Asking for suggestions

Discussion in 'Seeking Critique' started by MrAndMrsIzzy, Aug 23, 2020.

  1. Trying something a little different here.
    Most of the time when I ask for a critique it's an image that I've already finished editing and have saved to the permanent file.
    I'm asking for the critique basically for future reference should I decide to edit a similar image or re-edit that one.

    This time I'm asking for a critique of one that's still in process. The first image is the unedited (except for resizing to post) scan. The second is after basic adjustments (brightness, contrast, tone, etc.).

    Critiques, suggestions for improvement, etc. welcome.



    Partially edited

  2. The partially processed image already looks overdone. It's extremely saturated, the water has lost its sense of liquidity, it's very glary and noisy. Look at the softness of the recent photo you produced of the lone fisherman in the bay. Of course, not all photos have to have that kind of soft delicacy, but this one is screaming "slider bar" to the viewer, and not much else. I question the photo to begin with as well, because I don't think you caught the bird at a great moment or from a great vantage point to begin with.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  3. Thanks Sam

    Not much I can do about the moment or vantage point. Saw the critter coming down, knew he was heading for something in the water. Followed him down as best I could (focus was set to one shot auto). He hit the water and by the time I snapped the shutter he was on his way back up. It was basically a grabshot.

    All that aside. Here I lowered the saturation a bit. Not sure what I can do about the noise. I did a despeckle and that seems to have smoothed it out a bit, but short of possibly rescanning at a higher resolution (which I'm not particularly interested in), I don't know what else I can do.

  4. I should accompany my critiques with a disclaimer, since this seems to come up so often. When I make an observation about a photo, it's an observation. It's about what I'm seeing. Not everything I offer in a comment is a suggestion to change the photo in front of us because, as you rightly note, you can't change the moment or perspective. Of course there's nothing you can do about that now! But, whether you can do anything about it, it's worth knowing and considering especially in terms of how much effort you want to put into post processing. And, actually, if my comment about perspective and moment rings true for you, it might just affect your shooting in the future.
  5. In terms of the post processing, the bird is caught in-between motion blur and sharp, so it's going to look off no matter what you do. Something you're doing in post makes it look like the bird and water have been artificially sharpened (that doesn't always come from specifically using a sharpening tool), and it's not working for me. Your post work is hardening everything. I'd consider a lighter, more nuanced touch keeping in mind the importance of the feel and texture of what's in your photo.
  6. Moment and perspective does ring true, but I still take the shot. The way I see it is I'm here now. This shot for example was on that same trip as my previous post about creeping civilization. In fact it wasn't too far from that same spot. It's nice to be in a situation where you can choose time, place, angle, etc. But! As I'm sure you're aware if that's not the case, you either take what you can get, or go without. In that situation I tend to take what I can get, and hope I got what I wanted (or at least something I can work with).
  7. Only sharpening I've done so far is a little on the head of the bird. Put it on a separate layer sharpened it a little and merged it down.
  8. ????? What do you mean by lighter and more nuanced ???
  9. Sure. But I critique based on the photo I'm presented with. I take many pics that I'm glad I have even though they weren't at a good moment or from the right perspective. I generally would only share them for personal reasons, for example if it's a not great pic of someone I know where the representation of him is more important than the photo itself. Those kind of inopportune moments and perspectives still might remind us of a great scene, but what's the photographic value in them? Each of us has to step back and decide that, being willing for it to be a decisive negative in the eyes of folks being asked to objectively critique the photo.
    As I said, lots of post processing maneuvers you make, even without using the sharpening tool specifically, can unnaturally sharpen a photo. Raising saturation, adjusting levels, contrast, or lighting, etc. all have effects on how "hard" a photo looks.
    I mean it looks over processed and unnatural. A bird is light. Yours now feels like a solid (but out of focus) mass of bulk in the sky, not like a bird. While your exposure didn't allow for a good initial capture of the delicate lighting on the bird, post processing could bring that out. But yours no longer looks like lighting and just looks like solid light and dark areas. What initially were light and reflections have become harsh contrast. The droplets of the water have lost their sense of implied motion and liquidity.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2020
  10. Hmmm! OK, I see your point. So! Back to the drawing board (so to speak). Start from scratch and see what I can do. Either way, it'll be good practice.
    inoneeye and samstevens like this.
  11. Izzy, sorry for being late. Firstly, in my opinion, you need to start with the unedited image. From here on, I'm assuming that whatever editing software you use allows selective edits. If so, I strongly suggest that you modify the tonality in very small increments using both burning and dodging tools. You should apply the saturation/desaturation tool in the very same. And continue with sharpening incrementally. Hope this helps.

    Sam, if somehow I inadvertently replicated some or all of your observations/suggestions, I apologize
  12. Hi @MrAndMrsIzzy, first of all thanks for posting this before/after for critique!

    Leaving aside the post-processing, the photo is IMHO good 'for a 'grab shot'. I've taken many worse ones :). Capturing Birds in Flight (BOF) is in my opinion one of the most difficult types of photography. Certainly in this situation where a bird swoops down, grabs a fish in its claws and takes off again. It all happens so fast and there's such a small area to track and focus on. Unless you're already set up for it (tracking, manual focus or AF, depth of field) you - and I - usually end up with a slightly blurry image. My guess is that the best BOF photographers learn from others and through experience how best to anticipate, track and continually adjust their focus and zoom on BOF. They undoubtedly take 'burst shots' in the critical seconds and select the one best photo. So for a single 'grab shot', this turned out well.

    As you rightly decided, the original photo - independently of the content - looks a bit 'flat/dull'. Somehow, it doesn't bring the excitement of the moment fully to life.So - like you - I would have added some post-processing. The question is what kind of post-processing and how much? For this kind of photo, I think that that post-processing should ideally 'enhance' the photo without making it too obvious that it's been post-processed. So there's always a delicate balance between 'enhancement' and 'overkill'. T.b.h. the difference is very subjective. Just compare the UK's idea of 'normal saturation'' with that of China or Japan. That's why it's a great idea to request a critique on your before/after versions. Unfortunately, I don't believe that we have many Chinese or Japanese members

    I see that the 'levels' (histogram) of your first photo was limited and that you did a good job of adjusting these in your the 2nd and 3rd versions. IHMO, this was probably enough to add enough 'vibrance' to the photo without adding saturation.

    I don't know what PP software you use or whether you have the ability to use filters and masks .A 'trick' to improve perceptual sharpness is in Photoshop/Gimp is to duplicate the original photo layer,Then apply a High Pass Filter and set the blend mode of the duplicated and filtered layer to ''overlay'' mode/. The photo appears sharper.
    ground. What adds to the photo even more is if you can apply masks to the filters. Then you make the (filtered and sharpened) bird and splashes sharper (and stand out more from the foreground and background.

    In summary, don't work on the whole photo in the same way. Try to ensure that your subject (the bird) looks sharper and more vibrant than anything else in then photo. The bird must clearly stand out in terms of clarity and vibrance.

    michaellinder likes this.
  13. My thanks to the two Mike's for their additional input. I'm taking all the info to heart, starting over from scratch, going slow, and using tools that I haven't (at this point anyway) used much. It's going to take a while, but as I indicated a couple of post's ago. Whatever the outcome, it'll be good practice.
    michaellinder likes this.
  14. Indeed, practice may not help you achieve perfection, but it'll get ya damn close. Looking forward to seeing the results.
  15. Indeed!

  16. Amen!
    Aside from that, I've decided to go ahead and rescan it. Seems I originally scanned it at a much lower resolution than I thought. Have the original neg in a binder someplace, I just have to find where someplace is and hope the neg is still scannable. Don't know if it'll help, but don't think it'll hurt.
  17. IMO, as a serious wildlife photographer, the image is crap and doesn't deserve anymore than you've done, simply to show that you were there. The bird was going the wrong way. If you want to catch a raptor catching a fish going in the right direction, then either go somewhere where there dozens of them fishing and spend a few hours trying to get "the shot" or spend tens of hours at this place hoping for the shot. Right now, in my area, I've only got three eagles and I know where they tend to hunt and fish. I've spent between 20 and 30-hours in the last three weeks, hoping to get a killer shot, to no avail. I do plan to fly to Alaska next year, to shoot from at a spot where there are hundreds of eagles.

    In general, you can't "fix" most wildlife shots. If you get an OOF shot of an eagle pulling a park ranger's hat off, then try to save it, but an eagle flying away, catching a fish is a missed shot, IMO.

    [​IMG]Bald Eagle Gives Us "The Eye" by David Stephens, on Flickr
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
    jc1305us and luis triguez like this.
  19. "Easier said than done."

    samstevens likes this.

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