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sometimes the magic’s in the processing ~ {Ontario pet-exclusive photographer}

i’m often asked — when clients see some of the extreme before-and-afters during their consults here at the studio, as well as by other photographers — to share some of my behind-the-scenes post-production work.  and in the past, when i’ve blogged some of the work that is done on the scruffy dog images, viewers are always wanting more.

so, when i can, i will offer up some samples.

while this one of crazy GSP Marlie isn’t what i’d call an “extreme”, it illustrates a typical working of an image.  of course, it definitely goes without saying that the initial image could have been a dozen times better out-of-camera, but this girl was constantly on the move, even in her backyard, and as a result, making changes to the camera’s settings at GSP-speed isn’t always possible.


this was shot late in the evening, the sun was down and we had NO light — Nikon D3S, 17mm, f4.0, 1/200, ISO 1250.

crop and straighten

i don’t do a lot of cropping of images … preferring to compose in-camera … but when this girl decided to stop briefly, there was no time to adjust my focal range.  just grab the shot.

typical post-work in Lightroom

the finished piece with final working and touching up in Photoshop

again, there’s no miraculous salvage-job with this piece … i’ll share some of those with you in the future on the blog.  this one was pretty typical processing, mostly done in Lightroom, adjusting everything from white-balance to tone curve and colors.  and yes, i always do a little extra work on eyes, mostly with the adjustment brush in LR.

have a great Sunday, everyone.

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  • MerrittThank you for sharing some of what you do in DPP! I LOVE your images and am always so excited to see new work posted! And I am so excited to have found a few posts where you discuss your process – don’t know how I missed these before 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Lisa B.And here I thought most of your amazing pictures were actually SOOC! What a difference the editing makes. And you’re right, I never would have thought that first photo could turn into the last photo.ReplyCancel

  • sylviathanks for sharing, ilona. SOOC greatness is what one should strive for, but a little LR magic goes a long way. i love the adjustments in the final image which brought out the lovely chocolate tones in her coat and made her eyes pop.ReplyCancel

  • JoThanks for choosing my girl as an example! Great work Illona and we are looking forward to seeing all the images you captured that day! She was definitely not an easy subject!ReplyCancel

  • LisaWow, that is super cool!! What a fabulous transformation. Thanks for sharing this before-after; I look forward to seeing more in the future.ReplyCancel

  • Liz ~ elizabeth&janeLovely. And these are such a great example of why hiring a professional photographer goes beyond just snapping a quick photo of your pet. You rock my lady!ReplyCancel

  • Trevor in NSWow! I am baffled at the image quality of your raw at such a high ISO. Your post processing techniques are superb! I still can’t believe you are only using available light. Nice work, and thanks!ReplyCancel

  • SimonGlad to hear you’re a Nikon user! Interesting stuff.

    Anyone wanting some basic Lightroom tips may find these videos useful:

  • Holly Garner-JacksonHoo boy! I gotta start playing with Lightroom instead of photoshop. Well done, thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Samgreat! thanks for sharing 🙂ReplyCancel

  • illonait’s been suggested to me by other pro-photographers that i not put as much effort in my client-galleries … that i should post the final cut of “raw”/unedited images (pre-production), and let the client decide which images i should work on.

    granted, it would save me a great deal of work, but how many clients would look at that top image and actually posses the vision required to visualize the finished piece, to see its potential? not many, i suspect.

    for those of you shooting — obviously the goal is to shoot the best quality possible SOOC (straight out of camera), and under the right conditions i’ll have a number of images per shoot that don’t require this kind of transformation … some require even more. shooting crazy dogs and available light where every turn in the trail offers a new set of challenges, will get you a real mixed-bag on the memory card. either way, for my tastes, every image receives some work.

    as for learning Lightroom — i’m not sure you need classes, although don’t let me stop you. the best teacher is experience, and to get you started, Scott Kelby’s book is worth every penny and — i think — offers more than any class possibly could.ReplyCancel

  • kateditto. i need to find a good book or a class.ReplyCancel

  • kim kailathanks for sharing, because I was beginning to think I was crazy! Trying to get the perfect shot all the time…many times I have been at the park with friends dogs and sun goes down and cannot change camera setting to get a shot and color is ALL wrong! NOw I just need to learn a little lightroom to help me some! 🙂
    Super job!ReplyCancel

  • Annie KinmondThis is the kind of stuff I want to learn to do. I am pretty good with setting the stage etc… but I would give anything to learn how to process like this.
    You do such amazing work; best pet photography I’ve ever seen!ReplyCancel

  • Dee DeeWhat a cutie and thanks for sharing some of your behind the scenes! I really enjoy seeing that as well as your gorgeous images.ReplyCancel

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