Do you like hearing about how I take my photos?
These images are of a very common duck, but taking flight images of them on a cloudy, snowy day makes them a bit dull in comparison to my post on Wood Ducks.
A before and after editing image is at the end of the post, along with the editing process to get there, but…
These posted images are straight out of the camera, unedited RAW images optimized for WordPress into a jpeg, except at the end where I show the editing steps.
I get questioned why I shoot the same subject both RAW and jpeg on different cards within the same camera. Many times the images are not that far off from one another in quality where editing is not necessary.
While RAW basically allows for recovery and latitude, it can also act as a safety net. RAW has the ability to recover more blown out information over jpegs, but I aim for camera settings to get the best exposure in camera, so jpegs work most times for online posting.
I shoot the throwaway jpegs to post online to Facebook or my blogs. I shoot RAW for shots I know I took in poor light for instance. Or I shoot RAW in case I need an image that might be a shot worth keeping. Most of them have no real purpose beyond posting online.
To get an image to edit for my Facebook group, I had to find one needing enough editing. I always dump the photos of poor exposure or even those slightly out of focus, but did find one in need of more editing.
I used Auto-White balance in camera for these shots. If it is off, I will make an adjustment in Lightroom or Photoshop when necessary. New cameras are very good at selecting an appropriate white balance.
Setting WB deals only with adding amber or blue, so it is easier to let the camera assess and automatically shift the overall white balance for images that are neutral in color. Make a guesstimate WB if you like and you can still fix it later. I find in snow especially, if picking Cloudy WB for instance, it can be a starting point. In Photoshop I used no correction filter, but a technique on my edited image. If requested, I will tell you how to do Opposite Color Neutralization in another post.
The theme for my Facebook group today is “before and after editing, savings grace”. The group most probably always shoots RAW, so I edited a RAW image.
Since most of my photos are not ones I edit, I had to look for one that was under-exposed and needed a slight white balance adjustment like above to remove the blue color cast. White snow like below is the aim. It really is balancing all the values in the shot.
For the Facebook theme, I first adjusted exposure, got a good white point, and lightly sharpened the image in Lightroom. I then send it off to Photoshop for further editing.
In Photoshop, I remove branches, some of the duck heads, remove the color cast, selectively sharpen, remove noise, blur the background and crop the image to focus on one subject. Then I add a key line stroke. I can do most of this in Lightroom, except a complicated step removing a darkened blemish behind the duck’s wing.
Needless to say, this is a lot of work, and why on my blogs you see mostly straight-out-of-the camera shots. It is also why I aim for good exposure every time. Good composition is important, but with fast-moving wildlife, that can be hit or miss.
This group of duck images were only cropped and had a file reduction. Sure they could use a bit of work, but honestly, for any social media posting that is repeatedly compressed and optimized, why bother?
Now, the gallery of edits to the image for the group. Only a portion of the editing steps were screenshot, but I did title what was done.
The Finished Edit
Notice the dark shadow behind the female Mallard is gone from the Cropping image above. I decided I did not like that dark blob behind the duck. First I dodged it, then I used Content Aware and Cloning (once I was near the wing). I then blurred the repair. Also note the twigs now missing. I just used Content Aware to remove them.
Blue shadows are now gray, and the snow is whitened. A few twigs and a few duck heads are removed, background repaired, lightened, and blurred. The edits helped to focus on the flying Mallard.
See more RAW, unedited images in the previous post. Color makes a big difference in RAW from the dull images of this post. A series on Wood Ducks, bright and beautiful.