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Thread: Shiny patches on insects - edit or leave?

  1. #1

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    Shiny patches on insects - edit or leave?

    I'm having another one of those 'moments'. Went looking for a photo, which I had placed in the wrong folder; then returned to discover that what I had already written had disappeared!

    Anyhow, attempting to continue . . .

    We have had a few questions recently about getting over exposed areas on shiny insects. For instance, this post by Clive. Dragonflies

    Bright sunlight, or flash, at specific angles can cause 'hot spots' of over exposure. From my experience, using various filters doesn't give any real improvement.

    So the question is whether to just ignore these areas as part of natural 'real life photography' or attempt an edit. Sometimes, I find a slight edit can make an improvement but all too often my efforts just look worse and obviously artificial.

    For example (Melanstoma scalare male) original

    Shiny patches on insects - edit or leave?

    And an edit to the over bright areas on the side of it's thorax. I think this is one of the better results.

    Shiny patches on insects - edit or leave?

    My method is:- Sometimes use an Adjustment Layer to reduce the over exposure then edit a mask so the effect only applies to the problem areas. Merge the result with the background.

    Then clone over the problem with a reduced opacity clone tool and make several passes to build up the new surface. But this can still be difficult to blend naturally.

    In which case I try a different approach. Take a reading of the nearby correct colour with the Colour Picker Tool. Use a reduced opacity paint brush to cover the problems. I normally do this on a new layer so it is easy to ditch my efforts and start again if I get it totally wrong.

    Don't expect a perfect colour match, this is just laying down a bit of 'base colour'. I often find that changing the Layer Blend Mode is helpful and 'Darken' can give better results.

    When I'm happy with the 'painting' I merge this layer with the background. Then simply use a Healing Brush to clone over some nearby texture. I may use both the 'double brush' to pick up and lay down the new base texture then finish off with the 'spot brush' to clean around any rough edges.

    I suppose it is similar to the methods used by some portrait photographers to 'clean up' facial blemishes.

    But whether it really makes a credible improvement on insects, I'm not really sure.
    Last edited by Geoff F; 3rd April 2012 at 08:26 PM. Reason: link added

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Shiny patches on insects - edit or leave?

    Hmmm, not sure.

    It is a dilemma; part of me thinks that by doing this I am not seeing the true (shiny) nature of the thorax - but it does (somehow) make me feeling I am seeing more of the insect, most odd, almost like I am not 'blinded' by the glare.

    I haven't tried any of these techniques Geoff, but the 'toning down the exposure' idea sounds the like it should be the correct course of action.

    Cheers,

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    Kris V's Avatar
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    Re: Shiny patches on insects - edit or leave?

    Actually, I am more bothered by the shiny patch on his/her head.....

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    Re: Shiny patches on insects - edit or leave?

    Excellent post Geoff. I don't have Photoshop, I only work in Lightroom which has its comparitve limits that does stop me getting too involved with PP. I'm visiting a friend over Easter and will get him to show me how you do the adjustments in Photoshop.
    I'm still torn as between touch up/repair and leaving an image alone.

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    Re: Shiny patches on insects - edit or leave?

    I prefer the original myself. That being said I'm not opposed at all to editing. Each shot is different evaluated individually for editing.
    Might I suggest using the burn tool to just tone it down a little if it bothers you, instead of completely removing it.
    As i said it doesn't bother me on this shot at all, and to be honest had I not seen the original I would have loved the edited version also and still do.
    Great shot

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    Re: Shiny patches on insects - edit or leave?

    I started off, some time ago, by trying to tone down hot spots by using the Burn Tool but without any real success. I found the Dodge Tool to be equally ineffective. Both seem rather harsh in their effect to me.

    Which is why I switched to using Curves adjustment plus an edited mask which gives me a lot more adjustment options through using opacity and blend mode variation as well as adjusting the curve shape.

    I did try using those burn and dodge tools on a duplicate background layer which gave me some possible extra variations but I now find that a simple Curves Adjustment Layer works better and hardly increases the file size.

    Incidentally, when uploading a photo of an insect for identification I never do any editing except basic brightness and sharpness.

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    Letrow's Avatar
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    Re: Shiny patches on insects - edit or leave?

    Geoff, in your example I think both photos are accptable. Your PP worked well and the insect looks good but I do agree with Dave that a shiny patch like that can be ok. In fact on some insects with shiny shields I think the effect should be left if the overexposure is not too much. It will depend on the situation of course.

    Shiny patches on insects - edit or leave?

    It would be a shame to dull this shield, right?

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