A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


A Smile Almost Saves Me From Failure
Monday, July 27, 2009

Yesterday, fairly sure of myself I wrote this and today after reviewing my slides of Rebecca I might just eat that hat. There is one that almost compares to that iconic (for me) portrait of Rebecca by the agave at the MacMillan Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park. Why did I fail? I have several almost certain theories.

For one the iconic portrait was a grab shot. It was a shot I saw. I saw it and checked my light meter. The exposure was 1/30 at f-2. Without a tripod that's a bit iffy. I was using a 35mm wide angle and with that lens you can get away with that 1/30 second shutter speed if you press the camera to your forehead while pressing the shutter. The look of that picture has all to do with being close to your subject with a wide angle.

This time around I decided to take a tripod so I could use slightly smaller lens openings and go for my sharpness. Not only are these picture not that much sharper but they also don't have the look of the 35mm wide angle. I opted for the very sweet Nikon F-1.4 50mm lens. That was a mistake. I had to pull back and somehow I pulled back more and my picture almost looks wider than the one with the 35mm wide angle. I also should have known better than to shoot on a sunny day. The contrast inside was strong in spite of the light filtering through the trees and the almost opaque plastic of the domed ceiling. I had taken the original day on a cloudy winter afternoon. Contrast was kinder and it opened up Rebecca's eyes and gave them that milky look I find so arresting. I guess I shall return.

If there is any saving grace in my project to repeat a favourite photograph it is that this time around I was almost saved by a smile, Lauren's smile.


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