<<< o >>>bet you blink first 37 comments + add yours

Sometimes, and this has absolutely nothing to do with this photograph, life seems to be about nothing more than waiting for what comes next, and the waiting gets in the way of everything else. I have a kitchen to finish assembling and decorating, I have lots of emails to reply to, from chromasia and work, I have photographs to take, places to go, people to see, and a hundred and one other things that I should be doing. But our son was due to be born yesterday, and he's still not here, and everything else seems to be in some sort of abeyance. It's not something I'm worried about – I'm sure he'll show up at some point soon – but the waiting seems to have overshadowed most everything else.

Anyway, on a more immediate note, here's another shot from a few weeks ago when John and I attended the North City Festival in Manchester.

And finally, I discovered a handy tip in Scott Kelby's The Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photographers for adding a slightly diffuse effect to an image (used to smooth the skin and hair in this shot).

1) Make two duplicate layers of the main image.
2) Set the blend mode of the first to Darken and Gaussian blur it by 40px.
3) Set the blend mode of the second to Lighten and Gaussian blur it by 60px.
4) Create a blank layer above these two layers, make sure all other layers other than this layer and the two layers you just created are hidden, then merge these three layers (Merge Visible).
5) Set the opacity of this layer to around 30% and unhide your other layers.
6) With a soft brush erase any of the areas of the images you want to be sharp, or use a Layer Mask (with a portrait this would be the eyes, teeth, and so on).

I've found this really useful for softening the skin tones in portraits without affecting either the contrast or the colour balance.

1.23pm on 23/7/05

Canon 20D

EF 70-200 f/4L USM

100mm (160mm equiv.)



aperture priority

-1/3 (-2/3 FEC)





C1 Pro


focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter

3x2 + people [portraiture]
comment by Neil at 09:05 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

Great Tip, I'll be trying that one out!

comment by Kristina at 09:08 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

Aww, how adorable! Her hair is so fine, and you picked that up well. Great color of her eyes.

comment by Robert at 09:16 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

I'm not a fan of flash; moreso when it's overhead flash that leaves that signature shadow. I guess this one doesn't say much to me.

comment by Rodrigo Gómez at 09:22 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

It's 9 months already? How fast time passes... good luck!!

Great tip. I like doing some gaussian blur overlay, but that modifies the colors a lot, and sometimes it's not a desired effect.

comment by Kevin at 09:33 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

Great shot and great tip. And I'll pray for the good health of your wife and new baby. That's like 101 kids for you now. Bet you've spent a fortune on diapers!

comment by Emma at 09:34 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

Great portrait - I love the catchlights and her expression.
thanks for the technical tips!

By the way - Chromasia is not looking right in my firefox browser although it is fine on Explorer.

comment by owen at 10:10 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

Great tip. Good luck with the birth - I can still remember the nervous excitement when we had our first last year!

comment by frans (the netherlands) at 10:23 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

thanx for the tip!

comment by john at 10:58 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

Maybe it's a sign that your boy won't be on time for anything in his life. :-) Great portrait and thanks for sharing the tip. I'm going to definitely try it out on my next portrait.

comment by Dave at 10:59 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

Nice portrait. Thanks for sharing Kelby's tip; I'll give it a try.

comment by Velviapix at 11:20 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

I know the feeling. My newborn Joab was scheduled to be born on 7/16/2005.
My wife and I had only had one child previously (almost 3 years ago), but he was two days early, so when the 16th came, and Joab didn't show any signs we went into that... strange mood, where you don't know if you're worried, excited or just confused.
Labor was induced on 7/25, but those 9 days were as long as an entire year. He is doing great now, so there is really nothing to be concerned about. Just hang in there, and we'll keep our fingers crossed.
As of today's post, first of all thanks for the tip, and second, today's portrait feels very 80's, and whie the subject helps, I think it has a lot to do with the difusse effect you used.

Thanks again for sharing.

comment by Ioannis at 11:23 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

Posts at times like this... Thanks for committing so much to your audience - us!

Good luck with your son.

comment by Joe Lencioni at 11:38 PM (GMT) on 16 August, 2005

Good luck with your new baby and congratulations. I'm sure that it is very exciting. Also, thanks for the tip. I have been using a similar technique by using the median filter and erasing pieces that need to be sharp. Your's might end up being better.

As for this shot, it doesn't really grab me too much, but it's not a bad shot.

comment by Jonny at 12:14 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Thank you so much for typing up the tip. I've found myself constantly turning to your photos for inspiration, and it's very nice to get a glimpse occasionally into the way you postprocess in the digital darkroom.

comment by luminouslens at 02:32 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Woah, weird, I was JUST reading that section in the Kelby book last night and when I saw this photo that's exactly what I thought of.

comment by pfong at 03:04 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Thanks for sharing the tips. Best wishes for the birth of your son. It's these events in life that are worth waiting for.

comment by Geoff at 03:27 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Nice portrait Dave. :) I'm sure the subject would be flattered.

Try not to stress out over the waiting. My girl ended up being nearly 4 weeks overdue, and she eventually came out, perfect in every way, in her own sweet time. The medical establishement nearly did backflips, but they always think they need to do something to justify their existance. My girl was born at home with a private midwife, and I am so glad we just chilled and waited for her to come...

That said, you probably won't have to wait that long. That was like nearly a world record in going overdue :)

comment by David at 03:30 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Thanks for taking the time to explain the PhotoShop process you used. Could you perhaps post the original so we might compare?

As for the image, it is a well composed and excellently postprocessed portrait, but I look for challenging photographs when I visit Chromasia, and this is one of the very few times I've been let down.


comment by Dawn at 03:59 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

I noticed you used "Nice Titles" on the alt tag on some of your previous posts, but haven't recently. I thought it was a really nice touch. Any reason you stopped?

comment by yang at 04:33 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

I would also recommend Noise Ninja to soften skins... I've found it to work extremely well.

comment by KeirAyres at 04:49 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Nice framing in this shot Dave and a nice tip, good luck with your soon-to-be son (and the kitchen aswell I guess :P)

comment by Ed at 05:54 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Nice portrait, I'll remember the tip now!

comment by Sylwia at 06:42 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Our daughter was born TWO weeks after the due date! But she did come, eventually!
I love your photos.

comment by Adriana at 07:04 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

I can't believe how fast te time is passing, I remeber the day you said that you were going to have another baby. And as you said is just another thing for your waiting for list. :) Saludos desde Mexico. :)

comment by Adam Capps at 08:13 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Congrats on the child! He'll be here sooner or later (later is more likely with the way you are talking). I must say that I am less than impressed with this shot... it seems to be more about photoshop and less about the photography. This blog is here for you, though, not me. Again, congrats on the child.

comment by filip at 09:54 AM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

love this shot! and love all your shots of people :] keep doing great work!

comment by Jem at 01:11 PM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Nice shot Dave - thanks for the photoshop tip. I'm slowly working my way through Photoshop CS for Photographers at the moment, hoping I can pick up some good tips in that.

I'm sure the cheeky boy will turn up soon - isn't it always the boys who are late? :P I know with my sisters last one, he caused her a load of hassle and turned up late, and even though they didn't know the sex till he was born - I just knew he'd turn out to be a boy ;)

comment by Beth at 01:47 PM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Wonderful shot and thanks for the tip! What page did you happen to find that tip on?

comment by Andrew Fox at 01:59 PM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Hello, I just want to say - I was so impressed in Blackpool after falling in love with your blog, so that when I went hitchhiking to Scotland (from Czech Republic) I could not have not stopped in Blackpool to see the home place of such nice pictures. We got quite a nice weather and if I had had normal camera, the pictures I took could have been much better. One of them as I just noticed is very similar to one of yours -

Only thing I don't like about blackpool - people around there hardly take hitchhikers - however, when we were leaving - someone give us a lift and he knew you - not surprisingly.

sorry for my english

comment by Mike at 04:16 PM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005


Good luck and congrats ahead of time on your new addition! And great shot today.

There must be something going around messing up the code on blogs. My site had similar problems crop up all of a sudden in the comment fields. The comments had to be completely revamped this week. Also, that led to some problems with firefox. Everything seems to be fixed now, but it appears that firefox may not be as tolerant of small code errors as other browsers...

comment by joan at 07:28 PM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

I love this photo, simply because it beautifully captures a lovely young human being. Can't wait for the new baby photos. The first boy among so many women and girls. Wow. It will be special. Keep them coming. Will one photo a day be enough?

comment by djn1 at 09:51 PM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

Rodrigo: yep, nine months already – it's flown by.

Velviapix: yep, that just about sums it up.

Ioannis: the 'image a day' thing is pretty much ingrained. Not sure I'll be able to keep it up though, but I'll give it a try.

Geoff: 4 weeks! You must have had some serious arguments with the medical establishment.

David: I"m afraid that I don't have the time at the moment to put the original up.

Dawn: I've had a lot of problems with chromasia recently, including my latest templates been overwritten on the server, so I've decided to stick with this version for the time being.

yang: you're right, Noise Ninja does do a similar job, but I aslo think you lose detail in other areas of the image too.

Adam: the shot was there because I thought she was beautiful, not because of anything to do with Photoshop. I just thought I'd post a tip that I found useful.

Andrew: it's a shame I didn't know you were visiting, we could have met up for a coffee.

Mike: I'm not sure what the problem with chromasia is but suspect it's server related. Time will tell.

comment by kikko77 at 10:25 PM (GMT) on 17 August, 2005

lovely portrait

comment by andrew at 04:16 AM (GMT) on 18 August, 2005

djn: if I had decided earlier, I would have let you know, but we decided on our way to visit it, but nevermind. in the evening we were looking for a place to stay, so we thought it might be nice to sleep on the pier - it was closed, but not locked - so we tried to sneak in, but the securityman noticed us.... so in the end, we slept somewhere under a roof of a church :-)

comment by aashish at 10:16 AM (GMT) on 22 August, 2005

gr8 smile.. and a nice hair-do.. of whatever i can see!

comment by tark at 11:05 AM (GMT) on 22 August, 2005

Good ... Nice smile and nice eyes. :-)

comment by Carl at 07:20 PM (GMT) on 15 October, 2005

I love your work. I was just casually browsing your photos when I came across this photo and nearly spat my coffee out...it's my sister-in-law!!!
Thanks for the great suprise, I'm sure she's going to love this when she picks up her email.