bunn (bunn) wrote,

Fiddling with photos

I have to teach a workshop about photo preparation on Tuesday and this means that I should really have a more measured and coherent approach to fiddling with photos than my usual 'go with the flow and see what works!' approach.   So I am going to tweak some pics, and write down what I did.

Here's Rosie on a skyline.  Isn't she pretty?  It's a pity she has to wear the muzzle, which she dislikes, but she's still a bit unreliable greeting unfamiliar dogs, so better safe than sorry.  I'm still hoping that with time and training she will be able to run unmuzzled even in places where we are likely to meet other dogs.

The first thing that I had to do here was crop so that she wasn't a tiny random element in a big skyline, as the photo was taken when she was a fair distance away.  My camera takes photos that are 3344pixels wide, so there's lots of room to crop off a lot of that and still have a nice clear image that's more than 1000 pixels across. That might not sound like much, but by web standards it is still ginormous.

I cropped the photo using the Rule of Thirds, so that the skyline was approximately a third of the photo horizontally,  and the dog was taking up about a third of the right hand side of the image (with a little space behind her, so she didn't look crowded) I chose to put her on the right so you get a sense of her looking out.

Finally, I  resized the photo down to 800pixels wide and saved.it (not over the original, of course!)  with 20% jpg compression. In theory, sometimes you should experiment to get optimum compression, but in practice I tend to use 20% across the board and I find that seems to give a reasonable balance of fast download and reasonable quality.

Here she is again - I think this demonstrates that you can only go so far to fix mistakes made in the camera.  The camera's fixed focus lens was focussed just behind her, and she came at me too quick!  But because I thought it was a funny snap, I thought I'd see if the photo could be saved.   She's not wearing a muzzle here because it's a gloomy day on a footpath miles from any public parking, so the chances of meeting another dog were very small.

First I selected her out of focus face and front paws using the lassoo tool (with a feather of 20 pixels, to give a bit of room round the edges).  I applied an unsharp mask filter twice to  the face, to bring out any detail that the out of focus camera had managed to catch.   Then I copied the selected face and put it on a new layer, lying over the top of the main image.   Now my foreground changes are separate to the background, so I can apply a blur to the background - blurry backgrounds make the foreground look sharper.

Finally, I cropped the photo down to a portrait format, and resized it - a smaller image looks sharper than a big one.  It's essentially a comedy portrait, so I put her centered this time.  It's not exactly a triumph, but it's better than the original.

This one was focussed more accurately, so it's a better photo generally, I think, only Rosie's pose isn't as funny.
 I'm not sure about the cropping - I did it as thirds again, but I think possibly it might have worked better with the dogs positioned one each side.  Brythen's face makes me laugh.  Rosie may be about to give him a bit of a back-off warning for being excessively bumptious  I suspect.

And finally a cheap and easy effect: copy the background layer, and desaturate the copy to make it black and white. Then use the eraser tool to remove the desaturated layer over the flowers to focus on, and...

A bit cheesy maybe, but I quite like it.
Tags: dogs, photos

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