Thursday, October 21, 2010

Photo Carousel #4: "Artist"

This is the next installment in my Photo Carousel series.  I don't know what it is about this picture, but I really like it and wanted to post it here.

I've always been fascinated watching painters and sketch artists work.  It's amazing to me the way they draw a line, smudge it with their finger to make it softer (such as around the girl's cheeks, chin, and chest), outline edges in such a meaningful way, and breathe life into their pictures until they're done and you stand back and say "Wow!".

I was at an Oktoberfest celebration near my house recently and I saw this artist drawing this couple.  He was drawing them one at a time on the same sheet of paper and he didn't show it to both of them until he was done.  They loved it!

While I was standing there, I became intrigued with trying to capture him doing his work.  I had an idea for a great long exposure shot that would have showed his hands moving around the page while the rest of the picture was steady and sharp, but I didn't have a tripod with me.  So my next best idea was to show just his hands and the paper.  I thought this conveyed a slight sense of mystery to my photo because you know someone else is sitting there posing for him but you can't see them in my photo.

I wanted his hands and the all important pencil completely in the photo, but right at the edge of the frame to keep the viewer's attention inside the picture.

The main lesson I got from this photo was:  Keep your eyes open when you're walking around at special events!  Here I was drinking a beer and walking right by this cool scene and I almost didn't give it a second glance.  There are so many interesting opportunities like this if you just keep your eyes open.

From a technical perspective, this shot was simple.  I knew the camera would slightly under expose when it metered the mostly white scene, so I added +1/3 stop of exposure compensation to keep it bright.  I then had to further increase the exposure slightly more in Photoshop because it still came out a little underexposed.  I left the color balance the same because I like the glow of the tungsten light bulb that the artist was working under.  I thought it added some warmth to the otherwise mostly white feeling.

All in all, it's a shot that I like and it's another compositional and technical learning experience.


  1. Janet (a new reader of your blog!)October 23, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    john, i completely LOVE this photograph. i was thinking exactly what you wrote while viewing it about the warm light and his hands kind of holding the viewer's eye in the middle of the photo on the sketched faces. you take a lot of effort with this blog and i will rss it to receive updates. these kinds of stories about your photos add a lot of personality to your blog. nice!

  2. Hi Janet,

    Thanks for your feedback on this shot. My blog actually turned into more than I ever really envisioned for it, so in addition to me enjoying writing it, I'm glad that other people are enjoying reading it!

    Thanks again!