Tigers 2016 Processing Log - Updated regularly


Andy Rouse is processing his tiger images from his 2016 Summer trip before he heads there again in December. Check out what he has been doing....



Hello and welcome to the latest processing BLOG. As this is a FREE ARTICLE non members can see it for the next few days as we want to show everyone how great FotoBuzz is and grow our membership. So for you newbies I regularly do these processing blogs after a trip as they allow members to see my thinking when processing images but also in their editing, composition and exposure. You will see here a combination of simple pictures with text, more complex walk-thrus and fun podcast-style analysis. For the members it's business as usual for you lot!!!

Now this time it's the turn of my tigers that I shot in India May 2016. The reason I am pushing myself to do it is that I am about to head there again and I want to get the best 150 processed before I add to the processing list from the next trip. I think it's important to do this. Now I have already processed 70 or so images as my agency needed them for a major tiger story and calendar campaign, so before we get into the BLOG proper here's the best of what I have done so far with some simple thoughts....

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 500mm lens with 1.4x teleconverter, ISO 1600, f5.6 @ 1/1000th

One of the many mother and cub images that I shot during one amazing encounter, I just picked one at random for here. Positioning is all important for these shots so I took a slightly different line from everyone else and it paid off we got a very direct angle, albeit with a little bit of foliage that we had to shoot through. You will notice the ISO is high at 1600, the cubs had been playing and jumping on mum hence I kept the ISO high to freeze this motion and just accepted on portraits like this it would be high, to be honest with the 1DX2 it's irrelevant anyway as ISO 1600 is perfectly acceptable commercially.

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 100-400mm lens, ISO 1600, f5.6 @ 1/500th

Back on the main track I decided to be flexible and shot with the new 100-400mm lens as my 200-400mm was being used by one of my clients. Using this lens has been a real godsend, it's IQ is superb and it's light enough to get into low positions without causing too many balance issues. With these two shots it allowed me to set the composition I wanted, tight and intimate for the first and more habitat based for the second. I realised during this trip that due to the harsh summer light I was taking more portraits than wide angles, so times like these allowed me to zoom back and include some of the surroundings too. Portraits tell a good story but there is nothing like something wider for getting the message across. Oh I kept the aperture at 5.6 for both, with the lens it provided enough depth of field to get the essentials sharp on the first and on the second I didn't need every cub sharp just the mother. I think too many people waste too much time thinking about right and wrong aperture and miss the shot, here I just shot with what I had set at the time and it's come out good enough for me.


Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 500mm lens with 1.4x teleconverter, ISO 3200, f11 @ 1/500th

Ok for the above image it was easier to talk about it so check out the audio below and turn your sound up!



Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 500mm lens with 2x teleconverter, ISO 3200, f16 @ 1/250th


Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 100-400mm, ISO 1600, f5.6 @ 1/1000th

The expressions here are very different which is why I picked this shot for early processing, in fact it's a real contrast. The cub's look is adoration. The mother's is.....well I think you can tell what she is saying to us! Focus point decision here was tough but in the end I decided on the mother as her expression was more dominant in the frame. When editing the sequence here, I shot about 20 in a second or so, I looked for little things that would make a difference. In this image it was the position of the mother's paw, being slightly raised it indicated "I'm coming to get you" which I think is a good message!


Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 500mm lens, ISO 200, f5.6 @ 1/640th

Ok I fancied doing another bit of audio here so here's the file:


Ok that's it more later!


Update 21-11-2016 14.29

So that's a summary so far, onward and upward as I've a lot to process. Glad you liked the audio, will be doing more here below:

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 500mm lens with 1.4x teleconverter, ISO 800, f8 @ 1/250th

Ok another audio file for you....



Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 500mm lens with 1.4x teleconverter, ISO 800, f8 @ 1/250th

Ok another audio file for you....




Update 21-11-2016 16.43

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 500mm lens with 1.4x teleconverter, ISO 800, f8 @ 1/250th

Ok quite a simple portrait yes? Composed to look into the frame perfectly? Well not quite, it took 5 minutes of processing to get this far and I wanna walk you through it stage by stage. I decided not to do this as a video tutorial as I know that some of you like to walk through at your own pace, so I will keep it to screenshots and text for this time. So let's start with the original RAW in DPP:

All good except the white balance is awful, far too orange. Note it's "daylight" which is usually ok but I have noticed with the 1DX2 that it can give colour shifts so much prefer to use the new AUTO: WHITE PRIORITY setting as that is generally close enough......

Here you can see the immediate colour change, much more natural I am sure you would agree. Whilst I always try to get the white balance right in camera, for the simple reason that you should, sometimes time constraints and weird light make this impossible. So here I have changed it and it looks better. I also knocked down the highlights and gave a push to the shadows too using the sliders inside the second red ellipse. Ok that's enough for now, a little sharpening applied and noise reduction but that's just in the profile, now load it into Photoshop:

Ok here we are in Photoshop. Now I can go many different ways now as that is the beauty of Photoshop, but on this occasion I am gonna crop first as I can see what the final image will be like and there is only once choice here. If I am gonna do a lot of variations then I would do all the colour stuff first and crop later but here it's obvious what the final image will be so I can use the FRONT IMAGE crop to pickup the original dimensions of the image and return it to that size after the crop. I have no use for any heavily cropped image that is tiny, I need it 50MB plus so it must be razor sharp in the first place to do this. Hence my constant banging on about sharpness! Anyway the crop gives me this....

That's much better. I have deliberately given a lot of space for the tiger to look into, I think it gives a much better balance to the image as a whole. Ok time for basic colour correction, I am doing three simple steps in one now. The first is to apply the SHADOW / HIGHLIGHT filter to give some facial details and knock back that left had side a little. Then it's into TOPAZ CLARITY as you see below for the first of the contrast adjustments that are needed....

Here's the Topaz Clarity main screen. I have selected a preset from the left which gives me the effect I want (gritty) and toned down the saturation using the sliders on the right as it's a little too warm. Then I apply it to the bottom layer of the original, erase through from the original so it's just the tiger that gets the contrast boost then finally I add a little extra localised contrast....

You can see here the final results of the colour correction, a nicely balanced image. Now the final step is to tone down that annoying vegetation on the left as I think it distracts. The easiest way to do it is using a very low opacity paint brush but there are in reality a million ways of doing it. Here's the final result....

Here you go, a nice tiger image, retouched to bring out the beautiful face and the expression, nothing difficult really and 5 minutes start to finish. Of course there are lots of ways to go about this and I am known for using a 1960's method of Photoshop, but that's my house style and I am sticking to it. Hope that you enjoyed this.


Update 22-11-2016 10.52am

One of the things that you need to learn about wildlife photography is that every day is different. That means if at first you don't succeed, which you rarely do, then you need to go back and try again and again and again. It's the same when working away with tigers, everyday is different and it doesn't matter if you photograph in the same location every single day as every single image will be different. Here's an example, it's an audio file so press the icon and turn your volume up!!


Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 100-400mm lens, ISO 800, f5.6 @ 1/400th

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 100-400mm lens, ISO 1600, f5.6 @ 1/800th


BEING UPDATED COME BACK IN A WHILE!



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