<<< o >>>don't look up #2 69 comments + add yours

Following myla's request from yesterday, here's another "kid photo". And while this isn't as striking as don't look up, I do like it. Let me know what you think.

Two other things:

First, I keep an eye on the number of words I've written on chromasia and when it went past 100K the other day I got to wondering how many words had been written in the comments. Does anyone know of a script or MT plugin that will do a total word count, or better yet, just a word count of the comments?

Second: when I was taking the shot of the sofa yesterday I noticed an old piece of newspaper at its side. It was an advert for what I imagine are fairly tame soft-porn movies that you can download to your phone. Anyway, I took the shot, processed it, and was going to put it up tonight until my wife commented that it might well offend some of the visitors to chromasia. And she may well be right, but what I found interesting is that I'd taken the shot and processed it with hardly any thought as to its content. Normally, if I'd come across this advert outside of the context of it being a photographic object, I would also find its objectification of women offensive. But I didn't look at it that way and I wondered what that said about me and about photography. And all I could come up with is that sometimes at least photography or photographic vision is something that comes between you/me and a 'normal' appreciation of the world.

Again, let me know your thoughts.

capture date
focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
5.00pm on 13/4/05
Canon 20D
EF 70-200 f/4L USM
140mm (224mm equiv.)
C1 Pro
3x2 + children [portraits]
comment by maya at 09:39 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

wow. amaizing. congrats. it's a great picture. it is so very sweet, and the light is great.

comment by Tom B at 09:55 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

David, I haven't commented in quite a while but still visit daily. As usual, you do such a fantastic job of photographing your children. I wonder if you could explain to me two things. First, how did you set the shot up and secondly what was the post processing. I really wanto to try and take some shots simliar to this of my children but seem to fall far short of your results. Thanks. Tom

comment by djn1 at 10:09 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

maya: thanks.

Tom: the shot wasn't set up, at least not in any strict sense: she was sat on the sofa with our youngest and I was about seven or eight feet away watching through the viewfinder.

As for the post-processing: this was done in six stages:

1) Convert the image to black and white using the channel mixer to extract the red channel (this lightens skin tones).
2) Levels adjustment to extend the dynamic range of the image.
3) Duplicate the main image, Gaussian blur it by 15px, then set the blend mode of this layer to 'soft light'. This adds a slightly diffuse look to the image.
4) Apply a Curves layer to lighten the image.
5) Apply another Curve to tone the image.
6) Apply a final Curve to lighten the border of the image.

comment by kate at 10:33 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

this is so so so sweet. still can't get over the eyelashes!

i think you've shown your sensitiviy to your audience by the questions you ask. bringing it up in the manner you did has already served as a disclaimer- you should probably just let 'er rip. ;))))

comment by CJB at 10:45 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

Wow.... very striking! Excellent tone and composition.

comment by mark at 10:56 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

I like this one better then the other "dont look up"...seems so much cleaner....her expression is perfectly serene and the lighting and coloring are spot on....the contrast between her eyelashes and her skin is striking!

comment by Alex at 10:59 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

I have to agree with mark, I like this one more than the first edition. It seems to be a warmer, more natural pose which looks equally great with the sepia tone.

comment by Guillaume at 11:05 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

really really nice. love this shot !

comment by djn1 at 11:06 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

mark and Alex: in some ways I agree, this is a much gentler and softer shot, but my own preference is for the first one, mostly because it captured a side of our daughter that's seldom seen - her mysterious, elfin-like character that I find quite magical.

Oh, and I bet this one doesn't get half as many comments as the other one, which isn't an indication of which is better, but it does say something about which is more striking ;-)

comment by Raffi at 11:12 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

Lovely picture. Very calm.

comment by Robert at 11:21 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

Like several others, I visit daily but rarely comment. This one, however, compels me to. Simply a stunning photograph. My favorite of yours, hands down.

comment by Chris at 11:22 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

This is a great shot but I must say the don't look up is my favorite picture that you have taken.

This one is a close second. The softness/warmth of this one is great.

comment by myla at 11:36 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

Dave this made my whole day. But I have to tell you, I beg to differ: actually I like this more than don't look up -- this reveals a side of her that is truly, well, in a word? Magical. =)

comment by fraxinus at 11:43 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

I often wonder what a 'normal' appreciation of the world is... but you are right, photographic vision - the act of making an image - must inevitably numb senses and sensibilities that would otherwise be dominant. In my work I am often called upon to photograph medical procedures that would make me wince if I did not have a viewfinder between me and the subject. I have been strapped into a helicopter without a door with two Hasselblad cameras round my neck, shooting vertically downwards from several hundred feet in the air - and I am not good with heights. Photographers in war zones, scene-of-crime photographers, Bert Hardy photographing Belsen in 1945, how do they cope ? You deal with the human mind in a professional capacity, what's your take on it?

Very nice portrait by the way, but was she your daughter or just a 'subject' when you were composing this shot?

comment by Fellow Eskimo at 11:48 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2005

This one is nice and soft, true, it isnt as striking, but I think this one is more beautiful. It gives a nice soft feel to the child. Its perfect for how she looks, along with the long eyelashes. Only thing I could recommend is maybe a little more contrast around the sholders.

As for photography of soft porn, well, cant say I've ever had the chance to stumble upon something of that nature. But I see photography as an art, and accept what comes with it, most of the time. Sometimes you just see the world though the lens, so to speak. And that does come between your vision and reality.

comment by Donna Lee Michas at 12:06 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

I'm not particularly partial to portraits, but this is exquisite. I also think it's dynamic at the same time. It's the eyelashes. And the choice of a white frame only serves to accentuate them even more. I *do* like "Don't Look Up," especially the way the hair falls, but all this white on white on white with black eyelashes nails it for me.

As to your question about our "photographic vision [being] something that comes between [us and our otherwise] 'normal' appreciation of the world," I can tell you that it *is* true for me. When I am photographing anything, the world ceases to exist. I am lost 100% in absorbing what I see and in finding the best way to capture it.

Your wife is probably right on this, though. Not knowing your audience personally, it is best NOT to offend. Good that you did NOT put that soft-porn advert foto up. Having said that, however, I'm sure a lot of *us* who leave comments on your blog would LOVE to see what YOUR eye found so interesting.

comment by djn1 at 12:27 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

myla: I know what you mean, but I guess it depends on what you mean by magical. In the case of 'don't look up' I was using the term magical in the 'real' sense - Galadriel in Lord of the Rings, for example - that sort of magical. I should add though that when I say 'real' I don't mean that I believe in that sort of magic, rather that that's the feeling that she sometimes invokes.

fraxinus: was she a subject or was she a daughter? Good question. And I guess the answer is that she was a bit of both. Because I know her I guess I'm tuned in to how she looks, what she might do next, and so on. So in that sense I was photographing my daughter. That said there's definitely something different about watching her through a lens - a 'distance' that wouldn't otherwise be there.

kate and Donna: I'll think about the soft-porn advert and may well put it up tomorrow.

comment by hungaro at 12:54 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

this may not be as dramatic as your other shots
but this one is my favorite from all your work
I like it a lot

comment by Yogi at 12:58 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

I love "don't look up" and I love this one too. It's not as surreal as the former but yes angelic sounds right. Is the tint just a hint of sepia?

comment by paul at 01:14 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

david, Dont look up is one of my all time fav shots of any blog Ive seen. Probably because I have a daughters the same age and would love a shot of them like that...this shot is also superb! It might just make me get my arse into gear and try one myself.....thanks for the inspiration. Simple and beautiful....top shot mate.

comment by Janine at 01:25 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

Oh, I do like this one more than Don't Look Up #1. It's softer, a little lighter, and it feels more natural. Gorgeous.

comment by Judith Polakoff at 02:39 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

I prefer the way you captured her heart-shaped face in the first "Don't Look Up", but prefer everything else about this shot, especially the toning. This version also looks good with every background color. Beautiful!

comment by Yvette at 02:48 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

Wow, I continue to be blown away with your work. This is just beautiful, angelic!

comment by Nessie at 05:36 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

I think I am joining the club in preferring #2 to #1. Lovely photo :)

comment by Adriana at 05:53 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

I prefer this one. Your little girl is precious ant you have a gift to find the rigth angle and the correct settings to get this beautiful pictures. A kiss fro her :). Such a nice model.

comment by Matt at 07:16 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

Wow. Amazing shot. I like the look of the shot. No color, but not really the usual black and white. Nice job.

comment by picturegrl at 08:16 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

I like this shot much better. For some reason, the bluish tone of the other one always disturbed me. While it was striking, the eerie mood bothered me. This one captures ann innocence that is appealing, and the high-key approach really does justice to her beautiful eyelashes.

As for your "soft-porn" photo, I know what you mean about the camera provding a bit of a buffer, if you will, between you and your subject. As a newspaper photographer, I find myself shooting a lot of things that are disturbing... fires, accidents, tragedies. The barrier allows me to shoot what I could not shoot without it. For example, I am not very outgoing... I HATE crowds. But I shoot parties almost every weekend for the paper. As long as I have the camera in my hand I am okay, but put it down and I am having a full-blown panic attack :-)

Perhaps you could post your image as a rollover, with the initial image being somehow creatively obscured or filtered from those who would rather not see it?

comment by m at 09:03 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

She's very pretty.
Lovely photo. Brings hope and a smile.
Best kind of photo there is.

comment by RainKing at 10:06 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

For what it's worth, I think I prefer this one by far. The previous version was too spooky for me. This one is perfect.

comment by John Washington at 10:48 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005


Having met you and your wife I am at a loss to know just how you have produced such a pretty daughter.

Whilst on the other hand, me being stunning and my wife too have managed to produce the worlds ugliest baby.

HA HA HA HA Just had to get that in and you know I am only joking you are both beautiful people. HA HA.

Seriously though, I love this picture and can see a bit more maturity (unlike my first line) in both the image and in terms of her age .

So I take it you will consider re posting this image in the same composition as she gets older. I saw a book recently where the photographer has done this with a family for over 40 years.

same spot same composition etc. Very scary but very worthwile.

Best wishes

Bradd Pitt

comment by Aegir at 10:53 AM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

Regards the soft porn shot, it's exactly the same perception change you get after you've designed type and lettering. You end up staring at some sign or book or whatever without reading what it actually says because you're critiquing it as a typographic object, rather than just reading it...

I wonder if all professions get that, whether architects can just live in their houses or game designers can just play games, say.

comment by steve at 01:00 PM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

great shot. thanks for sharing the post processing with everyone. it will be fun to try it out.

as for the softporn image. at this point, i think you have warned people enough and it is all but essential that you post it. it's obvious that you were going for the photo as art and not taking it to cause people to be upset/offended.

comment by Jorge Lesmes at 01:58 PM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

One of the best pictures Ive ever seen...

comment by btezra at 03:16 PM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

~simply beautiful results here~

comment by mattp at 03:25 PM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

Another great shot David, you've really got your PS technique for prortraits nailed, but that's not to take any credit away from you for capturing the moment with your original shot.

Your daughter will treasure these when she is older, she's very lucky.


comment by Andreas at 03:58 PM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

It's a really nice pic, and got some tips for PS as well, so I'm stoked!
- about the porn:
Last year one of my friends at the art school was working with porn pics, some of them really perw and dirty pics..But as he worked on it, as the process went on we forgot that part.. We get used to things so easy, guess that's why u didn't mind but your wife did.. And at once u look at something through that arty perspective we acsept a lot more.. positive or not..
- Almost like when u start to paint naked models.. it's feels akward int he beginning, but after a few hours you're used to it!

And, we're not girls, that might also be a prat of the reason, 'cause frankly, i don't mind naked girls... hehe

comment by Blake at 07:25 PM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

I am also a daily visitor and first time commenter. I am awestruck every time I see one of your photos of your children. They are simply amazing. Thanks for posting the processing.

As to the porn: My wife and I would be particularly offended by such a shot. One of the reasons I visit this site so frequently is because of your "clean" history. I don't see porn as art, no matter the context, but repulsive and degrading, etc. etc. I would rather not see it and would prefer, for those who do, that you post a link or roll-over, as suggested, so that it doesn't catch many off-guard who may not be daily visitors/comment readers.

comment by Sky Sugata at 07:36 PM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

Hello David,
What a joy to see this wonderful companion piece to the first DLU!

Whereas it was felt the first conveyed at the time:
"Innocence and Wisdom expressing sadness and dismay at the apparent predominating ignorance and dispassion throughout the world today."

This one conveys a sense of calm angelic devotion, a simple appreciation of life, of just...being...here...now.

I do not feel either is better, but that they both example well the reality of "perspective": how the relative ideas change, come and go, but the absolute is the ability to see it all, without judgement or fear, unconditionally. This feels to apply to the "porn" shot perhaps.

This from the first DLU posts:
"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."

Now, I do not know "why" you are a photographer and what, if anything, you want to convey, but this is how photography resonates to me: Conscioussness offering it's various perspectives for self reflection, to see what and how much willingness there is TO see.

And what I have felt from your photography David, is perhaps a willingness to not make it "yours", that it has a purer sense of relating open perspective. Just sharing what you see, including a particular way you may see it that another person's perspective, with all it's mental identifications, may not.

In not seeing something by it's "definition", leaving perspective open to other possibilities of seeing/feeling, it can be a lessening of the sense of separation, of "me" and "that/them". This simplicity is often overlooked, because in the moment of simple awareness there is no thinking about it really.

This suggestion from picturegrl, if possible, seems good:
"Perhaps you could post your image as a rollover, with the initial image being somehow creatively obscured or filtered from those who would rather not see it?"

I respect your consideration for poeple's sensitivities, but I feel to sensor yourself possibly from fear or apprehension of how someone may take it would be unfortunate. And I also realize it would be unfortunate for someone to take offense at the "porno" shot, get the wrong impression of your site, and miss out on being exposed to more of the beauty.

An artist's dilemma, but I support maturity and self responsibility.
However that translates to you I wish you well!

Just this perspective! ;)

Thanks again David...

Namaste, Sky

comment by flygirl at 08:03 PM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

I'm gonna make it real short: LOVE IT !!! LOVE IT !!! LOVE IT !!!

comment by zoomvienna at 08:07 PM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

This is EXACTLY why you're #1 David.



comment by Vvoi at 10:00 PM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

I like the picture, though makes more of a drawing by now than a photo
which can be considered a compliment of course
as for the porn
it's a very interesting issue
political correctness
on one hand you have an image to sustain
on the other you are who you are and what you like is your business and that has been the idea behind blogging
obviously reality does bite and pinch and say naughty naughty boy
and you think that's right i wouldn't put it next to this cute
little thing that's looking down in such an
innocent way
but then again - are you looking for the broadest possible public?
are you looking for a public?
what if i feel you shouldn't be tampering with PS because it's simply bad?
but then.... the thing is - as some people mentioned - you yourself forgot about what the picture represents. which is a big problem omnipresent in today's art. though one could argue that the ancient greek artists (the inspired ones) were only repeating what the gods whispered to them, and also couldn't be made accountable of what they did (or said, since the inspired ones were mainly poets).
i've recently questioned the thinking (and its representation in the works) in some new art, at new-art.blogspot.com

comment by djn1 at 10:55 PM (GMT) on 14 April, 2005

Thanks everyone, I'm really pleased with this one too.

As for the soft-porn advert: I've put it up as an additional image on tomorrow's entry. Perhaps we can discuss it further there.

comment by chiaroscuro at 05:27 AM (GMT) on 15 April, 2005

She's gorgeous. I love the very soft and gentle mood set by this image. Also, thanks for sharing what you did in photoshop. These little lessons are one of the reasons I love visiting photoblogs.

comment by Maxine at 03:41 PM (GMT) on 15 April, 2005

impossible to decide for one or the other....they are both superb Dave, congratulations! Said that, and as one of your family pics number one fan, I just would love to see how your new baby and wife are looking at moment! :) any chance?

comment by Gord Is Dead at 10:45 PM (GMT) on 15 April, 2005

Nice one, David!

comment by Kayleigh at 05:55 AM (GMT) on 16 April, 2005

damn... that is gorgeous

comment by ellehm at 06:24 AM (GMT) on 16 April, 2005

Beautiful Shot, and really well achieved image. I love this kind.. congrats!!

comment by Andrew at 06:41 PM (GMT) on 16 April, 2005

In a world of her own and all the better for it. Fabulous Picture.

comment by slurpee at 03:39 PM (GMT) on 18 April, 2005

wow, absolutely gorgeous.

comment by zzeliiaa-* at 08:28 AM (GMT) on 19 April, 2005

a really very lovely picture . ^-^

comment by Patrik Adolfsson at 11:43 AM (GMT) on 19 April, 2005

Extremely good kid picture!

comment by nomar at 06:42 PM (GMT) on 20 April, 2005

Hard to believe that we all looked so innocent at one point or another in out lives. Touching photo... nice work.

B&W Photography

comment by Stacie at 05:29 AM (GMT) on 21 April, 2005

Your daughter is going to be so pleased with you when she grows up to have photos like this of herself.

comment by Brendhan at 10:58 PM (GMT) on 22 April, 2005

I like the long lashes, the symmetry, and the atypical pose. Usually kids look right into the camera.

comment by Jem at 10:57 AM (GMT) on 23 April, 2005

I adore this image David. It's so soft and beautiful. She has such striking features! Wonderful photo - great work :)

comment by blasianlotus at 06:27 AM (GMT) on 24 April, 2005

Is this one of the most beautiful portraits ever or what?! Absolutely stunning. To me, it's perfection...

comment by Matthias Jahn at 11:13 AM (GMT) on 27 April, 2005

Deine Bilder sind einfach wunderbar! Und dieses ganz besonders. Großer Respekt von der anderen Seite des Antlantiks!

comment by Corey Koberg at 08:07 PM (GMT) on 1 May, 2005


Thanks for the info on how you processed the image--as a new-to-digital I am fascinated by the creativity people have with images now.

My question is:
How did you get the white background? I at first assumed it was studio lighting, but your description proved this wrong. Is your couch/walls just that light or was that part of your post-processing as well?

Thanks and keep up the good work,

comment by Omid at 05:29 PM (GMT) on 10 May, 2005

Dear David,

It is the second best picture and nice girl I have ever seen.
Ofcourse the first on is "Don't look up 1".

Very good lighting with very very very nice personage.

I'd like to know her name.

comment by TiBlond at 09:36 PM (GMT) on 22 May, 2005


comment by Hikari at 07:59 PM (GMT) on 27 May, 2005

This is a beautiful black and white image. I love the name you have chosen for this image as well. The girl looks so pretty and gentle. Who is she?

comment by Ehsan Jamali at 05:04 PM (GMT) on 2 July, 2005

very nice portrait with impressive tone

comment by paulina at 01:39 AM (GMT) on 18 July, 2005

this one is simply angelic. It took my breath away. I hope you won't object for me to post it on my blog with an urgent note for everyone to come see your site. If you do (object), just drop me a note.

comment by JJMC at 10:42 AM (GMT) on 20 July, 2005

Simply one of the most beatiful images I've seen in years. Thank you for sharing it.

comment by Emma P at 03:36 PM (GMT) on 21 July, 2005

This is the most amazing photo I have ever seen, I have fallen in love with it. I am going to get a shot of my daughter taken like this. Well done its fantastic.

comment by Selam at 08:01 AM (GMT) on 22 July, 2005

I don't know if you will even read this... but I think this shot is better than the first "don't look up". The reason I like this one better is because it shows her more. It seems less processed (not that the first one was... I'm just talking about the feel of the pics). It seems more honest, and simply just a good shot of a great moment. This isn't a photograph so much as a close look at her. Great shot.

comment by Vetec at 03:27 PM (GMT) on 28 July, 2005

That is beautiful picture of even more beautiful girl!

Congratulations on both...

comment by m at 09:32 AM (GMT) on 1 August, 2005

Stunning, I guess the beeb has brought in a few new comments

comment by Avan at 02:53 PM (GMT) on 9 September, 2005

it's really beautiful and thank you for sharing your technique