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

Photo: Father

Taken by: Jacob Elwood

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 50mm, 1/40sec at f/5, ISO 250

Before

Before: The original image was shot on the sensor’s 3:2 ratio

I have a pile of flashguns and studio flash heads, and they are fabulous for creating drama and directing light, but you can’t beat natural daylight for lighting up a face. It is free and it comes in a multitude of qualities and directions. All you have to do is match the quality to the subject matter and find the best direction for the kind of picture you want to make.

Jacob has made excellent use of some soft diffused daylight falling on his father’s face. The light is coming from behind the camera, and it’s slightly to one side, so one half of the subject’s face is brighter than the other – which creates depth and a three-dimensional effect. The light really works well here, and the subject is lit in a way that creates highlights and shadows, but without too much 
deep black or blown-out highlights.

After

After: The image has been cropped to 4:3 format, and the contrast reduced to reveal more detail

Although Jacob has done a great job already, I wanted to see what the shot would look like with even less contrast, so I lifted the shadows a little and pulled down the highlights to create a softer feel. We still have that 3D effect, but it is slightly less harsh and a bit more revealing.

I felt there was too much space above the subject’s head, so I cropped the 3:2 frame to 4:3, then added a moderate warm tone.

It’s a lovely picture, Jacob, so keep using that daylight, but don’t feel all your pictures need to follow the proportions of your camera’s sensor.