It’s what I felt

Somewhere in thoughts

A couple of years ago I purchased a new 70-300mm lens and took to the streets to see how it worked. I wanted to make sure my investment was going to make me a better photographer. 🙂 I’d headed to the old part of town where they have an area setup as a square. It was around 10:30 in the morning when I noticed this young man sitting dejectedly. All of his body language seemed forlorn, telling me life was not going well. I kept my distance and shot this at 300mm. Just after I took this image a young lady joined him. I’d peeked into their lives for a moment and now needed to move on.

Anyway, the mood of this scene is why I raised my camera to my eye. His emotions and struggle are what I felt. I’m not sure how much attention I paid to the composition of this scene, it was taken too long ago. But, as I study the image, I think my focus was on his body language. There is a sadness in his face. The first time I posted this image I did it in black and white.  Since posting this image I’ve learned more about the  power of Lightroom and how to express more about what I felt when I took the image. So,I revisited this image and place more of the focus on him and tried to eliminate as much distraction as possible. I also added the sepia feel to go along with the mood I felt when taking this image. Again, I ask for feedback on what you think of this version.

This entry was posted in Candid Portraits, Documentary/Street and tagged , , , .


  1. Eric Easley August 12, 2010 at 12:05 am #

    I like this version quite a bit. Not being an expert, I have no idea if it’s the subject, the composition, or the sepia tone that make this image (or even all three). What I do know is that the image feels profound and the emotions deep. I also like how it looks like there is a spotlight on the kid, while the background remains darker–like your focus on him is illuminating the darkness of his emotions.

    • Monte Stevens August 12, 2010 at 7:48 am #

      That’s exactly what I felt and wanted to portray, Eric, “…the darkness of his emotions.”

  2. Chris Klug August 12, 2010 at 12:17 am #

    I like this quite a bit, it feels like we’re eavesdropping. I think that’s due in part to the compression from the telephoto. very nice.

    • Monte Stevens August 12, 2010 at 7:49 am #

      Your comment is another reason I need others to see my work. I totally missed the compression factor as a reason I like this image. See, I need you guys.

  3. QPB (Mary Ann) August 12, 2010 at 5:58 am #

    I liked the b/w, but this photo really captures the mood you described to a tee. Speaks a little more loudly or perhaps a bit differently than the b/w. I really enjoy using LR myself, lots to learn with it.

    • Monte Stevens August 12, 2010 at 7:51 am #

      I’m just scratching the surface of Lightroom 3 and excited about what it can do. Moods, such simple things can create mood.

  4. Paul Maxim August 12, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    A very good image, Monte. The only thing I don’t care for is the post (or whatever it is) in the left foreground. If this is about the young man’s mood, nothing else should be in focus – at least not in front of him.

    And I definitely would have taken a few more after the girl arrived! If he was gloomy before she got there, there’s a good chance that there was a connection.

    • Monte Stevens August 12, 2010 at 9:02 am #

      From where I was I could not move the post so that’s what I ended up with. And, another reason for vignetting the image. I suppose I could have burned it a bit darker but I do not want the image to be any darker than it is. The girl appeared after I had moved on and I felt inclined to let them have their space.

  5. Steve Skinner August 12, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    Burning in the top corners really helps center the boy and directs your eye. Great job.

    • Monte Stevens August 12, 2010 at 9:40 am #

      Thanks, Steve, and, I enjoyed the process of trying different things.

  6. Don August 12, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    I love this composition because it is more dramatic compared to the first b&w that was light and did not focus on his mood.

    • Monte Stevens August 12, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

      Well said, Don. Having the light focused on him was what was needed in my opinion.

  7. Earl August 12, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    Monte, I think this version more closely fits the mood you described and I like it.

    I do agree with Paul M. that the post in the left foreground is distracting. Perhaps a “sin” to some, but I would photoshop it out and then lighten the vignetting a tiny bit.

    • Monte Stevens August 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

      Is that a venial sin and what penance will be required? I’ve done that by the way, cropping out and penance. 🙂

      • Earl August 12, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

        For some, including me, it’s not a sin at all. To others, yes, a forgivable sin, but for some, totally unforgivable. I don’t pay penance for what I do of choice and freewill. 😉

        Only if I’m shooting with a purpose of documenting something do I hold fast to an absolutely no manipulation of the original pixels policy. All other shots that fall within a personal/artistic envelop are fair game for the purpose of my vision. Of course, I do have certain personal taste limits — some may doubt that. 😉

  8. pj finn August 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    You captured the mood beautifully — very introspective photo. The vignetting works well.

    As for the post, quite honestly I didn’t even notice it until someone commented on it. You highlighted the young man so well that my eye went immediately to him. I suppose it could be photoshopped or cropped out, but I don’t really see a need for that.

    • Monte Stevens August 12, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

      Maybe I need to contact the city and have them remove that post for me. I’m in your camp as I did not notice it much, but then my focus was so much on him. It is so awesome to see the difference in each of our lens we use.

  9. David Leland Hyde August 13, 2010 at 4:07 am #

    Truly a great photograph. As you might imagine, I disagree with removing the post. This kind of controversy has raged on and on and I’m sure will continue. Photoshop has made removal sluts of everyone these days, but there are a whole lot of people, particularly in higher level galleries and museums who will ask you if the image was digitally manipulated in any way. Then you are stuck losing credibility or lying or both. Even if you are up front about it, you still loose the respect of plenty of decision makers, unless you style of work or art is to move things around in Photoshop all the time. But then you’re talking about a different art form, not strictly photography. The street photographers of the 1960s would love that post and revel in its irregularity, fuzziness and what it ADDS to the photograph. You have made a profound work of art. Please don’t degrade it with someone’s boiler plate rules about what a composition should be.

    • Monte Stevens August 13, 2010 at 7:52 am #

      Thanks, David for your comments. I know a fellow photographer who dug his heals in when moving to digital, and primarily because of the fear there was too much manipulation being done. Yet, I have witnessed him manipulate a scene by removing objects he felt were objectionable, including a tree that had fallen across the small stream he desired to photograph and wasn’t there the last time he shot that scene. My comment that the city needed to remove the post was an attempt at humor.

      And, manipulation in Photoshop requires time and practice where I would rather be learning aspects of other tools in my post processing. Hopefully I have doged and burned enough to pull the viewer to the face and body of the young man so that he is the center of attention. That was my goal.

      Yes, this is a touchy subject as we will have a wide variety of opinions.

  10. Paul Maxim August 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    Sheesh. Some folks seem to have gotten a little riled up about my “post” comment. Do you suppose they even noticed that you asked for opinions? And that’s all it was – an opinion. My opinion. It certainly wasn’t intended as some kind of “boiler plate rule”. It’s simply what I might have done in the same set of circumstances.

    • Monte Stevens August 13, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

      I don’t see it that way, Paul. We all wear different glasses as we view the world. We also feel and experience it in different ways. It’s okay for us to express ourselves, isn’t that what we do with our photography, and some will not like it and some wont. Your opinion is important so please feel free to express it.

  11. David Leland Hyde August 17, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    Hi Monte, thank you for standing up for me also being able to express my opinion about the photograph and about the opinions. Paul, I am not riled up. My reference to boiler-plate rules did not specifically apply to your “not caring for the post.” I was referring to the trend of some of the comments here and a general trend among a certain segment of online photographers that shows a dependence on rules of composition and attaining a certain clean look over realism. If the shoe fits and you are part of this group, that’s fine. We can agree to disagree. As you point out yourself, directing the focus toward the Boy in the center is what works for this image and with that I agree. This is not necessarily a point of composition, but of emphasis that you are making. Monte did let the post go soft and made the adjustments necessary to accomplish what I think is the proper emphasis without making alterations that change the real, street feel of the photograph. Either way, you are most certainly entitled to your opinion as far as I’m concerned, as I am to mine, hopefully without offense taken on either side.

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