How to Soften Wildlife Images with Photoshop Actions

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Before and After Step-by-Step Edit: How to Soften Wildlife Images with Photoshop Actions

The MCP Show and Tell Site is a place for you to share your images edited with MCP products (our Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets, textures and more).  We’ve always shared before and after Blueprints on our main blog, but now, we will sometimes share some favorites from Show and Tell to give these photographers even more exposure.  If you haven’t checked out Show and Tell yet, what are you waiting for?  You’ll learn how other photographers are using our products and see what they can do for your work.  And once you are ready, you can show off your own editing skills using MCP goodies.  You might even make new friends or gain a customer…. since you get to add your website address right on the page. Bonus!

 

Today’s Featured Image:

By: Cindy Gillespie

Studio: Impromptu Photography

Settings: ISO 2000, f/3.5, SS 1/3200

Software: Lightroom, Elements

MCP sets used: Inspire Photoshop Actions, Eye Doctor and Dentist Photoshop Actions

  • Lightroom – Culling and Basic Edits.  Double-checked the white balance and moved over to Photoshop Elements
  • Photoshop Elements – Wanted a little more focus on the Doves so added a little contrast to just the Doves then moved on to a Gradient in “normal mode” - has a touch of pink and cream set at 25% and another lighter set to “screen mode” at 50%, which took the greens down on the tree behind and brought the Dove to the foreground and helped soften the image.
  • Finished with Inspire - Custom Ball of Sun set to 25% opacity and masked off the Doves, along with the Vogue action

Blueprint6 600x800 How to Soften Wildlife Images with Photoshop Actions
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Edit Faster With My 15 Seconds Per Image Lightroom Workflow

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If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may know that I was just traveling and photographing wildlife and nature in Alaska.  Wildlife photography is a passion of mine (though it’s definitely just a hobby).  I am not seasoned in photographing birds or animals, but I hope to grow in that arena. When I come back from a trip with thousands of photos, it can be daunting.  I imagine weddings would be much the same way. If you want to edit faster, try this simple process.

My 15 seconds per image Lightroom workflow:

I cull my way through 1000s of nature, wildlife and personal snapshot photos from my trip, using my “15 second per image editing technique.”  Using Lightroom with my cap locks pressed, I hit P (for Pick) or X (for Exclude). The cap locks advances you to the next photo once P or X are pressed. If I know it is one I want to keep, I edit quickly using the Enlighten Lightroom presets before hitting the P key. Once I have the look I want, if there are other similar images, I save the combination temporarily as a “save a fav” preset within the set.  Then I apply it (or even just sync) with all similar images.

While I may spend 20-30 seconds on a few photos, the average time is about 15 seconds since I average in rejects and photos I synced (as those then usually just need a possible crop).

** for most vacation photos, I don’t enter Photoshop.  But for portraits, if I want to, I will star those with a number too (so maybe 3 stars or 5 stars = portrait).  Then once I am done in Lightroom, I can export and edit the starred images with Photoshop actions or hand retouching as needed.

 

Help, in exchange for the tip?

Remember how I mentioned I am not seasoned at wildlife photography???  Well, I need your help.  I loved photographing bald eagles and really want to print one for my home.  But technically speaking – and visually – I am having a hard time deciding on the strongest image.  Which of these do you feel is the strongest?  Feel free to add any thoughts or helpful CC for me in the comments too.  Thank you!

** All images below were edited with Enlighten Lightroom presets. Only the resize and copyright were added using batch processing.

All eagles in flight were taken with the Canon 5D MKIII and Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II with a 1.4x extender. Settings: ISO 800, Aperture 4.0, Speed between 1/1000 and 1/1600

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Ketchican 53 600x900 Edit Faster With My 15 Seconds Per Image Lightroom Workflow
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Ketchican 48 600x400 Edit Faster With My 15 Seconds Per Image Lightroom Workflow
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Ketchican 47 600x400 Edit Faster With My 15 Seconds Per Image Lightroom Workflow
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All bald eagles in the tree and nest were taken with the Canon 5D MKIII and Tamron 150-600mm at the full 600mm. Settings: ISO 1000, Aperture 6.3, Speed between 1/500 and 1/1000

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Icy Straights Point 144 600x400 Edit Faster With My 15 Seconds Per Image Lightroom Workflow
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Icy Straights Point 146 600x900 Edit Faster With My 15 Seconds Per Image Lightroom Workflow
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Overwhelmed yet?  Again, helpful critique is welcome.  I did not have a flash, though with a better beamer that may have helped, and I know on a few the wings are clipped, so there’s that too.  But I was happy overall with these.  And I think practicing at home with the birds in my backyard actually helped me a bit. So tell me, what is your favorite of the ones above? Thanks again.

 

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Avoid Over-Editing In Photoshop With This Quick Tip

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One danger when you are new to photography is over-editing.  It’s easy to get super excited when post-processing.

Opacity is certainly your friend. When using actions in Photoshop or Elements, make sure to adjust the opacity of each layer if needed. But what if you are doing manual edits like the patch tool or cloning?  If you work on duplicate layers you can adjust the opacity of the entire layer.  Another great way to control things is to “fade” them. Go under EDIT – FADE (and look for what you did as your last step). Take full control of your editing.

 

Quick Tip 2 600x362 Avoid Over Editing In Photoshop With This Quick Tip
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MCP Fusion – Adding Warmth and Light to your Photos

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Before and After Step-by-Step Edit: Using MCP Fusion to bring more light, warmth, and definition to photos that need an extra nudge

The MCP Show and Tell Site is a place for you to share your images edited with MCP products (our Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets, textures and more).  We’ve always shared before and after Blueprints on our main blog, but now, we will sometimes share some favorites from Show and Tell to give these photographers even more exposure.  If you haven’t checked out Show and Tell yet, what are you waiting for?  You’ll learn how other photographers are using our products and see what they can do for your work.  And once you are ready, you can show off your own editing skills using MCP goodies.  You might even make new friends or gain a customer…. since you get to add your website address right on the page. Bonus!

 

Today’s Featured Image:

By: Amanda Johnson

Studio: Amanda Johnson Photography

Equipment Used: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II

Settings: 1/2500 sec; f/2.8; ISO 320

Software Used: Photoshop

MCP sets used: Fusion Photoshop Actions

  • Steps Taken to Achieve Results:
    • Began with Hand Edits in ACR to fix exposure, levels in CS6 (overall and selective to add some pop)
    • MCP Fusion – Rustic – Raised opacity on the Tint It Red layer and lowered opacity on the Color Twist layer
    • MCP Fusion – Golden – Raised opacity slightly and masked off sky using a black soft brush set on 30% opacity
    • MCP Fusion – Surrounded – Lowered opacity to around 10%, color fill on selective areas (chose warm Fall colors, blending mode to soft light, inverted and painted back on areas I wanted the effect to show), burning on selected areas
    • MCP Fusion -Exact-o-Sharp (sharpened the boys only) and blurred the edges.

 

ST5 600x800 MCP Fusion   Adding Warmth and Light to your Photos
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The Plastic Senior: Enhance Beauty Without Over Processing

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Photographing Seniors is by far my favorite thing to do. I love their energy, willingness to try new and crazy things, fun personalities, and their hope for the future and what is to come after High School. Their Senior Year is such an exciting time in their lives, and I love to be a part of it.

Most Seniors exude a self confidence that really shines through in their photos. Some don’t, and it is my job to help them look their best, feel comfortable during the shoot, and to realize through mind blowing images of themselves, that they are beautiful or handsome. I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately among photographers. It’s a trend that is destroying the self-confidence of young women and men alike. I know that we want our subjects to look flawless, and that we can do that in post processing. Photoshop is an amazing tool, but we all know it can be taken too far.

The Backstory

Recently, I had a young lady call me in tears. She had her Senior Photos taken by a well know local photographer. You know, the photographer we all want to be when we grow up with the arsenal of equipment, shiny studio, and hundres of thousands of dollars in yearly sales revenue. The girl was upset because she didn’t want to sit for photos again because she thought she was fat, and her mother was making her call me and schedule a session. In the back of my mind, I was thinking, “So she’s a little heavy. I can disguise that with a bit of creative posing and good lighting.” I assured her that I would make her look beautiful in her photos, and scheduled a free consultation with her and her mother the next week to get an idea of what she wanted from her Senior Session.

When I arrived at the consultation, I was shocked. The girl was BEAUTIFUL! I’m not saying that not every girl is gorgeous at whatever size they are, but this girl is 5’8”, and she couldn’t have weighed over 115lbs. She was tall, thin, athletic, and gorgeous. It didn’t take me long to figure out why she was so apprehensive and insecure. She showed me the photos from her previous Senior Session with the aforementioned photographer. I was shocked. The images looked like her, but they were an overly perfect Stepford Wives version of her. Not a hair was out of place. Her skin looked so perfect that it looked plastic, and he had thinned her face, narrowed her hips, reduced the size of her nose, and increased the size of her breasts. I’m sure he thought he was simply enhancing her natural beauty. However, what he really did was take every bit of self-confidence she had, and turned it to insecurity. Was she not good enough just the way she was?

Examples of what not to do.

Here is an example of over processing an image to the point of destroying a girl’s self esteem.  The first image is straight out of camera.  The second is the same image.  I thinned her face and arm, reduced the size of her nose, whitened her teeth, liquified her eyes to make them bigger, and smoothed her skin to a perfect plastic appearance.  Not horrible, but really, it looks nothing like her at all.

Straight out of Camera 

IMG 4707 600x400 The Plastic Senior: Enhance Beauty Without Over Processing
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Insanely Over Processed: Do not do this!

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Here is an example of processing the correct way.  I left everything about her alone.  I just slightly smoothed her skin, sharpened her eyes, and enhanced the colors a bit.  That’s it.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Had she had a small blemish on her forehead that could be cloned out, but her skink was pretty flawless.  My basic rule of thumb is that I correct anything that will go away in the next 6 weeks (blemishes, scabs, scrapes, etc.) and I very slightly soften those that are permanent (scars and birth marks are usually just lightened a tiny bit if they are red. If not, I just smooth them the tiniest bit.)

 

Real Perfection- Beauty is enhanced, not created!

IMG 4708 2 600x400 The Plastic Senior: Enhance Beauty Without Over Processing
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The point of this segment is this: DO NOT TAKE POST PROCESSING TOO FAR! You may think that you are helping your client out by perfecting them. And trust me, there is nothing wrong with blemish removal, slight skin smoothing, and a little liquefying here and there if there is a bulge in clothing or on an arm. However, your client wants photos of themselves or their family, not some insanely perfect version of themselves. Real people, especially High School Seniors, are amazing just the way they are. It is our job to enhance their natural beauty and help them see themselves as beautiful, no matter their size or shape.

 

Atina is the owner of Atina King Photography located in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  She loves to focus on photographing High School Seniors in urban environments throughout Arkansas.  She resides in Fayetteville with her husband Jonathan and their two small children.  Her work can be viewed on her website at Atina King Photography.

 

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