Tom McCreary, APSA, MPSA  

Tracing a Name At Vietnam Memorial by Tom McCreary, APSA, MPSA

May 2020 - Tracing a Name At Vietnam Memorial

May 2020 - Tom McCreary, APSA, MPSA


About the Image(s)

This was kind of a grab shot as I was in the line of slow moving people that was probably more crowded that usual as it was during the Cherry Blossom Festival two years ago. It was taken with a Nikon D7200 with a 18-300mm lens at 120mm, 1/400th second, f10, and ISO 400. I really like the shot, as I think it tells a really great story, and I am a Vietnam veteran. I used shadow and highlight sliders in Lightroom, decreased the exposure about 1/2 stop, added a small amount of both Haze reduction and Vibrance. In Photoshop I darkened the hats, darkened the jacket of the right side, and really darkened the upper right corner. I am dealing with contrasty light, reflections on a very dark wall, and that the reflection is darker than the image on the right. I do not plan on using it for PJ, so I can make all the changes that I want to get a good image. When I look at the original and the edited image I already see something that I can maybe do, and that is to mask the reflected person so that the area under his hat is not as dark when I darkened the exposure by 1/2 stop. Please give me your suggestions on how I can improve this image.

12 comments posted

Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
Hi Tom, you did a great job with the exposure of this. It is a classic name-tracing shot from the Vietnam Memorial. We have been there so many times over the years.
I noticed a fascinating nuance in your finished image. The man's reflection does not show his white hair and his skin looks smoother because the effect of direct sun is reduced in the reflection. Consequently, the reflected man looks a LOT younger. This could be the same man remembering how it was when he was there. You have captured an actual image of an imagined past. Many photographers have done composites of the same concept, but photoshopped together multiple images to get a mix of real people at the Memorial and their memories emerging through the wall. Your title could be "I was young when I was there." If you took out the paper and pencil, then the man would be staring at his past self.   Posted: 05/02/2020 08:37:12
Tom McCreary   Tom McCreary
Stephen, thanks for your comments. I had not looked at it that way. You presented an interesting point and idea about the image.   Posted: 05/02/2020 09:21:50

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67 & 89)
You did a lot of good things with this image. Maybe you didn't dress the man in the yellow jacket but that yellow really adds to the image. May I just know too much but the minute i saw this i knew what was happening and the emotion that goes with it was quite powerful. I'll agree about adjusting that shadow under the hat.

The only thing that is slightly annoying is that upper corner on the right. I wish it was just more wall.

When all is said and done---I think this is powerful.

Plus the man is wearing a Tilly Hat---they are the best!! :-)   Posted: 05/02/2020 16:13:14
Tom McCreary   Tom McCreary
Thanks for your comments. Making the corner more wall would not be at all accurate. But I do agree with you that the area is a real problem. I darkened it a lot, but it does still look bad. Maybe I should just make it blue sky? But then, the tree is reflected on the wall.   Posted: 05/02/2020 16:47:30
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67 & 89)
True the tree is on the wall, but purely from a point of view, could the tree be in front of the wall?

You and I know that it is not, but would someone else?   Posted: 05/02/2020 19:43:02

Rich Sears   Rich Sears
Impactful for the story told and for the strong color contrast between yellow and the black hue given off the wall. Of all the reflections of tree limbs onto the wall, and the belief they are coming from behind the subject, I would concur with changing the upper right to a blue sky. One would expect a darkened reflection but agree opening the shadow under the gentlemen's hat or changing exposure would eliminate that distraction.
Great capture Tom.
  Posted: 05/06/2020 16:33:03

Paul McLaughlin   Paul McLaughlin
Tom- I find it very emotional. I can almost feel his pain as he touches the wall. It is such a sacred place and your picture captures the rawness of the emotions that surface there. I find the the names showing through the refection extremely moving. I agree with changing the top right corner, but it my mind it does not detract from the image as it stands.   Posted: 05/09/2020 13:28:10

Grace Lee   Grace Lee
I agreed with Paul. It's such emotional story. zI think you done perfect edit job. Great capture Tom!   Posted: 05/10/2020 22:36:32

Tony Tam   Tony Tam
Tom, You created a very meaningful story image, it brings people into a memory. You cleverly use the reflection of name board to show both image of the mam, he is tracing his relative or friends name. This is a great shot, it should be the winning work!   Posted: 05/13/2020 12:52:17
Tom McCreary   Tom McCreary
It is a park ranger tracing a name for a person that was visiting the wall. Luckily the ranger was wearing green.   Posted: 05/13/2020 12:54:32

Barbara Mallon   Barbara Mallon
I like the feeling of this image. It is somewhat a feel of reaching for the dead and them reaching back. I agree it is a prizewinner. You could desaturate the right corner. It is the blue that is attracting unwanted attention not the brightness or the busyness. Congratulations!   Posted: 05/14/2020 17:44:53
Tom McCreary   Tom McCreary
Thanks for that suggestion. It would look look more realistic if I did that then to make it look like blue sky.   Posted: 05/14/2020 18:10:11


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