Focus Illustrated, February 2024

by Kevin Shank | Feb 1, 2024 | 0 comments

I was intrigued by this Northern Pygmy Owl photo as soon as I saw it. What a splendid photo opportunity Josiah had. My fingers itched, though, to do a few tweaks, some of which we have touched on in previous Photo Focus lessons. Here are my thoughts, though they are certainly subject to individual preference.

I thought to try reducing the noise, enhancing the sharpness, and some exposure and color tone adjustments.

First, I used Topaz DeNoise AI software to tweak the noise. There are various modules in the software that could be chosen, and teaching those specifics is personal preference, for one, and outside the space constraints here. However, my reason for choosing to denoise first is that I’m trying to improve that aspect of the picture before I do the main sharpening of the picture. After all, why sharpen noise?

Secondly, I did sharpen in Topaz before the photoshop edits. Back before Topaz software existed, I was taught that when using Photoshop, it is advised to do edits first and sharpen last. Somehow, now that I often use Topaz for sharpening, I’ve often wanted to see where I could get before going into Photoshop to begin those edits. It could be I should still do sharpening last. You can experiment.

In Photoshop, I went into the RAW filter and chose to brighten the overall exposure a tick (+.5).

Next I tweaked the temperature slider a smidgen (+7) to move from cooler tones to warmer tones. I also bumped the vibrance up +3.

I slide the clarity slider up to +4, and the dehaze slider up to +20.

I could have applied a mask and kept the background a cooler tone. All of these adjustments are subject to preferences, not right or wrong.

And there you have it, a few minutes, a few tweaks, and a photo that, to me, has a little more “pop” than the original. —The Editor

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