A retired farmer

Here’s another image for comment, sent in this time by Catherine Nelson-Pollard.

About the photo she writes: This is a neighbour who used to be a farmer He misses having land to work on (he now lives in an apartment) so he finds any spare bit of land nearby even if it is next to the railway where he plants vegetables and crops. I took this standing slightly below the fence so the fence line is in the shot and across his face which I think is distracting. What do you think?

Thanks for braving public comment Catherine. What an interesting character. It’s a great idea to include something in a portrait that says something about your subject and you’ve done so in this image – the branches of what appears to be grapevines. It also looks like you've used fill-in flash to illuminate his face and give a catchlight in his eye. It’s a very useful technique, and one used all the time by pros (to the mystification of snapshotters. “Why’s s/he using flash in broad daylight?” they ask.)

However, I agree with you about the fence line. It is very distracting, especially as the wire runs directly beneath his nose!

On top of that, I would guess that having worked on the land, he has very interesting hands and he appears to be holding something ... the handle of a spade? But we can’t really see clearly because of the branches and dead leaves in the way. The hands could be a feature in a portrait of this man.

So, I’d say a higher viewpoint that lets us see his face and hands, but reduces the importance of the wire and branches, would work much better.

And there’s more ... your autofocus (I’d guess) has locked on to the fence wire so the principal point of interest in this image, your subject’s face, is out of focus. On many cameras a way around this is to point the autofocus spot at the point where you want the focus, depress the shutter half-way to lock the setting, and then move the camera to compose. Either that, or turn the autofocus off completely and focus by hand.

Finally, you seem to have got a touch of the dreaded ‘purple fringing’ in the sky. This is a form of chromatic aberration that digital cameras are prone to, especially when shooting against a very light sky. It’s grounds for rejection in many photo agencies.

There isn’t space to go into its causes here, but there is little you can do about it in-camera. Google the term and you’ll find out all the technical details, and several ways of getting rid of it with image editing programs.

Thanks again Catherine. Look forward to seeing more of your photographs.

Other comments anyone?

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