AB Friday Forum – Week 29…

ABFriday (after before Friday) is a forum hosted by Stacy at Visual Venturing.  This week’s forum can be seen here.

Every Friday Stacy showcases after/before photos we’ve submitted.  Then, if we choose, we can tell how we did it on our own blogs.

This week I decided to pull out a favorite photo from the archives…

harbor seals - after

I took this photo when I had no idea what I was doing (Mar 2011).  I had a new camera (my first dSLR) and a new lens (70-300mm).  The new lens was difficult at first to get used to, especially when I had the focal length at 300mm, just the slightest movement and I’d loose my subject!

We went to La Jolla Cove, CA to see the harbor seals.  I just happened to catch one sticking his tongue out!

Throughout my education I learned about composition and post-processing, and continued to come back to this image to see if I could ‘fix’ it.  I could probably still tinker with it because I know even more now than when I made this After image.  But there is something about leaving a photo alone after you’ve been ‘working’ it for so long.

Original Image

harbor seals - before

Changes I made:

  • The most obvious is the crop. I had a crop where you could still see the bird on the left… but ultimately the ‘subject’ is the one sticking out his tongue… I think this crop keeps it simple.
  • Photoshop’s content-aware fill has gotten really good over the years… I used it to remove any parts from the other seals that were in this crop.
  • Dodge and Burn – I tried to lighten the faces of the two seals to have the viewer’s eyes go there.
  • Curves – I played around with lightening the whole image and creating some contrast.
  • High Pass Sharpen – once I resize, I run it through a high-pass sharpen (I do this last with all my photos)

I wrote about this image before here.

Until next time…

15 thoughts on “AB Friday Forum – Week 29…

  1. So thing happened to me. We were at San Simeon CA and checking out the seals when two seemed to kiss. I caught the image but had no idea what I was doing then and I trashed the photo. Maybe I should revisit it and see if it really is as bad as I thought. Anyway, I love what you were able to do here. Very simple instructions, too. Ones that I understand. 🙂

      • I’ve got to learn to read what I type before sending. As you can probably tell by my typos, I am not the world’s best typist. Not even second best. That was supposed to be “Same thing happened to me”, but I think you figured that out! 🙂

    • Thanks, Snow’s Fissures & Fractures… this is one of my favorite photos too. Yeah it’s kind of funny how you can change a photo and it feels better, then try to change it again and you keep going back to the last version. Thanks for your feedback. 🙂

  2. Nic, as I emailed to you when you sent me your images, I just laughed out loud at the moment you caught. To me, the seal even looks like it’s smiling 🙂 As for your post-processing, I think it’s spot on. I read with interest Robin’s and Ben’s comments about pulling it in even further. I probably would have made the same crop as you, so their feedback gives me something to think about the next time I shoot wildlife! I also read your original post and agree that removing the unwanted and distracting portions of the other seals that remained after the crop made absolute sense. Thanks for being part of ABFriday!

    • Thanks so much, Stacy! I tried a few other crops after reading Robin & Ben’s suggestions… but both my husband and I agreed that we liked the crop I have here. But it’s always good to hear other voices and suggestions from other photographers. I absolutely love being a part of ABFriday and hope to continue submitting photos to your forum, thanks for having me. 🙂

      I agree it looks like the two seals are having a laugh to me. 🙂 I just love this shot.

  3. Hi, Nic. Nice submission to the ABFriday Forum. I really like what you’ve done here by cropping tighter and opening up the darker areas. The only suggestion I’d make is to crop in even tighter (taking off the left and top sides a good bit). But other than that, this is an excellent job on a wildlife image that captures a rare and humorous moment.

Kind thoughts and comments are always welcome...

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