside it.

This was a planned photo shoot, as I needed subjects to practice on. I wanted to get the look as if he is travelling along that lonely track. I wanted it to look as if it was taken by a professional photographer.

It was really hard to get him placed in the photo where I really needed him due to items around the track that I did not want in the photo, such as a bulldozer, an ugly building with tin siding, etc... Also this was the only spot where I could get that curve the track makes, I for some reason wanted that curve in the photo.

I then loaded the picture in Photoshop CS and tried to get a Holga Med. Format effect. I learned how to do this from a tutorial I found online. I don't know much about Photoshop and have been trying to learn by searching for tutorials.

I first de-saturated the image, then went back and added the color back to the clothing. I then followed the steps for the Holga effect. There has been no cropping whatsoever. I pretty much left the image as it was taken except for the coloring effects I described here.

I would like your opinion on what I need to do to improve. How can I get more professional looking images? I have only been doing this for a month and know I need to learn a lot about photography. Your input would be greatly appreciated.....


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For someone who has only just got stuck into digital photography this is an excellent photo!

In fact, there are many seasoned photographers who would be proud of such a shot.

Let's delve into this to see what is good about the picture, and if there are any tips on improvement.

First of all, can I applaud Lynn for taking the time to set up the photo. There are photographers out there who believe that photography is all about 'capturing moments'. Anything set up they would say is fake.

Nothing wrong with that as an opinion, but I like to broaden my horizons a little. Sometimes the natural shot is just great. And sometimes a little preparation is needed. After all, does anyone think studio photographers don't do any preparation?

I think Lynn has a keen eye here. She says that she wanted to include the curve of the track in her photo. This is a good move. In photography we call these lead in lines. They draw the viewer into the photo.

Lynn mentions unwanted items around the scene. There are three ways to approach this problem:
  • If the object can be moved, take it away from the scene (I'm thinking of small things like a child's bike in the garden, not bulldozers!)
  • Position the main subject in a way that the object disappears from the scene, or is directly behind them so that they hide it from view
  • Use the software to get rid of the objects afterwards. (click to read how to repair photos using the clone stamp tool)

Lynn is looking for some tips here on how to improve, so what are my thoughts . . . well, my first thought is the emptiness in the top right of the photo - all the interest is in the bottom left.

I think filling the frame a little more with the boy would have balanced the photo better. To ensure the curve of the track remains Lynn could have got a little lower down to take the photo.

My biggest tip though would be to ease up on the post-processing! The Holga camera effect is a nice effect to create an old style photo.

If you are lucky enough to have the full version of Photoshop there are many sites where you can download a Photoshop Action that will produce the effect for you.

It creates a fairly well focussed central part of a photo, with a blurring and vignette effect towards the edges of the photo. It replicates the sort of photos produced by old Holga cameras.

I think here though the effect has gone a little too far. It's not the colours, it's the depth of the vignette effect that troubles me.

It seems too dark, and creeps into the photo too far.

All in all this is a really nice photo. I hope there are a couple of tips here for you, and thanks Lynn for the submission.


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Mar 30, 2009
by: Anonymous

love this

Mar 30, 2009
great captrure
by: Anonymous

great eye!!

Mar 28, 2009
by: Lynn B.

Thanks for the really helped.

I will now go back and redo this image and ease up of the effects as you suggested.

I agree with you about the emptiness in the top right corner. I guess that is what made me go overoard with the darkness effect. I must have been unconsciously trying to take that emptiness away by putting it in the darkness.

Thanks again for your tips and compliments. I have really enjoyed learning to work with my digital camera and hope I will improve over time.

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