Ten years ago was March 2008. I didn’t know much about seeking out the best light, and I shot any and everything. While this is great for practice – and a phase I would highly recommend every aspiring photographer experience – it’s painful now to look back on.
Ever ask yourself, “what on earth was I shooting there?” Or, “why did I need so many shots of the same thing?”
I shake my head sometimes when I look back at my past self. But I also know I’ll probably be doing the same in another ten years.
This was the best I had to offer from then:
It’s possible I was a bit biased because of the subject matter; I love even the fuzziest pictures of my Zoe. But I also liked the close perspective of her fluffy face, not to mention that silly tongue.
Things done right:
- I shot at a reasonably low ISO for an indoor shot.
- The shutter speed was fast enough to freeze the frequent motion.
- I captured a fun moment.
Things done wrong:
- I shot in jpeg. I didn’t learn better until much much later, so this will be a common complaint with my older images.
- The depth of field is very shallow at this distance. My aperture wasn’t quite narrow enough to deepen this and bring her eyes into focus. This was a low-light situation, so this is difficult, which is why…
- I used flash. Ugh.. this one is painful. I generally hate flash – mostly because I haven’t really learned how to use it properly. Especially because I was so close to my subject here, the flash blew out the closer parts of her face and cast harsh shadows on the farther parts.
I didn’t actually edit this the first time, so all of my improvements would be in how I took the picture in the first place. If I were shooting today, there are a number of things I’d do differently:
- I would bring as much light into the environment as possible by turning on all the lights.
- While it might sound counterintuitive, I would use a much wider aperture to let in more light. This would also shorten the depth of field, so I would compensate by backing away from my subject and zooming in or cropping.
- I would have used a higher ISO.
- If I absolutely had to pop flash, I certainly wouldn’t use the internal flash (seriously, past me, why??). I would grab my external flash and point it up instead of directly at her face (I’m sure she would have appreciated that, too). Depending on her position, I might even trigger it remotely for a better angle. And it would certainly be diffused to break up the shadows.
Despite its flaws, I still do love this picture; it makes me smile. And there are a number of things I can do in post to make this a passable photo. So editing it today, this is what I get:
I made the contrast softer by bringing up the shadows and calming down the highlights. I also darkened her eyes a bit, removing the blaring flash glare from her left eye. I also cropped it a bit, converted it to a more-pleasing black-and-white, and added a subtle vignette.
Do you ever shoot with flash? What are some of the things you do in low-light situations?