Photo Journey: 5.29.17

Taking a picture is only the first step. After that comes processing, but how do you know what to do to bring out the best in the photo?

Let’s start with a photo I took at a local lake not too long ago. This is a tricolor heron. It’s straight out of the camera. Not a thing done to it. This is how most digital photos look. 😉 

Notice the paper wrapper floating in the water in front of the bird? Ugly. So is that strange plant growth in front of the bird. I decided to get rid of both. I used Content Aware in PS. I also flipped the photo, because I’m more comfortable working from the other direction. 

Wrapper and weird growth gone. On to the next step, which is adjusting levels and curves. 

This one step can improve your photos immensely.

Now we have a decision to make: where to go from here? If you’re me, you’re going to remove noise, clarify, saturate the colors, blah blah. ‘Cause that’s what I usually do. There are minute adjustments made in each step, but this is the general result. 

Pretty good, eh? The bird has been sharpened, the color is richer. You almost feel like you could touch it. But what if we’d gone in a different direction? What if we’d applied the Orton Effect?

Below: the bird was kept sharp, everything else is blurry, forcing focus on the bird. Subtle touches can be added during this process, meaning you can mask back the water around the heron’s legs to a lesser or greater degree. There is no end to the things you can do.

Are you starting to understand how difficult post-processing can be? 🙂

But wait! There’s more. What if you remove the background and get all artsy-fartsy? Suitable for printing and framing. 

As you can see, processing a photo can be as simple or as difficult as you want to make it. Minute changes alter everything, and there is never an end. I could keep experimenting, change the textures, swap out backgrounds…. <whew> If you have Topaz filters, there are still a zillion things you can do with this photo.

This is why photography never bores me. I never know what I’ll end up with, and I’m always learning new methods and techniques. Exciting!

Tell me which version you prefer and why in the comments.


About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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7 Responses to Photo Journey: 5.29.17

  1. Janet Ellinger says:

    3rd one down because it looks the most realistic. The ones after that look too harsh to me.

    • Fenraven says:

      I agree, and under normal circumstances, I would have messed about with that harshness to achieve a maximum amount of detail while still retaining softness. I use layer masking a LOT in post-processing these days.

  2. Lindsaysf says:

    That’s my fav too. Feels the most real. You certainly are a master not only in taking the picture but also in enhancing it. You have a wonderful eye for design & color – and the patience to learn how to create what you want. One of my favorite pictures – and it’s on my wall – is one you enhanced of Spock.
    Are you anywhere near a community college? Or a camera store or art store that has classes? It would be awesome if you could teach others – and maybe make some $ when doing it. 🙂

  3. Allison says:

    What’s amazing is how much of the basic things you can do on camera or on your phone. They’ve made it so easy to make basic, at least, changes there’s almost no reason not to anymore.
    I like the third as well, the bird stands out, but the background looks natural, it starts to look a little overprocessed in the Fourth. The “painting” is cool though.

  4. diannegray says:

    I like number three as well. It look so natural (and it’s a great shot btw) 😉

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