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Contact Sheet #5

Working on a contact sheet from an older photo I took ion Laos in 2012, in a brick factory near Luang Prabang. This is such a stunning location that I am bringing my students in there every year during our photo tour.

The place is covered with red dust, and the tiny particles of dust are flying in the air. This is a place which has to be visited in the afternoon when the sun is high. The beams of light go through the holes in the roof and hit the dust particles, just a photographic paradise.

Canon EOS 5DII, Canon 100mm f2.8 lens @ f/4, 1/80th and ISO 800.
From what you can see, I did not adjust my composition on these 6 different photos. I took a point of view that allowed me to capture the essence of the place, the red colours, the brick wall, but mostly the beam of light. This beam of light is giving a very interesting direction to the photo, and a nice diagonal line. The only thing I had to do is wait for mu subject to come at the right spot.

I first thought that my subject would be more dynamic in the first 3 photos when the man balances the light beam. The photo has a very strong impact on the left side, due to the fact that the photo is brighter there and has more texture, so I thought I needed my subject on the right side to balance. But after taking the first shots I realized my subject was not “popping out” enough because of the lack of light on that area.

So I waited. Of course, while waiting, I was making sure my settings were right, so I would not miss the shot. That means making sure my shutter speed was not too slow (quite a dark place) and changing my focusing point and focusing mode so I could follow the moving subject (going to AI Servo on Canon or AF-C on Nikon).

From that point it was easy, just waiting for my subject to come towards me. I took several shots as you can see and pick up the one that IO felt was more dynamic. Once the man got closer to me, he became brighter and looked straight at me, creating a connection. His pants caught the reflecting light from the wall. Also, because he was getting closer, my depth of field was also getting more interesting, and I could give a little blur in my background, thus enhancing the subject even more.

I did take a few shots after the last one here, but then the body of the man was hiding the bricks and the left side, and the photo lost a lot of interest.
You can also note the little difference in the composition between shot 1 and the others: the rack of palettes on the bottom right corner gives a better depth to the photo after I recomposed, as it becomes more a diagonal. On the first photo, this line is very straight, giving less impact. You can see on the lest selected photo that this rack has much more angle.
Hope you enjoy. I am very happy to get your feedback in the comment section below!


  1. Patrice on February 22, 2014 at 11:21 am


    You seem to like you 100mm macro lens better than a 70-200mm zoom lens.
    Could you explain me why you choose this one to be your telephoto lens?

    The AF speed for non macro focus is it good and faster than a 70-200?
    I’m asking you all these question because I’m looking to buy one to put inside my bag for my next India trip and i have the choose about my 85mm f1.8 vs the 70-200 f4 is and this 100mm macro IS.

    Best regards and good pictures.

    • Etienne on February 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      Patrice, thanks for your comment. I just love my 100mm lens and I find this is a very fine portrait lens too. I prefer it (and prime lenses in general) to a 70-200 because it forces me to move, and thus be more creative (as I cannot zoom or unzoom). Of course, I can afford to do that and get close to my subject given the type of photography I do (focusing on people in South East Asia). If I was shooting wildlife in Africa I may get a 70-200.

      The 70-200 is also quite big and heavy, not the best to travel. The AF speed of the 100mm is very fast, this is absolutely not an issue. If I have to chose between the 85mm f1.8 or the 100mm f2.8 macro I would still chose the 100mm, it has a better built quality.

      Hope I could help.

  2. Susan Moss on February 22, 2014 at 5:29 am

    Love what you have done with this one Etienne and how the man pops out in no 5 with the light behind him. Inspiring.

  3. Erny Kahle on February 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Fine image but you can crop it and avoid the light in the background.

  4. Brett Rossi on February 26, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Have any arguments about me posting this on my twitter?

    • Etienne on February 27, 2014 at 9:46 am

      Absolutely not, thanks for sharing!

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