Thursday, June 4, 2009

Toby Meets a Butterfly

Enough people portraits for the moment! Toby is the first stray from out at Clover airfield that my husband brought home, just before Hurricane Rita several years ago. I tried to find a home for him and kept him at the vets to be de-wormed but when I had to evacuate with him I fell in love with him and he has been a member of our family ever since. And I am so glad every day --- he has the sweetest personality and constantly makes us laugh at his silly antics. Of course he could never have stayed if our Lab Maggie May had not accepted him. I shot this image in 2 separate photographs for our Butterflies assignment in 2007 and combined them with (at that time) my very rudimentary Photoshop skills. OK, OK, Mike will insist that I write that he laboriously, pixel by pixel cut the butterfly out of its background for me. I had been to the Cockrell Butterfly Center to try to get a good butterfly image but mostly I got average ones so decided to do something a little different. The first time I took Toby down to our subdivision park early one morning for his photoshoot, I took off his collar but left his harness on and laid the leash down, put the camera up to my eye when he saw an armadillo at the edge of the woods and took off after it. I thought I heard him barking in the next subdivision so Mike and I searched for him for 2 hours, I even went back into the woods where he had gone in several times and could not find him. Finally, after about the 4th time in that one spot I heard a whimper --- his leash had wrapped many times around a fallen tree and his color totally blended into the dead leaves and the shade and he had not made a sound the first few times we looked there. It was very traumatic for us all, to say the least! The second image is the single shot I got off just before he took off after that armadillo the first morning.
Camera info: Nikon D200, 60 mm 2.8 lens at f6.3 at 1/20th, ISO 100, sunny whitebalance, no flash
Post processing: cloned sunlight streak from background grass, duplicated that layer in softlight blending mode, selected the grass and ran the Gaussian blur filter, increased red saturation in Toby's fur, added the butterfly then duplicated the butterfly in multiply at 70%, hue/sat layer to reduce green and yellow in the grass, levels adjustment layer for brightness, sharpened. I would certainly do things differently today, but it is interesting to look back and see how much I have learned. I think the difference in the color in the 2 images is that the top one was under-exposed and a year and a half ago I did not process it correctly in ACR because they were taken near the same time of day and just one week apart.

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