a peek at image development ~ {Ontario pet-exclusive photographer}

i was going to post a sneak peek of sweet man Barkley, whom i met this past weekend, but while working through his gallery, i took a little extra time on a particular image (as i often do), and thought i’d share a bit of the process here since i always receive so many inquiries and interest in regards to the processing i do.

suffice it to say, shooting a super-fluffy, black dog in a snowstorm is something of a challenge.  and with dog photography, the added challenge of your subject moving in and out of different lighting situations, different backdrops, all within seconds, means that you’re up and down with the exposure value like a jack russel with his first SuperBall.  so, sure, you’re going to get a few images that are perhaps a little over- or under-exposed.  but shooting RAW allows for some rather significant salvage jobs when an image really speaks to you.

so here’s the – literally- blasted original.

what i liked about this image that was so different from the others in the shoot was that Barkley was finally hunting.  he’d caught an air scent of something under some cedars … probably a rabbit … so the moment was fleeting and the grab was fast … thus the overexposure and blown highlights of the snow.  but this kind of thing can often be remedied.  here is the same image worked in Lightroom …

now, most people would think this was fine.  but for me, the image is a little unbalanced.  see, the thing is, with dog shoots, a portion of your shooting is really up to the dog.  unlike couples at an engagement shoot who can be coached into a pose or wee babies that can be propped into the desired positions, with dogs, well, you’ve gotta just know their rhythm, read their energy, and, of course, pray a little.

in this case, everything had pretty much aligned … i knew i could deal with the burned out highlights (as seen in the work above), but how cool would it have been to see Barkley’s tail raised with excitement as he moved forward on the scent, right?  so, i looked to the previous image, shot a mere 1/10 of a second before this.  there’s Barkley’s tail up … the first alert to the scent.

what i don’t like about this image, however, is that his eye isn’t visible, his hunting intensity is not as great as in the first image, and since he’s not yet started to move forward, there’s no motion noted in the snow around his front legs.  but that tail!!!

so, while some photographers might just stop there and offer up the first image, sans tail, i took a few careful moments within Photoshop to do a little extra work on sweet Barkley.

of course, this wasn’t a simple cut and paste.  some rotation was required, then some cloning to clean up the edges, and more cloning to extend the weeds that crossed that poof of a tail.   and in fact, i think this final version carries even more intensity than the original.

but don’t worry, i’ll still share a couple more images as a sneak peek of Barkley tomorrow.

  

sara kline - i think your photography is amazing. dogs being dogs. i have a scruffy dog also and there the best dogs in the world! i love photography my self and love taking pictures of horses dogs and cats. when i came across your website i was in aw! its just really neat to see thank you for sharing your God giving talents to the world.

Jean (allegro ::) - Illona thanks so much for sharing this. The final image is wonderful and captures the essence of a hunter and the beauty of the scene.

It takes a creative mind to see the potential which you have in spades girl! Yes technical savvy is absolutely a necessary skill but the creative … you know what I mean :))

Holly Garner-Jackson - Wow! You are so good at this! I would never have attempted to clone the tail and the weeds with it, plus rotate it! But then again, I’m not you, you who seem to really “Know” dogs and how to photograph them….. and graft on new tails!
Awesome, girl!

Marc - Wow. Good stuff, Illona. Thanks for sharing.

anne - fantastic work Illona. I have been waiting a long time for you to photograph a spoo.

S in MT - It is amazing the work you do AFTER a shoot but I do believe that the ace photographer these days also benefits from being an ace at Photoshop as well. You also capture and think about the right things that are “dog-ish” that wouldn’t necessarily be thought of by a run of the mill photog. Nice nice job and of course I’m partial to the poodle and the tail having a young one of my own that is starting to hunt!

madaboutgreys - Working miracles. You really go the extra mile to get the perfect shot.

michelle bradshaw - I really enjoy your behind the scenes information. It’s fascinating to see a wonderful shot get even better!!!!

Annie - I always love learning from you;)

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