Thought Behind the Shot - November Featured Image

Thought Behind The Shot: 3 Photos Analyzed

Written by Tim on . Posted in Shooting

This is the start of a new series I’ll be doing called “Thought Behind the Shot”. Basically I’ll be describing, analyzing and critiquing photos I take, why and how I took them, and what I took them with all in as much detail as I can provide.

To start things off, I’ve decided to post three photos I’ve analyzed for an hour. Below you will see my conclusions. Enjoy!

Photo #1: Tymias

Thought Behind The Shot: 3 Photos Analyzed

Camera Settings:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/100 second
  • Aperture: F/2.8
  • ISO: 200

Taken in downtown Chicago, Tymias, as seen here, sat down to take a break from riding his bike.

As soon as he lit up a cigarette, I immediately saw an opportunity to snap a quick photo. At first I took a couple that went to the trash immediately. They were no good.

After a few shots, he finally noticed me taking photos of him, and that’s when he kind of “posed”, or more like “relaxed” with the intentions of posing.

My goal was to take a photo of him smoking, and to emphasize him smoking. So with the cigarette in his hand nearest the camera, and smoke billowing out from his exhale, I snapped this shot here.

Before I took the shot, I made sure I had my camera set on an aperture to allow shallow depth of field to better isolate Tymias from the background.


I used Adobe Photoshop CS5 to process the photo. After converting it to Black and White, I brightened up Tymias’ eyes, and messed with the contrast until I was happy using levels.

All in all, minimal post-processing was needed for this photo.

Photo #2: Mmm Pizza!

Thought Behind The Shot: 3 Photos Analyzed

This shot was difficult because it involved a moving subject to be shot at night.

I dialed in the following settings to give me the sharpest photo possible:

  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter Speed: 1/250 second
  • Aperture: F/1.8

This gave me a good starting point, the rest was down to steadiness and technical camera handling.

I had stood across the street to take this photo because I had a fixed zoom (prime lens) 35mm Nikon lens on my Nikon D300. I didn’t pan the camera with the rider, because I wanted the building to remain sharp and in-focus.

Instead, I asked the rider to do a wheelie as slow as he could, knowing that the camera settings I used would provide adequate performance and capture a sharp photo.

I wanted to capture the building in all it’s glory at night. I had no intentions of shooting it in Black and White, it just happened to look better after I converted it. The colors were too vivid and neon to me.

The nice light emitting from the bottom of the awning, and the multiple horizontal lines that give it a symmetrical feel. But, the three circular elements (both wheels and a clock) break that up a bit, helping to draw the eye to the subject, making the image feel more balanced.


I used Photoshop CS5 to process this photo. Little post-processing was needed for this photo as well. I obviously converted it to black and white, and did some dodging and burning. Mostly to lighten the bike rider, giving him more contrast to make the viewers eye go there more frequently.

The final touch was to crop the photo slightly, mainly to straighten it. Oh, and I believe I used Photoshops lens correction tools to remove any distortion and keep the lines straight.

Photo #3: Red Light

Thought Behind The Shot: 3 Photos Analyzed

Camera Settings:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/80 second
  • Aperture: f/5.0
  • ISO: 200

This is one of my favorite photos and is also a big hit with others as well.

I was sitting in a car at a red light and see a man starting to cross the street. I feel it can make a good photo, so I ask myself “why” and answer “because the sky is blazing red and the timing just right.”

So I quickly ask myself the next question, “what is the main message of the photo” and answer “to get the feeling and mood of an urban sunset.”

Next I swiftly take out the camera (shame on me not having it out already) and ask myself the final question; “How am I going to take the picture effectively?” I struggle at first, then I realize that timing is everything. So I quickly compose the shot, frantically making sure the buildings are lined up roughly using the rule of thirds and wait until the man crossing the street is right in the middle of the blinding sun, creating an awesome editorial like silhouette.

I didn’t care about depth-of-field much here, I simply made sure the camera was set on Aperture Priority mode and let it do the thinking for me, as I had no time to worry about that.

In my opinion, that is how modern digital cameras can help out photographers. I love that I didn’t have to worry about the settings, all I had to do was make sure it was set to something basic like Aperture Priority.

Also, shooting in RAW made a world of a difference as well since I had to tone-down the brightness of the sky in post, to bring the bright red and orange colors back, just like I imagined when taking the photo.


Photoshop CS5 was my editor of choice once again. This photo required heavy cropping and straightening due to the fact it was shot out of the front window of a car.

The original photo had a sky that was too bright, so I toned it down, and cloned in a few clouds to give the sky more texture. I then enhanced the alleyway by brightening the skies reflection on the building. I did this by creating multiple adjustment layers (curves) and selectively painting light onto the buildings.

I then adjusted the hue to give the sky a more “red” light and tone, instead of the more orange-ish light that my camera captured.

That concludes the first post in this series Thought Behind The Shot: 3 Photos Analyzed I hope you enjoyed reading this. Look forward to more in this series, as it helps me better understand my photography while helping you guys out as well. If you have any questions about these photos, shoot me a comment below!

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