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Old 02-05-2014, 07:44 PM   #1
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Default Simple Photo Enhancing

I searched the forums to see if there was already a thread dealing with this topic...I didn't see one.

When developing traditional film, photographers had various techniques to improve photographs that were less than ideal in exposure or some other feature. I see these "simple" enhancements (read not going overboard) as part of the art and skill of photography.

One of the simplest things would be improving a composition through cropping. Another would be fixing slight exposure problems. These kinds of things are considered acceptable (correct me if I'm wrong, Sage) with the current Photo of the Month contest rules. I believe the rules were different in the past.

I started this thread after entering a photo in this February's POM contest. After stating that I didn't think the photos I took today were very spectacular, I posted a cropped version with the exposure slightly enhanced of a cardinal I'd taken through the kitchen window; it got rave reviews...and I was questioned on my original comment of not thinking I had anything special.

Instead of hijacking that thread to explore this topic, I decided to start this one.

Here is the original photo--not POM worthy as shot:

Simple Photo Enhancing-dsc06978.jpg

Here are various cropped versions with the exposure improved:

Simple Photo Enhancing-dsc06978-crop.jpg

Simple Photo Enhancing-dsc06978-panorama-closeup-2.jpg

Simple Photo Enhancing-dsc06978-panorama-closeup.jpg

Here I am including the other (cropped) shot I took a moment before of the same bird in a different, more common position:

Simple Photo Enhancing-dsc06979-crop.jpg

I actually like this one a great deal too...I'm assuming it is a matter of opinion, but does the unique stance of the cardinal make the photo better than the more traditional stance?

(I hope "peeking behind the curtain" doesn't diminish the cropped photo I entered, but I think it is worth exploring enhancing photos, how cropping can enhance a photo, as well as the pose of the subject.)
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Old 02-05-2014, 09:55 PM   #2
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Dap, I like #5 best!

A comment about the first shot - we all seem to put our subject in the center focus box because that's what we want in focus, however, for composition's sake, such a photo screams for cropping as dap knew.

For the sake of simplicity in cropping, imagine two diagonal and two horizontal lines drawn on a photo, making 3 rows across and 3 rows down, nine sections. Try to place the main part of your subject, let's say a bird's head, in the cross hairs, usually the upper ones.

I'm in bed on the iPad so I can't diagram it for you!
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Old 02-05-2014, 11:18 PM   #3
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Thanks, Sage. I almost posted both of them, but held back.

Normally, I try to compose my shots already as I'd want them in the final composition, but all too often, I'm just trying to get a shot before something flies away. When the composition isn't right, and their is room to recompose it, as you said, I crop it (to silence the screaming).
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Old 02-05-2014, 11:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
but does the unique stance of the cardinal make the photo better than the more traditional stance?
Viewing something like it's always been displayed gets booooooring. Doesn't one always notice the odd ball in a crowd. I would think you'd want your photo to stand out. I'd go with pushing the limits of composition all I could with only a slight tweaking of the colors and tone. You don't want things to appear unnatural.
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Old 02-06-2014, 10:21 AM   #5
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I often do photo cropping and exposure changing, the Snowy Owl picture I posted was not very good, but a lot worse before I cropped it, changed the contrast, and fiddled with it. There are limits to the amount of adjusting and changing I think should be done to a photo, but my photo editing skills are so limited that I never get close to the line, or cross it.
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Old 02-06-2014, 02:22 PM   #6
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I think not tweaking a pic is like publishing a book without editing. Photo editing is just part of producing the best image for presentation, IMHO.
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Old 02-06-2014, 06:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by havalotta View Post
Viewing something like it's always been displayed gets booooooring. Doesn't one always notice the odd ball in a crowd. I would think you'd want your photo to stand out.
Good point. That is why I submitted the more unusual pose. At the same time, I think the other photo makes her look a bit more majestic.

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Originally Posted by havalotta View Post
I'd go with pushing the limits of composition all I could with only a slight tweaking of the colors and tone. You don't want things to appear unnatural.
I wouldn't want anything to look unnatural--I think you all know me by now! (I'd love the yard to be totally natural--I don't use garden art or anything like that...but going back to photos...). I didn't tweak the colors at all. My goal was to make the photo look more crisp than the washed out look I tend to get from shooting through a window. Her natural coloring is what caught me...I know the female cardinals do have some coloring, I just found hers more striking than I'd expected.
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Old 02-06-2014, 06:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Arey View Post
I often do photo cropping and exposure changing, the Snowy Owl picture I posted was not very good, but a lot worse before I cropped it, changed the contrast, and fiddled with it.
I agree, you should make your photo the best it can be. Even photos that are not meant to be artistic, can (and should) be enhanced to show detail--I've done that when shooting birds at a distance that I can't identify with the naked eye. Sometimes the shots I end up with are terrible, but a little enhancing at least allows me to identify what it was perched atop a tree in the distance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arey View Post
There are limits to the amount of adjusting and changing I think should be done to a photo, but my photo editing skills are so limited that I never get close to the line, or cross it.
Yes, I agree. At the same time, I think there is skill in knowing *not* to cross that line.*

When the goal is a natural-looking photograph...not something "overly artistic" (for lack of a better term).
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Last edited by dapjwy; 02-06-2014 at 06:37 PM. Reason: clarifying
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Old 02-06-2014, 06:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage View Post
I think not tweaking a pic is like publishing a book without editing. Photo editing is just part of producing the best image for presentation, IMHO.
I *LOVE* that analogy, Sage! Great point!
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:51 PM   #10
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Thanks, dap!

Simple Photo Enhancing-p1740991-version-2.jpg This Red-head was cropped out of the pic below

Simple Photo Enhancing-p1740991.jpg the other three ducks were not too interesting and not well positioned
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