The Difference a Tweak Makes

After posting some random gems a few weeks ago, the comments on that post about one of the photos made me go back and have a look at the master version of the file.

The photo in question is of a heron in the process of jabbing its head into the water to catch something. The image in the post had been taken in May of last year.

The comment in question came from fellow blogger Jon Tobey from GoIntoTheLight:

 I love the heron shot (and you even knew what kind of bird it was). You could wait days to get a shot like that. Or a lifetime.

Now, a comment like that made me go back and look at the photo again. I had always liked it, for sure, but something about it had always bugged me. And then I remembered, the shot itself had been cropped from the original master, and I was also not quite as versed at adjusting images back when I last actually paid it any attention.

So, I went back and looked at the original master…

Exposure 1/500sec, f/10, ISO 400

One of the things that always bugged me about the original image was I felt it was a little cluttered. Not so much the plant life in the foreground, but the traffic cone on the right that would constantly serve as a reminder that this image was not taken in some romantic idyll somewhere but in a flood trench next to the Thames. I also wanted to get up close to the action, so I cropped out the fluff to bring the attention to the bird, and left it at that.

On returning to look at the master image, however, I realised that with the crop I made last year, I had removed some of the lovely blue reflection on the water. I also hadn’t made good use of the Rule of Thirds, and so there was something not quite right about the heron’s position in the frame.

So, I went back to the master and started again. This time I adjusted the exposure in order to bring back a little detail into the bird’s plumage and re-cropped it. I do think the end result is certainly better, but what do you think? Let me know in the comments.

The 'original' crop from last year
The updated version

5 thoughts on “The Difference a Tweak Makes

  1. I”m always for more information. For what it’s worth, I think you had the “rule of thirds” just fine in the first crop. I find the stick behind the bird distracting now. And while the blue is nice, for me the impeccable timing and the motion of the water in the eddies and whorls make it interesting. I wonder if a portrait crop would emphasize the verticality of the strike and its reflection more.
    I often find tighter crops than I would personally imagine are also very dramatic, what if it was just the neck, head, and splash?
    And of course, what if it was in B&W? 😉


  2. Great, now I’m going to have to throw this whole post out and start a new one called “the difference a second set of eyes makes”… 😛


  3. So True Rob, with me the learning curve has been colour some shots I scanned from wet film look ridiculous, monitor wasn’t calibrated and my knowledge of colour models etc was non existent… we just keep learning good article…. worth a Tweet



    1. Thanks for commenting!

      More recently, I’ve discovered that the images I take need less post-processing — no cropping, little colour balance adjusting and less exposure tweaking — do hopefully I won’t have to face decisions like this that often!


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