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Vintage Glam I by Kendra-Paige Vintage Glam I by Kendra-Paige
Model & MUA: Iliana Rivera [link]
Photography: Kendra Paige

A disaster shoot that still ended with stunning results. In the course of this very brief photoshoot, one of my strobes died, my fog machine broke, and we got rained out, haha.

Yet despite it all, and even with Iliana being a first time model - she looked absolutely stunning in the few shots we did get!

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The Artist has requested Critique on this Artwork

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honeybabyboi Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013
I'm glad you persevered to get the shot because it's a good picture of a beautiful model. I'm reluctant to say too much against it. Since you asked for a critique, though, I'll explain why I find it less appealing than your studio shots of Iliana or the shot of her in the red outfit.

The smoothness of this image is striking. It might be mistaken for a processing effect, but on close inspection of the photos at your flickr account, and considering all of the work in your portfolio, it's obviously the result of the lens. The effect is generally ideal for portrait photography. In your macro nature shots, it serves you well. Here it's slightly distracting.

On a close up shot of a butterfly, a blurry background may be desirable because the subject normally appears blurry or flittery in our experience of it. The moment when we see a butterfly's wings close up and marvel at its colors and patterns stands out in our experience because of its rarity. The thoughts and feelings we had in such moments we remember as special, even as we forget precisely what those thoughts and feelings were. If you capture such a moment on film, you evoke that experience we call "rare moment of fascination," and all of its associations will come rushing into the encounter with the image you've presented.

In most such shots of butterflies, for example, the specifics of the environment aren't terribly important. The season is summer, more or less. There are flowers, of this or that variety. There's a little spot in the garden, or it's in a meadow. If the butterfly is coming into a house, or interacting with people, it's perhaps another kind of photo. The butterfly itself, in glorious detail, does the work of evoking thoughts and feelings.

In human experience, that is, when dealing with human subjects in any kind of art, the environment is almost always something other than a meaningless blur. A natural environment becomes "that time we went to the Everglades" or something similar. A house is "that place we stayed that winter...." and so on. There's some blurring around the edges, but specific places are often recalled in vivid detail. An amateur photograph of Aunt Mary at Mount Rainier will just as likely have Mount Rainier in focus as Aunt Mary, and that will serve well enough to jog people's memories.

So here is an elegant woman in an evening dress in the woods by a lake, it seems. I imagine there's a party at a country club, or the summer residence of affluent people. The lighting doesn't seem quite right for evening. Equipment failures notwithstanding, this is a shot that should have taken place during the golden hour (aka magic hour). That dress was made for shimmering lights.

Just as there's a contrast between the woods and a formal dining environment, there are contrasts within the natural setting that can be exploited for effect. Reflections, glows or lambency on the surface of the lake can be contrasted with shadows and roughness in the forest. If you don't have the lake in the background, you may still have dappling of light in the forest, and the potential for shimmery effects in twilight hours. To see that you need to show some detail in background, something for the eye to grip onto. The roughness would give meaning through contrast as well as provide a sense of verisimilitude.

The aperture you used here (f/2.0) is slightly smaller than the aperture you used in the red outfit shot (f/2.2). Now, I really really really love that shot in the red outfit, so when I tell you I wonder if you used too low a setting because some of the blurring of the grass seems unnatural, you should take it with a grain of salt. I'm no expert, and the shot is magnificent, so you're obviously doing a lot of things right. If you want to suppose that I'm correct that this image of Iliana in the blue dress isn't evocative as it could have been, and you want to look for a technical reason, I'd suggest experimenting with different f-stops on location shoots like this.

As for the motion you've captured, it's mildly perplexing. The composition overall suggests stillness to me, yet the bow is clearly a focus of attention. Is it blowing in the wind, or have you captured Iliana spinning? Twirling shots usually show more leg. Legs inherently express attitude, and there's a lot of attitude packed into hemlines too. I don't think this shot necessarily needs more figure, but there's more to the dress here than simply providing a base to a portrait. I'm not sure what's transpiring here.

Once again, it's a good shot of a beautiful model. It makes me happy to look at it. Thank you.
Kendra-Paige Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2013   Photographer
I have to tell you that this is the best critique I've ever received on my work, in all of the years I've been on deviantART and had my portfolio reviewed in the past. I really have to commend you on your patience and ability to highlight areas of improvement without a condescending drawl that tends to reside in most critiques. I can't express how much I appreciate you taking the time to write this.

That being said, I agree with everything you've said, as they're all valid points. This particular shot was one that I liked, simply for how 'strange' it was, mixing a haughty and domineering expression and post with a bow blowing in the breeze, it's a strange contrast.

The lighting and background is what frustrated me the most in this shoot, for the weather was nothing but absolute inky gray, hence being rained out shortly after the shoot. (We switched to the red Pinup outfit for a few minutes, and I managed to snap those shots before the rain started coming down.)

When it comes to using larger apertures in my work, it's mostly due to my disinterest with my available locations, as the vastness of modern architecture, palm trees, and flat lands of Florida bores me, and I tend to rely on bokeh and a blown out background to compensate for that. But I fully acknowledge that while I may not like it, that it shouldn't discredit the importance of a recognizable background.

My main complaint with this image is the flat lighting, caused by my second strobe's untimely death. Had it been functional, I would have used it to light Iliana from the back/side and separate her more from the background, as it ended up a little too flat as a result. I didn't spend much time near the trees, as you really need a longer focal length to present odd lines and tree branches from protruding out of a model's head.

With the holidays behind me, and being hired by the best company in the world, I'm hoping to spend more time doing portraits.

Thank you again for your thorough critique!
Pb1kenobi Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2012
A most lovely shot.

Thank you for sharing.
DudelRok Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice work with concept. Hit the nail on the head, here.
Yobrown Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012
Venom-V13 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012
LOL, interesting series of unfortunate events that occurred there it seems but nonetheless, a stunning piece this is!!
Brotherslaughter Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012
Woo! :O_o: She's absolutely gorgeous! :rose:
Kendra-Paige Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012   Photographer
Agreed! Thank you for the comment. =)
Brotherslaughter Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012
You're very welcome, Kendra! :)
Atlas0 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Very pretty =)
Kendra-Paige Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012   Photographer
Thank you. =)
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Submitted on
June 21, 2012
Image Size
5.4 MB


2,807 (3 today)
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Camera Data

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Shutter Speed
1/99 second
Focal Length
85 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Jun 20, 2012, 5:27:04 AM
Adobe Photoshop CS5.1 Macintosh
Sensor Size