Home
Up
Gallery
Snapshot Portraits
Some Black and White Photos
Manual Focusing with Nikon CP5700
Getting the Redeye Out
Essays

Snapshot Portraits

Return to Photography Page

I'm fascinated with what can be done with photos in the computer. These are some examples of portraits that started as snapshots. Click on the small photos to see full-size versions.

Tasha+12-6-00-3.jpg (116514 bytes) Tasha, 2000. Another shot of our dog that had a good expression, but the background was all wrong. Tasha+12-6-00-4.jpg (86027 bytes) She was extracted from the original photo and set in front of our fireplace, with colors and tones corrected.
Zoe and Easter Basket.jpg (64540 bytes) Zoe and Easter Basket, 2001. Her doting grandmother took this. It has a sweet appeal, but at the same time seemed to me to suggest something more. Zoe and Easter Basket-dream copy.jpg (234390 bytes) A different framing required adding grass to the top. Color correction and some blur added to everything but her face lent a bit of dreaminess and smoothed the low-resolution chunkiness. I added a flower to her hand, as well.
Tasha 11-01-3.jpg (540026 bytes) Tasha, 2003. She was chewing on a stick, and I knew that a black dog is often a difficult exposure subject. Her muzzle is gray, but her coat is still gloriously black. Tasha 11-01-03-3-640.jpg (515020 bytes) It took a lot of layers to separate different tone areas on her fur, and a lot of color correction to make her look black instead of red. The grass had to be subdued, as well.
DSCN1225.jpg (295453 bytes) Liz, 2003. Trying to get a shot of kids playing in dim light and no flash. It just didn't work. Liz.jpg (305435 bytes) But when I looked more closely, the mother took all of my attention. I subdued the background a little. The motion--her gesture-- became 
the picture.
Cant 3-motor-1.jpg (90557 bytes) Cant Bomber, 2003. I know, this isn't a portrait of a person, but it seems a portrait anyway, even if it is a model airplane. Cant at AA copy.jpg (62381 bytes) Providing a suitable background, and spinning the propellers makes it look more authentic, don't you agree? The airport is Ann Arbor.
Shirley 1982 Ann Arbor-640.jpg (333591 bytes) Shirley, 1982. This has been one of my favorite snapshots of my daughter. As sweet Shirley, it doesn't need a thing. Blue-82.jpg (332372 bytes) But seen a little differently, it reveals an impish quality that it seemed could be brought out with color and a dry-brush filter.
DSCN0021-640.jpg (204787 bytes) Don, 2003. A quick snapshot by Judith with my new Nikon 5700. (I'm getting to hate flash-on-camera!) Neither of us liked the portrait very much, but with all that resolution, I wanted to see what I could make from it.  Don with camera.jpg (407792 bytes) After tilting the head, I compressed it vertically about ten percent. The camera and tripod was shot just for this, and the background replaced by a gradient with added noise..
BeforeKarsh.jpg (256466 bytes) Don, 2003. Another quick snapshot by Judith. These weren't serious photographs- just playing with a new toy (that costs almost nothing to play with). by Judith Karsh 640.jpg (172292 bytes) Sometimes color hides whatever drama there might be in a photo. I titled this "by Judith Karsh" (with apologies to the master).
29734379105_0_ALB.jpg (19521 bytes) Cynthia, 2002. This was taken by a friend. Looking closely at it, I saw the charm of the real person, and worked it into the portrait at right. cynthia-1.jpg (44565 bytes) The original file is quite small, with low resolution. However, as I worked I liked the effect blown up about 3X, rather like an impressionistic painting.
28225379105_0_ALB.jpg (20113 bytes) Cynthia and Don, 2002. This was like the one above, but I didn't like the way the two people are visually connected. Cynthia and don copy.jpg (102613 bytes) Using the Layers feature of Photoshop made this rearrangement easy. I used four layers in all. (There's still no doubt about which figure is dominant, is there?)
Shirley at Discovery Bay.jpg (245905 bytes) Shirley, 2001. This was a rather casual snapshot made more to capture the flavor of a vacation cabin than as a portrait. A moment of quiet after breakfast. Notice the red-eye caused by the on-camera flash. Shirley Bronze BG.jpg (47373 bytes) I got rid of the blue sweatshirt under her sweater, and the entire background. Her hands came out unnaturally light, so I darkened them. I tried several background colors, finally settling on this bronze gradient. The lighting on her face is still quite flat, of course. I haven't discovered yet how to add an angled keylight.
Wendi hair up 640.jpg (312106 bytes) Wendi, 2002. Someone else took this among a couple of rolls of film that I borrowed. I was happy that the background was plain. First step red-eye control, of course. I also blurred the focus just a little to soften the grain of the negative. Wendi hair up head only.jpg (208708 bytes) I outlined her head and shoulders in a new layer in order to add some texture to the background with Paint Daubs filter. The outline of her head was feathered, and then made even softer with the eraser tool to hold the wisps of hair. A little airbrush darkened parts of the background. I wanted the mood to be cool and light, as is the subject.
mom & deb.jpg (184923 bytes) Nana and Deb, 2001. One of those quick shots of two people who are about to part and a relative wants a snapshot. The young woman probably isn't straining as much as it looks here. mom & deb altered.jpg (128038 bytes) Fortunately, the dark jacket could absorb a lot of compression to get the two people closer together. Her neck was more work.
 Judith with umbrella.jpg (214378 bytes) Judith with umbrella. Not a special portrait (bad reflection in glasses), but one to play with. I thought the mechanical parts of the umbrella were distracting. Judith with umbrella copy.jpg (154594 bytes) I selected Judith in Photoshop, then inverted the selection and called up the DreamyPhoto plug-in filter, and softened the focus of all but the figure, using a generous amount of blend. It kept her face in focus.
D & S 4-29-01-1.jpg (381282 bytes) Don & Shirley, 2001. The guy on the left is all washed out (that is not to say washed up), but she is charming. Shirley from D & S 4-29-01-1.jpg (343253 bytes) I used layers to eliminate the man but pick up fragments of the background from his layer, then adjusted the angle, the color of her face (it was rather pink), and put a bit of color back in the highlights of her hair.