Back Modifications (9)
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By tc847  
I like so much about this photo (taken in the Volcanoes NP in Rwanda) but I am very frustrated by the intrusive grey patch from the other gorilla who carelessly got in the way. A crop does not seem to be the solution because it would go nearly to the gorilla's eyes. So I am looking for any other ideas about how to improve this photo. TIA.

Tags: Gorilla Wildlife and nature

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banehawi Plus
18 2.7k 4316 Canada
21 Feb 2019 7:26PM
Its a terrific shot.

Needs some tweaks to the black level, and contrast to make it "pop", as well as that rude intruder removed, all done in the mod.

As the content is largely black, the camera attempted to make it closer to grey, - as digital cameras are meant to, but it can be corrected as I mentioned.


dark_lord Plus
18 2.9k 825 England
21 Feb 2019 7:50PM
A good capture with strong eyes - not direct eye contact with the viewer but a powerful gaze nonetheless.

Use of the clone tool is the only practical way to go here, as ably demonstrated in Willie's mod. You wouldn't tell unless you had a clear shot to compare it with.
If you're not confident in using the Clone tool, practice on a copy of your original, then if things go pear shaped you haven't ruined anything. I'd use this mod as something to aim for.

All that said, there are some basic corrections to do to start with, and that's to correct the exposure and contrast as mentioned.
Aim to start with the best image you can, in terms of the basic corrections, before you embark on major work

I'm impressed you got the eyes this sharp given that focal lenght and shutter speed. I don't know if you camera has image stabilistion or not but even so that can only help so far. even using a solid triopd though I'd want to use a faster shutter speed.
The reason I say this is that your subject is a living breathing entity and is likely to move, even a small amount. No amount of stabilisation or soliod supports would prevent subject movement.
Upping the ISO is the way to go - you will get an increase in noise but that's preferable to a blurred image. You were fortunate here so it's something to bear in mind in the future.

21 Feb 2019 8:32PM
Powerful portrait of that silverback.. I wouldn't want to upset him, that's for sure. It might have been better if you'd got all his mouth in the frame, but it's still pretty damn good.
I think the slightly generous exposure has lessened the potential drama, so I've done a simple adjustment in Levels to counter that, reduced the yellow component in the slightly distracting background, and cropped the image to try and focus a little more on the intensity of his gaze.

banehawi Plus
18 2.7k 4316 Canada
21 Feb 2019 9:51PM
Tried another mod, different approach. I liked Alans idea of a closer crop.
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1947 England
22 Feb 2019 7:29AM
Willie and Alan have provided mods which sort the problem pretty well: either cloning (and the more carefully you do htis, the better it will look) or a thoughtful crop to a different format, or, indeed, to apply a vignette.
paulbroad Plus
15 131 1294 United Kingdom
22 Feb 2019 9:04AM
The intrusion is not a problem. It is in a corner and indistinct. Simply darken it with the burning in tool. This is a fine image marred only by over exposure as Willie covers. You have a slightly flat image which just needs the black level correcting and the top right corner burning in.

pamelajean Plus
16 1.8k 2264 United Kingdom
22 Feb 2019 7:44PM
Good Evening, Toby, and welcome to EPZ's Critique Gallery. Looking at your portfolio, I don't think you have ventured here before now.

Thankyou for providing the Exif Data and for completing the Description Box with details of why you want critique on this picture.

If this were mine, I would also want to remove the bit in the bottom left of the frame.
As you can see from Alan's modification, cropping this away isn't such a bad idea, it looks quite good.
But you can also see, from other modifications, that cloning it away gives a good result, too.

I don't think this is cropped from a larger frame, so you must have composed this the way it is, and I think it would benefit from having the gorilla's chin inside the frame. It looks cut-off, and also looks accidental. Sometimes a mistake like this can look more intentional by doing a further crop.
So I've tried that in my modification.

I cropped drastically to exclude any background. I only had to clone out a tiny bit of the intrusion and a tiny bit of background.
I slightly brightened the image, deepened shadows, upped saturation and sharpened.

Love those eyes!


pablophotographer 11 2.0k 429
22 Feb 2019 7:57PM
It's a mod in the fly for me as I am nowhere near my "usual" place.
I cropped the left ear as the glance and the burden of the attention seems to be on the right. I kept the foliage to denote the wilderness of the habitat and stress the reality of the possible danger.
An intruder? Certainly, it was not you, so thumbs up for staying unnoticed! The missing smirk of the lip was cropped to focus the attention to the eyes and cover up any other emotions or reactions rather than my intended one.
I got it darker because under shadow you normally have less light, right?
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.3k 2537 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2019 2:51PM
A very warm, if somewhat belated, welcome from me too!

It's a fine portrait. Like others above I am surprised that you got such a sharp image at that shutter speed / focal length. There was the risk of camera shake (remember that you had the equivalent of around 1/3 metre of lens sticking out from the front of a full frame 35mm camera!); but also subject movement - even sitting still, mammals breath, blink, twitch... Assuming hand-held, I would feel a lot happier with nothing slower than 1/320 second, so a higher ISO.

Fortune favours the brave and you got away with it. But you were using a program setting, which passes a lot of decision-making to the camera. My advice would be to look to taking more control. In the long run it's less risky.

As with a lot of really good opportunist shots, it benefits from some post-processing fine tuning. As well as the chunk of silver fur bottom left, I also find the small patch of green top left distracting. Plus there are a few tiny white dots and a hair over one eye - these details may be much less noticeable in the original file but they are exaggerated in downsizing for the internet.

I've added my suggestions as modification 8. Here's what I did:

Cropped off a slice from the left to put the eye nearer to the intersection of thirds. (It isn't spot on, but it gives a nice balance I think)

Used the spot healing brush to get rid of small white dots and that single hair over the eye.

Camouflaged the remaining silver fur bottom let with a mix of very gentle application of the burn tool (large brush, 3% exposure, set to highlights and then midtones), then some cloning at reduced opacity.

A Levels adjustment, moving the left slider inwards until it met the descending graph curve, to boost darker tones. NB Do you use and understand the histogram? We can explain this if you need it. It's important!

Used the dodge tool set to highlights to get more brightness in the eyes.

Used the sponge tool to reduce saturation on the bright green top right, to let it sit back as a background should do.

What you can do will depend on your software, but these are generally fairly basic adjustments and most programs will give something similar.

You are getting a lot of advice here - could you let us know please if it helps, and if you need anything explained further. That helps us to help you!
tc847 15 1 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2019 6:43PM
Thanks for *all* the feedback.

Yes, I know I got lucky with the settings. I've been learning to hold a camera still for a very long time, but yes, still lucky. And I know I should have gone for A or S priority but when you have only 1 hour with the gorillas I felt it was better to risk the camera getting it wrong than me!

I clearly need to practise more in PSE. The cloning was done extremely well and I know my attempts typically end up streaky. I did like the cropped versions although I was less disturbed by the greenery in the background than some commenters. I also particularly liked the removal of the "shininess" achieved in mod 4. If Banehawi has time to give me more clues on how to achieve that, it would be much appreciated.

mrswoolybill, thanks for all the detailed suggestions. Personally I prefer the little imperfections that make a photo real so I want to keep the hair over his eye! But do appreciate your time and thoughts.

Now need to spend some time working on my own version. Hopefully will get something uploaded in the next few days.

mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.3k 2537 United Kingdom
24 Feb 2019 9:00AM
Thanks for getting back to us, the CG works best when we have a conversation. Really it's rarely about 'rights and wrongs', it's more about suggestions, different ways of seeing. If we give posters ideas to think about that's mission achieved.
24 Feb 2019 5:29PM
Don't know if this has been mentioned, but how about a tight crop of his eyes, I know hes looking away from the camera, but the eyes are expressive.
tc847 15 1 United Kingdom
4 Mar 2019 1:31PM

Quote:Thanks for getting back to us, the CG works best when we have a conversation. Really it's rarely about 'rights and wrongs', it's more about suggestions, different ways of seeing. If we give posters ideas to think about that's mission achieved.

If you have a moment, please critique my attempt at cloning out the offending corner (mod 9). Thanks.
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1947 England
4 Mar 2019 6:59PM
I'd say it works pretty well. It's really believeable, which is always the acid test!
pamelajean Plus
16 1.8k 2264 United Kingdom
8 Mar 2019 8:26PM
Your cloning in the modification is nicely done. Sometimes a large brush works well. When there are finer details, a smaller brush often works better.
Keep practicing. That's how you will perfect it and get to know when it looks good and when it needs re-doing.

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