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Thread: Some new photos... hoping for some C&C

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    My goal was to improve the backgrounds in these photos...

    Raccoon on the Run...

    Original JPeg

    Some new photos... hoping for some C&C

    My goal was to make the raccoon stand out from the busy background.

    Some new photos... hoping for some C&C

    Baby Chicks

    When editing I sharpened just the chicks and did my best to clone, heal and blur the busy, colourful background, which is too time consuming but a good learning exercise for editing... I photographed these chicks at 5.6 A but the background was still to bright and distracting from the chicks... Is it still the case? And is their something new I can try to achieve nicer backgrounds in nature shots?

    Some new photos... hoping for some C&C

    Some new photos... hoping for some C&C

    Thank you.

    All C&C is appreciated... I'm here to learn. Thank you.
    Last edited by Brownbear; 25th May 2013 at 10:27 PM.

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Christina, I should first say I'm looking at these images on an iPad not a profiled monitor.

    For the racoon, the shadows suggest a night photo using flash. I'm not sure the background is significantly different in the two pictures. The second photo appears yellower than the first but perhaps that was to remove some of the blue from the fash. (Or perhaps people should not comment on photos when they're just looking at an iPad version of the image!)

    For the chicks, the DOF appears shallow, perhaps in order to throw the background out of focus. The point or plane of sharpest focus seems to be around their feet with the result that some of their down is not fully in focus.

    I have less to say on how to deal with less than ideal backgrounds in nature shots. With the racoon there was sufficient distance between the racoon's head and the background that you were able to blur the background somewhat and have the head in sharp focus. If there's a silver bullet for dealing with distracting backgrounds in nature shots, hopefully someone will provide it!

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Christina, I like the raccoon shot but I'm not seeing how the background has changed. It just appears that there was a change in white balance and a slight change in crop. There is such a difference in color between the raccoon and the background that I'm not sure it would have been that distracting.

    In the first gosling photo, the bills of the outer goslings seem to be in focus but not the middle one. The last photo seems to have focused on the middle gosling's bill. I'm not sure I would have had much problem with that background. It doesn't look like it would have been that distracting but the lack of focus on the eyes of the subjects does bother me.

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Hi Christina,

    Definitely, the raccoon stands out. It's bright stripes catching the attention of the viewer!

    Your editing skills seem to be very improved. Just that the chicks colors and the background seem to merge because of similar color tones. Otherwise, technically more than sufficient.

    Cheers !

  5. #5
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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Christina,

    Cute shots of some great subjects! The following are my notes/opinions/suggestions. Since I know you are serious about improving, I'll be completely open about things:

    - First questions is, is your computer monitor color calibrated? With the raccoon, the processed shot looks far too warm to me (color balance too high). The original jpg color temp looks way more natural to me; the animal is neutral in color and the plants look better. There might be just a tiny bit of blue in the original, but I think it needs much less adjustment than was given.

    - Does your camera have a RAW file format? If so, I'd recommend using that instead of jpg format, since RAW gives much more control in PP.

    - I don't see much difference in the bg between both 'coon shots. It is a nice shot of a reclusive animal though and I do like it!

    - For the chicks: What lovely colors! I really like how the tones of everything are tied together. And of course, who doesn't love adorable babies

    - IMO, the DOF on the chick shots is too shallow. At 5.6, with the DOF showing, you must have been rather close to them. It looks to me like you could have stopped down the f-stop a bit for more DOF. The bg is distant enough that it probably would have still been acceptable looking even with a smaller aperture.

    - In my own opinion, the second shot of the chicks is not in focus (or to be more accurate, it has motion blur due to too slow of a shutter speed, camera shake, and subject movement) Sorry

    - The chick shot could potentially be improved by cropping some of the top of the bg off. If you were able to get close enough without disturbing them or the parents, you could also get a frame filler of just one chick, or at least enough resolution that cropping in on one wouldn't be too bad.

    And is their something new I can try to achieve nicer backgrounds in nature shots?
    A few points (which I've been also dealing with)...

    Staying low will often help with animal shots, since it will usually hide the near background (the actual ground itself) behind the animal itself, as opposed to a higher view shooting down which will show the ground or near objects (hopefully that makes sense). If there are objects directly behind the animal, sometimes there is nothing you can do.

    Also, planning your shots out and trying to get locations with distant backgrounds (and some luck to have your subject appear in the right place), and /or working the subject angles so you move around until you get the clear bg you are looking for.

    Not all shots will work out the way you want. I've been finding this out in my own journey of learning wildlife photography lately. But planning, research, a lot of time and shooting will yield better results.

    Hopefully this was helpful and not too harsh.

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    hi Christina,
    I have never seen a raccoon, but I looked up some images. Most were more "black and white" but there were all sorts of browns as well. If the colour in the original is like you saw it, I think he stands out well against the background which I don't see as a problem - its there, but I don't find it distracting. Do you want to "improve" the background by making it less apparent, or more pleasing? Would you be able to select the raccoon as it is, and adjust the background in isolation? I am guessing Bruce is correct that it is a night shot with flash (or under a strong light?), as that is a strong shadow. A shadow/highlight adjustment as in Ps or PSE would lighten it, but would also affect the dark areas of the raccoon. The shadow looks much better in the edit, but appears to have cost you some contrast. Sometimes, there are compromises, and what you are happy with is what really matters.
    - Noel

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Do you have access to a Blur Tool in your post processing program. Could be worth an attempt to smudge the background. At time of shooting it will be difficult with such busy background to avoid the background being a problem

  8. #8
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Thank you to all for your helpful comments, recommendations and especially to Matt for your detailed critique and advice. Matt, not harsh at all, it is exactly the type of feedback that I need to improve!

    For these photos I should say that I was disappointed because they are if only shots... ie; for the raccoon shot if the background of the raccoon consisted of beautiful, soft green blurred grass I think it would have been a good shot... And likewise for the chicks if my the background had not been so psychedelic in colour, and now I realize that my focus needed to be better and on the eyes instead of the beak.

    Bruce

    I did not use a flash, so I guess the sunlight was harsh. The colour is from setting the WB to sunlight as I thought the warm colour was appealing (and it was sunny), but I think I've been using this setting too, much. And yes I was trying to blur the background by using the largest aperture but next time around I will use a smaller one.

    Terry
    Thank you. I need to be consistent about focusing on my focus... I did work on both backgrounds quite a bit. In LR I selected them with a brush and using -100 clarity and -100 sharpness, cloning or healing bright spots and I also using the blur brush in Adobe Elements after downsizing.. With respect to achieving beautiful backgrounds I'm just going to have to try and use all of Matt's tips which should be more effective than editing.

    Victor
    Thank you. Good to hear because I feel that I am learning my way around Lightroom.

    Noel
    No flash used, and I edited the photo in raw. I was trying to make the background less apparent, by selective adjustments but it just did not work out. Thank you for some great tips that I intend to try in future.

    Trevor
    Yes, and I did blur the background using the blur tool, but I guess it was just too busy to begin with.

    Matt

    Thank you so much for your detailed and very helpful reply, which I have printed for ease of reference.

    My monitor is not calibrated, but it is fairly new and I think the colours are accurate... I've just been choosing the incorrect WB.

    I edited in raw, and next time around I will use a larger aperture. Thank you for being forthright about my focus. I have a few shots of these adorable chicks and sometimes I find it difficult to discern if the focus was achieved or not.

    Next time around I am going to use all of your suggestions, including lying down on the ground. I do get down low but it's time to get down even lower. Not harsh at all and very helpful.

  9. #9

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Christina,

    Considering the extremely helpful responses that have already been made (I agree with so many of them that I don't remember the few that I disagree with), I am going to discuss only the photo of the raccoon in great detail. For me, the first version is far superior to the second version. The second one seems as if the white balance has gone awry in such a way that produces unpleasing warm tones and reduces contrast and pop that is very pleasing in the first version.

    So, rather than take the approach of trying to make the raccoon stand out more, I'll explain how I would approach the first version if I were post-processing it.

    I would ask myself what I like about the photo to make sure that I don't change those characteristics or perhaps at the very most enhance them just a bit. I like that the animal stands out from the background very nicely. (Interesting, huh, considering your apparent thinking that it doesn't.) I like that the background is displayed just blurry enough to be separate from the animal yet distinctly enough to very nicely display the animal's environment. I like that the background has color mostly in the form of green tones so as not to be distracting from the subject and to provide contrast with the nearly monochrome tones of the subject (again, helping the subject stand out from the background).

    The one important detail that I don't like is that the animal's shadow is devoid of detail. I would brighten the shadow on the ground and under the animal's chin to reveal the color and detail of the grass. Once the grass is adequately revealed, the brightness of the shadow under the chin is compatible with the brightness of the shadow on the ground. I say that because I tried it.

    The less important detail is that I don't like that the animal is almost centered in the frame. I would crop considerably off the right side, which results in a stronger feeling that the animal is walking a bit toward the viewer.

    As for the other photos, I question the reason to attend to the background when far more important issues discussed by others need improvement. Though we can post-process photos purely as an exercise, I believe in both the short and long run that we should be making changes to photographs that are fundamentally sound with regard to the important parts of the subject being in focus, their action being stopped or not, etc. Rather than post-processing images purely as a technical exercise, consider that your time might be better spent putting the great progress you've made to work on older photographs that were made when you were less knowledgeable, studying photographs made by the great masters, and capturing more of your own photos. Just my way of thinking about this stuff.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 26th May 2013 at 03:30 PM.

  10. #10

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    My monitor is not calibrated, but it is fairly new
    The newness of your monitor has nothing to do with the accuracy of its colors. My monitor that was years old showed very little change once it was calibrated. My brand new monitor showed dramatic change once it was calibrated. The accuracy of your display has as much to do with your graphics card as your monitor, so that's another reason that focusing on your monitor can be misleading.

    I think the colours are accurate
    It's understandable that your assessment may be very wrong. Some of us have a great eye for assessing color accuracy and some of us don't. Unfortunately, I don't. Considering your acknowledgement that you might be using the "sunny" white balance setting too much, my guess is that there is a far greater likelihood that you are in my camp when it comes to being able to effectively assess color accuracy.

    Considering the amount of money that you have spent on photo and computer gear, I can't recommend strongly enough that you spend about $90 to $100 for a used Spyder Express 4 from a reliable provider or $115 for a brand new product. Once you get it set up, which is intuitive thanks to the manufacturer's instructions, it takes only minutes to recalibrate your monitor every two weeks.

    Speaking of that, it's time for me to recalibrate mine. I know because the Spyder Express 4 software has been reminding me of that.

  11. #11
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you for your very helpful and informative reply in your analysis of my raccoon. I would never have thought to look at the shadow but I will from now on.

    Processing exercises. Since one of my goals is to learn to edit I thought it would be good for me to take photos that needed to be fixed and post my edit here as a measure of how my editing skills are coming along, but I will scrap that idea. Great advice, thank you for sharing.

    A few months ago I went to purchase a colour calibration thing and the clerk advised me that unless I had a $2500.00 CAD monitor it was not necessary, ie; a waste of money... (My monitor cost me about $200 CAD.) If this is not a fact, I will buy one.

  12. #12

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    The person who gave you that advice is very wrong, though it's nice to know that the clerk had great intentions. My own monitor, which is inexpensive, is a good example. When I toggle back and forth between the calibrated and uncalibrated display (the Spyder Express software allows you do to that), it becomes immediately obvious that the uncalibrated display has a sickly green cast. Thanks to my inability to effectively assess color accuracy, I was unable to see that until I had a basis of comparison.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 26th May 2013 at 04:03 PM.

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Some people like a warmer image, and there is nothing wrong with warming it up. But you do have to balance the colors when you do. This is a color balanced copy of christina's warmer edit..............................



    Some new photos... hoping for some C&C

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    I think if you were to darken both the photos a bit, your subjects would pop a lot better.

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Christina, I have a feeling your shots are going to get really good, really fast. Just a hunch.

    Mike, you've made some excellent points in this thread! And, you beat me to the punch about the color calibration. It's absolutely critical, and necessary no matter what monitor you have. In fact, and this may sound extreme, I believe it makes no sense to edit photos at all if your monitor is not calibrated. You can definitely get a decent calibration tool for not much money.

    I will use a larger aperture
    Friendly reminder, it would be a higher/larger f number, but a smaller aperture (for more DOF)

  16. #16
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you for advising. I will purchase the Spyder Express sometime in the next month. Truly Appreciated!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    The person who gave you that advice is very wrong, though it's nice to know that the clerk had great intentions. My own monitor, which is inexpensive, is a good example. When I toggle back and forth between the calibrated and uncalibrated display (the Spyder Express software allows you do to that), it becomes immediately obvious that the uncalibrated display has a sickly green cast. Thanks to my inability to effectively assess color accuracy, I was unable to see that until I had a basis of comparison.

  17. #17
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Hi Steve,

    I'm now adore Rocky Racoon. (Love that title!) Thank you for taking the time to do an edit. When you say balance the colours do you mean that you somehow made the colours in the foreground and grass richer? darker? ie; that is what I see when I look at your edit, I think.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve S View Post
    Some people like a warmer image, and there is nothing wrong with warming it up.
    But you do have to balance the colors when you do. This is a color balanced copy of christina's warmer edit..............................



    Some new photos... hoping for some C&C

  18. #18
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Some new photos... hoping for some C&C

    Thank you Matt (hope so) and Blake (I will check that out). Yes, larger aperture, smaller F number for greater depth of field. I do know that but expressing it correctly is sometimes a challenge


    I would like to add that Mike always shares wonderful advice with everyone. I am truly appreciative that he takes the time to share his knowledge and his works of art with others...

    And I'm truly appreciative of everyone on Cambridge. Thank you.

  19. #19

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve S View Post
    a color balanced copy of christina's warmer edit
    Very nice, Steve, as always.

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    Re: Baby Chicks and Racoon - Editing Backgrounds

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Hi Steve,

    I'm now adore Rocky Racoon. (Love that title!) Thank you for taking the time to do an edit. When you say balance the colours do you mean that you somehow made the colours in the foreground and grass richer? darker? ie; that is what I see when I look at your edit, I think.



    A global adjustment. If you make an image warmer by increasing the RGB, it must be balanced with the CMY. Otherwise the image would be too red, green, or blue. (which is what happened to your version. The reason my version is darker, is because of the vignettes I added. If you look at just the colors, my greens are more true and the raccoon's color looks more realistic................no color casts. It's warmer, but still true to color.)



    Each image is different. If you increase the reds, and don't increase the cyan's, the image will look red.(a red overtone for all the colors) When you made the image warmer, you increased the reds. This made your greens and other colors look muddy, because of too much red. Add some cyan, and the image is warmer and no color casts.


    Plain and simple , colors are a Bit**. It took me a long time to get the handle on it, but time well spent.

    Basically, to balance red, you need cyan.....to balance green, you need magenta,.... to balance blue, you need yellow.


    Find the balance, and you can adjust the white balance to what ever you want, and still have neutral colors.

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