Carol Sheppard  

Street Musician of Taos by Carol Sheppard

June 2020 - Street Musician of Taos

About the Image(s)

ISO800, 105mm, F5.7, 1/350

This was handheld, taken with my Canon 50d. It was my first photography group trip, and I felt very intimidated at the time with getting out into a crowd and taking pictures of people on the street. But I had forgotten that I actually did it!

I found this man's demeanor very appealing for his total approachability. There was a music and arts festival going on in Taos, and there were people of all types to photograph. I did minimal adjustments, all within Lightroom. It was taken in natural light, and I didn't crop or remove anything. I photographed this musician from different perspectives, with his permission, to get the angle that offered the least background clutter.

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

J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
I think this is a nice image. I like the colors in it and the brightness of the image. I also like the angle you shot this at with the bow forming a leading line up into the scene. It's also a nice sharp image of the man and his violin.

There is one distraction for me though, and that is the woman's butt right behind the violin. To me, it stands out too much and it is located in such a critical part of the image.   Posted: 06/02/2020 09:51:06

Ed Tepper   Ed Tepper
it's really hard not to have background clutter at a festival and I think you did a good job of eliminating most of it to keep the focus on your subject. Maybe if you opened the aperture up and decreased the ISO to compensate for exposure, you might have gotten more bokeh to blur the background more.

The bright white shirt on the woman in the background attracts my eye too much for my taste. I think if you added a vignette around the man to darken the background, that distraction may not be there.   Posted: 06/03/2020 20:44:25

Carol Sheppard   Carol Sheppard
Your comments are understandable. After seeing the webinar by James Maher today, I think I feel more comfortable standing firm with my work. As street photography, there is no perfect setup. The choice was to take the picture in a crowded venue or not. It could have been a white sign, a building or a car. If I vignette, it will be labeled by some as a portrait. This man is a street musician in a candid street image. If you didn't see the webinar today, I suggest it. It will help us all in our critiques of street photography, I think.   Posted: 06/04/2020 22:50:47
Ed Tepper   Ed Tepper
I saw the webinar and really enjoyed it and I applaud your decision to stand by your work. You may have noticed that I stand by mine <smile>. I add a vignette to just about all my photos. It's a very light vignette, perceptible only if you really examine it but it works to draw the viewer's eye to where you want it to be. I use the graduated radial filter, not the vignette tool so I have total control over where the vignette is placed. Maher didn't get too much into post-processing but he does, like just about everyone else, use the tools available to him to make the photo look better than the camera is capable of doing.

In my mind there is such a thing as a candid street portrait. Even a not so candid street portrait. Look up the Humans of New York series, for example. Anyhow, maybe we can continue this conversation in the new chat room. Cheers.   Posted: 06/05/2020 22:51:58
Victor Dallons   Victor Dallons
I watched the webinar too and thought it was well done, bringing forth a lot of considerations when doing street photography.

I agree there is rarely a perfect set-up instreet photography, but we do our best to capture the mood and setting while minimizing that which distracts us from our subject(s).   Posted: 06/11/2020 13:21:42
Bill Foy   Bill Foy
I missed the webinar but have a pretty good idea of what Maher thinks about Street Photography since I've been following him for a few years.   Posted: 06/13/2020 16:11:10

Beverly Caine   Beverly Caine
The subject of the photo is extremely well done. What I did in my feedback was select the two corners separately and in adjustments brightness toned them down so they were not too glaring. I honestly can't make up my mind if they're better or not so I'm looking forward to your reaction.   Posted: 06/09/2020 06:27:53
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Victor Dallons   Victor Dallons
I like the concentrated expression of the fiddler as he plays his tune. To me, I feel he is listening intently to other musicians to keep in sync with the rest of the group. To that observation, I like that his ear is so prominent. The highlights in his eyes make him look lively. From the background, I can tell the setting is a festival or he is a street musician. I think this is a nice portrait.

Photographing in strong harsh sunlight can be very difficult. The range of light is often beyond what the dynamic range of our sensors can handle. For photography where there is no movement, some people us High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, but for street photography, this is not possible. Often or choice it these circumstance is to go to black and white, the high contrast just looks better in black and white. Because of the limited dynamic range, we have to decide whether we want detail in the brights or the darks, and adjust our exposure that way. On bright sunny days I often adjust my exposure compensation down one or more stops to maintain as much detail in the brights if possible. If the brights are over-exposed, you can not recover any information, and the image appears blown out. I find that there is still a lot of information in the darks that can be recovered in post processing. I always shoot in RAW so that there is more information in the shadows to work on. This approach gives me more options on what to do with the image, to either keep the brights as very bright areas, or tone them down and bring up the brightness of the rest of the image. There are some technical considerations with this approach; mainly if shadows are brightened in ACR or Lightroom, the colors tend to shift, especially skin tones, they become redder.

For me, the white shirt in the background is a distraction, toning it down in the color version results in it becoming grey because the area is over-exposed and "blown out" is still distracting because it has been obviously modified. However, toning down that area in a b&W image would not be so distracting.

Another possibility would be to highly desaturate the image, leaving a little color for pastel tones. To me, the high contrast between the red in the mans face, and white shirt in the background makes it difficult to stay focused on the man. Then the grey from darkening the shirt is a little less obvious. I find that adding a little color to the shirt also helps reduce the contrast.

Sorry about the long rambling observations. For me, this image had a lot of possibility.   Posted: 06/11/2020 13:13:19
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Victor Dallons   Victor Dallons
I was looking at some of the metadata for these files and noticed that your color profile was untaged. That means that the colors I see on my monitor may be considerably different than what you see on yours. I have no idea what color profile my system assumed the image was in. I always set my color profiles to sRGB when posting to the web, though most browsers these days will properly display colors for other specified prifiles such as Adobe RGB or Pro-Photo.   Posted: 06/12/2020 15:23:20

Karen Johnson-Nieuwendijk   Karen Johnson-Nieuwendijk
I love folk festivals and can always get interesting photos from them. I love the image of the fiddler as he is concentrating on his music. It is very sharp in all details, but the bright white behind him does distract me. I have tried in photoshop and lightroom but cannot tone down the blown out highlights. Victor's image does but it lacks some of the vibrancy you saw in the original image. I also saw the webinar and enjoyed it immensely. It doesn't have to be a photo to be in a composition, just a slice of life.   Posted: 06/11/2020 14:53:37

Carol Sheppard   Carol Sheppard
These are all great insights. I sill like my original, recognizing that I would have benefitted from not having someone in white so close behind the subject. Vignettes are a great suggestion, and I'm sure toning down, selective desaturation all are possible, but it loses the street look for me then. What a quandary! I just like the musician's look!
  Posted: 06/12/2020 20:59:39

Bill Foy   Bill Foy
I like the heck out of this image. I'm not surprised by all the comments about the "blown out" area in back of the man. I'm in the process of watching a Netflix series filmed in Norway. There are a ton of outdoor scenes with a "blown out" background. No one notices those things in movies or television because they're concentrating on the character. Why is it different in photography? If I had done anything to this image, it would have been cropping the bottom to the top of the man's belt, just below the base of his bow.   Posted: 06/13/2020 16:24:45

Carol Sheppard   Carol Sheppard
I had a very odd reason for not doing that, even though I considered it. It reminded me of someone who I knew that passed away, and he wore his keys like that and was always underweight so his body type in jeans and shirt were nearly identical.   Posted: 06/13/2020 21:58:36
Bill Foy   Bill Foy
Carol, click the REPLY button at the end of a response you're replying to in order to keep all the commentary between you and whoever you're conversing with together. You'll see this comment indented under the comment of yours that I'm replying to.   Posted: 06/13/2020 22:13:16