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No, this is not an inspirational post where you’ll find a different point of view on life. If you’re looking for that, you’re in the wrong place.

Here I’m talking strictly about photography, and the fact that you should always look back before you actually leave a location where you took some shots.

Let’s go back in time a couple of months to this picture:

Playing with Fire 12-11-2013

 

This was my first attempt to shoot a group of performers who were playing with fire at a local night market. It’s a very tricky situation, with a dark subject handling bright stuff and with a bright background. I didn’t want to use a super fast shutter speed to freeze the moment because I was looking forward to capture the flow of their performance. Which means I had to be lucky and find a moment where they’d stay mostly still with their body and head while at the same time moving their arms. This one was the best shot I took that night and it comes with 3 main problems:

a) It’s not perfectly in focus. I had to add a lot of sharpness in post production and the performer’s face is still very soft. The combination of his movement and my lack of practice with the new camera produced this result (I’m glad I improved my low light shooting skills here)

b) The background is awful

c) The background is absolutely terrible

A few days ago, during the Chinese new year I had the chance to go back to the market and enjoy their performance. I took roughly 150 shots, and while my pictures looked better from a technical point of view, the background was not changed. Actually, it was even worse: due to the celebrations for the new year there were many lights and sign boards and people and….you get the point.

After maybe one hour I left, thinking:”Oh well, at least some shots look better than the last time”.  While I was leaving I noticed a guy who was getting on the stage for a new performance. I was almost behind the stage, and when I looked back I got this:

Scream

 

And that’s a shot that I like. Even if he was walking I had enough time to grab my camera and take a shot with a decent focus. The background has been heavily edited, here you can see the original shot:

Scream-before

 

“Why did you take the shot horizontally?”. I actually took 2 shots horizontally and 2 vertically. In both vertical shots the position of the flames was not very interesting, so I decided to go for the big crop from one of the horizontal shots (thank you, 24mp sensor).

The background of the picture is still pretty ugly, but since it’s almost entirely dark it was fairly easy to remove all the unwanted stuff and create an image that focuses entirely on the performer.

That’s basically the shot that I’ve been looking for since I first went to that night market, and I only managed to get it while I was leaving because I suddenly looked back.

It happens a lot on landscape photography as well.

Barca finale sepia jpg

I didn’t see this the first time I passed by there. I had a random look behind me from the road and noticed the boat. Then I noticed the two small trees in front of it and I thought:”Hey, that might work”.

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