Saturday Evening Post #141 : Comfort Zone

“How did you get into your present comfort zone?” he asked.

Do you know, I hadn’t really thought about it. I suppose I just slipped into it.

I’ve been working with a new mentor the past week or so, felt like taking on a bit of a challenge, and it hasn’t all been tough. Some has been fun, as well as highly revealing and instructive.
He’s given me plenty to think about.  Mostly around not just taking new pictures but how I go about making them sing and dance.

Now it’s true, I’ve been post processing photographs since the days of “Barneyscan”. (you gotta look that up) precursor to Photoshop.

Used to manage our library on something called “Shoebox”, an Eastman Kodak company early attempt at databasing photos. It used a cd jukebox to store photos, and had a clever algorithm to find the tagged ones. Great for demos,  type in Bird, or Macaw and up would pop a wonderful rich colour photo of a Macaw. Stunning.
You could also poll it for say, Maureen’s Wedding, or Grey Mustang at Summer Nats, or whatever you’d stored and logged, and up would pop a few seconds later….. a photo of a Macaw…   It wasn’t even beta software, more your pre-alpha 🙂
Time moved on, and so did we.  I used to use Nikon’s Capture NX2 for a long time.  Reason, it was using the clever NIk Technology “U-Point” system and made post processing a breeze, one you got used to its quirkiness. But in the end, I’ve always said, give Photoshop, Layers, Layer Masks and a Paintbrush and that would do me for pp.

So he asked, “How did you get into your present comfort zone?”  And we concluded, quite easily, it just felt comfortable.
Which is why  the next challenge was to find an image I didn’t have much investment in, and play around with it, in something like Lightroom or Capture One.
And I found there was a lot of the Develop module, that I understood, but didn’t appreciate in terms of setting the mood or emotion or feel, or even my vision of the image.

Particularly in Black and White.   I rely on Nik ‘Silver Efex Pro” for my mono conversions. Because there are lots of film effects and the old mono filters that I grew up with.  (Another question I’ve added to my memory list from last week: What is the filter factor for a Wratten Green #58?) SFX has them all listed each on it’s own slider, and makes changing sky or tree, or sand to the right tonal level for the feel I’m after, a snap.

This time through I was able to use the local Hue-Saturation-Luminosity filters to achieve the same thing.
Hey, I knew that. But, my comfort zone didn’t 🙂

My Flickr folk were the first to see the difference.  I posted a mono pic of a Collared Sparrowhawk on a fence.  As a colour shot it was pretty much unattractive. brown bird against sky, ugly fence.
“Try some tone changes,” was the suggestion.

Suddenly it was working, lighter sky, rich tones on the bird feathers and those glowing legs and eyes.  Simples. (Hah! I knew that)

Still got a way to go, as I’m tackling a series of challenges around the ‘Visual Roadmap’, not a term I leaned at Art School. More I suspect will follow.

Tonight, as Lee Lin Chin says in the ad, we could play for Ray Martin’s Gold Logi, but instead I’ve settled on a shot from the other day with Mr An Onymous.
It’s a few seconds work in Lightroom’s Black and White mode.  A trip through the HSL sliders and a few points of grain.

I wanted to keep the feather detail, but at the same time bring the emphasis on the seeming enjoyment that bird was having with its treat.

Ahh, back to the comfort of a real darkroom 🙂



6 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post #141 : Comfort Zone

  1. An interesting read, David. I guess my comfort zone is not processing. Very occasionally I will spend some time in an edit suite but it is just not me. I know how to use most of the ‘popular’ suites and some that few have heard of but I find I just don’t particularly like processed images. For me the image must stand on its own merit, and if it doesn’t, no amount of processing will help!
    That is just me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. G’day David, there is a fine line between un-touched, re-touched and aggressive post.
      I guess it just depends on where we each fit. For most of my nature work, I’ll be more than satisfied with a quick crop and sweep with a brush to help mood or tone. Cranking it out to unbelievable results, always seems to me unbelievable.
      When we used to print in the darkroom, my mentor/trainer always had two rules.
      1. Any corrections cannot be noticeable. If they are there for their own reasons, they shouldn’t be there.
      2. If it’s not good enough to hang on my wall, I won’t sell it to the customer.
      Kept me in good stead these many summers

      Keep takin’ pictures, we do.


  2. Yes, an interesting read indeed David, Post processing is very important for me as many of my rainforest picks need it and also, I like to bring out the best in the subject, as much as I am able. I have always used ACDsee and currently their Ultimate 8 version for my post processing due to its very versatile features, and how it is quick and easy to use. I love how you brought out the features of the Cockie in monochrome. My daughter used mono a lot in her early years when studying photography at uni, and it has many great features, which you have shown. Now you have passed the lockdown batten to us and we are in a two weeker at this stage, with just a 3 hour warning yesterday while out birding. Enjoy your weekend and the sunshine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Ashley, I was a bit shocked to hear of the lockdown. Sydney and NSW have been the gold standard for staying on top of outbreaks with minimal restrictions.
    Two Weeks seems for ever, but, the time does pass. It is the isolation from distant family, friends and work colleagues that I think is the more difficult to resolve.
    Thankfully, Facetime, Zoom, phone calls, Messenger, and emails all helped us make the time a little more bearable. The technologies get such a pounding for their poor use, but when needed they rise to the occasion.
    The social platforms I think don’t have the same intimacy and are at best viewed as intrusive.
    I use Flickr a lot, and rely on the small community of folk that I’ve been able to have as close contacts. Visuals help me more that hugs.

    I used to use the original ACDSee a long time ago to demo digital products. I review it occasionally as it does have some features I quite like. As a Mac user, I relied very heavily on Apple Aperture but they discontinued it and the elegance of the interface has never been repeated.

    I wasn’t really looking for a ‘kick in the rear’ but am working with a mentor that I somehow sync with and while I’m not ‘learning’ a lot, a solid review has certainly bought new vision to some of the images I work with. I expect I’ll show more on here over the next few posts.

    For most wildlife subjects I do very little post production, if I shoot JPEG and its ok, I’d hardly mess with more than a crop. However like your rainforest shots, sometimes a bit of work must be done to make up for average technique on my part. 🙂

    I hope Gladys looks after you all, and things are back in bright sunshine before you know it.

    And I especially hope you are not crushed under a mountain of toilet paper. 🙂


  4. An interesting read David, and a lovely image of the YTBC enjoying its lunch. I try to do very little editing apart from a crop and maybe a bit of a tidy-up of a stray branch that distracts the eye from the bird.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Eleanor,
    Thanks for dropping by. I guess I was rambling on about my latest direction. Certainly don’t think anyone should be changing their work process on whim.
    I think there is an important arm of photography that not only makes, but carries deep respect for the subject through the process activity. The importance of the accurate depiction of the bird is much more important than being able to be clever with some sliders.
    On the blog, particularly the Saturday Night ramble, is just a chance for me to explore some deeper photo related thoughts.

    In the end, the most important element of the final image is the bird. As I said to David, a mentor used to say, if any changes are noticeable then it’s gone too far.

    Thanks for the insights.


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