by Peter Skinner
April 01, 2011 — Regardless of the technology available to contemporary visual artists, seeing is the real key to harnessing the potential of any given scene. And that skill, visualizing the image, is the ability to recognize all the factors that make up a good photograph: the principal subject, supporting visual elements, lighting and composition. And often, thanks to the magic of computer software combined with the artistry of the photographer, manipulation and enhancement can transform a good photograph into an intriguing, even great, photograph. David Beckstead’s “Escalator Bride” is a great example of this.
David Beckstead made this image while leading a workshop on location in Corvallis, OR. The specific goal was to teach his students how to see and frame an ordinary subject in-camera and in the process create something with a unique look. The location was a stationary escalator under the bleachers of a football stadium.
On looking down on the setting, David had what he describes as a “wow” moment. “I immediately saw the potential of the reflections. Most of the time there is something more, something dramatic, some concept or object that can take your subject and composition into a new place.” The term “new place” may evoke words such as dynamic, art, different, out-of-the-box and power, and so it was with the escalator, especially when a bride was included in the scene.
“These reflections and the ‘X’ style lead-in lines gave me this ‘new place.’ The lighting from the high left came from natural cloud-diffused sunlight, and the rest was ambient light bounced within the stadium architecture—no other lighting was used,” David says. “The model reached up to fix her flower, and I told her to stop and leave her hand there. It seemed so natural and much better than any pose I could have come up with.”
David shot with a 70–200mm f/2.8 lens set on 70mm. He later manipulated the image in Photoshop and slightly darkened the edges to draw the viewer’s eye to the lighter and principal segment of the composition. As emphasized earlier, seeing was the key!
To see more of David Beckstead’s work, visit www.davidbeckstead.com and www.admiredbybeckstead.com. For his workshops worldwide, visit www.shootwithbeckstead.com.
• Camera: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II
• Lens: Canon EF 70–200mm f/2.8L IS USM
• Lighting: Diffused sunlight, ambient light bounced within stadium
• Exposure: 1/100 at f/4, ISO 200, Auto WB
• File Format: RAW
• Computer: Custom-built PC
• Monitor: Apple 23-inch
• Software: Photoshop CS3; cropping with a Clone and Patch tool; artwork finished with Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 filter, Tonal Contrast
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