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jsnorman

Angry grouper - doesn't "pop" like I wanted

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I was using a rental Dc1400 which unfortunately only shoots JPG so my post-processing is limited.

 

Location: Nassau, Bahamas

Equipment: Sealife DC1400 with Sealife Pro single strobe setup (rental, not sure of model)

Subject: Grouper. I approached him the side and was slowly lowering myself to try to get a shut from underneath the Grouper; as I dropped down he started "warning" behaviors so I took a couple of pictures in sequence and then left him alone. I was about 2 feet away I think when he started "warning" me away.

 

Exposure: ISO 400, F/2.8, 5mm focal length, 1/60th shutter

 

Edits so far:

 

- Adjusted color temp -21, and tint +21 (I focused on getting the purple gorgonian to the right shade as my tone/tint ruler)

- Adjusted shadow lighting +52 because it seemed to improve the background which seemed a little shadowy and actually helped a little in contrast with the grouper even though I expected the reverse (initially tried decreasing shadows but it didn't work well); and white lighting -52 because the grouper's white stripes were slightly overexposed

 

Problems (that I can see):

 

1) Main issue is the image does not pop the way I really thought it would. I wish I would have had a fisheye; as I was stuck with the DC1400 I opened it up to about 5mm which was the best I could do on spur of the moment trying to capture this warning.

 

2) I am having a lot of trouble in lightroom trying to increase the contrast between the grouper and the background. Both are similar enough in color that adjustments to color tone and white balance do not seem to make much different. I am used to RAW so the limited nature of JPG editing is frustrating me.

 

3) Angle of the shot is not ideal. I would have liked to get head on with him and/or slightly under him .. but since I clearly pissed him off, I stopped here.

 

4) Would have been better to have his eye in the upper part of the rule of thirds intersection point? I tried cropping to move him up and to the left a bit, but then I lost too much of his tail section. Maybe an example where being a little further away would have been better.

 

Other thoughts and suggestions appreciated.

post-25226-0-18455100-1441047275_thumb.jpg

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Hi Jeff,

There is not too much you can do in post to make a great image out of this one. The first issue I see is that it's not in focus, or the shutter speed was not quite short enough to avoid a slightly blurred image. It's also hard to make a fish pop if its shot against the bottom. Just a real tough situation. You could try darkening the coral rubble and surrounding reef with the adjustment brush to focus the eye more on the fish and tweak the white balance a touch. Sharpening a bit would help the blur.

 

post-4526-0-68997300-1441082248_thumb.jpg

 

My best advice is to go back and try again. Shoot up and try and get all of the fish in the frame, cutting off those dorsal tips really changes the image for me. Its great you shared your image with us, we want to see the next version too. :uwphotog:

 

Cheers,

Steve

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Maybe also try a slight vignette to draw the attention more toward the grouper? Although I don't usually like that effect, and should be kept subtle, it may help this shot.

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Sharpening and a bit more contrast might help, but it is tough to fix blur or out of focus shots in post.

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