Professional Photographer magazine lays another cover-photo egg.

Disclaimer: I know what they say, “don’t criticize other people’s work.” I’m sorry, I have to part with that. As an educator in photography, I feel it is necessary to inform my students of both the good and bad. Our professional magazines should be upholding the standard of quality in this industry. What appears in the magazines is seen by the aspiring photographer as the standard to attain. When our magazines publish sub-standard material, this needs to be called out, so that the new people in the industry understand what true quality is. If we allow sub-standard to become the acceptable as “professional” then we are for not.

Cover: Professional Photogarpher Magazine, November 2011
Cover: Professional Photographer Magazine, November 2011

This is the cover of the November 2011 issue of Professional Photographer. This portrait is not flattering. It is lit with a small light source placed above the subject’s head. This type of lighting, called “butterfly” or “glamor” lighting and is not unique; but it is reserved for faces that are perfect because there are no shadows to hide the flaws in the face. You will most often see this type of lighting used in advertising for cosmetics. The subject of this portrait does not have a perfect face. Furthermore, there is no post production work. Every wrinkle and pore on this woman is painfully visible.

What really baffles me about this cover is that it was a contest, and this was the image selected by a skilled photographer that I used to have respect for.

Runner up image
(c) Don Weaver

Here is second place image. A wonderful portrait that is beautifully lit with a large light source (same type of lighting used on the cover shot, but with a larger light source). The face is beautifully sculpted and the hands do not interfere with the face.

Third place finish
(c) Babsola Bamiro

Third place. A wonderful image with some excellent tonal control. Here detail and pores are not a bad thing. Wonderful composition with the hood and the eyes just penetrate out of the darkness.

Yancy had better images to select from. To place that image on the cover is a slap in the face to professional photography.

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Photographing Autumn Leaves

Digital photography tips for photographing Autumn leaves.

Autumn is a great time of the year to get outside and take  photographs of nature in its changing beauty.  If you’re seeking to capture some of that fall color, here’s some tips.

Autumn Leaves
Autumn Leaves
  • Sunny days will give you better color.  The colors of the leaves will appear more saturated when the scene is in sunlight as opposed to a cloudy day.
  • Back light the leaves.  Put the sun behind the leaves for maximum color.  This is similar to the effect of stained glass window.  Keep in mind, that you may have to set your exposure compensation to a “+1” or even a “+2” to get the desired results.  I would also recommend setting your color balance to daylight rather than leaving it in Auto White Balance.  If the camera is allowed to make all the decisions itself, it will try to compensate for the brightness of the leaves and the intense color.
  • Best results are early or late in the day – not when the light is straight overhead.
  • Focus on close-ups of individual leaves.  This is a very effective way to capture the intense color of the season.

Happy photographing.