Helpful Posts Helpful Posts:  0
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 23

Thread: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Bristol, Uk
    Posts
    20

    Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Hi folks.

    Does anyone out there have any good ideas or techniques for the removal of fences from animal shots at zoos?

    I'm already aware that it's usually good technique to shoot close to the fence with a very short DoF - say f/2, f/2.8 or f/4 - but what I'm really after is a PP technique to remove or minimize the blurred mesh fencing, or rectify its attendant lack of contrast.

    Cheers

    Bill

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    16,234
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Hi Bill,

    Taking
    Get there early, for opening time ideally, less people to get in the way or get in shot.

    Whether wire fence or glass/plexi-glass viewing window, you are correct to say get as close to it as possible, or shoot over it using Live view (when possible).
    If you're "right up against it", the f-stop isn't going to make much difference with the typical focal lengths you'd use, so I'd give yourself a little more lee-way on focus and DoF by shooting using an aperture as if the obstacle wasn't there.

    Shoot through the holes in fences where possible.
    Align the subjects eye(s) with clear vision where possible.

    Take something with you to clean "visitor smudge" off windows, or use Live view and take above the height of most visitors.
    Cleaning "animal smudge" on the far side of windows is a bit more risky and generally not possible, so just avoid shooting through it - sorry, couldn't resist
    Getting there early may also reduce "animal smudge" if the keepers clean the windows in the morning.
    A flexible rubber lens hood can be good to seal extraneous reflections out of glass shots, even works at oblique angles within reason. Or an assistant with black card may do the job.

    Some zoos may have a policy regarding use of tripods, typically on Health and Safety for their patrons and also because tripod = commercial use and they may want a cut of the proceeds!

    Post Processing
    I don't think there's a magic wand that can do it in PP (but you knew that).

    For the contrast issue, tweaking the levels (after cropping) should do the trick. i.e. pull the picture's darkest bit on histogram down, or closer, to black.

    Beyond that, cloning might work, e.g. useful for;
    - where the lattice is wide, or
    - its an odd reflection you want rid of, or
    - a traditional vertical cage bar got in the way

    Beyond THAT, one idea I've had, but not tried, would be to get a shot of just the fence or mesh against the sky or a plain background, ideally at same angle as the real shot, then use that to generate a scalable "mesh negative" mask to overlay the image to apply the contrast corrections with - don't know if anyone has tried such a technique, but theoretically it should give a better result than just a global levels tweak. Or I may be talking rubbish.

    Here's my small 9 shot album on Picasa if you're interested, if it gets annoying, you can stop the slideshow with spacebar, then step through with arrow keys. There's examples of most of the hints discussed here.

    Hope that helps,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 18th February 2009 at 01:00 PM. Reason: added zoo policy

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Bristol, Uk
    Posts
    20

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Thanks Dave.

    Good shooting tips and a very intriguing idea about the "mesh negative!" I like this thought a lot, although it'd take a bit of practice, I reckon.

    I can't get to your slide show here at work (The Thought Police might get me) but will check it out when I get home.

    I agree that levels/curves would probably be my first port-of-call, particularly on a duplicate layer which could be masked and painted back in at a controllable opacity.
    Another thought I had would be to use the clone toll on a blank layer and the tool set to "luminosity" and a low opacity - I've had a bit of success with this method on a landscape shot with slight burn out on a stream highlight.

    As you say, trying to avoid the mesh or human/animal smudges at the outset is probably the best place to start!

    I was actually asking on behalf of a friend, but will try to put this advice to good use myself next time I'm at the zoo (soon I hope - if I can afford a long zoom: I've only got wide and standard at the moment).

    All the best

    Bill

  4. #4
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    16,234
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Oh, and I used a polarising filter to improve saturation and combat reflections when relevant.

    BTW The gallery is now 8, not 9, one was just so soft I couldn't bear to leave it there.

    Ah yes, the advantage of a superzoom is the built in 300mm equivalent!

    If you use this link (which opens the first picture), and look at the EXIF data using the 'show more' link in Photo information panel, you can work out my equivalent 35mm focal length by multiplying the FL shown by 5. Then step through using the on screen arrows.

    The only shot using my full 300mm was the lion through the fence, the rest were mostly much less. If you (or your friend) have got significantly more than my 6MP in camera (not difficult), you could afford to zoom in PP by cropping.

    Cheers,

  5. #5
    Bm7b5's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    88
    Real Name
    Richard

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    I shot this guy through a chain link fence, and my wife doesn't notice the fence, but I do.


    Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

  6. #6
    Bm7b5's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    88
    Real Name
    Richard

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    And then again, you can always incorporate the fence into the shot, although you can only do that once or twice in an outing before it gets old.

    Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

  7. #7
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    16,234
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Nice expression on the Tiger,

    This is just the kind of shot that might benefit from the inverse mask idea, because there's enough detail behind the chain link to get away with it. For such a large scale rows and columns style fence, you could almost paint the mask by hand now, then use that to increase the contrast of the detail behind the fence.

    There, a little project for you ...

    Cheeky wotsit, aren't I?

    Cheers,

  8. #8
    Bm7b5's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    88
    Real Name
    Richard

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Nice expression on the Tiger,

    This is just the kind of shot that might benefit from the inverse mask idea, because there's enough detail behind the chain link to get away with it. For such a large scale rows and columns style fence, you could almost paint the mask by hand now, then use that to increase the contrast of the detail behind the fence.

    There, a little project for you ...

    Cheeky wotsit, aren't I?

    Cheers,
    Take your time with that Dave, I know you have the Flamingo to do first !

  9. #9
    Davey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    530

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    only works with some fences and only tried this once, not at a zoo but on a pic of a house for publicity where the council errected road safety railings outside and looked really unappealing. I took 2 pics from ever so slightly shifted angles. I then masked off the railings and used the other angle image to remove them. Bit of blending (understatement, it was a few hour job getting perfect).

    In theory it will work for some fences at zoos, especially the further from the fence the animal(s) are and the closer you are to the fence the easier it will be to get the animal looking the same but to kill the fence when you overlay them. Manual blending/cloning will still be needed and it's a lot to do if you are working on more than a handful of images. Might be useful to you though, but it's not a magic bullet

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Quick zoo story ...

    Friend of mine took his camera out of the case - put the case on the ground - and "zoomed back with his feet" to get a shot of a gorilla.

    Not quite sure how he managed to do it (it was quite a few years ago) - but I suspect that he must have got inside the outer safety fence or something - in ang case the gorilla was able to reach through the bars and grab the strap ...

    ... at about the sme time as my friend realized what was happening - and grabs his bag. A brief tug-o-war with the gorilla ensued ...

    ... his final comment was "@#$%^&* those things are strong!"

  11. #11
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    16,234
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    He was, of course, talking about the Canon L series, weather sealed, robust bag strap wasn't he?

    Sorry Colin, I couldn't resist either

  12. #12
    Davey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    530

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    hehehehe maybe you should email them, there's an interesting marketing pitch in there along with some unusual field testing.

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    He was, of course, talking about the Canon L series, weather sealed, robust bag strap wasn't he?

    Sorry Colin, I couldn't resist either
    Darn ... didn't realize they made them ...

    ... I'll order 3 right away

  14. #14
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    16,234
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Hi Bill, or anyone that knows how layers work in Elements 6.

    As it's very quiet tonight, I foolishly thought I'd have a go at Rick's Tiger.
    I now have a psd file with two layers; a background, and above it, a copy in which I have reset the black levels point so the faded blacks where the mesh exists is the same density as the normal background is where the mesh doesn't exist.

    So now all I need to do is somehow get a mask working so I can paint through the original where the blacks are to dark. Or swap the order of the layers and the paint the faded parts out (which was actually the intention!).

    So I got stuck at the second hurdle!
    HELP ...

    Off to bed shortly, pick it up tomorrow night, see ya,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 19th February 2009 at 10:56 PM.

  15. #15

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Bristol, Uk
    Posts
    20

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Bill, or anyone that knows how layers work in Elements 6.

    As it's very quiet tonight, I foolishly thought I'd have a go at Rick's Tiger.
    I now have a psd file with two layers; a background, and above it, a copy in which I have reset the black levels point so the faded blacks where the mesh exists is the same density as the normal background is where the mesh doesn't exist.

    So now all I need to do is somehow get a mask working so I can paint through the original where the blacks are to dark. Or swap the order of the layers and the paint the faded parts out (which was actually the intention!).

    So I got stuck at the second hurdle!
    HELP ...

    Off to bed shortly, pick it up tomorrow night, see ya,


    Hi Dave

    I, too, had a go at Rick's tiger (BTW, nice shot, Rick!), but I'm using CS3, where layer masking is fairly straightforward (and probably one of the coolest things about Photoshop, BTW). Posting it will have to wait until this evening when I back home. I also can't see image attachments here at work - inconsiderate of the bosses, but there it is

    I vaguely recall that Elements doesn't use layer masks in as flexible a way as full-blown Photoshop, if at all; so I'd suggest making several copies of your adjusted copy layer, just in case of mistakes, and then use a soft eraser at low opacity to gently remove the bits you deem aren't required, then flatten and save for web etc..
    You could also play with the opacity of the adjusted layer and the blending mode (I'd suggest using "multiply") to further refine the original/adjusted blend before flattening.

    Hope this helps.
    I'll post my adjustment this evening sometime after 17:00 GMT. I pretty much used a similar levels/black point adjustment as you did, followed by a small curves tweak, and making extensive use of layer masks.

    Cheers
    Bill

  16. #16
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    16,234
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    That's good timing Bill,

    I can see yours before I do anything else, as I'm sure you'll do a better job.

    Only reason for me to do it then will be to introduce myself to using layers.
    And I can keep my embarrassing results to myself afterall.

    Cheers,

  17. #17

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Bristol, Uk
    Posts
    20

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    ...as I'm sure you'll do a better job...
    I'm not too sure about that, Dave!!

    Anyway,

    Here 'tis

    Cheers

    Bill
    Attached Images Attached Images

  18. #18
    Bm7b5's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    88
    Real Name
    Richard

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Quote Originally Posted by billygoatgruff View Post
    I'm not too sure about that, Dave!!

    Anyway,

    Here 'tis

    Cheers

    Bill
    Wow !!

    Very dynamic difference.

    Nicely done.



    I'll email you the full size original, right away.

  19. #19
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    16,234
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    If anyone IS tempted to do this for real, just in case Rick's wife then asks for it as a framed print, might I suggest one more modification; I find the sharply focused 'triangle shape' formed by the leaves camera right a distraction, perhaps it should be cloned out or massively blurred, just to give the tigger the attention it deserves.

    I might yet have a go myself as discussed above.

    Cheers,

  20. #20

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Bristol, Uk
    Posts
    20

    Re: Dealing with fences at the zoo!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bm7b5 View Post
    Wow !!

    Very dynamic difference.

    Nicely done.



    I'll email you the full size original, right away.
    Really?????

    I'm very glad you liked it, Rick!

    And, Dave, I think you're right, but cloning could be tricky if one wants to retain some believability. Careful selection and darkening and/or blurring of the background may be more effective to separate the beast and background a bit more.
    And...where's yours?

    Bill

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •