I debated entering this photo. I assume it won't do all that well due to the "boring" nature of it. This photo doesn't break any real new ground, but does show a classic family in a classic Christmas pose. Plus, all the work I put into getting this right, I had to use it for something other than just the annual Christmas card :)
Lighting of this shot was just about the most DIY I have ever done. I don't yet have an umbrella or soft box stand, so I really had to improvise. I setup a ladder to the left of this scene. I put a flash gelled with full CTO on the second rung of the ladder. Because I wanted somewhat softer light, I used a dowel to hang a 5-in-1 reflector as a make shift soft box. To prevent light leak, I moved a chair to the side of the ladder. the caused the somewhat dramatic lighting, but I needed some fill light. All I did here was close our bright white window blinds to cause some reflection of the flash light. I then used a long shutter time to ensure the tree and background were nicely exposed.
Then came the hard part. We all donned some nice clothes, and got Cody to stop crying for a few minutes (evenings he is very fussy). Then we had to try to get him and Nala to look in the general direction of the camera while I popped off shots with my wireless trigger.
The end result is a fantastic (in my mind) shot of our family, and the very first family photo we have done. This is going to be one of my treasures that I keep in my office.
* White Balance
* Increase exposure, brightness, and recovery
* Decrease black point
* Increase definition
* Curves to lighten the photo
* Brighten the shadows slightly
* Export as TIFF
* Sharpen Edges
* Save as JPEG
I really wish people oriented challenges would stop being Basic editing. I really could have used Advanced to remove the reflection in the glass of the fireplace, whiten my teeth, and brighten Nala's eye.
[Dec. 1st, 2011 11:37:10 AM]
It's funny, I already have two comments about the dog looking to the camera. Nala is actually very good about this. Probably because she has been a major subject of mine since she was a puppy, that now she seems to understand what is going on (as much as she can). She does a good job of interacting with the camera, and even listens to the shutter clicks to know when I'm done.
It was actually harder to get Cody to look forward, he was much more interested in the ladder holding up my lighting :)
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Rare to get perfect eye contact from the family pet, haha. This is a nice happy shot, it would indeed make a nice xmas card for friends and family. Good exposure, nice focus, it certainly portrays family. My only niggle would be that the main subjects are half-way down the shot, although I understand you wanted the tree in there too. A very nice image overall.