Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Raw Chicken is never a good idea.

I Won a Competition!

It is always nice to get recognition and win a competition. Last week I came first place in a photo contest, and I have won a three night stay at a ‘quaint, authentic, heritage boutique Home Stay, in the white deserts of Rann of Kutch’. Not only is this going to be an awesome place to relax and chill, but it appears to offer endless opportunities for photography. So this is a double win!

What was the photo of?

The image was one of many taken at the Angalamman Festival in Tamil Nadu. I entered the image for ‘the most gruesome’ photo award, but it excelled itself and was awarded first place. The lady in this image had been psyching herself up to bite the chicken’s head off for a while. Once she was ready, it was a scramble to get my camera and capture the image. I was using a standard zoom, and managed to get very close to the action. The photo just about shows her teeth, which I believe is important for the story.

How was the photo taken?

Getting a clear shot was fairly difficult. I wanted the focus to be on the woman’s teeth as she bit into the chicken. The sun was extremely bright creating extreme highlights and shadow, and this is never a good recipe for photography.

  • A fast shutter speed was needed, but the sun was bright, so this was not a problem. The image was taken at 1/2000.
  • The ISO was set a 250. This was clearly a mistake and I could have pushed it down to 100. A lower ISO would have allowed for a wider aperture, and this would have been more effective in isolating the subject from the background.
  • An aperture of 3.2 was wide enough for some separation of the subject from the background. Ideally I would have gone down to 2.8, which is the widest my zoom lens can go.

These settings were not perfect. The action happened quickly, with the subject moving from a shady spot to an area with high contrast. In addition, there was quite a crowd to deal with. Ideally I would have liked a wider aperture and a lower ISO. I am happy that I nailed the shutter speed, although in all honesty this would have been set automatically by the camera! However, I did enough to capture the image, and that has kept me smiling. Having a RAW file, gave me some flexibility in post production.

How Was it edited?

As most of you know, I shoot RAW. This means the camera records a lot more detail than if you were shooting jpeg. For a much more detailed description of RAW v JPEG, read this

In the meantime, here is the original RAW image v the final published photo.

What differences can you spot?

  • The image is cropped, which brings a tighter focus on the subject’s teeth. It also uses the chicken to create a leading line on the frame’s lower left hand side. Lastly, cropping in on the right gets rid of the distractions behind the lady, and looses the flower in her hair.
  • The blue is de-saturated. It was not possible to get a clutter free photo of the action and I found the blue arm in the background a little dominating. Lightroom allowed me de-saturate the colour, and make it less of a distraction.
  • I used dodge and burn. Some of the chicken feathers were a little too bright, so I used the adjustment brush tool in Lightroom to darken some of the highlights. I also subtly lightened the subject’s teeth, which are hardly visible in the unedited photo.The shadow under her hat, covering her eyes has also been lightened.

One tip I will share when editing photos is to be subtle. If you can see obvious brush strokes on a photo, then the editing has gone OTT. I like to edit a photo and leave it for a day. When you see an edited image with fresh eyes, you often back up a little from what you did originally.

If you enjoyed finding out how this image was created please let me know, and I will post more articles on capturing and editing great photos. Many thanks to Kaveri and CultureRings, for organising a fantastic trip to the Angalamman Festival, and for a wonderful evening of food and shared photography!

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

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6 Comments on “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

  1. Wow! You dared! I would not be able to even look at this let alone photograph! White desert is an awesome place. You will enjoy it. Btw, if you go via Ahmedabad do let me know.


  2. Congratulations – aside from the free chicken dinner, did she also get a prize 🙂


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