Menma with Flowers

Alter_ Menma_5502

So I was yet another wedding a couple of months back, and when it (finally) came time to leave, the wife insisted on taking the small box of little white flowers on our table home with us for figure photos. The flowers didn’t strike me as a great prop, but I heeded her advice and drove back with the loot. Before the flowers wilted, I took a quick shot of Menma with them, if only to end the incessant questions of “when are you going to take picture with flowers?”

I threw the shot above on Google+, and to my surprise it ended being pretty well-received (judging by the number of +1’s, the vague measure of approval on the platform). On top of that, the photo did decently on flickr too. I suppose the colour of the flowers matches Menma’s hair colour rather well, and since I shot this indoors while blasting it with two flashes, the lighting conditions were better controlled than the real flowers in Washington. Still, I found the image somewhat flat due to the lack of contrasting colours. The only colour that stood out was the blue in her eyes, and though I increased the saturation of the blues and aquas, as well a the reds and oranges to add some warmth to her skin colour, the image as a whole is still a far cry from being vibrant.

Still, I did do a few things differently in this shot that might have contributed to its positive receptions — in fact, they were things I did not do from my usual fare.

The raw export without any adjustments.

I decided against adjusting the clarity slider for this shot. While this particular setting in Lightroom has added extra pop to most of my figure shots in the past, I quickly realized that they were not ideal when shooting people if the idea is to make look pretty. It brings out a lot of details that I don’t necessarily want to see with such clarity. Over time, the slider has become with grittiness and the dramatic. It also has the unwelcome tendency of increasing the visibility of dust. These are all reasons why I’ve been weaning myself off the setting recently when I don’t have a good reason to use it, and since this shot is going more of a light and fluffy feel, I left the clarity slider alone.

The other thing I didn’t do was add vignetting. I add post-processing vignetting to most of my shots. I just find it makes most shots look a bit better, probably because it’s subtly directs the viewer’s attention to the centre of the image. But once again, since I was going for “light and fluffy, I added some reverse vignetting to make the corner brighter.

before and after

So this is how the shot came together. While I don’t consider it an amazing shot, I’m still very glad that I took that box of flowers. To the fellow photographers amongst you: how would you edit this shot? What’s your favourite trick to spice up a shot?

3 replies on “Menma with Flowers”

You keep reminding me that G+ exists, which is good! I should go and participate on those figure Fridays again.

It’s good to see I wasn’t crazy when I saw the photo earlier. Something did seem different than usual but I couldn’t quite think of what it was. I like it quite a bit.

Interesting thought about the vignetting, never thought to use it at all with my figure photos. I think I will go experiment with that.

G+ is great! There’s a solid core of active users, and it’s definitely a welcome alternative to the all-consuming monster MFC has become.

It’s the first time I’ve ever used reverse vignetting, and I’d be hard pressed to think of another shot where I’d use it. On a side note, I find it ironic how camera nerds make a huge deal about lens vignetting when a) Lightroom can just correct it with a single button click and b) people tend to add vignetting during post-processing anyway.

I think I would have done pretty much what you did. Bump the saturation, and maybe not raise the white levels but lower the black levels some.

The other thing I thought about was desaturating the flowers a little bit to emphasize Menma’s skin tones.

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