Keeping watch. Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa.

Late afternoon can be a busy time at the waterhole but prey species must remain alert.  Taken in Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa, late afternoon, one zebra keeps a watch for predators whilst others drink at the waterhole.

zebras Imfolozi Game Reserve Keeping watch, zebras, Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa.

Canon 5D with 70-300 DO lens at 300mm and F5.6,  shutter speed 1/60 second at ISO 400.

Image processing revisited. (2021)

Interesting how our ideas about image processing and presentation evolve over time. This image was originally captured back in mid-2008 and processed a couple of months later for publishing on the blog. Recently I reviewed the file and decided to reprocess the image from scratch using my current processing approach and without direct reference to the earlier version. What resulted was a more subtle rendition.

Looking back on the 2008 version, I used a fairly obvious vignette, today no vignette at all. Today there is no crop on the top edge of the frame with only the bottom edge cropped due to a distracting foreground element. The colour treatment is slightly different as well. My attitude today is that if an effect or adjustment is obvious then it’s overdone. I feel more than ever that it’s the subject that is critical to a pleasing image and the processing itself shouldn’t (generally) dominate the picture.

Also, my use of software has changed. Like many people, influenced by countless online Lightroom tutorials, I got into the habit of doing the bulk of my processing in Adobe Lightroom. Today, I’m doing only a fairly strict RAW conversion in Lightroom with global adjustments aimed at producing a flat, low contrast image with the best possible highlight and shadow detail. I’m now doing virtually no local adjustments in Lightroom. The resulting file is then processed in Photoshop using some fairly sophisticated masking techniques. If local adjustments are required, I’ll then do them in Photoshop.

This methodical approach is more in line with the thoughts of long-time Photoshop guru Guy Gowan and utilizes an action he’s developed.


On a light note, whilst preparing this article and typing the word “processing”, I came up with the typographical error “pro-messing”. I actually like my new word! Perhaps it’s a subconscious slip! There are so many people, including pro photographers, on the internet telling people how to process their digital photos using Lightroom. In many instances, they are simply regurgitating the ideas of others. Much of what is touted online could have come directly from Adobe’s marketing hype and is repeated uncritically. Some of the resulting photographs are really questionable in my view. God-awful HDR effects anyone? So let me finish with a tongue-in-cheek question. Do you “process” or “pro-mess” your photographs? ~KD