Cigar Humor

Cigar Humor
Brian Auer | 11/25/2007 | Los Angeles, CA | 300mm * f/6.7 * 1/60s * ISO100
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This is one of my favorite photos from the recent Olvera Street Photowalk in Los Angeles. Soon after the group met up we dispersed to explore the area, and a few of us happened upon this guy doing a little magic/comedy show. The guy was pretty funny — the magic wasn’t half bad, but his antics were the best part of the show. I took 34 photos of him during the show, and this was one of the 3 that turned out pretty good. In the other two photos (1 & 2), he’s actually shooting me a look — he saw me up front taking photos of him.

I feel like this particular photo has a lot going on inside the frame, but it all adds to the composition in a positive manner. The face, the cigar, the hat, the coat, the people in the background — everything seems to work together. Maybe it’s just because I was there… what do you think about it?

Cigar Humor Post-Processing

  1. Original JPEG
    Actually not too shabby given that it was an overcast day.
  2. Processed RAW
    When I started, I wasn’t sure if I’d be doing black & white so I warmed it up a little and I also pushed the histogram back in-bounds to give me more flexibility in Photoshop.
  3. Black & White Conversion
    I used the Black & White Adjustment Layer in Photoshop with the default settings. I tried messing with the color channels, but that kept giving poor results because of the abundance of skin tones in the photo.
  4. Added Contrast
    Just a typical “S” curve with a Curves Adjustment layer to push up the contrast.
  5. Added More Contrast
    I used sort-of-an-S-curve with another Curves Adjustment layer by bringing up the highlights while maintaining the shadows.
  6. Sharpening
    Unsharp Mask on a stamped layer at 120%, 1.8 pixels, and a threshold of 1.


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About Brian Auer

a photography enthusiast from North Idaho. He's also the guy behind the Epic Edits Weblog. As a hobbyist photographer since 2003, his passion has been to constantly improve his photography skill set, to share his own knowledge with others, and to become an integral part of the photographic community.

4 thoughts on “Cigar Humor

  1. the_wolf_brigade

    When I first saw this in the Epic Edits flickr group I could see that it immediately represented street performances. Characteristics, such as you mention above, really bring out the rawness/street in the shot.

    For me though I just can’t get into it. I’m not quite sure why. Any less busy and you’d lose the feeling of the shot though I personally feel a little bit overwhelmed when I view it; colour would prove too distracting as it would bring attention to the people in the background.

    It’s possible that you had to be there to appreciate the shot – I can get into it on a technical level, just not an emotional level.

  2. Jim Goldstein

    Nice shot Brian. The B&W gives this a look reminiscent of something I’d see from an old Vaudeville photo. Nice choice of DoF. Seeing the faces of the audience laughing in the background adds a lot of dimension to the scene.

  3. Rohn

    for me the subject of the photo is the laughing audience member in the background (the one with the slight tooth gap). I try to look at the performer, but my eye walks back to the slightly out of focus man. For that reason, I think this is a great follow-up photo to the previous post about out of focus pictures. To me this photo works, the black and white conversion is likely necessary, but the real seller is finding my eye argue with my brain over the main subject.

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