Perfect Water Lily + 2x repost

I love the perfection of Water Lilies. Unfortunately, they are usually accompanied by less than perfect pads and other, well, gunk. This one any way has made it to my “A” list.

Nikon D500, Nikkor 300 mm/ f4 lens, 1.4x TC, handheld
Focus Mode: AF-C
AF-Area Mode: Dynamic, 25 points
Aperture: f/6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/4000s
Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
Exposure Comp.: 0EV
Metering: Spot
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 800
86% of full frame, cropped for compositiuon
PP in LR/PS CC 2018, Topaz Studio and Denoise, Camera Raw filter, TK sharpen for web @ 40%

I do a good deal of post processing in flower/plant and macro images. I am curious how others in the broader disciplines (avian, wildlife, landscape, etc.) feel about this.

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Phil, you say you do a “good deal of processing,” in these closeups…Well I don’t see it…Looks super clean to me. You may get a few that might appreciate a 3:2 landscape ratio since that crop would eliminate some of the upper 3rd area that might not be important to the scene. However, Im always good for a 4:5 since I suck at that crop…LOL. I love the DOF here too…so nice. Theres a few spots on the lilies I might consider spot healing…dont know how you feel about that technique…:slight_smile:

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Kane, by a “good deal of processing” I mean saturation, hue, WB, detail, sharpness, digital noise, tonality, background blurring, brightening and adding canvas. Cloning, for me, is a judgement call. I will kill every dust bunny I can find, but I hesitate on minor imperfections that do not detract from the naturalness of the image. Anything that reinforces perceived naturalness in the image, I am more prone to leave in than take out. Of course, I will also leave in anything that is beyond my skill level, such as the yucky stuff on the stem of the water lily.

As for crop size and shape. I am ruled by composition and the elimination of large distracting elements. I will keep things simple where I can. I seldom manage to go full frame, nor do I deem it always the best thing to do. I tend to vary in height more than width. I go high with strong verticals and pano for strong horizontals. My favorite side to side crop is 4:5.

Looks great, really nice job. I agree with Kane’s idea of fixing a few of the flaws and I would consider adding a really light vignette personally. If you can see it it’s to much, but a touch would help pull the eye in.

I am not a big fan of vignettes. I like the idea of using a gradient from the top to darken the upper leading lines. I’ve given my reasons for avoiding cloning of the few natural defects; that is, they add to the perception of authenticity. However, In the interests of the discussion, I have applied a gradient of -1 EV from the top and cloned out most of the lily pad defects.

Hey Phil, fare enough. I know a lot if people aren’t vignette fans. Just keep on mind it’s not so much about adding a vignette as it is controlling where the eye goes. In this case I am pulled to the left side more then I would like. As well as the other edges a bit as well. So you would not really need to vignette, you could simply keep using graduated filters like you have on top(which I think really helped) on at least the left side as well, or better yet use a brush to darken the edges. Again, just a super small amount. Fixing the small issues on the leaf helped a ton imo. It’s looking good:)

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I would agree with Dan, the eye gets drawn out by the bright areas on the left, darkening this would help a lot to keep the viewer engaged.

Darkened left, right, ULC, brightened the pads near the flower

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Your original is terrific, but the cropped versions really help isolate and showcase the Water lily - quite beautifully actually.

If you’re referring to the actual “good deal of post processing,” I get it and I appreciate it. My standing philosophy is “making an image the best that it can be.” Of course credit goes where credit is due and I learned that from @Tony_Kuyper. :wink: The bottom line is that I don’t process to process, or add saturation just to add saturation - the image drives what it needs and if burning down the corners to bring emphasis to the subject, then that’s what I do. It’s more like a painter’s canvas and we have so many options to make the image the best it can be. And if one is really lucky, the in-camera image is close to perfect and there is no need for processing… right?



Lon, I may have worded that poorly. I do more processing in floral images than in any of the other “nature” categories. You are absolutely right when you state " It’s more like a painter’s canvas and we have so many options to make the image the best it can be." A flowerscape, in my experience, leaves a goodly number of places where processing tweaks are helpful—the various dodging and burning techniques, Using adjustment layers, breaking images into layers for different processing paths between subject and background, hue and saturation changes when called for by the way the sensor treats different colors (yellow and red for example), detailing and last of all sharpening.

I don’t process just to process either. What I do is to judge first whether to delete or keep a photo. Then I bookmark all the ones that are at least in focus and make the most desirable crop. From there, I choose whether the image has enough potential to do the processing or not. Finally, I decide if the processing is going to exceed my skill set or not. Then and only then do I post process. My guiding principal is to make an image that is perceived as real. Sometimes it doesn’t take much, hopefully.

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Thank you, Lon and Phil. This is what many of us, or least me, need to be reading on this site. We know how to take the photos, right settings, composition, etc., but the post processing… How and where does one start, and know when they have done enough. You both nailed it! I don’t have a clue how or where this conversation can be put besides here in this thread on this particular photo, which will eventually get buried down in the heap, but I think this kind of thing needs to be in a location where we can go back and refresh the thinking. Thank you both for sharing those thoughts. Great stuff.