Pondering Portraits

 My wife took this portrait of our daughter dressed up for her school leaver’s party. And while it may have been my wife who wielded the camera and pressed the shutter, I think of the end result as more of a joint effort.

Esther Leaver's Ball #8

I rather went to town in Lightroom to deal with a host of exposure issues. The picture was taken late afternoon on a clear, sunny day, using available light only. No fill-in flash, no reflectors, no nothing. The light is coming from behind my daughter so her face is in shadow. The contrast levels were quite high and it was a bit of a job to rescue her features without blowing out the highlights.

The biggest remaining problem is noise. The ISO setting had been left at 400 from a previous shoot, so the base image was noisier than it need have been. The fiddling with exposure in Lightroom added to the noise, particular in the area of my daughter’s face. The fact that the final image is heavily cropped has made the noise even more noticeable.

I think the tight crop works best, but my wife had originally shot a full length portrait to show off the dress. This is the image before cropping:

Esther Leaver's Ball #7

The much improved noise reduction system in Lightroom 3 makes a big difference. The noise is visible but has not ruined the portrait.

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