Michael Hrankowski  


Egyptian Broom Seller by Michael Hrankowski

November 2020 - Egyptian Broom Seller

November 2020 - Michael Hrankowski

Original 1

November 2020 - Michael Hrankowski

Original 2

November 2020 - Michael Hrankowski

Original 3

About the Image(s)

One of my favorite images from a trip to Egypt in 2009. Our tour group stopped to view the Colossi of Memnon. I had finished taking some photos and was heading back to the empty bus to review them. The man with the broom followed me but the bus driver shooed him away. I sat down on the bus and the man reappeared in the window opposite me. I grabbed my camera and got this one shot seconds before the bus driver chased him away.

Up until recently, I did not have the software or editing skills to get the most out of this photo. The original image was an x-fine jpeg that I imported into a trial version of Topaz JPEG to RAW software and output as a tiff file and then opened that up in LR. I did all the basic adjustments here to include exposure, contrast, color, and sharpening. I used the auto mask function to further correct the skin tones and face detail as well as evening out the exposure of his clothes.

I struggled with the crop as I often do - trying to decide how much context will best tell the story. I really wanted to have the broom in my final image, but the necessary cropping of distractions left what felt like an awkward aspect ratio and I gave up the context in favor of the subject.

I didn’t like the background in the tightly cropped image and I messed around with it for hours in both LR and PS, but couldn’t get something I was happy with. Finally, I brought it into Topaz Studio 2.

I masked the subject using a brush with a 100% feather and applied a custom filter to the unmasked areas based on the Impression, Photo Painting, Color and Vignette “Looks”. I liked the final look, but I wasn’t able to get rid of the sharp distinction between the background effect and the man’s arm and shoulder (left side of image). Finally, I brought it into PS and applied a blur and smudge to mimic the soft blending of the rest of the image.

For comparison, I took the final image back into LR and applied the B & W Preset #10. I like both the color and monochrome final images…but I really can’t decide which one has more impact.


This round’s discussion is now closed!
17 comments posted




Ruth Sprain   Ruth Sprain
Michael, welcome to Group 3! How fortunate you are to travel to places like Egypt! The character of this man's face with its wrinkles and scraggly beard is distinct and memorable. I agree with your decision to leave his clothing their original colors, since the clothing gives insight into his character. I'm not sure that the light blurred edge around the man's keffiyeh and bottom of the image works for me. The light color and blurring draws my eye there first instead of to the man's face. I'd also prefer the man's eyes not be so shadowed, since he has such a riveting stare. Congratulations on capturing a face with so much personality in a quick shot!   Posted: 11/08/2020 18:11:00
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Ruth, thank you for your comments. As Kieu-Han suggested, perhaps it would've been better to have left the original background. I got myself over-focused on the annoying white line between the background and the shoulder / arm of his jacket on the left side of the image. Try as I might, I was not able to fix that and ultimately gave up in favor of the blurred textured background...still working on my novice-level editing skills! Regarding the shadowed eyes....the sun was harsh and coming from the man's left side. I couldn't figure out a way to lighten the shadows on the right side of his face and not have that look unnatural given the direction of the sunlight.   Posted: 11/10/2020 13:29:16



Kieu-Hanh Vu   Kieu-Hanh Vu
Welcome to our group, Michael! I think that the color version works better since we have a chance to know more about the traditional clothes of local people. Your crop works well, but I'd prefer to keep the background of the original 1. The final version still has some flaws at the edges of his headpiece.
My question is: Why did you give the title of this image "Man with broom" then you cropped off his broom?   Posted: 11/09/2020 19:53:56
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Kieu-Han , thank you for your comments. First, regarding the title - LuAnn had put that title in as a place holder. The correct title is Egyptian Broom Seller and now shows up correctly under my image. The overlap of the texture layer onto the headpiece and shoulders was intentional to draw the eye to the man's face.... and to solve the problem of the unnatural edge of his left shoulder. I think you are right, however, that I could have done a better job of blending, especially on the left side of his headpiece.   Posted: 11/10/2020 13:15:33



Lisa Cirincione   Lisa Cirincione
Hi Michael, welcome to the group! This is a great image, and I agree with Kieu-Hanh, to keep the background of Original 1. But I do like the white vignetting. He has such a great look. The story makes me so sad, I would be the person holding up the bus so that I could buy one of his brooms!   Posted: 11/11/2020 13:56:26



Ian Chantler   Ian Chantler
(Groups 4 & 31)
Hi Michael
Not a group 3 member but I hope you are as happy in your group as I have been in mine
I do a lot of portraiture and I really like this the crop is really good you could even afford to crop down from the top a touch more fantastic detail in the mans face the colour of the clothes sit really well together the blurred background really makes the main subject stand out,the edge of the mans headscarf is slightly blurred but in this case it works.
You have created a really pleasing portrait the most important person to please is yourself so chill a little and be proud of what you create.
Enjoy your time with Group 3   Posted: 11/12/2020 13:23:11
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Thanks, Ian, for your comments. It goes to show that art is subjective. While I primarily do photography for my own enjoyment, it is nice to create images that other people enjoy. What good is creating art if no one other than yourself can enjoy it? My primary reason for joining the organization is to improve my photography. I tend to see the world very differently from most people (my personality profile and world outlook is only shared by 2% of the population!) ...so having other people comment on my images is a really good thing! I'm here to learn.   Posted: 11/12/2020 13:41:04
Ian Chantler   Ian Chantler
(Groups 4 & 31)
Hi Michael
It took your reply to make me realise it has a painterly look to it that is meant as a compliment its a portrait I would have been very proud to produce as I say enjoy what you do and I will be very keen to keep an eye on your work   Posted: 11/12/2020 17:14:57
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Ian, I find I really enjoy taking an image and experimenting with layers and filters to create different versions with different looks. Some subjects lend themselves really well to the painterly genre, while others don't. Portraits really aren't my main area of interest, but this broom seller was one of my favorite images from my trip to Egypt.   Posted: 11/12/2020 17:45:30



Mary Ann Carrasco   Mary Ann Carrasco
Michael, Welcome to our group! I like all of the versions but if I had to pick, I would go with version #2. I think the broom adds alot to the photo and gives it a different feel than the others. Perhaps taking down the brightness in the background would have the man and broom stand out more in that version. But all the portraits are very beautiful as you can see the details of the face. Very poignant photographs.   Posted: 11/12/2020 15:57:17
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Thanks for your feedback, Mary Ann. As I mentioned in my description, I really wanted to include the broom but I thought the odd aspect ratio detracted. Also, my editing skills aren't developed enough to be able to blur the in-focus mountains in the background. I will most likely keep coming back to the broom seller as my skills improve and we'll see what happens then!   Posted: 11/12/2020 17:49:51
Mary Ann Carrasco   Mary Ann Carrasco
It just occurred to me in reading your response that you might try a double exposure that would help with the background and the aspect ratio. I have just played with that a bit and it can be very interesting and fun.   Posted: 11/12/2020 17:53:18



LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Hello Michael,

Wow, what an excellent opportunity to visit Egypt and a wonderful capture of this broom seller.

I like the earthy tones in your image, and the man's face has lots of character. The background is nice in that it does not bring in any distractions. You can tell a good story about this middle eastern man with or without the broom.

I do agree with Ian about a tighter crop from the top of the portrait down. I also like the photo with the broom because of the bigger story it tells about the man. As far as the background, I like the original 2 background as it would fit a travel photography competition including something to tell of the location.

You did not mention what camera you used nor your settings. When I looked at these images in Lightroom, the highlights were a bit overexposed in his head covering, and the highlights on his face were bright making his face shiny. You could probably adjust this in the RAW file; these were just jpeg's.

The white vignette is not working for me. It does not look natural to the desert scene (it's too white); it's also too noticeable. If you submit this image for competition, I recommend a vignette that is felt rather than seen.

Lastly, did you take a close look at the man's eyes? The color seemed soft and not full of color. Was he blind, maybe? Could that be why he was a broom seller? I am sure he lived an interesting life. Like Lisa, I would have bought a broom from him too.

Best regards,
LuAnn   Posted: 11/15/2020 13:18:52
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Great comments, LuAnn. Thank you. Not putting the camera/lens in my description was an oversight.. so here it is: Nikon D7100 with Nikon 18-200 zoom, f8, 1/250, JPEG XX fine (back when I took it, I wasn't shooting RAW and had essentially no editing experience). I was never impressed with that lens and I was never able to get images as sharp as I would have liked. Regarding the man's eyes... he certainly wasn't completely blind, as he could see well enough to follow me, but his eyes do have the appearance of having advanced cataracts. My original reason for not including the broom was that I thought the crop ratio looked awkward. Curious what your opinion is on that? Lastly, if I were to rework Original 2, would you critique it for me? Thanks again for your input!   Posted: 11/15/2020 19:35:47
LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Sure Michael, I would be happy to help.

Do you shoot in an aperture mode? Like aperture priority, or shutter priority, or manual? Just curious. I think I had that same lens back when I had my Nikon D7000. My lens had lens creep so I had to keep a lens band on it so it wouldn't zoom out on its own. My images weren't that sharp with that lens either. But, it was all I could afford at the time.

You mentioned the crop angle looked awkward. Was that because you capture the man's photo from the window of the bus? Your position does seem to be high.

I look forward to your edit.

Best regards,
LuAnn   Posted: 11/15/2020 20:59:43



Randolph Shine   Randolph Shine
Welcome to the group. Some where between original#1 and the submitted image is a lot of hard work. Original #1 gives me more charter lines and the eyes are better balanced. I think just a little more exposure on his face would solve a lot of the issues mentioned above.   Posted: 11/15/2020 14:31:56
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Thanks, Randolph. Appreciate the feedback. I think I'm going to go back to the drawing board (i.e., Lr and PS) and see what I can do with Original #2   Posted: 11/15/2020 19:37:10