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52 on Friday (Week 18): Digital Darkroom

Ooh! I absolutely LOVE this week’s Project 52 theme: The Digital Darkroom.

I quite often hear from people, “oh, I have a nice camera, I don’t need professional photos,” or sometimes even, “wow, your camera takes great photos!” I am here to debunk a myth: it’s not all about the camera. Yes, you need the right equipment to get the job done but in this day-and-age, great photographs are created by a mix of the photographer’s vision, the camera, and the post-processing. I’m going to show you two examples…

First up, meet Phil. You may remember him from his sneak peek post with his brother Norman. My goal was to create a natural-looking portrait that captured Phil’s best qualities and reflected how his parents truly see him.

San Diego pet photography by Westway Studio

I would love to say this is exactly how the photo looked straight out of the camera because I’m so awesome, but I can’t. It would be a lie. In fact, there was a lot of effort — about an hour total — put into perfecting this one single photo. And I’m going to tell you all about it.

Welcome to the digital darkroom.

Here’s what Phil’s photo looked like when I first brought it in to Lightroom:
San Diego pet photography by Westway Studio

As you can see, his dandruff, nose crusties, and streak of eye goop down his cheek are pretty noticeable (and actually, his dandruff is pretty hard to see at this size; the poor guy had a lot):
San Diego pet photography by Westway Studio

I used Lightroom to pump up the yellow in the background, remove some of the blue tones from his black fur, get rid of at least a hundred little pieces of dandruff, and darken his nose crusties so they weren’t quite so obvious (it’s part of who he is, so I didn’t want to get rid of them completely):
San Diego pet photography by Westway Studio

Next I used Photoshop to fix the line of goop down his cheek by blending in part of his other cheek from another shot:
San Diego pet photography by Westway Studio

Like I mentioned earlier, the entire process took me about an hour but it was worth it! Now Phil’s family has a natural-looking portrait that portrays him exactly how they see him: perfect in every way, free of dandruff and eye goop — and with less-noticeable nose crusties. :)

BEFORE
San Diego pet photography by Westway Studio

AFTER
San Diego pet photography by Westway Studio

The second example I’d like to show is more about creative editing. This is a favorite photo of Roxy from a trip to Lake Tahoe a few months ago. I revisited it this week and came up with a few different edits so I could show you just how much some creative work in Lightroom and Photoshop can change an image.

The original, straight from the camera:

This is how I originally edited it:

My first new edit was to add a texture (I really love the warmth the texture adds):

And my second new edit was to create a color version:

So, what do you think?

Now it’s time to check out Unleashed! Pet Portraits in Victoria, British Columbia! Be sure to follow the links at the end of each post ’till you end up right back here.