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Wildlife and Nature Photography Tip 27 -Horses in the Rain...or not exactly

I was subbing at one of the local middle schools just before Christmas Break. One of the students asked me to draw for them a Paint Horse. Now horses aren't my thing, so I thought I would take the pencil sketch and scan it. From there I could crease the contrast in On1 Photo Suite and bring the image into the layers module. I added the background scenic photo at this time and left it sitting in the background layer (see below)

The first step in layers was to strip the white areas to add the color fill (above). From the two existing layers(foreground horse sketch and background scenic photo), I began sandwiching layers of colors for the horse, leaving the original B&W sketch somewhat intact.

After adding the color to the horse I flattened the layers of horse and colored background. I then grabbed the eraser set at 10% opacity and 100% feather in On1 and feathered out the back portion of the horse so the photo in the background merged more with the foreground except for the head which I wanted to have stand out. I also applied a blur of a couple of pixels to the whole horse layer with the intention of smoothing the transition of the masked sketch to the scenic background.

I stopped at this point and, not knowing really what I wanted, or even where I was really going, paused to watch the rain as the droplets work there way down the outside my office window. It made me wonder what microscopic obstacles on the otherwise smooth surface of the window would cause the droplets to alter course as they progressed downward towards the bottom of the window frame. And then it came to me..."DAVID, stop daydreaming and finish the image."

So I selected the background scenic image and reduced the clarity as a gradient and pumped up the glow. Doing both reduced the edge details and softened the details respectively (see above).

The last part was merging the layers together. Opening the "almost final draft" in ACDSee, is where I applied the burn and dodge tools to add some depth and reduce the flatness of the horse drawing (see final below).

During the down time in the digital darkroom, I sometimes get dangerous and artzy fartzy, but it is all in fun and whatever you do with your photos is up to you. Have fun with them however you use them.

And as always, happy shooting.

The final shot as printed and given to the student.

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