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Archive 2013 · Fire Fighter

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Fire Fighter

This is my dad, I am also a fire fighter but I would like some comments. This is kinda a nice style that I have going on, and would like some input

D3200 50mm 2.8 ISO 100 1/800

Jan 26, 2013 at 05:37 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Fire Fighter

As a stranger I don't know for sure which is your dad, but I'm assuming he's in the foreground. His back doesn't tell me much about him.

Lighting is revealing 3D shape well. Shooting into the shadow side always is the better choice for that. But in terms of overall composition you have figures walking all in the same direction which clues the viewer to move their attention to see why they are walking that way. But in the photo there's no compelling focal point there. So as a stranger I'm left wondering "Where's the fire?" and "Why am I still looking at this boring photo?"

You also cut off the feet of "Henry" who I'm guessing is dad. In a wide shot like that if you don't include the feet it looks like a rookie cropping mistake: paying to much attention to the center circle of the viewfinder and losing track of what is hitting the bottom and top if the frame.

On top you have a bright, distraction patch of sky. If you had cropped lower to include the feet you would have also eliminated that distraction.

The failure here story-wise is not realizing the focal point in a shot where all the backs are turned isn't the people it's what they appear to be looking at / walking towards. Your shot, apart from the feet, is nicely composed to lead the viewer to that focal point that completes the story here but the focal point is missing.

The overall look of the photos isn't seen by eye "normal" contrast. Exaggerating contrast to make it look "harder" than normal is a way to create the impression that firefighters are tougher than average, but it really doesn't work here where it looks like more of a relaxed stroll in the park.

The way you could have improved the shot would have been to say, "Hey dad turn around so I can take your picture." immediately after taking this one. A similar crop (with feet) but with his face in it would give it the focal point (his face) it needs. As a stranger I'd not only know who was your dad in the shot but also likely recognize him if I met him in person. I few seconds later if the others kept walking they'd be to the left where your missing focal point is in this shot becoming a secondary focal point the viewer will see to complete the story of your Dad's team out on a call or training exercise (which I'm guessing this was).

After taking those two wide shots, with and without dad's face move in closer for a H&S shot without the distractions of the background. You'll wind up with a series of shots which a stranger will better understand and enjoy looking at. Forced to pick one the second with your Dad's face and others in the background for context, with feet and normal contrast would be my choice.

Good effort here, it just needs more thought about how a stranger will interpret the story clues and implied action / leading lines you put in the photo. Ask yourself what the focal point is and find ways to frame the shot so:

1) The focal point contrasts with the overall background context so the viewer finds it instinctively.
2) The background adds context to the focal point vs. distracting attention to some less important area.

Here there wasn't a compelling contrasting focal point. Having your dad turn around so is face was seen would create one. Sometimes that type of manipulation is needed to make shot "work" more effectively at telling the story.

Jan 26, 2013 at 03:50 PM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Fire Fighter

In terms of doing the best with what you have, I would suggest something like the following. Besides the crop, I did the following:
- Darkened that sky in the corner. An alternative would be to clone it out with more trees.
- Cloned out the other fireman that was behind your Dad.
- Did some random dodging and burning.

It certainly is no "portrait", but it does show your Dad in his uniform (you can tell him that you caught his good side ) with some of the members of his team. It's the kind of image that might function well as part of a set or collage. Cropping out the "missing focal point" that Chuck mentioned allows viewers to use their imagination.

I give you bonus points for doing a pretty good job of lining up the fire hose with the stripes in his suit.


Jan 26, 2013 at 05:02 PM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Fire Fighter

Eyeball wrote:
It certainly is no "portrait",

Not a "typical" one anyway ... rather an environmental one.

As a former firefighter who has had to roll up the hoses and restow them in preparation for the next time, I can appreciate the image and the body language involved here. The fire might be out, but the job isn't finished. Note: I realize the hose is still charged, and will have to be drained.

Imo, it is a portrait of a man at work with his colleagues. I think the "faceless portrait" fits the occupation (and likely the person) well.

+1 @ bonus points.

I would have liked to have seen just a touch more space to the left of the hose so it has room to "come back around". I cloned out the person just in front of your dad's face, and threw a little gradient levels to try & promote your dad a bit more with some light from the rhs. Also a little crop on the rhs & top.

"What's the point?" / "What's the message you want to convey to your viewer?"

Imo, the "missing focal point" isn't really missing ... it is the walk to the end of the hose to "walk it down" (drain) restock & restow that is integral to the story. While many people might not be able to relate to such an element being important to the image here ... FF's know what this is all about. The work being well done here will save valuable time when moments matter in the future. This is the "behind the scenes" part of the job ... you're tired and worn out physically & emotionally, but you know how important it is to do a good job to get ready for the next time, even if this one was only hydrostatic testing, training, etc.

Props to your family for their service.

Jan 26, 2013 at 08:21 PM

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