Know When to Stop

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I shoot RAW almost exclusively. Therefore every shot I take needs at least a bit of post processing; usually only noise reduction (anything shot at iso 400 or above with that darn 7D), and a few minor curves adjustments to set the white & black points, brightness, and contrast. Sometimes I’ll do a little dodging and burning with my favorite plug-in, NIK Vivesa, and then resize and sharpen for content. Of course I’ll clone out any dust spots or stray twigs too. Start to finish, I typically spend two to three minutes on each image. However, every now and then I sort of get stuck on an image and keep working it and working it until I’m not sure if I’m making it better or worse.

Here is one such image. I like the pose and the ruffled feathers give the crane a bit of character some of my more ordinary shots taken that day are lacking.The golden side lighting and extreme contrast give it a dramatic feel and are what I think keeps me coming back. But for those same reasons, I’ve been struggling with post processing. I spent a lot of time experimenting with the white balance. The camera’s AWB shot it at 5000k. I finally settled at 6500k which of course warmed it up a lot. I also struggled with the contrast. Ultimately, after more experimentation, I increased contrast quite a bit because I felt the ruffled feathers were enhanced by more contrast and since they are what made this image somewhat unique I felt justified in pushing the contrast more than Inormallywould. And finally, I did a lot of cloning to remove twigs and miscellaneous gunk from the surface of the water.

I don’t know if my post processing on this shot is done or over-done.Regardless, I’ve decided to stop. I’ve lost track of how much time I’ve spent, probably at least three hours. I’ve come back to it andreworkedthe PP on several occasions. Sometimes feeling like I’ve made progress and other times feeling like I’ve ruined it. One thing is clear however, eventually you reach a point of diminishing returns where the improvements are so slight they are not worth the time investment to achieve them. Or in the worst case, you get it just right but you’ve been staring at it for so long you keep working it to the point where you’ve really made mess of things but don’t even realize it.

So I quit. I’m done. Stick a fork in it. You be the judge; done, or over-done?

Finished image

RAW file

Frank Comisar

Frank Comisar

Frank Comisar is a nature photographer who loves to help others make beautiful photographs. His photography interests are varied and range from landscapes to wildlife. He shoots landscapes, wildlife, and nature for the purpose of capturing a moment in time that when revisited, portrays the natural beauty of the places visited and the creatures that live there. His goal is to not merely provide a visual and technical documentation of the scene in front of the lens. Rather, it is to render the scene in an artistic and creative way that not only provides context to the image, but also captures the feeling and essence of the moment.

Frank Comisar

Frank Comisar

Frank Comisar is a nature photographer who loves to help others make beautiful photographs. His photography interests are varied and range from landscapes to wildlife. He shoots landscapes, wildlife, and nature for the purpose of capturing a moment in time that when revisited, portrays the natural beauty of the places visited and the creatures that live there. His goal is to not merely provide a visual and technical documentation of the scene in front of the lens. Rather, it is to render the scene in an artistic and creative way that not only provides context to the image, but also captures the feeling and essence of the moment.

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Jefferson Silva

I liked the results. I think you’ve done a great job.

Jefferson Silva

I liked the results. I think you've done a great job.

Noushka Wildlife

Frank, these pics are brilliant, you’ve reached perfection!
I don’t spend that much time on my pics!
Congratulations!