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Photography Tip: The Benefits of Disassembling Images

sm20100819.jpg site contributor:

Shelton Muller / Website


Keeping it Simple

The benefits of disassembling images.

With this editorial, we introduce a new photo-educational segment to  Each editorial will contain an image by Shelton Muller and a breakdown of how it was achieved…

This image was part of a two-day wedding photography workshop run by Creative Photo Workshops. While a dynamic image, it is not difficult to set up or achieve. But certain simple steps need to be assured. (click the image for a larger version)

The first port of call is the unique location. Hosier Lane in Melbourne is well known among photographers as a great place for bridal photography, fashion work, location portraiture, etc. This particular day had the benefits of overcast weather and soft light and so the contrast and saturation were easy to control.

Secondly, the choice of lens was paramount. I used a Tamron 28-75 f2.8 lens on my Nikon D700 at the 28mm setting, giving it a wide angle perspective. A longer lens would have given the lane and its unique graffiti much less presence in the image because the angle of view would be much narrower.  Not only that, but the wide angle viewpoint adds yet another subliminal element of visual interest.
Then, we placed our model, Brooke Boslem, right smack bang in the middle of the laneway. This meant that the converging perspective pointed straight toward her and the geometry of the image would not be sacrificed. Behind her we placed a strobe on a stand and fired it remotely using FlashWave III trigger and receiver. Because she is wearing a wedding dress, the stand is not seen.  Setting the camera to manual and exposing for the laneway itself, we allowed enough light to fall on Brooke’s face and dress.  Using the Guide Number calculation of the flash, the flash output was calculated at f8.  I set the exposure for f5.6  at 1/250th of a second at 400 ISO for a correct ambient exposure. Setting the f-stop to 5.6 meant that the flash would form a strong rimlight around our model. That was the intention.

In PhotoShop, the RAW image was cropped square to remove the distraction of a bright, cloudy sky. The colours were desaturated, contrast was increased and a vignette was added.

While not a difficult image to achieve, there are certain things that needed to be done to ensure its success.
•    A wide angle lens needed to be used.
•    The model needed to be placed centrally within the alley.
•    I needed to be central also.
•    The ambient light needed to be carefully metered and the output of the flash set to be slightly stronger.
•    The flash needed to be carefully hidden


Any variation of these simple steps and the image would have lost certain dynamics that make it worthwhile. In photography, it is usually the simple considerations that make a world of difference.

To attend Creative Photo Workshops events, simply go to

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