Bad photos from a good camera

By December 17, 2014blog, BTS

Some uninformed would say to photographers “Your camera takes great pictures!”

Well, not so – most of pros think. Because it’s well known that we (professional photographers), more often than not, do take bad photos.

Having a family portrait session for a family of nine, I don’t often use speedlights for large groups. The result – hmmm holy f**&. It’s awful with shadows in the background. I didn’t have time to fiddle with the lighting as much as I would have liked. That is specially not a good idea when a little baby is involved. 

I just proceeded with the minimal light changes knowing that those shadow casts can be fixed in post-production (as painful as it would be).

When I make mistakes like this I painstakingly fix them file by file just to remind myself not to make the same mistake.

Some of you might ask how I did it. Of course, there are so many different ways to fix this problem just to name a few:

  1. Deep etching in Photoshop (various masking techniques)
  2. Smart masking in OnOne Photo (just one stroke it removes the background so they claim)
  3. Spot fix without removing the entire background

I decided to go with the third option which was the fastest it turned out. I grabbed the Stamp Tool with big feather and stamped around the shadow gently. Shadows are gone but grey background not very attractive. Added a couple of layers with texture. How to show the textured layer through the grey background?

Duplicate the photo layer and set the original layer as ‘exclusion’ for the layer blending mode and mask away the grey in the second photo layer to show the patterns from layers underneath. Voila the final result – the client would be none the wiser how crappy the original shot was. Well, that’s only if they didn’t read this post. :)

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Yes, it’s not the camera that makes good pictures. It doesn’t really know what I want or need. It’s the person holding it makes / breaks it all. The actual magic in this case happened outside of my ancient Nikon D700.

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