<<< o >>>Rho and Mia 70 comments + add yours

First of all, thanks for all the great comments on yesterday's shot: posting an image of one of our children being upset was something I hadn't done before, so it was good to see that it got such a positive response.

As for today's shot: it's something of a change of pace from yesterday and was taken after the children had eaten their dinner. Rhowan was playing with our latest cat (a Siamese kitten) and I was sat at the other side of the room a) taking photographs, and b) saying things like "make sure you don't hold her too tight", and "let go now, I think she's had enough" ;-)

Anyway, as always, I'll be interested to hear what you think.

Oh, and the square crop was a consequence of some blown out highlights on one side of the image, and the unfortunate kitten's back leg sticking up at the other.

focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
6.13pm on 17/10/05
Canon 20D
EF 70-200 f/4L USM
104mm (166mm equiv.)
aperture priority
C1 Pro
cropped square
1x1 + children [portraits]
comment by Adriana at 08:31 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

There's no picture :(

comment by djn1 at 08:32 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Nope, there isn't, but there should be. Hang on ... more server woes :-/

comment by djn1 at 08:33 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

OK, it's fixed.

comment by Jem at 08:35 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

This is a beautiful photo Dave! I love the tenderness of it - what a pair of cuties! :D

comment by Adriana at 08:37 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Wonderful use of light, it looks great with the with background. :). This shows how kids could be happy with simple things on life and how they are a catalog of moods that can be shown all in the same day. Rhowan is always a good model. :)

comment by skritten at 08:37 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

aw, you're just making up for yesterday's pic with the saccharine. kitties are cute!

comment by Juraj V at 08:42 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Holy lord, that is ... can´t find the words man...the best dude

comment by tamONLINE at 08:50 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Its so light/white, that its almost abstract. Its also a bit eerie, ghost-like. Did anyone else, feel like you had to re-adjust your eyes and scan the photo to realize what is going on here.

After realizing what it all was, the moment became very clear. It feels very brief, but very cute. Its quite precious. In addition, you do get that sense of "dont hold her too tight."

comment by Antonio at 09:14 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Special photo...all is soft..is like to touch cotton...great photo.


comment by kari at 09:18 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

I love it. Very soft...like kittens and little girls. ;o)

comment by y at 09:23 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Really nice!
Kind of reminds me of Jason Mullins (http://www.jasonamullins.com), even if he does landscape and has more punched blackness. I guess it's the large amount of white, the square format and the fact that I visited his site just a couple of days ago... :)

comment by Mauro at 09:24 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Very High key for me, Is a good picture but I see to much information in the square and I miss the reference between the girl and the cat

For myself is not your best photo but I better than mine ;)

best regards from Spain

comment by Michael at 09:31 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Fantastic shot. I really like the post-processing on this one.

comment by justinh at 09:45 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

so delicate, the lightness really matches the composition well. great shot, dave!

comment by Dutch PhotoDay at 10:00 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

So soft and tender, a great composition.

comment by Neil at 10:01 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Such a tender moment and such a gentle feel to the image.

comment by patrick at 10:08 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Great light, great tones, great subject! Love the softness too. I like this one much more than yesterday's pic. That was a good shot too but this one has so much more tenderness in it...

comment by Mick - Sydney at 10:50 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Great shot mate

Just wondering, how do you get the soft effect (almost out of focus look)
Do you do it in Photoshop ?, if so, whats the filter called ?

comment by Clay Mercredi at 11:03 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Dave, I've been checking out your work for over a year now, and I think it's pretty safe to say 'I hate you.' This of course is a compliment from a devoted follower who is trying his best to learn what he can in order to improve his own photography, then getting blown away by your work. So thank you for putting me in awe yet again. :-)

comment by Jamey at 11:10 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Really nice shot. It definitely fits in with what you were saying about "photography for airports" and all that. Now then... Sorry to be a pest but would you mind if I plug my brand new photoblog that I launched today?

It can be found at: http://www.jameyhoward.com/photoblog/

Thank you very much and keep up the good work.

comment by tobias at 11:17 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Yep, that's it. I'm gonna have to chime in with a little dissent and something that constantly knaws away at me each time I vist your site.

Post-processing. What is the limit? There is no way you achieved this "washed out" effect without some severe (and noticeable) processing. It would interest me to see this image pre- processing, in fact most of your images confuse me. Are you a good photographer (yes, compositionally... after cropping which I feel is an integral part of the process) or a particualry adept photoshop user?

The line to this answer, for me, is blurred. I often find that your site evokes annoyance and a great sense of reward in equal measure. No mean fete, don't get me wrong. It's why all of us are here and you are rightfully acknowledged by "photoblogs.org" as most popular. Still, this doesn't prevent me (as you know) questioning aspects of your work. This whole post-processing frustrates me somewhat as I am uncertain as to what extent photoshop/enhancement is acceptable. I too use it to "improve" images, but, do I process my images beyond recognition? I feel not. Where do stand and have you set any boundaries? Or are you merely after aesthetically pleasing images, no matter what it takes? I think these questions are generated by the very fact that i wrestle with the same issues myself.

comment by Francesco at 11:24 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

the square crop is well done... great photo

comment by owen b at 11:30 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Must... have... more.... contrast! (dissolves in steaming heap of soft-focus saccharine)...

(no offence, it's just a bit too white and soft for me. It's a great moment otherwise!)

comment by nogger at 11:51 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Yes, perhaps just a bit too ghostly for me. Fascinating though.

And I liked yesterday's very much. Very powerful. Though Harmony may never forgive you when she's older. :-)

comment by djn1 at 11:52 PM (GMT) on 17 October, 2005

Thanks everyone. I'm just about to go to bed, but in response to tobias's point:

This might seem like semantic word-playing but if you think about Photoshop as a means of enhancing an already existing image then I think you'll constantly run into this problem of how much is acceptable (and other variants of the same issue). For me, there is no real qualitative difference between pre and post-processed images, they're just different stages in the same process. For instance, it would never occur to me to talk about printing from a negative (and selectively dodging and burning the print) as enhancing something that pre-exists the final print; i.e. the distinction presupposes two images, a 'before' image (the negative) and an 'after' image (the print), and if you follow this idea that there's something inherently bad about 'too much' enhancement (or whatever) you'd end up having to say that the negative was more of a 'pure' image than the print ... which wouldn't make sense.

For me, the digital workflow is no different. There's a RAW file that comes out of the camera (which isn't an image); there's a converted tiff (which technically is an image); and there's the end result – after I've post-processed it. I guess that what I'm trying to say is that the 'too much post-processing' argument isn't one I buy into. Sure, it can be done well, or done badly, but the amount isn't all that relevant to what I'm trying to achieve.

Oh, and the blur, other than around some areas of the border of the image, is entirely 'natural' ;-)

comment by lisa at 12:10 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

definitely a change of pace but I like it. it's a very delicate shot. nicely done.

comment by tobias at 12:16 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Ok.I wondered if I would be proven wrong on that assumption regarding the blur. I think the crux of my point is still the "art" or "skill" of post-processing film.

In essence. You could sit at a computer all day and perfect an image. Now, granted you could also do this in a darkroom, but, how many of us have 1. used a darkroom (I have and I know how unwieldy the fluids can be) and 2. of those who have used a darkroom (and still have access to one) but also have a digital post-processing system used that more predominantly? Merely due to the ease of use and the opportunity to make many mistakes in a short space of time that are easily rectified by binning a layer or simply starting again.

Don't get me wrong, I am no puritan but I am certain you Dave are far more adept with photoshop/velvia vision than you could ever hope to achieve in a darkroom with all of those not so easy to manipulate chemicals. Or am I being naive and it really is that easy to produce such images from a negative, on say a reliable timescale of a quality shot a day? I personally find myself using photoshop more and more. Also my mindset is now that of "I'll capture this image and whatever may be not quite right (light (under-exposure only), cropping, tone, hue etc) I'll correct later". Not what I was taught in college. It was drummed into me that light metering via aperture etc was important. For that, was the image. There's tweaking and there is well, taking a mediocre shot to be subsequently, bettered.

Hmmmm... don't feel I'm gonna resolve this one in my head. There are just too many effects on CS, many of which you must bear in mind developed for graphic designers.

comment by Rock at 12:31 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Like a pencil sketch... before completing.

comment by andrew at 12:37 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

The cropping turned out beautifully. This is very nice. What kind of post-processing do you normally apply to achieve such beautiful skin tones and soft looking photos like I see in this one and in many others in your gallery?

comment by stephanie at 12:53 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

tobias - isn't it lovely how technology expands our options?

comment by Jason Wall at 01:06 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005


You seem to dislike photoshop because it makes manipulating imagery easy, since you don't have issues with altered photos if the alterations are done in the darkroom. I don't see that the difference has anything to do with art or photography. Anytime you get caught up in technique to the detriment of vision, you've lost the point of art and fallen simply into craft. Whether you manipulate with 1's and 0's or with chemicals, or with shutter and film, you're still changing the image from what it is in reality. Heck, not even your eyes see what is all there. There is no right way to produce a photo. As long as what you have in the end is what you wanted, then that is a good photo.

comment by Nate Zander at 01:16 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

The square composition frames the interaction beautifully, in the same manner the high key complements the softeness of the imgage. I'll second Owen B's request for more contrast, at least a spot of blackest black to help balance the abundance of white. Great job on keeping the detail in the highlights.

comment by D Carter at 01:26 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Damn, you're good...

comment by Kevin at 01:34 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Jason Wall explained this argument perfectly. A photographer is merely an artist who uses a different medium to display his/her work than say, a painter. A photographer as an artist can take a photo and enhance, post-process, alter, etc. in any way they see fit to make the end result what they want. The key is that the end result is what the photographer wanted in the first place. Many times it is impossible to capture a moment on film the way you actually want to display it. In this case, why wouldn't you change it to achieve what your vision originally was? Why wouldn't you post-process an image to make it cleaner and more dynamic for the viewing public?

A painter has no limitations. If they want an image to look a certain way they make it happen; why should it be any different for a photographer? And people should be celebrating photoshop for its ability to make it easier to alter images; why would anyone seek to drive a car without power steering and power breaks when they can just as easily acquire one thats easier to use?

I liken photography to painting because the photographer has a vision of what the final image is going to look like and photoshop gives the photographer the ability to display that vision perfectly, instead of displaying only part of that vision because of the limits of un-altered photography.

comment by Dave at 01:44 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Hi Dave,

Would you be so kind as to share your post-processing technique for this picture? I love the effect, great job!

comment by d at 01:57 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

I don't really like how Rhowan's face and hair have been blurred and lightened to the point where she looks almost ghost-like. Other than that, it's a good picture. Doesn't top yesterday's shot though ;)

comment by John Enriquez at 02:09 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Dave, I see no EC or FEC so how did you blow out the light without actually blowing it up or burning any details?

and my two cents:

The process of "altering" a photo through levels or curves is no different than removing a branch from a landscape or going over a painting usung a lighter green for the leaves. It's all part of the process of setting up the scene that the artist envisions. In no case should a photographer -- or photoshopper -- be excluded from this list of "artists".

comment by Susan Nunes at 03:07 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Excellent photo and site. I am linking it from my blog of links.

Also congratulations for being noticed by Time magazine.

I am also a big fan of photography and do it as a hobby, though I am not as good as you are.

comment by ejb at 03:19 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Tobias: There's a wonderful slide-show at Slate that demonstrates how photography has NEVER been a reliable witness. It has always been a method of illustration, the boundaries of which have been pushed by it's practitioners since its inception.

I have spent "all day perfecting" prints in the darkroom, far away from my computer. I have found it neither easier nor harder than Photoshop -- just different. In the case of this shot, you could easily print it using a medium exposure with only the #00 filter, possibly through a hole in a matte board (which would have softened the edges if dodged properly). I could produce a VERY different print in high-contrast by using only the #5 filter, or using the "lith print" method, or adding sepia toning.

A classmate of mine used the analogy of photography as music. Image capture is the act of composing a symphony. Printing, either digitally or traditionally, is the act of conducting an orchestra live. I have heard many people denigrate Photoshop for being "too easy", but I have yet to meet someone who feels that way and has mastered it's complexity.

comment by Sharla at 05:46 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Tobias, you force me to respond. I agree with ejb but I want to go further. Photography has a long, rich history of recognized masters that strongly manipulated their images to match their artistic sense long before digital and Photoshop. You have the master of the combined image: Jerry Uelsmann (http://www.uelsman.net/). You have the master of solarization and the surreal: Man Ray (http://www.manray-photo.com/). More modern photographers painted their prints, cut and pasted, combined with other media ... the list goes on and on. The darkroom was the center of all these efforts.

As to messy chemicals, earlier photographers lived with chemicals. There were "recipe books" of developers, fixers, and toners. Many photographers had permanently stained nails and fingers. They used certain developers with certain films or papers for precise results. Even the temperature of the chemicals affected the results. While F68° was usually recommended, increasing the temperature could make a negative much grainier.

Perhaps it can be argued that a 'straight print" is what you get when you leave your film at the 1-hour photo hut. However, I'd agrue that is the most unpredictable manipulation of all.

David, a wonderful image, so serene, so pretty, so charming. I like the just-barely-there blacks. I know you purred over this one a teensy bit in CS but an almost identical shot could have been done from film in the darkroom, including vignetting the edges and burning-in the kittens nose. Please don't stop, don't slow down, don't stop creating.

comment by KK at 06:03 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

oh my god, what a precious shot this is! your daughter will love this one when she grows older. amazing shot, congratulations!!! this is so soft and surreal.

comment by George Vreeland Hill at 06:05 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

I like this.
It has a nice tone that makes you think.

comment by Tara H. at 07:07 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

aw ;-)

comment by Keith Comp at 07:10 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

I've been checking out the photos for several weeks now and am amazed. You've got a great eye. I look forward each day to see what you've captured next. I'll try to comment more!! God Bless.

comment by Oriol at 07:29 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

This is one of the sweetest and tender images than I have never seen. The delicate contrast, the soft focus and the smoothness of the curves help to transmit a message of peace, serenity and well-being. Congratulations!

comment by peter cohen at 07:44 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

I used to be a sculptor. I post-processed the hell out of some wood, usually requiring hundreds of hours of finely perfected workmanship. It wasn't anything like the original tree when I got done with it.
People have paid (and will again despite the fact that I am now out of the loop) large sums to possess it, and someone centuries from now will be going "wooooow" when they look at the objects I've made. Or maybe "ahhhhhhhhh". But trees (the unpost-processed wood) are beautiful too.

comment by GP at 09:11 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

wow-wow-wow. everyday better! :-) this one is absolutly great! too sweet

comment by Rob at 09:27 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

A lovely shot but a little too white and soft for my love!

comment by eclipse-space at 09:40 AM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

yes, i had to readjust my eye just to see what's in the photo. it's excellent!

love that feel you get when looking at this photo, it's the tenderness and the love it gives. the dependency and care it illustrates.


comment by JD at 12:32 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

We've had the To Photoshop Or Not To Photoshop argument already. (Sorry Adobe, I know it says on your website that Photoshop is NOT to be used as a verb, but what the heck). Do accountants have this problem? Does anybody say "hey nice balance sheet, but I think you used Excel too much"?

I see photoshop as a tool to achieve what's in my head (and sometimes what's not), much like slow slide film or tungsten film or infrared film or Multigrade or T-Max 3200 or blah blah. If someone doesn't like an image because it's too washed out or too dark or too bold in its use of colour or too insipid or whatever, fine, I will agree or disagree but will defend their right to have that opinion to the ends of the earth. To say that one shouldn't use a particular tool to reach an end that one envisions is a bit specious if you ask me. Specious? Is that the right word?

Oh yeah, I like it. Bit washed out for my taste perhaps, but I'm a chiaroscuro kind of guy.

comment by Baris at 12:48 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

I've read some of the responses, didn't have time to read the rest. I have nothing against photoshop and I use it conveniently for my photos and I love it. What I don't like in this photo is that it's too much "tender" and "dreamy", too soft. Of course, some people prefer soft photos, I like them too, but there is that "too much" that bothered me here.

comment by Paul Courtney at 01:03 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Hi Dave,
This, to me, is your 'bread and butter' type of shot. I love the composition, the subject matter and the execution. The post-process on this shot is also typical of your style (unlike yesterday where I could see the clearly visible brown line around the outline of Harmony's face). If this shot was on somebody's wall I would say that it was taken by you.
Bravo and more of the same please.

comment by cristina at 01:39 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005


So calm...


comment by Patrick at 01:47 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Wow, I love how it is such a light picture! Was there some post processing done here, or how did you manage to get it so light?

comment by Heather at 01:49 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

That is gorgeous.

comment by w.w. at 04:30 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

which one is the cat?

comment by Page at 05:35 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

such a sweet image

comment by SB at 05:42 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Fantastic shot!

As for post processing, as far as I am concerned who cares. The question anyone should ask is do I like this picture/image/photograph (whatever you wish to call it, again frankly who cares)......and personally I like it a lot.

Definitely one I would hang on my wall.

comment by Alex at 07:26 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

I love the focus and concentration of her gaze. Beautiful!

comment by M Reza at 09:37 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

it gave me great feeling , really nice !

comment by djn1 at 09:54 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

Thanks everyone.

As for the post-processing: the black and white conversion was done with the Channel Mixer and the overall brightness of the image was lifted with the Curves tool. Beyond that I didn't do too much else to this one.

comment by tad at 10:47 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005

beautiful. subtle too. maybe for an airport? :)

comment by travis at 11:41 PM (GMT) on 18 October, 2005


I think a lot of the reason the question of post processing comes up is not because they are for or against post-processing, but rather are curious to a fault with the amount of work it took to go from the "negative" to the "print".

I often find myself wondering if the reason I can't seem to make a good image is because I'm a bad photographer or a bad post-processor. I realize both are lacking, but which should I spend more time on? If you would post each day a pre-processed as well as the final, not only would you get less questions, but you would help folks like myself see if we need to improve our shooting/composition or if we're just lacking the vision that you have to turn a ho-hum TIF into a spectacular image.

comment by mac at 04:20 PM (GMT) on 19 October, 2005

I very much like the specter-like image that this picture gets off. I felt like the two (Rho and Mia) became one in the shot... cool image

comment by rcox at 01:09 PM (GMT) on 22 October, 2005

The entire image conveys a soft and delicate feeling. Your photos are excellent

comment by Dolem Light at 04:21 PM (GMT) on 22 October, 2005

I like the shades of white. Is this your cat? And if so, what is its name? Your daughter looks beautiful in this photograph also.

comment by Christopher Shipman at 05:19 PM (GMT) on 22 October, 2005

This is a stunning high-key portrait. I LOVE the tight square crop. It really adds a sense of intimacy to the image. Really amazing work.

comment by Erica at 03:37 AM (GMT) on 4 November, 2005

If only EVERY parent took such great photos of their loved ones!!

So beautiful!!! Just lovely!!

Nice cat :)

comment by Colin Hunter at 01:45 PM (GMT) on 14 December, 2005

The word most of you are looking for is 'exquisite".

comment by Tek at 01:04 PM (GMT) on 9 January, 2006

Perfect, nothing else to say