Photo Tip: Finding the Compostion – even after the shot

In winning photography, composition is everything.  That said, sometimes in the field, the shot comes and goes that fast.  That’s the case with today’s shot.  I was on the Chobe River doing a ‘booze cruise’ on a pontoon boat with friends.  In this setting, you don’t really have control of the boat pilot.  Our pilot was eager to get us back to dock at the Mowana Hotel near sunset.  This meant we were going to lose the last few minutes of the sun over the animals.  I was disappointed, but satisfying my disappointment with ‘Klippy and Coke’.  Looking ahead, I saw the old dead tree and the nice crop of distant trees.  I grabbed the camera and shot.  Here is the original result with no adjustments:

'Chobe River Sunset' as shot - Copyright 2009: P. B. Eleazer

'Chobe River Sunset' as shot - Copyright 2009: P. B. Eleazer

As you can see, I caught the shot, but have a weak composition, need to adjust the light and also have a very tilted horizon which is too centered.  Now the magic only possible in the last few years.  If this had been shot two or three years ago with a camera with approx. 6 megapixels, then any major crop and adjustment would have left too few pixels to crop.  Thanks to newer. camaeras with 12 to 25 megapixels, significant cropping can be done when post processing and still save the shot at a size decent for printing.  Today, I adjusted the image and with some photoshop magic, now have a much better photo.  Here is the ‘after’ version:

'Chobe River Sunset' - final edit, copyright: P. B. Eleazer

'Chobe River Sunset' - final edit, copyright: P. B. Eleazer

I must admit, there is a bit of ‘cheating’ on this shot.  If you compare the two shots, in the original, two of the darter birds have bad head positions.  Since I had shot a burst of images, one of the images had a birds with better head position.  I cloned these better heads onto two of the birds.  Other major edits performed in CS3 included:

  • level horizon
  • crop to allow horizon to better respect the ‘rule of thirds’
  • Noise reduction with Dfine 2.0
  • Adjustment of levels
  • Adjustment of curves

I feel the final shot is far superior to the original and hope you do also.

2 comments for “Photo Tip: Finding the Compostion – even after the shot

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *