Correcting Midday Contrast

Photographed in Tanzania. Came across this Golden jackal feasting alone whilst 9 vultures watched ( each 3 times its size! )
Until this Ruppell’s Griffon vulture decided to challenge

Edit 1 - I dont know what got into me - I guess i tried to do too much and messed up. Started from scratch and came up with this. Any better? And yes, if you still want the original raw file, I can post

Edit 2 (E3) - Thanks a lot Lyle @Lyle_Gruby, @Keith_Bauer and @Dennis_Plank - that was a lot of work on your part
I am very new to TK7 and use it only when I want to practice something - at least until I get more proficient at it. That said, I tried to replicate both methods with my own twist. This one is 95% Keiths. I did add a little dehaze to vulture’s R wing and lowered the whites at the base of the neck
Since i wanted to stick to PSA guidelines for this particular image, I did not clone or add a vignette
Now, Keith, what made you take the steps you chose ? this may be beyond the scope of this discussion, I understand. Any reference for reading ?
Lyle - I particularly liked your idea of White and Black points usage for the WB - thanks

What technical feedback would you like if any?

I have tried to correct the midday contrast and am wondering if anybody has a method to correcting this. I have winged it a few times and this is my latest

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If backgrounds have been removed, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)
Nikon D810, Nikon 300mm F 2.8

If you would like your image to be eligible for a feature on the NPN Instagram (@NaturePhotoNet), add the tag ‘ig’ and leave your Instagram username below.

Probably helpful if you would post the original unmodified version of the image to see what we’ve got to work with (a jpeg obviously). It’s pretty hard to tell where to go. This one’s not working very well I’m sad to say.

You are right - got carried away

Still want the original ?

Thanks Keith

Sure. Why not. We’re all home and have some time !! :grinning:


Here it is Keith - thanks - please include the steps

Hi Karl–what a great interaction. See what you think of the attached. Under 4 minutes of edit time.

  1. Opened in PS
  2. Opened a curves adjustment layer
  3. Set the white point using the feathers on the bird’s neck
  4. Set the black point using (I think) the jackal’s tail
  5. Raised the blacks and mids a bit using curves
  6. Resized to 1800px on the long side
  7. Made a rough selection of the bird and fox
  8. Sharpened using smart sharpen at radius 0.2 and amount 70
  9. Inverted the selection and ran some light NR
  10. Used the spot healing brush to remove the bird in the BG
  11. Added a slight vignette with TK Panel
  12. Opened a color balance layer and added 15 points of blue because the image seems to have a yellow cast

You’d get better results with all of the above, especially any color correction, working from the RAW.

I also cropped at some point along the way.

  1. TK Lights 2 on a Curves adjustment layer, Luminosity blending mode with this curve

  2. TK Lights 2 on a Color balance adjustment layer
    +11 blue in midtowns
    +4 blue Highlights

  3. Levels adjustment layer
    Moved black point to 23

  4. SAT TK Selection on a Hue Sat Adjustment Layer
    Move Saturation to -64

  5. TK Darks Triple Play, used the 4th layer in each the darks and lights sections,

  6. TK 6 mask from the “piano keyboard” on a levels adjustment layer - Move black point to 39

  7. Slight Dodge on the mammal and birds face

Here’s the final layer stack:

1 Like

Really nice, @Keith_Bauer. Much better control of the tones and colors than I was able to get.

I won’t even try to produce that kind of result, Karl. Both Lyle’s and Keith’s methods worked nicely. I kind of like the slightly darker presentation that Lyle came up with,but for Africa the brighter is probably more accurate and Keith’s method allowed more control.

Your original file has such great action that it’s certainly worth spending some serious time on this one.

1 Like

Hi Karl
I am not going to get into all the hard work you put into this photograph, the shots speak form them self. I just want to thank for bring Golden jackal and Vulture to a kid form Conn. USA this nature shot. This is why I post to Nature Photographers.

Not sure I understand Peter - but if there is anything I can do to make that kid happy, please let me know

Hi Karl
Maybe I should start over. It was great to see how the editing was done. The kid is me, I just wanted to thank for bring us this photograph of a Golden Jackal and Vulture’s inter action. I didn’t know there were Golden Jackals.

1 Like