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When Nature Isn’t Natural

May 30, 2009

I love nature and wildlife photography. That is my favorite genre. But what do you do if you’re taking nature shots and they just aren’t coming out “natural” looking?

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The shot above is a case in point. I was trying to capture this spider web. Straight from the camera, the results were very washed out and much too bright. I was able to recover full detail in Photoshop but doing so created the very unnatural background you see here.

This background was not added in. It was already there. (This picture was shot in an amusement park.) I played with several different variations on this image, trying to make it look more natural. In the end, this is the version I liked best even though it was the least natural looking of the bunch.

Here is another shot that is perhaps more typical.

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The bird itself is natural enough. Of course all the feathers it has in is mouth (to line the nest it was building) give it a surreal, bearded look. Standing on the edge of a concrete curb certainly doesn’t create a natural setting.

In the end, people will judge your pictures based on their relative creativity and interestingness. Not on how natural they look. Composition and technical excellence count for a lot.

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