Out Of The Dark Breakdown
This image represents just how far I'll go to get the picture that I saw in my mind to print. In this case, a very small print because there are definite flaws to be found as you get a closer look. But because I share everything with you people, here you go.
Even though I spend a lot of time in Photoshop "developing" my photos, one fact remains constant. Garbage in, garbage out. What you get straight out of the camera needs to be the best your skills can achieve because that is the foundation for everything that comes next.
Check out this foundation...
This was pretty much the worst situation possible. She was far away so needed my 70-300mm lens (my options were limited), she was in a very dark area and she was pacing at a pretty brisk rate. No excuses, though. I should have been able to do better with a little patience.
Regardless, this is the best I could do with Lightroom to bring things back.
I lost some fine detail trying to compensate for the noise of a low-light shot at a 1600 ISO. Otherwise it's OK-ish.
On to Photoshop.
I masked out everything that wasn't tiger or ground as has been my style with these zoo shots of late, cloned out that obstructing foliage in the foreground and sharpened some areas to try to create some sharper edges in areas that had been softened by the noise reduction.
Next I worked to create a little more tonal range by creating a Soft Light layer with a copy of the original and then a slight curve adjustment.
I created a shadow behind Ms. Tiger and some blurring to make it look as if she was "coming out of the dark". Which, of course, she had been to some extent. This whole picture is "out of the dark" if you want to get technical about it.
Next is a shameful confession. My wife pointed out that the cat was looking a little green. I'm colorblind, but looking at the numbers that the eyedropper was reporting, she was right. My skills at color correcting to my satisfaction failed me so I turned to my old pal Silver Efex Pro 2.
And there you go. From start to finish...