Behind the Curtain: An HNT Photo

I was recently talking to a friend about taking pictures. I explained that I take most of my HNTs by myself with a remote, so when I have someone taking them for me, I struggle as I go through the shots.  Struggle is too nice of a word.

I get pissy as someone else takes the shots.

Why? Because not all shots are captured perfectly. You have to give yourself some room sometimes – some room to adjust it – to crop it – to zoom in. I have learned that through trial and error. Having someone take the shots who has not – can be, well, trying.

My photos, in the end, look very different than what they start out as.  The joys of Lightroom and post production work.  But, I have also learned, especially with HNT photos, that taking them in a certain way can give you more options – more to work with.

So, let me pull back the curtain for a second and reveal how things really look from the start.

Take this shot:

Hard to believe that it looked like this shot beforehand:

Notice the remote in my hand?

The bad lighting?

The bad framing of me in the shot?

So I crop it

I liked how my back looked. The muscles in my hips and legs. I liked, generally, my body angle. So I cropped out the rest until I liked how it looked.

Then, I hit Auto Tone to fix the color and tone.  But, it wasn’t enough, so I increased the fill light to 33 to fix the lighting a bit more.

Then, I apply one of my favorite presets: BW Dependable. I would link to where I downloaded the preset, but, to be honest, I cannot find where I downloaded it anymore.

Then I export it to Smug Mug.

So, let me explain why I use Smug Mug.

In short, I have always felt like my photos looked like crap on most other sites. The color was off. What I saw in Lightroom or Gimp or Elements was not what I saw on the webpage.  Until I started using Smug Mug.  Rarely do I feel the colors are off now.  They look on the web page what they look like on my computer.

While others have great success with Flickr, I never liked it as much. Plus, recently, I have been hearing about professionals losing their PAID Flickr accounts. No good for me.

I often explain to people that while I like my photographs, many times it is what I see in them later that makes them great.  The curve of something – or a different angle.

Yes, the camera settings could have been better.

Yes, the zoom could have been different.

But, there is an art to seeing something inside of the picture.  To feel free to play with angles – to play with framing – to play with color.

It’s no different than an artist who has done a study of a still life – playing with mediums, angles, and lighting.  Same difference really.

Anyway, this wasn’t meant to be a tutorial.
I’m far from an expert.

This is simply to show how someone can take a photo that some would toss.
And turn it into a photo that people liked.
Kind of funny to think I could have deleted it, isn’t it?

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Osbasso says:

    I am so disillusioned.

  2. waywardrider says:

    … and in one post you answered a few questions I had. Most importantly why you use SmugMug in preference to other sites 🙂 Thanks for that! 🙂

  3. I am constantly cutting out clutter from the back of my photos. My room is a perpetual mess and to tidy it would take much longer! I need to get some better software for editing photos, I just use the Windows one at the moment which is fairly limited, although it does as much as I need at the moment! It’s interesting to see what the photo looked like before!


  4. Dana says:

    If I had to post an HNT shot “out of the camera”, I would NEVER post an HNT shot!

    Like you, I tend to go for the “include more than I want” method, and then crop, rotate, play with color … whatever. I don’t have a remote – just the 10 second timer – so I take a lot of “Oops! Didn’t quite get there in time” shots.

    Sometimes, even those are salvageable …

  5. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    Maybe that should be a theme one week (reading Dana’s comment) “out of camera”. See what happens…

  6. Mr. Chien says:

    I haven’t had any issue with flickr, nor I’ve heard issues from any of my professional photog friends, but I’ll keep that in mind in case it happens to me eventually. I’m also thinking of setting up a tumblr blog for these type of pictures, since I’m not ready to associate this with my RL account yet, do you have any experience regarding the quality or any colour displacement like you have seen so far with tumblr?

    I love using LR for most of the pictures, it’s lighter than PS and everything is very intuitive whereas PS you have to know what you’re doing. I did start using PS a little bit more now but only for things LR can’t do (or I just don’t know the way to do it) e.g. actions or pixel specific clean up.

    Hope I’m not bugging you with too many questions, I’m just excited to meet a fellow photog through twitter/blogspot.
    How do you like the remote? I’ve been looking into getting one, right now I use the timer to take self portraits and it’s very pain in the butt to run back and forth and making sure I’m the in the right pose before the 10 second mark.

  7. Emmy says:

    Os – I know I have ruined it for you. Can you forgive me?

    Wayward – anytime! 🙂

    100ways – its hard to find a good place to take pics where you don’t have something in the background. Elements is another good program if you are looking for something else.

    Dana – I would post HNTs if I didn’t edit, just not so often. 🙂

    MR – that could be an interesting theme. Would definitely make people be probably a bit more thoughtful in their process.

    MrChien – I’ve been hearing about it more and more. Recently read about a pro photographer who lost everything – and from the sounds of it, this is getting reported more and more. Don’t know what’s up with it, but the color issues is what did me in. Can’t explain the difference of the two sites and why – but I can tell. I don’t know about Tumblr as I haven’t played around with it yet. I would probably play around a bit and see what you think first.

    As for the remote – I do have one. If you look carefully in the first unedited shot, you can see it in my hand. I recently had to learn to use the rapid fire timer on my camera when the battery in the remote died. Remote is definitely the way to go. 🙂

    Why American men should boycott American women

    I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

    American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

    This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.


  9. Fight on brother! American womn! Ptui! Not nearly enough of them will have sex with me! So much easier to kidnap women from developing countries and drug em for sex!

    Oh, and while not a photo geek, this was an interesting read. Though I prefer my illusion that the camera captures reality without post-production :-p

  10. Aurore says:

    Well this makes me feel infinitely better about my lack of photography skills 🙂

    I love that you took us behind the scenes of your process. It’s a fascinating world back there.

  11. Vixen says:

    YES! Thankyouverymuch.

    My poor husband…he gets his feelings hurt that I don’t ask him to help me take more of my pics (I take 98% of them myself). But I get so *frustrated* when I can’t convey my idea- that’s in my head- to him. And he doesn’t take them how I envisioned them.

    But it is interesting how a bit of editing can turn a pic into a masterpiece.

    I’ve never tried SmugMug for editing, only storage. I may have to look into it.

  12. Hubman says:

    I guess I need to give you some lessons, my photos come out perfect straight out of camera every time.

    Yeah right…

  13. Just me... says:

    Great piece on how these things go from raw camera pics to the art that you make them become..
    Of course, now I want that software!! :):)

    Oh, and the spam guy can kiss my American ass!! :)~~~

  14. Maggie says:

    First of all, I want your bed. 🙂

    This was helpful! I’m going to look into Smugmug now.

  15. Joker_SATX says:

    Man you look delicious on that bed! And you have good editing tastes too!

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