Expert advice and tips on improving your photography from Damien Demolder. He gives his appraisal of Boxer by Brian Holmes and offers advice on how it might be improved.

Photo: Boxer

Taken by: Brian Holmes

Canon EOS 450D, 18-200mm, 1/250sec at f/9, ISO 1600

Before: The level of contrast has darkened the boxer's eyes and burnt out the highlights on her arm

Before: The level of contrast has darkened the boxer’s eyes and burnt out the highlights on her arm

This is a great portrait, and Brian has done well to choose an interesting subject and to compose her nicely in a square frame.

He has used his lens at 90mm on a Canon EOS 450D, which has allowed him to put some distance between the camera and 
the sitter, which in turn keeps the perspective unexaggerated. Had Brian been any closer to his subject, the boxing glove would have been much too large in the frame.

I like the subject’s distant stare and the light streaming in from behind to create that lovely backlit highlight down the right-hand side of the face and arm. But the problem for me, once again, is the level of contrast in the shot – it has darkened her eyes too much and burnt out the highlights on her arm.

The highlights are really the fault of the exposure, as it seems Brian has allowed the camera to read from the shaded side of her face and forgotten that the highlights will burn out if not attended to.

I took the image into Adobe Camera Raw and reduced the contrast, lifted the shadows and tried to draw back the highlights to show what the shot would look like with less harsh contrast. I also noted some obvious signs of added vignetting that have created an unnaturally light area of wall on the left side of her head, so I darkened those midtones and consequently made her head stand out more.

After

After

The lifted shadows give us detail in the eyes and the hair. And while the moderation of highlights hasn’t done much to improve things, as the JPEG had already lost them, applying a warm colour layer has created a much softer effect overall.

This is still a great shot, and one Brian could go back to for reprocessing. I like his idea and most of the way he has carried it out, very well done.