When shooting faces there are always blemishes that need editing, if you have read some of my previous posts you know my general rule is “if it wasn’t supposed to be there then remove it.” The ever so evil pimple that shows up on the model’s face the morning of the photo shoot or maybe the micro dots of mascara that falls from her lashes and I think most of all is the stray hair across the face as this is always happening. Now I must tell you I am constantly looking for these nemeses as I’m shooting, I will sometimes go right up to a model and literally dissect her face with my eyes and I’ll see nothing. Then somewhere between the snap of the shutter and the download to Lightroom all these horrible little gremlins sneaked into my photos… urrggg!!!
One might say “well go shoot landscapes and you won’t have this problem.” Wrong! How many times have I seen that most beautiful farmhouse sitting out over that beautiful grassy field and I stopped the car and jump out with the tripod and camera bag, my wife peeling herself off the windshield asking “what is wrong, why did we stop?” And me just so excited saying “just two minutes that’s all I need just two minutes.” Now back in the car and my mind is just full of blissful thought about the scene I just captured. A few miles down the road it happens again… OMG an old wooden covered bridge, oh how the photography gods have shined on me today. I’m on a high higher than any major league sports star could buy from his dealer. But with every high there comes the crash, like a NASCAR at Talladega and it is never pretty. I’m sitting there as I watch the download come into Lightroom and “what the hell is this?” Power lines? Where did they come from? Who put all these ugly road signs in front of the covered bridge? And that is the “crash.” But it is the reality of the world we live in. I call these “landscape blemishes.” They just shouldn’t be there. I know they are not like the pimple on the model’s face after all I guess somebody needs the power line to be there and electricity is hard to live without, but I don’t want it in my photo so it is coming out. Same with road signs, although I feel they are most times not as important as power lines in our life, we do need to have road signs because we have an ever-increasing population of idiotic people and for some reason society feels that if we put up a plethora of signs it will save the idiots from themselves, but… well like they say “you can’t fix stupid” and then that leaves the rest of us stuck looking at a bunch of useless signs and this bothers photographers more than any other group of people.
So I think by now you can see where I’m coming from and most likely you too have traveled this road, thinking you have something great, until you downloaded and seen what was really there. So how does this happen? Well for the most part we are not “seeing what we are looking at.” I think it was Jay Maisel that said that, actually I’m not sure who said that, but I know Mr. Maisel did say “Be aware of every square millimeter of your frame.” And that right there folks is not an easy task at all times. However with time you can teach yourself to see what you’re looking at and when you do learn this it is actually more frustrating and you’ll almost wish you never knew it. Why? Because now you start seeing what you’re looking at, you start seeing the power lines and the road signs as you’re framing up the shot and now you have to decide “do I want to find another angle or do I want to Photoshop the signs out?” Maybe to find the right angle for that farmhouse out in the field you will have to go up on the hill behind you, or walk out across the field. Hey nobody ever said “getting the good shot was going to be easy” and if they did, well they lied.
Now there is another angle (pardon the pun) to this dilemma and that takes us back to the model’s face. Why do I have to edit the model’s face? Let me say it like this; I could be sitting having coffee with a person, we are sitting right across from each other for thirty minutes and sure I can see them. But do I really see them like I would see them when I snap the shutter at 1/125 of a second and freeze the look for all eternity? No. This is more or less the same thing that happens with landscape and environmental images. The road signs and power lines are always there but we pay very little attention to them… that is until we snap the shutter and then all of a sudden we see them loud & clear. So in the end we have landscape vs model’s face, most likely I would find it easier to edit the model.
Happy shooting and remember “are seeing what you’re looking at?
Thanks for reading and have a great day.