Back Modifications (6)
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By adamsa
Taken in very poor light just before 10am, decided to process the shot using techniques crossing low and high key shots.

f10 - 1/200s - ISO 1000 - 600mm - shot handheld

Tags: Birds Pelican Wildlife and nature

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mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.0k 2465 United Kingdom
18 Oct 2021 1:11PM
Hello Andrew, welcome to the Critique Gallery - I think this is the first time that you have ticked the critique box?

You've been on the site for a number of years, so I guess you know how the Critique Gallery works - and I hope it was deliberate.

You have included the Exif data and mentioned the very poor light. Can I ask what sort of feedback you are looking for - camera technique, composition, processing? Are you satisfied with the image, are there aspects that you would want to change?

It would be interesting to see the original file, you can upload it as a modification here for comparison. My immediate thought is that this is a very successful image and would fare well if uploaded for votes in the main gallery. And congratulations, you have very steady hands!

I would prefer a wee bit less contrast, for a more naturalistic look, but that's personal. I would also like a few more pixels at the bottom of the frame, when the cut-off gives a cramped effect.

But over to you - what are you looking for from the CG?
adamsa 12 515 United Kingdom
18 Oct 2021 1:23PM
Hi Moira,

I don't ask for Critique very often but I wanted to try something new, usually with my wildlife shots I process them as close to natural as I can but for this shot I wanted to try a new technique with regards to my processing of the image but I'm not to sure if it works. I have done some high Key shots in the past but not Low Key.

I am sort of pleased with the final image but I'm hoping someone could give me some pointers to improve the image in some way but still keeping it high key.

I will attach the original shot.

Best regards

banehawi Plus
17 2.6k 4274 Canada
18 Oct 2021 3:03PM
Thanks for the original Andrew.

I understand from you response that its post processing you are asking about, specifically how to retain the brighter version of the original while improving that image.

I have uploaded a mod, and would like feedback from you to tell me if this is going in the direction you were interested in.

I used the sooc image. Its using ProPhoto RGB so converted to sRGB. The light in the Pelican is very bright in the breast area and shaded on the neck and face, so essentially I targeted the darker areas and used both increasing exposure using curves, and shadow detail lifting only in those particular areas; the intention is to obtain a more even exposure.

I used the Threshold adjustment layer to identify the areas and brightness values needed to facilitate targeted exposure and shadow alterations.

Finally adjusted vibrance upwards.


adamsa 12 515 United Kingdom
18 Oct 2021 3:10PM
Hi Willie,

Thank you for taking the time to work on the original photo that I attached to the post and for your detailed work through of your process in reaching the final image, I really appricate the time and effort you have taken to show your modifications. I will take all this on board.

Best regards

chase Plus
16 2.3k 589 England
18 Oct 2021 3:50PM
Hi Andrew and welcome.
You have done lots of work on this I see.
My major criticism would be that your processed frame has the long beak a little too close to the bottom, I think you have given your subject a much better position in your original.
I do quite like the arty/contrasty effect you have on your original but perhaps just a touch harsh, which then becomes a bit unrealistic. So in that respect, I agree with Moira on both counts.

I attempted a mod.
I used both your images, the finished one and your original.
I played your processed, darker, image onto your SOOC and reduced the opacity of the darker layer to 60%. I didn't quite get the alignment right as they are different sizes but I did my best.
Used a layer mask to bring the eye a little better into alignment.
Brought out the dark bg.
Warmed the whole frame up a touch.
Converted to sRGB

Hopefully the result will be somewhere in-between the 2 frames.
adamsa 12 515 United Kingdom
18 Oct 2021 4:12PM
Hi Chase,

Thank you for your comments and the work that you have put into processing my Image, I totally agree with your comment with regards to the bill being to close to the bottom and not giving it enough space. I was going for a more arty feel than my usual natural look especially when shooting wildlife.

I much prefer your taek on my shot and will reprocess my shot taking into consideration your comments and process.

Best regards

mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.0k 2465 United Kingdom
18 Oct 2021 4:35PM
Hello again Andrew, thanks for joining in the conversation here, it makes all the difference.

I'm back home from a meeting and I've added a modification, based on your original. Worked mainly in the PS Camera Raw filter, I darkened highlights, toned down whites, and added +10 on the Dehaze slider which is very good for retrieving detail in light fur and feathers.

Then I cropped to allow more space at the bottom and to bring a diagonal into the bottom left corner. (I would prefer more space on the left, portrait format may seem obvious for a vertical subject but it isn't always the best way to go.)

Some local work with the burn tool, and saturation boosted a bit on yellows. I wanted to keep the spiky feathers but with a more naturalistic look.

I kept the dappled green background, but reduced brightness there. The result still looks cold to me, I think I may warm it up a bit...

EDIT - A warmer version now added, I prefer that.
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1884 England
18 Oct 2021 4:51PM
This is way outside my area of expertise, and I very much like your original version. It has drama, which is always good.

Some of the midtones are a little darker than I'd ideally like them - I tend to stick to simple processing myself, and just played with the central slider in Levels, and then dodged a bit.

Nobody seems to have said it, but... How did you process the image? I'm sure that some of my colleagues may have some extra wisdom when they know... I see contrast, and a vignette.

By the way, I don't see the original as high key, if only because of the dark background.
adamsa 12 515 United Kingdom
18 Oct 2021 7:55PM
Thank you to everyone for contributing to the critique of my photo, All the advice has been spot on and I will take everything onboard moving forward.

In answer to Dudler I edited the photo in Lightroom, mainly using the highlight and shadow slider to create the highkey look and then I edited the photo in photoshop where I used the Curves slider to increase the contrast. The original photo wasn't taken as a highkey shot, I didn't like what I saw out of the camera and wanted to try something new.

Many thanks to everyone

dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1884 England
19 Oct 2021 9:43AM
Thank you for the extra information, Adam.

There's a touch of a vignette in there as well, I think?

By the way, Nik Efex offers some interesting possibilities for processing, notably for mono conversions, if that's of interest - so much is customisable, and there are many starting-place options, as well.

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