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Thread: Help improve this photo with editing - One more from the woods

  1. #1
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Help improve this photo with editing - One more from the woods

    [Mod Note: This thread has been moved here from the Nature & Architecture forum at Jim's request]

    I was out the other day and saw this doe coming down the hill towards me.It stopped 15 feet away .It looked right at me and didn't bolt.I was able to take several headshots before she moved on.
    I was using a Canon 300f/4 IS with a 1.4X TC.Critique is appreciated.
    Jim
    Help improve this photo with editing - One more from the woods
    Last edited by Jim B.; 8th February 2009 at 11:47 PM. Reason: Mod note added following moving of thread at OP's request.

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    Re: One more from the woods

    A real sweetie Jim, 'doe eyed' if anything ever was! If it was mine I would try a bit of selective sharpening around the eyes and whiskery bits and get rid of that hogweed thing growing out of the back of the 1st one & the 2 downward twigs. DPP is 1st clas for cloning out, but you will have to go beyond DPP if you haven't already for selective sharpening; in NX2 I would set up a very soft edged brush hooked to a bit of unsharp mask and gently try it over the relevent bits. I am afraid you will have to ask someone else how to do it in PS(E) or whatever.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: One more from the woods

    Hi Jim,

    I'd agree with Chris, in fact I'd go even further because these opportunity shots only come once in a blue moon and you have to take them against whatever's there and deal with it later.

    #1 Having removed the stuff Chris mentions, I think you'll find the strong straight diagonal branch a distraction too and this should go, while you're at it, there's a dew/rain drop (or something) falling on left of frame which I'd also clone or heal out, it grabs my eyes every time I look at it.

    #2 has a very 'busy' background, I'd tackle this with a combination of (some) removal cloning and (more) dodging/burning to give a more even and tone separated background from the subject. The aim being to 'fight nature', which has made the doe that colour to camoflage her in the woods. However, for a photo, we need to get her to stand out just a little more. This will mean some careful work under her chin and lower neck in addition to generally working on the background.

    PS Elements (I have V6) has some brush tools for the required work; towards the lower end of the tool palette. Right clicking on the icons allows you to select whether one of these blurs or sharpens and another to dodge, burn or saturate/desaturate.

    Hope that helps, if you have any other questions, fire away.

    Regards,

  4. #4
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    Re: One more from the woods

    Nice, as Chris wrote, you should sharper a little bit and also delete the branches that are focused.

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    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: One more from the woods

    Hi Chris,Dave & Daniel,

    This is the sort of feedback I was looking for.I know they are pretty nice shots,but they don't grab me. I have PSE7 and I'm just starting to learn processing of images.I agree,the droplet on the left and the branches in the 1st shot really distracts attention to the subject.The BG in the second is definitely too busy.The only processing I did was to set B+W points and a slight USM.I was reading about dodge and burn techniques the other day.Should I do the work with layers or just work with the image? The processing end of photography is quite daunting to me.Thank you all for your help.
    Jim

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    Re: One more from the woods

    You're welcome Jim,

    If you are very new to PP (post processing), I think the most important question to ascertain before we go any further is do you have a copy of the original untreated shot?
    The answer is probably yes because by default PSE will name the file with a suffix of '-edited-1', etc. when you save. Whatever you do, don't ever be tempted to save back over the original file.

    Some people seem to do everything in layers, however, I am (almost) ashamed to admit that currently I do generally tend to work on the picture itself rather than on copies in layers (to be blended or flattened later). It suits my current level of experience, I haven't felt the need to move to layers yet (or understand all the different masks and blending modes available), but I probably will in due course.

    I tend to approach things one skill at a time, get the hang of it (over several weeks or even months), then set about improving another one. That way it's not too daunting.

    As you improve, if you have the original file, you can always open it again in a few months time and do it all over again*, but better, and so on.

    Was this a jpg or RAW capture?
    * One thing to be aware of is that if the capture was jpg, you might be tempted to re-open the edited file that you saved last time (rather than the original), in order to save time not re-doing the B+W points and USM. This would compromise the quality of your end result because each save and re-open, edit and save of a jpg degrades the image.

    Also, in workflow terms, the final USM sharpen is best done after everything else (i.e. the cloning etc.).

    So, re-open the original, set your B+W points again, then experiment with the cloning, dodging, burning, local sharpening and bluring, etc.
    If you get something wrong, you can always "undo" it (Ctrl+Z) as soon as you make a mistake.

    PP is a big subject, all I can say is give it a go, practice makes better (if not perfect).
    Post back for more feedback when you need it.

    Good luck,

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    Re: One more from the woods

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    You're welcome Jim,
    Some people seem to do everything in layers, however, I am (almost) ashamed to admit that currently I do generally tend to work on the picture itself rather than on copies in layers (to be blended or flattened later). It suits my current level of experience, I haven't felt the need to move to layers yet (or understand all the different masks and blending modes available), but I probably will in due course.
    PP is a big subject, all I can say is give it a go, practice makes better (if not perfect).
    Post back for more feedback when you need it.
    Good luck,
    Dave's comments re PP very much seems to reflect my standard in this area. (I recently installed PSE7)
    I agree with his and Chris' comments #2 & #3 on cloning.. which is something I can handle at this stage!
    You have a super image of this animal; she almost seems like tame pet, so well posed. As said, be careful to protect the original .. shots like this are impossible to repeat.

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    Re: One more from the woods

    One method of selective sharpening that often works for me is to create a duplicate layer and add a hide all mask. Then using a soft edged brush and low opacity, gradually reveal the areas to be sharpened which you can vary in intensity by different opacity settings; or gradually build up the opacity by the number of times you go over the same area.

    I usually work on the duplicate but leave the original visible so I can see exactly where I am 'painting'. Then add USM very carefully to the duplicate, possibly adjusting the layer opacity if needed; and sometimes the blend mode as well.

    As the others have said, this needs very careful enhancement. You could so easily totally spoil an almost perfect photo.

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    Re: One more from the woods

    A "quick and dirty" sharpening technique is to simply apply an USM to improve the areas you want (perhaps the animal) and then use the history brush to revert other areas quickly ) perhaps the bakground (and this can be used in reverse with a blur).

    Some things like large levels changes require great accuracy, but as a rule, sharpening and saturation changes over small areas don't require great precision so long as they're not changing anything by large amounts.

  10. #10
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: One more from the woods

    Dave and rrox,

    Yes, I have been shooting RAW exclusively for the past few months.Any keepers I backup on external HD and I burn to disk.After I have run my meager attempts at PP I usually "save as" in TIFF format.Then when I'm ready to convert to jpeg and resize I'll grab the TIFF to use.
    I haven't established a workflow yet. I guess I have been trying to take in too much at once.I'm definitely not ready to deal with layers at this stage.I have much to learn.
    Your kindness and help are much appreciated.
    Jim

  11. #11
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: One more from the woods

    Hi Geoff,

    Selective sharpening using layers is something I have been reading about. At this point I have been sharpening globally and don't really like much of what I get from the procedure.I'm going to start practicing on the use of the cloning , healing tools and sharpening techniques.I have been working in ACR for exposure,white balance,etc. and I've become fairly confident in it's use.PSE7 is alot more to learn,but I see it is extremely versatile.
    Thank you for the tip.
    Jim

  12. #12
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: One more from the woods

    Hi Colin,

    I'll give it a go.Thanks.
    Jim

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    Re: One more from the woods

    Jim: The exif of your pic says DPP (the Canon free CR2 processor & editor). I suggest you do hold with that for the starter stage. 'Save' automatically keeps the unedited file to return to at will and and likewise the last 'save' if you have a later go you don't like.

    The Stamp tool in DPP is one of its star features with the most precise (small pencil) to the softest (large brush); the only thing is it isn't reflected in the edit window until you save.

    After making basic adjustments in the RAW pane only (suggest you don't touch the RGB pane), 'save & convert' the best quality .tif you can cope with; unfortunately you can only do direct transfer to PS proper, but its the same thing.

    Pick it up in PSE. I did use PSE4 for about a year and I think you SHOULD get to use layers as quickly as possible as it is the heart of PS/E. Command J gets you a new layer and if you pox that up, turn it off or delete it and do another from the background layer. Lesson 2 is then doing slightly different things on different layers and blending the effects or choosing between them. The crunch comes whether to save as .psd (huge) with the layer structure intact, or flatten to resume the size of original tif. For web jpgs, you have to flatten.

  14. #14
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: One more from the woods

    Hi Chris,

    I have been using DPP to convert and save.I played with the stamping tool a bit.Also worked on some earlier photos with it,but I have been using ACR for any exposure settings etc.My workflow leaves much to be desired.

    Here is my workflow right now.Download photos,open in DPP,review and dump bad photos,open Elements and make any exposure adjustments I need in ACR.Send to Elements to save as TIFF.Then I go back to DPP to convert and save in jpeg if I'm going to post to the web or send in email.Then I take photos into Picture Resize Genius to resize.I have tried the "save for the web" in Elements,but I get a warning"image exceeds size the save for web was designed for and may experience out of memory problems and slow performance".My guess is that I'm converting 16bit TIFFS instead of 8bit and they are too big,but I want to keep as much information in photo as possible until I convert to jpeg.

    Pretty confusing and probably more steps than I should be doing,but I had to start somewhere.
    Now I need to add the other editing processes like cloning,dodge and burn, sharpening,etc.
    Jim

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    Re: One more from the woods

    Your workflow description has made me a bit dizzy Jim, but do what works for you and then gradually refine it, maybe with some help from the guys at home with ACR.

    I was not particularly 'selling' DPP, having abandoned it myself for DxO for CR2 conversion (sep thread in image PP section)

  16. #16
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: One more from the woods

    Chris,

    I said I was new and I mean NEW to all this.I do like the DPP stamp tool and the RAW converter seems fairly easy to work with.I have become pretty comfortable with ACR .I will also start working with DPP more so that I can get an idea of which works better for me.I'll also take a look at your DxO thread.Thanks for your help.

    Jim

  17. #17
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: One more from the woods

    Thanks,Colin for moving the thread

    My edits for this photo:
    Set black and white points,adjusted White balance,boosted vibrance,lowered saturation,cloned out all in focus branches,selectively sharpened eyes and nose.
    Slight global sharpening,then used Element's "save for the web".I didn't run an output sharpen on the jpeg.
    How am I doing? Comments and suggestions are always appreciated.
    Regards,
    Jim

    Help improve this photo with editing - One more from the woods

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    Re: One more from the woods

    Well .. there you go! A great improvement .. now the shot's a wnner!

    I'm sure you appreciate the result of your time on this

    Richard R

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    Re: One more from the woods

    JVB,

    This is a nice shot.

    I noticed that you used lens Canon EF 300f/4 IS with a 1.4X TC, but you didn't mention which camera you used, full frame or crop 1.6 body? The reason I ask this is that I like to have a idea what is a reasonable focal length we should have to capture a pic like this and on which body.

  20. #20
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    Re: One more from the woods

    Jim, please excuse a diabolical liberty, but I have had a poke at your original and arrived at this; on such a small image the mask is less precise than I would like, so a few stray hairs lost. Also don't know what is going to happen to the colour on some folks screens, as yours are coming up far better saturated when taken off CinC in to NX2 & OK on my Firefox 3.06 with colour management. Not sure why you were desaturating?
    Help improve this photo with editing - One more from the woods
    On the background I just painted out the distaractions in an averaged colour, then applied Gaussian blur (8pix), desaturated and turned away from the rufous deer colour
    On the deer itself, soft brush defined, unsharp mask (values in NX2 are different from PSE, sorry) + brighten/contrast around the eyes, ears and throat

    ....now I really want to give her a cuddle

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