<<< o >>>don't look up 94 comments + add yours

For most of the time our three year old acts as though she were possessed, and "relaxed" is the very last word you would use to describe her. Rarely though, as with this shot, she appears almost magically elfin and mysteriously calm.

Oh, and this is one that must be viewed with the dark theme.

Update (31st December, 2004): The final Photo Friday challenge for this year is Best of 2004 and it didn't take me long to decide that I should put this shot up. Technically I'm not sure that it's my best shot, but it's certainly one of my most striking and one of the ones I'm most proud of out of all the ones I've posted in the last 12 months. And oddly enough, this time last year, I posted a shot of the same daughter for the Photo Friday Best of 2003 challenge.

Update #2 (11th January, 2005): I'm really pleased to be able to say that this shot was awarded a noteworthy. Many thanks to everyone who voted :-)

capture date
focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
6.36pm on 14/12/04
Canon 20D
EF 70-200 f/4L USM
200mm (320mm equiv.)
shutter priority
3x2 + photo friday [noteworthy] + children [portraits]
comment by frisky? at 09:52 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

awesome! Im a huge anime fan, so you can imagine how much I love this shot! She looks like an anime character! Beautiful shot!!!! wow.

comment by Dan at 10:15 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

looks misterious...nice pic

comment by marc at 10:18 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

Nice shot! What was your setup for this shot? what did you bounce the flash off of?

comment by Brad at 10:19 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

that's stunning! Love the framing and I also like it in the grey theme.

comment by djn1 at 10:25 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

frisky: for some reason the anime link didn't occur to me, but I can see what you mean.

marc: I was bouncing the flash off the ceiling, which doesn't always work with our kids as they tend to look down a lot which blocks the light. In this instance though she was sat at the table so the light was bounced twice, once off the ceiling, then again off the table.

Brad: you're right. I didn't think to try it with the grey theme.

comment by seriocomic at 10:38 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

3 years old and she has the beginnings of a modelling portfolio...amazing lashes - great contrast. I would have liked to seen the original (not asking for you to show it though).

comment by david green at 10:47 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

to echo frisky's comment, i would suggest this image is also very cinematic and the icy colours give it an eerie, faerie-like feel. its (beautiful) composition seems to pre-empt an upward glance somehow with the photographic equivalent of suspense (as the title seems to suggest).

Congratulations on (yet!) another superb image.

comment by alan at 11:10 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

Wow! I liked so much!

comment by Jeff Galak at 11:13 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

Beautiful picture. I love the softness of the white.

comment by Peer K at 11:27 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

Very nice! Agree with the comment about Anime.

comment by Stuart at 11:27 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

A beautiful shot of a beautiful subject. It looks like there's a lot of thinking going on behind those amazing eyelashes. The framing creates a feeling of suspense.

comment by Jessyel Ty Gonzalez at 11:38 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

One of your best. WOW!

comment by maze at 11:38 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

reminds me of the Evanescence "Fallen" CD cover.

comment by Louis Dallara at 11:48 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004


F4 1/60... hummm The hair razor sharp.. the face is soft and warm .. nice

Any PS work?

Just Awesome!

comment by Chelsea June at 11:54 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2004

OMGoodness~ Beautiful and cuteee. I think this is my favorite photograph you've done.

comment by Sky Sugata at 12:23 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

This feels to be such a strong reflection of life in these times, at least this is how it speaks to me: Innocence and Wisdom expressing sadness and dismay at the apparent predominating ignorance and dispassion throughout the world today. Hurting, not wanting to see it, but not disconnected, feeling so much. Knowing the futility and fatality of fearing and fighting ourselves...

If she were to look up, the truth that would shine from her eyes would
pierce the heart, this that is feared and also desired, reflecting what only the soul knows.

Thank you, and thank this angel for me. May she come to know this world that is filled with love...

comment by Alec Long [Shutter And Pupil] at 12:32 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Beautiful photo of a beautiful little girl, David. My own attempts to photograph my children in serious moments have been less than fruitful. Well done.

comment by nathan at 01:07 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

amazing shot! what a treat! yeah, look at those lashes!

comment by quasi at 01:12 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Wow. I won't even try to articulate how much I like this photo.

But trust me. I like it. A lot.

comment by ldgoo2 at 01:28 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Very nice. I really like all of your photos and keep up the good work. :) wish i had the gift. thanks

comment by m at 01:33 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Fab - One of your best ever.
She looks much older.

comment by Jerome at 02:04 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

That is just breathtaking. There's a whole world in that face.

comment by genedavinci at 02:13 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

very very nice photo. matured looking and yet, 3 years old. i am very very impressed. great photograph! just great!

comment by Jerome at 02:13 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

You suggested that "this is one that must be viewed with the dark theme." I disagree. IMHO this image creates its own context; it's complete in its simplicity. Nothing can be or needs to be added to this. But that's just me.

comment by Michael Czeiszperger at 02:17 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

I just can't figure out why parents keep taking pictures of their kids and putting them on the web :-)

comment by chiaroscuro at 02:23 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Great! Great lighting on her face, great expression, great framing.

comment by Bob at 02:23 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Oh my .... wonderful ... I'm actually speechless --- this photo evokes so many mixed emotions -- all good --- one of your best works, Dave --- outstanding work...

comment by djn1 at 02:25 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

seriocomic: sorry, I don't have the time to put the original up ... maybe over the next couple of days.

Louis: yes, a bit ;-) This was desaturated using the Channel Mixer to extract the red channel, there was some cloning done around her mouth (she'd just been eating a ginger-bread man), I added a Gaussian blurred layer set to overlay blend mode, and then, finally, I colourised it with the Curves tool.

Everyone else: thank-you :-)

comment by DNegel at 02:27 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

After staring at this picture for a few minutes I began to feel very emotional. Her face seems to reflect that of a perfect being (one which I can never become of course), innocent and pure. Beautiful work....
Thanks Dave.
ps-Did you increase the DF in post processing?
Very well said Sky Sugata...

comment by miles at 02:59 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

wowser, I'm not sure what I feel about this one, it's a great photo but the emotion I get from it is one of sadness, a calm sadness sure, and maybe reflective, but I know she's so young and it's too mature of a feeling I get from the photo, there's this inherent contradiction, so it's unsettling.

comment by DAthas at 03:06 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Your work enjoys wide latitude of expression and fine simplicity, the exact qualities I love in photography. Each visit is startling and refreshing, consistently excellent. I always feel I can pick up my camera and make as elegant a portrait or shot -- but oh so seldom even come close.

I like the even light, the contrast, the sheer abscence of highlights (except fine points on her lips), and, as Jeff said, the softness of the white. I like the reversed geometry when compared to most and how her hair lightly but sturdily frames her face. I like the balance.

She does exude maturity, while being obviously very young, more contrast.

I do enjoy when you share your processing changes. I've already learned that we can do so much more in our digital darkrooms than was ever possible in the chemical ones, but it very nice to have examples of what can be accomplished, without being too radical.

comment by Sky Sugata at 03:20 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Yes, if we actually allow ourselves to truly stop and appreciate, feel, what art/life is speaking to us, so much can be conveyed, received and given, communicated, but we must be willing to feel it. I am thankful for Dave's efforts that help to express life in all it's diversity and complexity, to help show perspective that offers the potential of unity, compassion and understanding.

And thank you for being willing to feel what comes. There is no need to become what you already are in your heart, how else could you feel this, know what innocense and purity feels like? No you are not an idea of perfection, but the perfection that unconditionally loves and includes the imperfect self/world as well. Isn't this what children mirror for us, what potential they convey: unconditional love?

What we come into this world as...

Namaste, Sky

comment by miklos at 03:24 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Dave, In my opinion, you shouldn't post the original... Not for this one.

comment by kane at 03:39 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Such a beautiful and powerful portrait. So very lovely.

comment by Adriana at 03:41 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

WoooooooooooooW this is the kind of work from you that I enjoy the most. I love children and In this pictures she reflects innocense in a face that because of the angle seems to be from someone older. Amazing picture David. CONGRATULATIONS to you and your beautiful angel.

comment by Adriana at 03:42 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

By the way I agree with miklos comment

comment by Nancy at 03:50 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Breathtaking. What a nice capture of little girl who it sounds like doesn't usually settle down for you to take a shot like this. Glad she did for this one.

comment by graceshu at 04:42 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004


comment by Thinh at 05:33 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Stunning Dave! I'm breathless staring at this photo. The expression that comes to mind is well quoted by Sky Sugata. An image of innocence in a world that has none.

comment by Darrell at 05:48 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Dave, i think this is a lovely shot and heartily i congratulate you for it. I particulalry appreciate the PS work, which i feels lifts this to a higher level than it otherwise might have been. One thing that i think might have improved it though, would be if little cutie were making eye contact with us. Yes, the lashes are great but direct eye contact through them would be even better IMHO. Cheers

comment by tiffany at 06:09 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

*sigh* this is why I miss having time to look at photoblogs every night. See what I miss? This is gorgeous, Dave, but you know that. I want to write songs and start a band and land a recording contract just so I can use this image as the cover of my first album.

comment by Marina at 06:47 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

This is a shot where words are not necessary -> it says a lot. Wonderful picture!

comment by Russ at 06:57 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Incredible! Your images and abilities are always of the highest order and great shots are commonplace on your site, but this one is over the top. Perfection.

comment by P at 07:52 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

wow. David, you make me want to burn every negative i've ever taken. this picture is absolutely amazing.

comment by Mario at 08:11 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Wowww!!! Questa foto porta a far pensare. Ha qualcosa di magico.

comment by slurpee at 08:25 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

wow. very pretty.

comment by djlight at 11:52 AM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Great shot, djn1 style!!
See my photoblog at djlight.net

comment by Jorge at 12:23 PM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

One word, Beutiful!

comment by peterv at 12:34 PM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Well done! Amazing combination of softening and fine focus.

comment by Jalada at 01:11 PM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Wow! Awesome style! I have the RSS of your blog and always love your pictures, and I thought this was spectacular!

comment by Andy (SensorChip) at 02:18 PM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Couldn't be arsed to read all your comments...

50, wow!

...did just want to say that though, I think, this is your best shot to date. People shots always seem to have that something extra and I love your soft focus and blue tinted monochrome.

Great shot.


comment by Jason Wall at 05:09 PM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Hi Dave,

Its been sometime since I have been moved to comment. Your photos have been of high quality of late, reflecting both your maturing as a photographer, and the upgrade in equipment and lenses. I've been liking the long exposures specifically.

This image is startling. Less peaceful or wise, it has a very dark tone. I got the immediate impression that she was about to burst forth in judgement upon whomever had incurred her wrath. It is the eyes and the mouth that draw the attention. The set of her lips is very zen like, calm but not peaceful, as though she were confidently holding back an emmence power. Her eyes are unnaturally dark, because of the angle and her long lashes, which cover her eyes. The way she isn't looking at you seems to speak of that same confidence, as though she doesn't need to watch in order to know your movement. The blueish tint adds to the feeling of dark power (but not morbid).

It is a gorgeous photo, and definitely has the anime style. Kuddos.

comment by Sharon Woods at 05:28 PM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004


comment by RainKing at 05:30 PM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

I don't know if it's me, but it has a very spooky feel about it. It reminds me of the kid from The Grudge movie: http://www.sfbok.se/filer/images/grudge.jpg

comment by Maxine at 06:26 PM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Magical! Just love to see the way you can portrait your baby girl! Said once and going to repeat...you two must have a wonderful connection to each other! Congratulation Dave!

comment by Isolated at 09:25 PM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

This photograph. Thats me being speechless.

This is another reason you inspired me to start photography.

comment by mojaam at 09:36 PM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Looks deep. Nice shot.

comment by picturegrl at 09:44 PM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

I like this photograph a lot, but I agree with RainKing; it's kind of spooky. Of course, it is the blue tone and her downward, world-weary expression that makes it so. Nevertheless, I almost think I would prefer the original as I love the expression and the framing, just not so much the blue tone. I also agree with Jason Wall, who said that your photos have been of high quality lately, showing your maturation as a photographer. I think if this child were just a random model, I would be less bothered, but knowing that she is your child makes me not like the coldness so much. It's like she's lost out in the snow, frozen maybe. Gives me the shivers, though I can't stop looking at it.

comment by djn1 at 10:40 PM (GMT) on 15 December, 2004

Thank-you :-)

As for the fact that some of you found this a bit spooky: oddly, though we didn't talk about it last night, my wife and I both tried to come up with a title for this shot that referenced Lord of the Rings, particularly the elves. There's something about our daughter, when she's at her quietest and most still, that seems to evoke another world.

comment by Yvette at 03:23 AM (GMT) on 16 December, 2004

She's beautiful and will be able to look back at this photo when she's 30 and say WOW! Wonderful, just wonderful!

comment by kalinka at 08:55 AM (GMT) on 16 December, 2004

Hello, David.

Thanks as always for sharing your images.

Your work is always so beautiful, that I'm reluctant to
make this comment. This photo is perhaps aesthetically
and technically perfect, yet the treatment of the subject
matter does bother me a bit. It seems to show a three
year old in ways that are too complex -- the subtlety of
it; the paralyzed instrospection; the strands of hair falling
unperturbed upon her forehead; the deep, thick shut
eyelashes (almost as if she had mascara) -- all of this
evoke an adult-like anguish, which is rather sad to see
upon the face of a beautiful little girl. Perhaps this is the
"spookiness" that others have seen.

Of course, I've seen photos of your delightful three year
daughter before on chromasia, but this is the first time
I feel this way. And it is not the depictions of introspection
and/or sadness in children that perturb me -- for a
magnificent example in a different art form, listen to
Gustav Mahler's "Urlicht", from his orchestral song cycle
"Des Knaben Wunderhorn," where the narrator is a
deceased child in heaven -- supposedly iconic of the
composer's own lost daughter. It is precisely the simplicity
of thought, the innocence of her comments that makes
it heartwrenching.

All the best, kalinka

comment by pierre at 08:59 AM (GMT) on 16 December, 2004

Wow, that's a beautiful shot

comment by djn1 at 09:44 AM (GMT) on 16 December, 2004

"... yet the treatment of the subject matter does bother me a bit. It seems to show a three year old in ways that are too complex — the subtlety of it; the paralyzed instrospection; the strands of hair falling unperturbed upon her forehead; the deep, thick shut eyelashes (almost as if she had mascara) — all of this evoke an adult-like anguish, which is rather sad to see upon the face of a beautiful little girl. Perhaps this is the “spookiness” that others have seen.

In which case I consider this shot a success in that I do think even young children are probably more complex than we often give them credit for. Or, put it another way, I think it's too easy to view their thought processes as less advanced versions of our own when, maybe literally, they do inhabit world's of their own.

comment by jude at 12:55 PM (GMT) on 16 December, 2004

can you tell again how you do your b&w conversion? the tones are so great.

comment by Tom B at 02:00 PM (GMT) on 16 December, 2004

Absolutely wonderful. -- wow --

comment by Feroze at 03:13 PM (GMT) on 16 December, 2004

That's a three-year-old? Those are real eye lashes? Amazing. How in earth did you click this picture without having her pose for you. Kids are never still, yet you get the best out of them. And those are beautiful kids you have. I am just worried why - if this is a real situation and not a pose - such a sweet child should look so troubled. I love this picture; I just hope there's nothing ugly behind this beautiful photograph.

comment by djn1 at 07:45 PM (GMT) on 16 December, 2004

Jude: in this instance I used the channel mixer to extract the red channel and the Curves tool to add the toning.

Feroze: no, there's nothing ugly behind this shot. Moments previously she'd been pulling faces at the camera, and then she looked down towards the table – she can't have held the pose for more than about two seconds, at the very most :-)

comment by tiffany at 09:26 PM (GMT) on 16 December, 2004

"In which case I consider this shot a success in that I do think even young children are probably more complex than we often give them credit for. Or, put it another way, I think it’s too easy to view their thought processes as less advanced versions of our own when, maybe literally, they do inhabit world’s of their own."

YES, exactly. Perfectly, beautifully said Dave - they absolutely do. I can clearly remember being three and I am the same person now as I was then. Now raising my own child, I have this sense that any pieces of his world that he chooses to share with us are little gifts. It is amazing.

comment by Keri at 10:36 PM (GMT) on 16 December, 2004

She looks like Galadriel. Funny that you and your wife mentioned Lord of the Ring... I'm reading that now. As many have said, this picture is beautiful but daunting, just as Galadriel of Lothlorien has been described. She is beautiful and graceful, yet so beautiful that she is terrifying to some.

Your daughter doesn't look three at all. I wouldn't have guessed it. This shot is beautiful... a bit redundant now, isn't it?

comment by lisa at 08:32 PM (GMT) on 19 December, 2004

wow. I absolutely love this shot. it's amazingly beautiful and gives off this lovely sense of serenity and then determination at the same time.

comment by Major Alvega at 09:26 PM (GMT) on 21 December, 2004

Parabéns pela fotografia. A imagem e o modelo são perfeitos.
Comentário de um admirador Português.

Congratulations for the picture. The image and the model are perfect. Comment from a Portuguese admiror.

comment by Turfdigger at 08:19 PM (GMT) on 22 December, 2004

So glad I've found time to catch up on my photoblog visits, otherwise I fear I'd have missed this superb shot. Just spectacular work!

comment by K1C at 02:48 PM (GMT) on 25 December, 2004

lack of words :o

comment by Dio Vernoos at 11:28 PM (GMT) on 27 December, 2004

It is a very very ve...... nice shot.
I can not declare my feeling.
I prefer to stop more talking..........

comment by Gregz at 10:12 AM (GMT) on 31 December, 2004

74 comments? How could I ever add to that? I've never even had more then 10 comments on a single photo... 74 comments must even mean something to you I guess :-) It is a wonderfull photo... I specialy love the eyebrows and eyes..

comment by Tine at 10:36 AM (GMT) on 31 December, 2004

An absolute WINNER photo

comment by Lorien at 07:21 PM (GMT) on 31 December, 2004

You captured her beauty perfectly... and she's going to be an amazing woman... it shows...

comment by ellehem at 09:04 PM (GMT) on 1 January, 2005

I'm new in here, photograhy is always been one of the things I like the most although I'm not an expert. For what I've seen so far in this photography site... I just found my favorite one!! This picture calls anyone's attention because of the contrast, interesting expression in her face and for her beauty!!

comment by Marci at 05:15 PM (GMT) on 7 January, 2005

Wow. This is so, so beautiful. You have a great eye and a beautiful daughter.

I've bookmarked your page because your shots are so amazing.

comment by picturegrl at 09:07 AM (GMT) on 11 January, 2005

well-deserved noteworthy. congrats.

comment by amanda at 11:31 AM (GMT) on 19 January, 2005

how did i miss it?
apologies, my apologies dave
your work leaves no room for words

comment by Beth at 09:50 PM (GMT) on 7 February, 2005

I keep coming back to this photograph... it's so hauntingly beautiful.

comment by Lérie at 03:21 PM (GMT) on 16 February, 2005

God knows how it's fantastic to take pic of our childs.
it's one of the most beautiful picture i've ever seen.
Wow!!! (excuse my poor english)

comment by F-e at 10:39 AM (GMT) on 19 February, 2005

Wow, normally I don't like children pictures (I am not a parent so I wouldn't understand) but this picture is wonderful, caught my eye immediately. You should be paid a bunch for this. :)

comment by ellehm at 12:44 AM (GMT) on 25 February, 2005

incredible pict.. and in a very nice day :)

comment by Fawad Salahuddin at 12:16 AM (GMT) on 10 April, 2005

Wow, amazing, outstanding, five thumbs up. David, I am speechless, I don't know what to say. It's the most amazing piece in your portfolio then any other piece. Believe me, this shot catch my attention so fast, it's unexplainable. It's so soft to my eyes and light on my heart for this piece, it's amazing. I think you should be more proud of this shot then any other shot you took in your life.

comment by M Nevins at 11:16 PM (GMT) on 15 June, 2005

amazing picture, beautiful daughter.
this is quite the life.

comment by Stan at 04:39 PM (GMT) on 12 December, 2005

Just for your information: http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/mypics/665793/display/4555873

comment by m at 10:48 PM (GMT) on 5 January, 2006

Why does "signs" rate more comments than this stunning portrait?

comment by k at 07:16 PM (GMT) on 13 January, 2006

I love it!

comment by m at 01:19 AM (GMT) on 17 March, 2006

Thanks for the advise on DoF, I significantly lowered mine and subsequently increased my shutter speed and produced some fab reportage stuff from my trip to India. None as good as this portrait yet!

comment by Rosie at 12:11 PM (GMT) on 11 May, 2006

I would love to learn more about the lighting of this photograph. I love the soft focus and angle the picture is taken from. I tried with my own photograph's but I'm only young and don't know much about techniques yet.


comment by m at 01:13 PM (GMT) on 30 May, 2006

She's definately changed since this shot

comment by m at 11:10 PM (GMT) on 30 November, 2007

Still one of your most stunning images