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Animals CritiqueFish On The Wing

Images containing animals of any type; mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, insects
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Duck
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Re: Fish On The Wing

Postby Duck » Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:10 am

This looks like it was a great exercise in enhancing your original image. Big improvements.

Here is a checklist I use when editing images. Maybe it will help others.
  1. Identify the Subject - This is the subject of the image, usually an item or person (or small group) that is central to what is happening in the photo.
  2. Identify the Action - What is happening in the photo, either by the subject or to the subject and it could be active or passive action.
  3. Identify Supporting Subjects - Other elements (if any) that interact with or explain the subject and gives the image context.
  4. Do they support the Action? - Do these secondary subjects help explain the action or give value to the subject?
  5. Minimize Distractions - This can be done by controlling light, color, blur or physically removing them from view (compositionally or digitally).

The goal of any good photograph is to show the viewer a subject that is clearly identifiable with some kind of action that will hold their attention without visual distractions that dilute it. It sounds simple but every great image will hold up to that check. My checklist above will work both at time of capture and during editing. How much to adjust and how far to take those adjustments is entirely up to the individual artist. Sometimes just the smallest adjustment can alter the visual flow.
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St3v3M
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Re: Fish On The Wing

Postby St3v3M » Thu Nov 23, 2017 3:00 am

Duck wrote:This looks like it was a great exercise in enhancing your original image. Big improvements.

Here is a checklist I use when editing images. Maybe it will help others.
...

I love your checklist! I basically look for the story, but this helps me see it in a more controlled way.

I'm curious then, using your checklist, what would you have done differently with the photo? S-
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Re: Fish On The Wing

Postby Duck » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:00 am

St3v3M wrote:I'm curious then, using your checklist, what would you have done differently with the photo? S-

In your image, the first two items are easy to identify. Some images aren't as easy, specially for beginners who haven't built up their visual language.
Identify the Subject - Heron
Identify the Action - Fishing/eating

This next two list items go hand in hand and can be tricky for some as the supporting subjects may not be readily obvious.
Identify Supporting Subjects - Fish in beak, water
Do they support the Action? - The bird's goal is the fish that lives in the water. Water is the bird's environment.

The last item on the list, as I mentioned, is handled at time of capture and enhanced (or corrected) in post.
Minimize Distractions - In your image the distractions were reduced to almost nil at time of capture creating a simple but strong composition. The only distraction being that triangle of light hitting the left wall. For me, that requires a decision and one that can go in one of two ways, depending on the narrative I wanted to give the image. Reduce the luminance of the triangle in order to reduce the distraction or increase the luminance of the shadow to reduce the contrast of the triangle. The bird, being white would likely support either choice so experimenting with both and gauging one against the other would be a good approach.

The rest is fairly straightforward, normalize the image (color balance, shadows and highlights, straighten horizons, etc.), selective dodging and burning, apply styling effects, crop, sharpen and export.

Specifically, color balance for the bird, reduce contrast between top and bottom of bird, burn in the fish so it stands out clearly, increase shadow detail of the background and water for a 'sense of place' but decrease the light corner that pulls the eye out of the frame.
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Re: Fish On The Wing

Postby St3v3M » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:27 am

Duck wrote:In your image ...

I love that you're able to teach something then put it into practice! We may want to turn this into a post of its own!

As for the rest, I really appreciate the critique and insights into how to break down an image. This was an interesting one for me with the strong lights and deeps darks, but in the end it came down to telling the story and ultimately I felt leaving the triangle of light in the upper right corner supported the light on the bird from above. Without the light the image felt as if I had cut the bird from another image and pasted it on a black background. I also find it somewhat directional, almost as a leading line that supports the movement of the bird toward that direction.

I feel the story is strong for it, I'm sure it's interpretive. and as such I'm making this available for a limited time. Feel free to show your work! S-
- Fish On The Wing
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Re: Fish On The Wing

Postby Duck » Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:22 am

I took up your challenge and gave it a try at post processing this image. The high contrast between the bird and the background presented a challenge in trying to find a nice balance. I think you are right about that little triangle of light. Without it, the image looses too much and becomes bland. As I mentioned, it's one of those things you have to experiment with and go with the best solution. Here is my version with a BTS of the Photoshop screen.

St3v3-Bird.jpg

St3v3-Bird BTS.jpg

P.S. the screen cap looks different because I applied sharpening on it to bring out the text better.
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Re: Fish On The Wing

Postby St3v3M » Sat Nov 25, 2017 5:21 am

Duck wrote:I took up your challenge and gave it a try at post processing this image. ...

I love what you did with this and hope other people take up the challenge as well! S-
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Re: Fish On The Wing

Postby minniev » Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:12 pm

Duck wrote:I took up your challenge and gave it a try at post processing this image...


Very nice edit, Duck.

This is so interesting to me because I'm at this place with these birds so often, in all kinds of weather and light, and other conditions. This particular day was very challenging in terms of shooting conditions, but the high contrast, while a problem, offered some other opportunities for a photographer to exploit. I agree the lighter triangle on the upper left is necessary. I've found that pieces of the dam structure always help frame the birds or give them a stage to perform on.

You managed to straighten the water, which is quite a feat, since it is slanted downward in the chute. Looks better this way. I often fail in my efforts to get pieces of the dam and water leveled and plumb because nothing is quite straight down there.
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Re: Fish On The Wing

Postby Duck » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:01 pm

minniev wrote:Very nice edit, Duck...


Thanks. I saved this PSD file to my Dropbox if you are interested.
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