The man at the window, Myanmar. Photo by Aloha Lavina.
He was at the old wooden temple with his family, but they were somewhere else in the building, in another room. He sat by the window, deep in thought.
It was my first trip to Burma, and I had a D200 with the Nikkor 17-55 mm 2.8f lens.Â From inside, I saw him sitting by that circular window. All wrinkles and warm colors, seemingly the same textures as the wood.
I ran downstairs to get this shot.
To get the shot: I zoomed the lens as wide as it could get and angled the shot so that the wood would distort.Â I saw the planks at the bottom of the shot, leading to his hand. I abstracted the window by cropping it above and on the right, so his face would float in the dark background. To get the colors to pop, I used Aperture priority and compensated for exposure by underexposing three quarters of a stop.
In post processing, my goal was to enhance the underexposure and separate the man from the shadows around his face. I also wanted the textures accentuated.
Most often my exposures are subjective, so I did not do a levels adjustment with Photoshop CS2 as I was quite happy with the underexposure. The more dramatic the contrast, the better, for me. Instead I wanted the skin tones to remain the chocolate color of the manâ€™s real skin. So I used Channels, using the blue channel for the wood to give it more grain or noise, and the green channel for the man. I blended the two channels using the Multiply mode, which effectively darkens the whole image. Then using a layer mask, I brushed back the color, using a very soft brush and around 30 percent opacity. Later, on a separate layer, I used the dodge and burn tools to achieve more pronounced textures in the wall. Lastly, I sharpened the whole photo using Unsharp Mask and Fade Unsharp Mask combinations, with the aim of increasing the already dramatic contrast.
And that was how this image was created.
This photo is special to me, one of my favorites, and the reason why I fell in love with the stories of Burma.
NOTE: This post was written for LightStalking, who asked me this question on Twitter. Thanks for inspiring this blog post!
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