Project 52 – Digital Darkroom

It’s Friday! And even better than that – it’s a Friday to conclude a wonderful, wonderful week. Things have been busy over in Dog Breath land – but the best kind of busy! I’ve been shooting, editing and printing so many images that I think photos are going to start coming out of my ears!

Anyhow, it’s Project 52 time again and I am so excited about it because it keeps me on track with keeping you all updated on what’s going on over here!

I was super excited about the theme this week — ‘Digital Darkroom’ — a figurative room that I spend copious amounts of time in after photo shoots.

The most important thing to address when talking about the ‘digital darkroom’ or ‘post-processing’ or any of the other number of terms that people refer to when speaking of digital editing – is to do your darndest to get in right in the camera. That is the most important step of all.  Because despite all of the fancy editing tools and expensive software that is out there nowadays – there are still certain things that can only be changed within the camera itself. (If you haven’t seen it yet – I have a super relevant post that goes into more detail about this very subject. You can read it here.) The two most important in-camera factors that come to mind are depth of field and point of focus. These two things, combined with good exposure and artful composition are integral to making a solid photograph.

That said, a photographer’s post processing technique can be a major part of their overall trademark and style. And I know when it comes to my work – shooting photos is only the first half the battle. I spent countless hours in programs like Aperture, Camera Raw, Photoshop and Lightroom tweaking color balances, adjusting curves, sharpening, dodging, burning, cropping and cloning. And this post is so super awesome because I am going to give you an inside look at all of those things that go into making a photo beautiful…

Before your heart spontaneously melts all over the ground  – I will be kind enough to warn you that you are about to feast your eyes on the cutest thing that has ever existed on four legs. (Okay, okayyyy – I’m a bit partial since the fuzzy model below is my own happy little furchild. But you know what I mean – just beware of the cuteness.)

Recently, Toby and I had an outing to the beach. And I got to photograph him doing his favorite thing on the planet – playing in the water. (Alright, maybe his second favorite thing. He really enjoys a good butt sniff.)

After shooting these photos and unloading them onto my computer, I was pretty darn satisfied. The exposures were generally where I wanted them to be, the depth of field in each image was super shallow as I typically like it to be, and the points of focus were spot on. Great. Now starts everything that’s not so satisfying about them:

1.The white balance is just yuck. Things that are supposed to be white are tinted a grungy yellow.

2. They are the tiniest bit too dark.

3. There are some harsh shadows and bright whites creating overwhelming contrast right smack in the middle of Toby’s best feature (his face). (I could have avoided this by following the one cardinal rule of shooting outdoors – and that is to never shoot at high noon, or anytime while the sun is too blazingly direct. Ideally, the sunrise and sunset are the best times to shoot.)

4. There are some distracting elements such as his leash and the random strangers in the background. (How dare they come play at the public beach that Toby and I were so clearly at first!)

5. The blues in the water that were so gorgeous in reality are looking really dark, dull and ‘blah’.

So, in conclusion – Yay for Photoshop!! 🙂

I am going to show you the images from Toby’s ocean play day in sequence. First, the photograph straight out of the camera. (SOOC, as photographers like to call it.) No editing, slider bars or processing of any type.

Then, I’ll point out everything that I think needs to be fixed.

Finally – WALAH! The final image. The one I’ll hang on my wall and show to every stranger that walks in my house and rave ‘Isn’t he just the most wonderful thing you’ve ever seen?!’ and ‘He is the best thing that’s ever happened to me!’ and ‘He sometimes likes to dance on two legs with me in the living room while listening to ‘Wings’ hits from the 70’s’, etc. etc. etc. until they run away screaming ‘Crazy Dog Lady!’

ha. anyway. I got a little off track there. So, check it out:

SOOC

FIXES

FINAL

SOOC


FIXES

FINAL

Now don’t tell Toby I let you in on the secrets that make him beautiful!

Haha! But seriously, I hope you enjoyed that inside peek at what goes into creating my final images. The ‘digital darkroom’ and all of it’s intricate algorithms really can be magical sometimes. And hey, who doesn’t need a little magic?

Don’t forget this is a blog ring! If you click forward, you’ll have the wonderful privilege of checking out the work of one my absolute favorite pet photographers in the industry, Anthony Helton of Purple Collar Pet Photography in Sacramento. You won’t be disappointed! 🙂

Until next week!

-Kaylee

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Posted on May 4, 2012, in editing, photoshoots, Project 52, Toby. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Wonderful Post! I love all the little things you point out to the reader and the Final WALAH! really shows how much attention to detail you put into your amazing images!
    Rock on Girl!

  2. I agree – I love the notes on exactly what you did.

  3. melanielegault

    I love your post! You made Toby even more stunning – what a beautiful dog!
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. What I love more than anything (and trust me, your skills are awesome!) were your descriptions of the changes . . . thanks for the morning smile Kaylee!

  5. Very informative. Toby looks like a keeper!

  6. Sharon Stokes

    Rally great post, I love your images, your notes, and your processing. Oh, and Toby too of course 🙂

  7. This is a great description of your workflow. Amazing end result!

  8. I just discovered this blog and your photography. You do a terrific job, I’m most envious. My question is how are you removing the harsh shadows from the dogs faces? Masking?? I’ve tried this method with little luck. My masks are almost always visible. It’s obvious where I made the correction. Thanks for the input, and again. GREAT work!

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