And I apologise for that terrible pun in the heading!
So what is wrong with it?I know there is a lot technically wrong with this image,
Canon 40D with 24-105 lens at 105; Av set to F 11, my default setting; 1/500 ISO 400; Custom WB but it was a previous setting which I had forgotten to cancel, although not too far off.
It was shot towards the sun and I didn't have any thinking time, so I spot metered off the sheep's side. I normally use spot metering as my default setting. This meant that the area of wool above the sheep's head was well over exposed, and a couple of other spots. I reduced exposure by 1.5 stops during RAW conversion which recovered most of the blown highlights but some detail has been lost.
The whole image is a bit on the soft side. I don't really know why though. At those settings, although not ideal, it should have been sharper. Possibly reducing the lens length may have helped but I was a little distance away so needed a good amount of 'magnification'. The image is well cropped. The head and horns are particularly soft.
My camera settings are 'Faithful' which means no in camera sharpening or saturation. I used Unsharp Mask at capture setting 300 x 0.3 x 0 then standard sharpen at 50 x 1 x 1. Plus extra selective sharpening just on the sheep's back and head done on a duplicate layer.
The black areas of the head, and eyes, have lost all detail due to under exposure which resulted from trying to prevent the over exposed highlights.
Other dark areas around the underbelly are quite noisy and have some slight CA problems. I didn't want to use noise reduction as the image is already soft and the rather basic noise reduction options available in my software do tend to soften the image slightly.
Reducing the ISO to 200 would have probably helped but 400 is my basic all purpose default setting and by the time I had an opportunity to think, it was too late.
Once converted, I used Curves to hold the highlights and brighten the midtones/shadows but held the 'darkest shadow point' unchanged. Using selective Curves on extra duplicate layers or setting the layer blend mode to, say, Screen with reduced Opacity and a selectively constructed mask may have been better options. But I didn't think the original image quality was good enough to spend too much time.
Therefore, an interesting snap instead of an excellent photo.
ps. I'm always amazed how agile these animals are. If I was standing 6 ins from a cliff face, scratching my ear would be the last thing on my mind!
Couple of points that came to mind Geoff, if you're using ACR, I would have brought the blown bits down with Recovery slider (scale of 0 - 100) rather than Exposure (scaled in stops), as that wouldn't have brought down the mid-tones and required their lifting again (with noise) in curves.
If ACR 5.x, I really would recommend giving the noise reduction on the Details tab a try - it does soften a little, but I reckon the trade off is worth it.
Thanks for the detailed reply though, interesting reading.
I don't currently have any of the 'fancy' programmes, at least not yet. Serif Photo Plus version X3 which is a reasonable general purpose editor at a sensible price but it does lack some of the finer RAW conversion controls. Maybe I will consider some better conversion software.
Initially, I did try my programme's Highlight Recovery setting but even at setting 1 it was introducing excessive noise; which was a lot better with the simple exposure reduction setting. Although, admittedly, I prefer not to go beyond -0.5 if possible.
How do Ewe scratch an itchy ear?
Very carefully if Ewe don't want to get wet.