Seeking Feedback (Learning Photographing part 3?)

Woman at donut shop

Woman at donut shop

I took this photo with my iPhone at a donut shop 40 minutes away from my home. It’s my husband’s favorite breakfast place. Whenever we drive to the city, we would stop there for donut and coffee.

I have seen this woman a couple of times at the store, always by herself; always sitting by the window, always looking out. Street Photographing is a little scary for me. But now that I have been inspired (encouraged) by Lynne (sixdegreesphotography) and Linda (rangewriter), without thinking, I grabbed my phone and took this photo.

I have been staring at the photo for 3 days. I like it a lot. I like her face expression; I like how she sits and the way her left hand is placed on her leg. I really can connect to this photo.

My questions are:

(1) The back of her hair is kind of yellow. Should I be concerned about this? (It does bother me a little bit. I tried to change the color with Photoshop Element, but somewhat failed. I can try harder, but how important is it?)

(2) Apparently, there is some kind of distortion, since the line for the wall is not straight. Again, is it important to straighten up the line? It doesn’t bother me at all, but I was told before that I should always straighten the lines.

(3) I have cropped the photo with “unrestricted” size so I could get it the way I wanted. Is that OK?

(4) Finally, what I really like to know is: how can I improve this photo to a “wow” photo? Composition wise, or lighting (not sure you can change lighting when you do street photographing, am I right?)… etc. I appreciate any suggestion/advice/comment you can offer.


(I hope the woman doesn’t mind that I post her photo here. I did tell her that I would bring her a copy next time I go there.)

About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
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27 Responses to Seeking Feedback (Learning Photographing part 3?)

  1. pambrittain says:

    I like it the way it is, but I use the simple setting on my camera.


    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Pam. I am kind of the same way. I use “program” mode, and once in a while I would change to other modes. When I did that, I often forgot to change it back — that shows you how good I am. Ha.


  2. Cee Neuner says:

    Couple of comments. Flip the horizon of your photo so she is looking to the left. It will leave your viewer wondering more what she is dreaming/thinking of.
    The yellow can be corrected through light balance add a little more blue. You may want to just add it in a layer on her hair although your photo does look to be a little to yellow.
    The chair looks fairly straight. A straight horizon is sometime tricky because there can be two very distinct lines to follow. In this case I might straighten it with the wall corner and narrow the photo so the line in the chair is not showing. See how that looks.
    Can I play with your photo?


  3. Yay.. Street photography is liberating and a great way to connect with humanity.. I love her pose. For me, I would convert this to Monochrome (B&W) and up the contrast just a tad. That will take away the coloring you question and add a bit of mystery to this shot to match her pose.
    As for the crop, if you can add more of the cup in (even some of the window)
    I really love this lady and would love to have a chat with her.


  4. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Helen, I love the photo. I’m learning how to take photos now too. I’m taking Susannah Conway, Photo Meditations ecourse, it’s excellent. One of the class was about lines, I could observe 3 lines in your photo, the table round line is matching with the black chair line (round and straight). And I like your diagonal wall line going to the right, it’s drawing attention to her hands. And the wood line on the wall is dividing the photo into to levels: Her hands below the line are accepting the present moment and her face with her eyes looking outside are not. They are looking for the past that will not come back. And in relation to the hair, if her hair is yellow it’s ok leave like that, but it it’s very white you can correct. Everything else is beautiful. I’m sure she is going to like the photo. But of course I’m not an expert like Cee or sixdegreesphotography, their ideas are nice as well.


  5. Helen C says:

    Hello, Elizabeth. I have to check Susannah’s e-course. What you said about lines are interesting. I’ve noticed those lines too, but you are able to analyze those more. Thanks.
    To be honest, I don’t remember if her hair was a little yellow or not. But Cee was right – the whole picture has some kind of yellow tone in it, so maybe it is not the way her hair looks.
    I’ve learned something!!! Thanks a lot!


  6. rommel says:

    To be honest 🙂 , kind of like what Cee just said, I would of gone for the horizontal. I think you really want to capture the hands. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice what you want in order to get something else. If you at your picture, try scrolling it down right just about or a little above the elbow, that in my opinion, is the ideal frame for me. Or maybe you’ll still going to be able to capture the entire view with the hands even if you flip it. So maybe next time try horizontal way.

    It is hard to even everything. Your subject is the person. So I wouldn’t worry about how even the background is. Maybe just try capturing just her face and the wall, just a big maybe. I don’t think the yellow is bothersome.


    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Rommel. The original photo has her shadow on the wall to the right, which I have cut out. In one version, I cropped right above her elbow just like you said. I stare at these three different versions (with shadow, without shadow – the one I posted, without showing hands) for 3 days and couldn’t decided which one I like better. Each version seems saying different things to me.
      I am glad you don’t think yellow is bothersome. That makes it easier 😉
      Thanks a lot!


  7. Lignum Draco says:

    I’m not much of an iPhone photographer so I’ll leave it to the above commenters, but maybe the white balance needs adjustment, and the contrast increased a little.


    • Helen C says:

      Thank you so much. I played with white balance and contrast a little bit (with my limited knowledge on Photoshop) and it does make difference. Thanks for your advice.


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  10. carolee1945 says:

    Oh, I have been wanting to do something similar to what you are doing, but I do not have the nerve. I think your photo is fantastic, but reading people’s comments about how to improve it has been really helpful to me. I never thought about horizontal lines, white balance, etc in photography. I would like to take the course you spoke about.


    • Helen C says:

      Hello Carol, thanks for visiting my blog. Like you, I didn’t have the nerve before, but now I feel differently — if I don’t try it now, when? I hope you will try it too!
      I was told there is a workshop toward the end of the year. Hope you will sign up so we can become classmates 😉 Let me know if you want more info. It was so nice that you’ve stopped here!


    • Helen C says:

      Carol, Otto is offering his eWorkshop in Aug. If you are interested, you can check here…
      That is the workshop I was waiting for and I have signed up. This is FYI…


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