Frolic Breakdown


At the Memphis Zoo this little guy was having a romp into the water on a hot day early in the summer of 2010. I really wanted to freeze the action to get some nice water splashes. This is what I got right out of the camera.


My first run at processing the photo brought me here.


I went with an HDR-ish approach while darkening areas I wanted to downplay. There are things I like about it and things I don't. Let's concentrate on the negative.


The problems boil down to bad framing, important details getting lost in the unimportant and too many clues that this was taken in a man-made environment. (As if anyone would believe I'm an actual wild-life photographer.)

Lately I've been going for a high contract black and white look where the background is blacked out. That would solve the problem of hiding the unimportant background details with the additional benefit of being able to recompose things on a solid background.


After recomposing, the tedious task of masking starts. Drop by drop...


...until the mask looked a little something like this.


Now with the mask applied.


The hard work done, it's time to turn this into a black and white photo.


Next a global curve adjustment...


... and then a targeted curve adjustment on the water.


I cloned in a few droplets off the front paw and along the bottom where the pattern was just a little too clean.


A final global curve adjustment finishes things off.


Here's your usual before and after comparison.


Hopefully you enjoy these breakdowns. They are personally useful in helping me to document my experiments as I continue to learn more about creating these images.

If you didn't enjoy this, then you can blame +Justin Martin since he's the one who asked me to do it. :)