Bunny Laden  

Hope Triumphs Over Atrocities by Bunny Laden

February 2021 - Hope Triumphs Over Atrocities

February 2021 - Bunny Laden


February 2021 - Bunny Laden

Original 2

About the Image(s)

Children listen intensely to a teacher from the Cambodian Master Performers Program as he gives a music lesson with the hope of bringing back arts to Cambodia. (Ninety percent of Khmer artists were murdered under Pol Pot’s regime in the 1970’s). The backdrop is an image of some of the 5,000+ skulls at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center Memorial.

I took these photos in 2013 using a consumer-grade camera‚Ä”Panasonic DMC-FZ200 and before I knew how to use Lightroom and Photoshop. The pandemic gave me an opportunity to revisit the images and try some post-processing skills.

I removed the glass reflections using a frequency separation technique based on a median filter. Then I used perspective warp in Photoshop.

For the children, I adjusted tonal balance, applied some noise reduction, removed a few spots, and brushed out the background.

My intention was to make an impactful image, but I think the story has to accompany it so the viewer understands. I look forward to your opinion on the concept and also any tips on the processing.

8 comments posted

Emil Davidzuk   Emil Davidzuk

I love what you created and pleased that you shared it with us. I have not explored using frequency separation technique but I need to check into it. I think your idea of warping the background is super, it makes your composition more powerful


Emil   Posted: 02/04/2021 10:58:54
Bunny Laden   Bunny Laden
Thanks for your kind words Emil. I had to warp the background as a necessity to make the skulls appear in a reasonable space.   Posted: 02/20/2021 15:22:02

LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Hello Bunny,

You have a wonderful portrait of these three children, but what a horrible story the skulls in the background tell for Cambodia's children.

There is a nice range of grey tones in the histogram, from black to white. The eyes have warm expressions with catchlights in them all. The skin tones are soft and have a good tone for a portrait. Their hair shows details and childlike softness around their faces. I also notice the golden spiral lines up with the girl's right eye and then flows up to the upper right corner.

My only comment is to lower the highlights by -13 because the lower edge of the frame seems to be clipping.

Well done, my dear lady!

Best regards,

LuAnn   Posted: 02/05/2021 14:42:09
Bunny Laden   Bunny Laden
Thank you for the suggestion LuAnn. I'll try that with the highlights. We were all sitting in a semi-open pavilion. As it sometimes happens with candid shots, the children were half in the shade and half in the bright sun. I'll see what I can do.   Posted: 02/20/2021 15:23:41

Bob Legg   Bob Legg
Bunny, you've created a powerful image using the skulls and the kids. Yes, it needs some story or photo caption to relay to the viewer why these kids have the skulls behind them. The kids are well exposed and composed and unaware what has happened behind them. That's great, they will see the image published somewhere and will treasure it because the photographer made the image come to life. Sorry I can't comment on frequency separation.   Posted: 02/05/2021 14:53:03
Bunny Laden   Bunny Laden
Thanks for your insight Bob. Our local JCC is hosting a photo exhibit with our local camera club (online, of course). They chose to interview me for a few minutes so I can explain the context. I am grateful for that!   Posted: 02/20/2021 15:25:08

Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Bunny, sometimes (like now) I see an image that brings shivers of memory. Your photograph is one of those. It is not just powerful; it is also thought-provoking.

When I was in high school, 55 years ago, I went with my parents to Hong Kong. There I saw the boat people --families that couldn't afford a house or an apartment. Instead, they lived on their small boats which were permanently tied to other boats along the shore. The memory that has remained with me since that time was of the children. Their clothes were simple and drab, but they smiled and laughed as they chased each other from boat to boat. Your image brought back those memories. Regardless of the situation they grow up in, children can usually find ways to enjoy living.

Your image is wonderful. Thank you for sharing it.   Posted: 02/20/2021 13:27:45
Bunny Laden   Bunny Laden
Thanks for sharing your memories Oliver! It is wonderful that children do seem to find joy in life, no matter what. We need to keep some of that ability as we get older.   Posted: 02/20/2021 15:20:55


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