Wildlife and Nature Photography Tips 18 - Do I file it, or fling it?


There are photos I just can't find the courage to throw away. Whether the lighting wasn't fun, subject wasn't with the best background, or as in this case, the dirty-nosed meercat. I just couldn't let it go.

As I sifted through the images from my Colorado trip that I just returned from, I noticed two images I found of interest, but were handicapped by distracting, or unwanted image content. The first image, (above) is of a meercat at the Colorado Springs Zoo (which I recommend to anyone passing through the area). Of course, the meercat is an attractively alluring character in itself, but every time I have attempted to capture a shot of these little buggers, they always have this grubby "dirt in the eyes and nose" thing going on. Well this was no exception. As you can preview in the image, the lighting was very flat as well.

I continued to take photos of this guy with the hope of salvaging something to look at in the final post processing (PP).

Below is the final image after I cropped to get closer, and with the aid of the magic eraser and clone tools was also successful at picking the items from his nose. With the finalizing warming touches applied, the ending image was one that I was much happier with.

Later that afternoon, my friend Joe spotted another possible subject. It proved to be a wonderful display and show, but the performer's attire was just not "Show" quality. The breeding season was coming to an end, which didn't seem to dissuade this guy's desire for a mate, so he just kept on displaying. (below)

He wanted so much to attract a mate, but many of the feathers had already given up the ghost and molted out, and the section of the back of his neck was also free of feathers - probably taken in scruffs with other nearby males. So what to do? I zoomed the telephoto lens out and began focusing on specific parts instead of the whole bird."I would deal with the bird's general appearance when I came to it", is what I though while shooting.

In the remake image (below), you can see that I re-cropped the image to a tighter feel for starters. Having framed the selection better, I began restoring the feathers on the neck that were missing. I was beginning to feel much better about the image by then and made the decision to continue with a bit of softening and color boosting for the background.

Having completed the basic component corrections, I went through and sharpened the head and neck to make it stand out from the colors of the background a bit more. I polished off the image by warming it up from the colder "in the shadows" look, and here you see the final result.

Is it perfect? probably not, but it is much more pleasing and I didn't waste my time shooting this subject. The simple fact was, I was still able to utilize the image.

There is so much you can do in post to revive an image. I encourage anyone to just experiment with images you thought would be good, but are somehow deficient in some way, and try to salvage them. Sometimes it works out OK. Many companies provide software for PP. I use the On1 Photo Suite with much success. It is not cloud-based, so you are not strapped with monthly fees to use their product either. But whatever you own, give the gift of a face lift to some of those images you are thinking that they may need to go. You may not only save some images, but you will also develop more technical ability with your software.

Have fun and keep shooting.

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