Valerie Jardin

I was unaware of Valerie Jardin’s work until my tutor pointed me in the direction of her website:

Valerie is renowned for her street photography, which seems to have taken her all over the world. What I really admire about her work is that it comes across as so effortless. She shoots predominantly in black and white which instantly adds an air of old fashioned glamour. Her shots have great clarity, with no noise, making them appear silky and smooth.

I love that she seems to shoot everyday objects and events – there’s a specific shot of a man with a cigarette in his hand, writing in a cafe while there’s an out of focus coffee cup in the shot – depth is added by focussing beyond the cup, while the cup itself adds an aesthetic element:


There’s also a shot of a man reading his book on a bench. Nowadays people think they need to add some sort of action or interesting subject for a photograph to be interesting and current, but Valerie has proved that this isn’t so. Simplicity, done right, can be as impacting as a bustling crowded street scene. The photo uses the rule of thirds, and has strong lines. The contrast between the white pages of the book and the bench against his black garments really make it stand out.


One of my favourite shots is of a group of nun’s photographing a building on their mobile phones – what a gorgeous concept. It incorporates both old and new – old being the traditional attire and ancient history of their religious beliefs, and new being the up to date technology in which they capture and record their memories.

I had a similar experience when travelling around Asia. While in Thailand I saw a Buddhist Monk carrying a laptop – I was briefly baffled by the contrasting visuals; the traditional robes and barefoot appearance of the monk juxtaposed by the swanky apple laptop under his arm.



Experimenting With Welding Glass….

I’ve previously mentioned wanting to do long exposure shots but as of yet I don’t own a neutral density filter. After researching online I found multiple articles that claim a sheet of welding glass can give the same results.

So, I purchased a sheet off eBay (shade 12, as dark as possible) for just £1 – this has got to be worth a try!!

The set up was a bit fiddly – it involved numerous rubber bands and I had to focus my shot before attaching the glass over my lens, as there was no way I could actually see through the glass once on.

The glass is tinted green – there’s no way around eliminating this from the image – so shooting in RAW is a must. It’s the only way to process the image to the correct colour.

I experimented with shutter speed times ranging from 3 minutes to 13 minutes.

Here’s 2 of my favourites, both with minimal editing – just white balance correction and some minor hue alterations.

They’re of the same view, but at different times before sunset, resulting in a noticeable difference in colour.

As I was shooting a sunset directly in front of me, the movement wasn’t too drastic, and it was a very still evening so the clouds were fairly motionless but it was a great experiment.

I’m really pleased with the outcome. Not bad for a quid….



Exercise: Addition (DPP)

For this exercise I have to photograph 2 images of the same landscape – one that has correctly exposed the sky, and one that has correctly exposed the land. I then have to combine the 2 shots to produce an image where both land and sky are correctly exposed.

I then have to add a different sky completely, creating an unreal image.

Correctly exposed land:


Correctly exposed sky:


Combined image:


It looks slightly HDR-ish in that all areas have low key and high key notes.

It was a fairly simple procedure – first I selected the sky only from the land exposed image, and deleted it:


I was able to select in and around the tree branches and leaves, meaning that there were no chunks of the original sky left.

I then selected the land, and made it into a new layer on the sky exposed image:


Then it was just a case of aligning the new lighter land layer to the old, making sure it fits exactly on top.

With the sky exposure image now without a sky, I can easily add one for part 2.

Using a stock image courtesy of i’ve used this image for the sky:


I selected the sky only and copied it to create a new layer:


I then enlarged it so it was the same size as the initial image:


And finally I hid the sky layer under the land layer to create the final shot:


The twigs did prove to be a little difficult to refine the edges, this would have been easier with a landscape like the beach one, that is literally a straight horizon.

Exercise: Enhancement (DPP)

For this exercise I need to focus predominantly on the face and eye areas as my subject for manipulation.

I decided to use a stock image for this exercise as it was quicker. I used the below image, courtesy of – the subject has freckles and blue eyes – I felt that the freckles would add an interesting perspective when strongly edited.

Here’s the original image:


The first step was to select the area I wanted to edit first using the quick mask tool . I wanted to leave the models eyes and lips, and focus on her skin.


Once I had the area selected I increased the brightness, making it seem as though she was photographed in sunlight:


I then increased the contrast to really draw out her freckles.


After returning to the original image I then focused on the eyes. Here i’ve used to the sharpen tool to really increase the colours and detail of her iris.


After increasing the sharpness i’ve now whitened the whites of her eyes, and used the burn tool to really enhance her eyes. This technique is readily obvious in magazines and advertising, but personally this is on the verge of being too much.


And finally i’ve had a play with her skin tone and eye colour, to produce several image that have been heavily enhanced. It begs the question – ‘is this level of editing acceptable?’ In my opinion it is too much. But as mentioned earlier images like this are extremely common. I suppose it hangs in the viewers opinion.

Blue eyes:


Green eyes:


Brown eyes:




Exercise: Improvement or interpretation? (DPP)

For this exercise I need a portrait photograph taken in the shade. I then need to make some adjustments to improve the overall outcome of the image – making it stand out from it’s surroundings.

Original image:




Edited image:



As you can see i’ve lightened my nieces face, neck and arm and added some contrast. It would look odd for her face to be much brighter than other areas of her skin, so i’ve selected multiple areas. It’s slightly noticeable that some editing has taken place on her arm, but with more time and attention to detail this could be smoothed over. I would not usually edit and submit a photo that has been enhanced as much as this, i’d prefer to use a different shot or re shoot. However, by using the quick mask tool in photoshop i’ve been able to easily select the areas I want to edit, and brighten them – making Amber stand out more. It’s a very valuable tool in image improvement.

I’ve not done anything to her eyes as that is coming up in the next exercise.

The Importance of Ethics in Photography

I have been reading articles on this subject since stating part 4 and found a very interesting piece written by Nasim Mansurov. It covers all areas where editing and manipulation could be ethically questionable.

Here’s the article:

The section on portrait and fashion photography really demonstrates how much almost everything we see in magazines and media is edited.

It also raises the idea that although most photographers are adamant they do not edit their material, the fact of the matter is they do tweak it here and there – white balance, colour correction, contrast and brightness etc. The nature photography paragraph is a great example of this.

There’s an extremely fine line between editing to ‘correct’ and editing to ‘change’.

Exercise: Alteration (DPP)

For this exercise I am required to subtract a subject in its entirety from my image. The object needs to take up a good amount of the frame so it is not as simple as removing small dust spec or flares, as seen in previous exercises.

Surf girls

Edited version:

Surf girls no subject

It’s a fairly lengthy process to remove such a large object, but I zoomed in close and began to clone surrounding areas, healing where necessary. Zooming in significantly helps retain detail. With the above shot the background is water, which is very repetitive, making in much easier to repeat. With that in mind I wanted to experiment with an image that has a more detailed background, one that would have to be ‘created’ in order for the image to look ‘real’.

Second image:


Edited version:


Birdie no subject

I had to continue the main branch in focus (where the bird was perched) and pay attention to the shadow on the under side. I also had to continue the twigs in the background. It helps that there was a shallow depth of field as a blurry background is easier to manipulate. At first glance I think the bird has been removed well, and you’d not necessarily think that an object was present.

However, with all editing, the longer I look at it, the more faults I see!

I’m not sure I would ever submit an image so edited as the two above. There are numerous articles that debate the importance of ethics in photography – some go so far as to say cropping is wrong. In this day and age manipulation is everywhere, especially on magazine covers. Celebrities are heavily airbrushed and edited. In photojournalism editing is strongly prohibited, and the images retain their originality. The only time I would edit on a large scale would be to produce a piece of art rather than a documented photograph. Or, as seen earlier, to remove unwanted dust specs, scratches, or lens flare.