PITA shots that end up meh


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Mar 11, 2011
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ever had a shot that was just a real chore to make and still just ends up being mediocre? (feel free to post your examples too!)

eye reflections are always ones that i chase but i never end up all that impressed with the results. here's one from yesterday at the fair:

first off for this type of shot the angle and his gaze needs to be just right, and kids are damn near impossible to pose in detail (being 18 months doesn't help either). it's a fair so needless to say he's squirmy as hell looking all over the place to begin with, it's crowded as hell, i'm all up in his face and he wants to look and interact (ie grab) with the camera, i'm dragging the shutter, and the DOF is shallow as hell. On top of that the lighting is mixed, heavily colored and flashing/changing by the second. also it's dark as hell so my iso is through the roof (6400 here) so it really has to be perfect to extract an acceptable level of detail.

in the end this is maybe as good as i can expect handheld (it has to be to follow around the subject) in the given conditions, but it's not the level of detail i want and overall lacks some punch. uhhh.

any opinions on leaving the colored lighting as is?

it was a pain to fix this amount of heavily colored mixed light (thank god for raw), but the colored lighting in some ways it really gives another (maybe needed) clue about the atmosphere.

as usual cc is appreciated. in a cheezy way i kind of like the flare on the back eye. the back eye is always a distracting element for this type of shot since it's usually totally OOF anyways, imo the flare here helps deaden that aspect and give another environmental clue (lucky me as i didn't, and probably couldn't have, tried to get this). he's always so squirmy so I never get to the point of trying to line up the perfect framing (it's more of a "moment" type shot anyways), but maybe i should crop a bit off the bottom to cut his lip (or leading features to his lip) from the frame.
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In the end, the artistic or lack thereof merit is in the eye of the beholder until you post it...:) Turning that carriage about 5 degrees more toward the lens would have eliminated a lot of the flare, or placing someone between him and the majority of the ambient light. This is a case of really trying to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. There is so little to work with tonally, color-wise and depth. Every path taken almost always ends up with another problem to solve. I would chalk it up to "try again another day," learn from this one so when the next opportunity arises, you get "that" shot.

I dinked with it, but in my end point, there was still too much left unworkable but at least, to me, the boy doesn't look like he took a full Close Encounter at the rail crossing. (And this is also okay if that's what you intended from the beginning, but I think you were after eye reflections and didn't have the right glass to do the job.) And yes, I've screwed up many like this but mine are all in the rubbish bin.

I've had lots of em. But I usually trash them and move on. I had tons more in the old days when I was trying to be a cool studio photog. Now that I stick with my genre, not too much time is invested in perfecting setup shots.

The crop looks nice anyway.
When you said PITA I expected something more along this


So since we are not talking about this type of pita may I ask what your PITA means ?
I actually LIKE the shot with the purple colors more than the more natural looking shot. I totally agree with you--the colored light gives a big clue about the atmosphere. Removing the colored light changes the shot a lot. I think one thing might make the corrected shot look better, and that would be to make it darker, so the green reflection on the child's nose looks greenish. Darkening the shot would also make the lens flare render a bit more,well, flare-like. No matter how you render the shot, it's still a wonderful memory.

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