This image is one I hold especially dear from my work in Papua New Guinea, and I am thrilled to learn others like it so I wish to share the story behind it. We were treated to a remarkable performance by a band and dancers in the Mansava village near Tsoi Lik island. As the performers performed there were some great candid portraits to be captured of the audience. I capture some of boys and girls in the village very much enjoying the show:
Capturing the image
This is a simple capture using the 24-105mm f/4 lens on my Canon 5D Mk II. This lens is quite good for candid ‘street’ photography as it allows wide to tele in one lens, and I found myself using it constantly in PNG. If I could make a request to Canon for a new version of this lens, make it a 24-135mm f/2.8 and you can leave out the image stabilizer. It softens the image even when switched off and I would much rather bump up the iso a stop or two.
The image and scene, I owe thanks to fellow musketeer Christian for pointing out this possible scene as we roamed the village looking for images. I then sat down, nodded, smiled, looked away, at the performance and waited for an opportunity to shoot off some quick frames where everyone (almost) was caught up in looking at the performance. I wanted a natural scene, not people staring into my camera, smiling and waving.
The entire scene is in the shade so the light is soft and dynamic range is easily controlled. Direct sunlight straight from a tropical sun above you is the enemy of these sort of scenes. I captured 5-7 frames quickly and chose the best one. I cropped the top and bottom to focus the eye on the line of people and just leave the great texture of the hut as background. In Photoshop I darkened and de-saturated the background a little, and I also added light to everyone’s faces. Just enough to make the faces come alive as if I had placed a reflector in front of them. When doing this I feel it is important to add contrast, do not brighten the shadows, just brighten the highlights for a natural look.
I enjoy creating images like these where the capture is the image and very little processing needs to be done. I look forward to seeing this image in print, a great image from a great island visit. Let me know what you feel about ‘Hanging out in the village’.