Editing suggestions - Moose through fog

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Ben C

Member
Hi all. I was fortunate to have an amazing close encounter with a young bull moose last weekend. It was early in the morning and very foggy, which gave the scene great atmosphere. However, I am struggling with how to edit the images. I want to retain the misty atmosphere but also accentuate the moose, and I feel like I am having a hard time finding the right balance. Here are two of the images - a vertical and a horizontal, that I have edited with just a few minor global adjustments for exposure and vibrance/saturation. I then brushed on some local adjustments to the moose in each. Generally about +20 to shadows and minus 20 to blacks, with a little clarity thrown in, trying to add a bit of contrast and detail without making it look artificially clear given the mist in the rest of the scene. I am curious what you all think of these edits and if you have some suggestions for how to improve it, or how to handle foggy wildlife scenes generally. Also, do you prefer the vertical or the horizontal composition? Thanks in advance for the feedback!

20211003_San Juan Mtns_1714.jpg

20211003_San Juan Mtns_1715.jpg
 

DRwyoming

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thanks in advance for the feedback!
I like the face and fur detail in the second image better than the first image. I might try a touch more DeHaze without trying to totally clean up the image as the haze really is a nice part of the mood. I might even try a bit of subtle dodging on the face alone rather than trying to introduce contrast but I'd want the face to pop a bit more one way or another.

In terms of composition I think a landscape composition could work but I wouldn't want the main subject as centered as it is in the upper image. In square or portrait orientation the centered looks better to me but I'd probably try a landscape with the Moose further off center to keep more of that fall feeling with the foliage.
 

bleirer

Well-known member
Supporting Member
I don't think the tree and scrub on the right add to the story. Maybe a 5:4 or 4:3 ratio to eliminate most of the tree and clone away the remaining part so there is still some breathing room. In photoshop the curves adjustment layer if you hold down alt while clicking auto you get a menu of different algorithms to choose from. From there make manual curve adjustments especially to pull some detail in the dark coat. Using the mask attached to the curves layer you can have separate adjustments for the subject and the background, keeping the haze hazy.
 

Ben C

Member
Thread starter
Thanks for the quick feedback. As requested, here is the unedited raw file. I don't know how to post the histogram but as you might image it is pretty much a bell curve in the middle with very short tails on each end. Also below is a different crop of the horizontal image to remove as much of the tree on the right as possible while still leaving some space around the top and bottom of the moose. I haven't bothered to clone out the remainder of the tree yet.

Finally, at the bottom is a completely different composition taken about 45 minutes later after the fog had mostly lifted (this was one extremely lazy and cooperative moose!). In this composition I tried to include much more of the overall environment. I really like it a lot, except that the moose is a little dark. I have lightened it up as much as I can without making it look muddy, but because it is so small in the frame there isn't much more I think I can do to enhance it. If I had brought my flash with me that might have helped, but I was out shooting landscapes and didn't think I'd need it.


20211003_San Juan Mtns_1714-2.jpg

20211003_San Juan Mtns_1714-3.jpg


20211003_San Juan Mtns_1168.jpg
 

Nimi

Active member
Thanks for the quick feedback. As requested, here is the unedited raw file. I don't know how to post the histogram but as you might image it is pretty much a bell curve in the middle with very short tails on each end. Also below is a different crop of the horizontal image to remove as much of the tree on the right as possible while still leaving some space around the top and bottom of the moose. I haven't bothered to clone out the remainder of the tree yet.

Finally, at the bottom is a completely different composition taken about 45 minutes later after the fog had mostly lifted (this was one extremely lazy and cooperative moose!). In this composition I tried to include much more of the overall environment. I really like it a lot, except that the moose is a little dark. I have lightened it up as much as I can without making it look muddy, but because it is so small in the frame there isn't much more I think I can do to enhance it. If I had brought my flash with me that might have helped, but I was out shooting landscapes and didn't think I'd need it.


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Thank you! Tough edit, above my own expertise. When my post skills fail me, I try black and white...
 

jeffnles1

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thanks for the quick feedback. As requested, here is the unedited raw file. I don't know how to post the histogram but as you might image it is pretty much a bell curve in the middle with very short tails on each end. Also below is a different crop of the horizontal image to remove as much of the tree on the right as possible while still leaving some space around the top and bottom of the moose. I haven't bothered to clone out the remainder of the tree yet.

Finally, at the bottom is a completely different composition taken about 45 minutes later after the fog had mostly lifted (this was one extremely lazy and cooperative moose!). In this composition I tried to include much more of the overall environment. I really like it a lot, except that the moose is a little dark. I have lightened it up as much as I can without making it look muddy, but because it is so small in the frame there isn't much more I think I can do to enhance it. If I had brought my flash with me that might have helped, but I was out shooting landscapes and didn't think I'd need it.


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I really like photo number 3. It seems to tell a story about where the moose lives and how it survives. Well done
 

abc123brian

Well-known member
I prefer the vertical image. Editing is something that is subjective and I personally try to keep it to a minimum. I would try a few things with it, one would be pulling the shadows on the moose a little more just to bring out more detail. I might try darkening the trees a bit that the sun isn’t lighting up to see what I think of it. One other thing I would probably consider is less saturation and then warming the white balance some.
 

John Woodworth

Active member
Supporting Member
Great shots. Congratulations.

Did you shoot in RAW? Using Lightroom? Maybe more Dehaze with a Range Mask on the dark side for the moose will do the trick.

If that doen't work, maybe go to Photochop, where there are many options. Duplicate the layer. Try subtracting a fixed amount of gray (corresponding to the fog) out from the moose (but not the whole scene) using a gray fill layer, blending and opacity. Concentrate only on the moose. Adjust the moose on this layer to taste with exposure, contrast, color, etc. When this is successful, set a black mask on this layer (the beautified moose layer will disappear) and then brush (using a diffuse white brush) back the moose so it overrides the original scene behind. This will reveal the beautified moose over the original background scene.

I don't know the EXIF so hard to know how much room you have to push detail in the darks. Probably going to need noise processing on the moose but I would brush this on judiciously and selectively.

Second last picture might have the best chance of success assuming you didn't crop too much.

Not being there, I have told more than I know, but hope this gives you some ideas. These images seem worth the effort.
 

Ben C

Member
Thread starter
Thanks for the helpful suggestions. I do shoot RAW. I have lightened the shadow on the moose a bit in the vertical composition and warmed it up slightly and those helped. I'm not terribly good at Photoshop but I am taking the Nick Page course now, and once I finish I may try to implement your suggestions John. They sound good, it's just a question of how good my PS skills are!
 

John Woodworth

Active member
Supporting Member
Ok Ben. I just thought of a YouTube video that might help. Removing fog is not unlike removing glare from glasses. This video is along the lines of what I was trying to suggest.
 

RugglesZ9

New member
The histogram shows a lack of contrast. In LR, I'd hit it hard on Dehaze and most of the issues go away. I don't think mist is the issue, but Dehaze will take away the misty look you want.
 
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