Expert advice and tips on improving your photography from Damien Demolder. He gives his appraisal of Girl with a lamp by Aaron Bennett and offers advice on how it might be improved.

Photo: Girl with a lamp


Taken by: Aaron Bennett

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 50mm, 1/6sec at f/1.4, ISO 4000

 

Aaron Bennett-before

Before.

What a lovely idea! Aaron has really thought about this shot in advance, has planned what the girl was going to wear and where she would stand – and what time of day he should shoot it. I love the composition and the way the lamp picks out the girl’s face and hair from the darkness. He has the exposure just about right, and has used the warmth of the lamp to make her face glow against the cold-blue backdrop.

However, he has used a bit too much contrast in post-production, and the deep shadows hide too much of the environment. The bright highlights create a hardness that conflicts with the overall sense of soft romanticism.

So I’ve reversed the process, to show what the scene would look like with lifted shadows and calmed highlights. The blue stands out more, and we see the pier she is standing on and the other side of the water. I also added more warmth and saturation to the highlights, to emphasise the chromatic contrast between the girl and the scene, and to make the most of her beautiful hair. I created two versions – and can’t decide which I like better.

Aaron Bennett-lighter1

After 1: Lifting the shadows and calming the highlights reveals the girl’s beautiful hair, and the distant shore.

Aaron Bennett-lighter2

After 2: In my second version I added the same warmth and saturation to the highlights and lightened the image a little more.