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Thread: SSSSave the ssssserpent?

  1. #1
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    SSSSave the ssssserpent?

    This is a shot taken in a museum with a borrowed Canon Rebel, the weekend before bought my own camera and took up photography. I keep coming back to this shot because I like the composition, but it still has problems and unfortunately it was captured in jpeg only.

    The snake is real, so this was shot thru glass and there was a small reflection in the upper left that I've tried to clone out, but I'm not completely satisfied with the result. (Do not attempt this angle with a diamondback in the wild, lol).

    The snake pen was lit with a warm yellow light, so white balance is largely guesswork.

    I've fiddled with curves and contrast, and done things with levels that you probably don't want to know about.

    Any help to save this shot is appreciated.

    SSSSave the ssssserpent?

  2. #2
    jiro's Avatar
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: SSSSave the ssssserpent?

    Al, ssssssssssattissssfied....?

    SSSSave the ssssserpent?

  3. #3

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    Re: SSSSave the ssssserpent?

    Good job, Jiro...nice balance of tone and I like the way you blurred out the background. Not sure how you did everything (though suspect there was some cutting and pasting and a nice use of the blur tool and perhaps a tad of Gaussian blur), but one way I've had success with jpeg images like this is to create a layer adjustment using levels and choosing overlay. I start at 50% and generally work down from that on the layer adjustment. I really like this when working with shiny or metallic objects when I know I am going to work them again in Silver Efex.
    Fun stuff to dabble in, don't you think?

  4. #4
    jiro's Avatar
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: SSSSave the ssssserpent?

    Basically, what I saw from Al's fine image is that it composes of 3 layers - the foreground (tree bark), the middle (main subject), and the background. I then cropped the image to put the head of the serpent on the top right power point (based on the rule of thirds) to make the image stronger. Blurred the background using gaussian blur, applied selective dodging and burning, hue/sat adjustment, and some more contrast adjustment. For the serpent I applied USM (Unsharp Mask), added some contrast adjustment, some hue/sat adjutments, and some noise reduction. For the foreground, I applied hue/sat adjustments, contrast, and some selective coloring. All layers are done separately using masking technique then combined into one final image. I was trying to mimic a telephoto 200mm lens that is why I fully blurred the background. Took me about 15 - 20 minutes to do all of it.

  5. #5
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: SSSSave the ssssserpent?

    Much better... thanks, Jiro! I'll try some of your technique myself. I think I may add a fourth layer, as well. I've never liked the painted background, so blurring that into near total obscurity was a good move, but to me the background branches are blurred a bit too much in your version. I know the snake is the subject, so why not blur out any distraction, but I prefer the bokeh in the original image to the PP blur.

    Great job getting rid of the remaining haziness from the reflection in the upper left. I've tried burning, cloning, and healing with only limited success in getting a natural result.

  6. #6
    jeeperman's Avatar
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    Re: SSSSave the ssssserpent?

    Well I see I am a bit slow! lol I needed the practice anyhow. Jiro, nice work. I think you went a little further than I but I see some similarities. Now I can look between the two and learn a little for next time. =}

    SSSSave the ssssserpent?
    Last edited by jeeperman; 22nd January 2011 at 02:58 AM.

  7. #7
    jiro's Avatar
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: SSSSave the ssssserpent?

    As I have said before, It's just a matter of interpretation. You did a very fine job, too Paul. We always learn something every day. Cheers to Al for a good image to start with.

  8. #8
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: SSSSave the ssssserpent?

    It's a great capture and I love Jiro's version!

  9. #9
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: SSSSave the ssssserpent?

    Nice job, Paul, and thanks for the comments, everyone. I'm going back to the museum where this was taken this morning, so maybe I'll get lucky with a reshoot (but don't count on the snake cooperating). I'm also trying to learn about the gossamer flowers that Wendy asked about, and the people at the museum can probably answer those questions. It's really more of a combination zoo/botanical garden than a museum, since all the exhibits are live (no taxidermy), and they specialize in local flora/fauna. A really unusual place in many ways, so I hope to get some good shots. Thanks again for you help!

  10. #10
    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: SSSSave the ssssserpent?

    CORRECTION: I revisited the museum, and learned that the snake in the photo is a Mojave rattlesnake, not a Diamondback. Sorry for the mistake. There were a couple of special events at the museum today, and the place was packed, so no chance for a reshoot of the snake; the Reptile House is dark, so a decent shot requires a tripod. I had my tripod with me, but with so many children running around (and I do mean running) in a crowded space, a tripod was out of the question. Maybe next time....

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