Look closer. Much closer.

This picture surprised me.

You’ve seen it in the past. It’s an image from a Central City second line. You saw it in color here. In black and white on Instagram. But, never like this.

Because.

I opened this picture by accident. On a huge monitor. I started looking at it. Really looking at it. The image isn’t how I saw it in the past. For one thing, there is a lot of extra information in the frame. It isn’t needed. For another, I always saw the young man in the foreground with his sunglasses falling down his nose as the main subject. In this version, he’s just part of the darkened outer frame of the picture. It’s all about the eye. Almost in the middle of the picture.

As I said, “at least in this version.” Pictures —  like music — teach you how to make them the longer that you work with them. A friend of mine once answered a writer’s question about a particular song changing from the album to what it became played live, on stage, by saying “play a song 500 or 600 times and it will teach you how to play it,”

So.

Here’s what I did. Let this be a lesson to y’all. Let this be a lesson to me. Or, at least, a reminder.

One reason to work in RAW and with a fairly larger sensor size is because the picture is easy to crop and still have a fairly large image when you are done. There is a certain amount of flexibility and freedom working this way. You do the work after the fact. That’s just one reason.

So. (Once again)

I cropped the picture. I took out extraneous background information. I drew your eye into the center of the frame, in order to see the eye in the center.

I tinkered with the color. I made the picture into some kind of old fashioned monochrome rather than just pure black and white. Or, my usual vibrant color.

I burned and dodged the image. Again, to pull your eye into the center of the frame.

Then I softened the edges of the picture. I bet you know why.

Finally, I added a little vignette. To — imagine this — further draw your eye to the subject’s eye.

That’s it.

A lot of steps. Steps that were mostly learned in a real live wet darkroom, making prints. It was a lot harder and more time-consuming back in those old school days. It was worth it. If nothing else, working that way taught me what to do in the digital world. It taught me about production economy. And, picture culling skills.

After all, why make 20 marginal pictures of something when you can make one really great, storytelling image of the same thing? Don’t self edit in camera. On the scene. Or, the street. Or, even in your car.  You can’t see much on those itty bitty camera lcds. Wait until you are culling them on your computer monitor. Look at them at once in one place. On a big lcd. Pick the best one or two. You’ll be able to concentrate your post production to just those few images. You won’t rush. You won’t try to get everything done in a few minutes. You’ll take the time to make reasonable corrections and enhancements.

Trust me.

Your pictures and readers will thank you for it.

 

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