Saturday, 31 March 2012

A Photo Edit - Black and White Red Fox

From http://natureandwildlifephotography.blogspot.com/

I've meant to do more posts like this one. A quick take on the edit techniques used to process an image. Doing this for a straightforward image with little edits doesn't offer much. But for many images that I make there's a decent distance between what the camera captured, and how I've interpreted it, edited it, and then produced the final image.

Here's a composite with the final image on top. The bottom two images are from the raw file and are the basic images, reset to defaults in Lightroom and then color (default) and grayscale.
for blog

One of the main problems with the source image was it wasn't that sharp. It was the sharpest of the bunch from the encounter, but at 1/30th of a second at f/4, and a mix of handheld and resting on my car window/beanbag - it was hard to get a sharp shot.

color/default-raw
red fox edits

The sharpest part is his nose, and the DoF falls off pretty quickly. As a straight color image his eyes and attention are gripping but the image itself isn't refined enough in my opinion. The above is overly flat due to no processing, but shows signs of animal behavior and intent and that'x what drew me to the photo/moment.

Default/Grayscale
red fox edits

Switching to grayscale removes color and distraction, and elements that might make the mind wander. Color is a strong element on its own but for this image I really wanted to narrow the scope of it to just the fox. Converting to black and white, even though I have black and white on the brain lately, was probably a very justified move.

OK - so that's the setup. That's what I had to work with. I had seen the fox and due to the low light was shooting at pretty slow shutter speeds and wide open. My personal preference is to shoot wide open at ISO 400 and SLOW shutter speeds and let the cards fall where they may on sharpness. I don't always stick to this rule, but I try to avoid shooting at any ISO above 400. There's something about my D300 and D300s that ISO500 or beyond, just make me concerned regarding noise.

Anyway... I've been reading a book. I got it probably a year ago and just picked it up again. The book is Vincent Versace's "Welcome to Oz". In it he describes using Photoshop to turn a source image in to an artistic vision, an interpretation, something where the source file is just the starting point.

I highly recommend everyone listen to this podcast with Vinny (as I hear he's called).

Some of the concepts he talks about are how the eye moves through an image - light to dark, high contrast to low contrast, etc, etc..... Things that make sense but not what you might be concerned with when processing an image where you are really trying to (for me anyway) showcase a subject (often an animal) and show to others what you see.

So - here's the final black and white edit. This was done in Lightroom, and I used the adjustment brush a few times with different levels of lightening and darkening.

Bombay Hook NWR, DE

A few key edits I did were to darken the image and edges, and brighten the eyes and his nose. I also darkened the original bright spot on tht http://natureandwildlifephotography.blogspot.com/e right. Having done that edit, I removed some noise in PS with D-fine, and added my logo.

It's fine to want to get it all right in camera and I shoot for that too. Heck I shot jpg for like 3 years! Now that I shoot RAW and manual mode I strive for getting the source file as good as possible. However there's often much more to an image than that.

Let me know what you think. I'm not looking to stir up the purist's who'd capture it in camera and do NO edits ever... What do folks think about editing images to enhance and convey, and make an image become an artist photo?

-Jon

Nikographer.com / Jon

Source: http://natureandwildlifephotography.blogspot.com/2010/09/photo-edit-black-and-white-red-fox.html

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