As you all know, I am just a bit partial to elephants, so I wouldn’t mind if every day were elephant day. But today is officially World Elephant Day, so it’s a great opportunity to share some images of my favourite animal.
I won’t get into a discussion on elephant population numbers, conservation challenges and the like. There are many people and groups far more informed than I that are providing that type of information. I’ll simply say that my opinion is that no one needs ivory except an elephant, and the poaching of these magnificent animals is an absolute tragedy that needs to be stopped.
I’m sure I have said this many times before, but if there was only one animal I could spend time with on an African safari, it would be the elephant.
I’ve kept with my theme for the month of August, and have continued to learn and explore the Luminar editing program and all of these images have been processed using the software. Two things I have noticed over the past week:
1) I find the spot removal tool does not work very well for larger dust spots on blue sky; it leaves behind visible traces of the spot removal that are almost more noticeable than the initial spot. I have found though that the clone stamp tool does an effective job on the larger sensor spot removal. The majority of these images were shot on my old Nikon D610, which had enormous issues with sensor spots, so this is a feature I rely on quite heavily for working on older images.
2) The luminosity mask function is quite limited on the current software version, offering no opportunity for adjusting the luminance values to dial in the mask. I use the luminosity masking function a lot when editing with On1 Photo Raw, especially as an effective way to isolate the sky to perform specific adjustments. The standard masking options also feel a bit more basic than the ones that I use with Photo Raw. For images that need that type of adjustment, I don’t think Luminar would be my first choice as a raw editor.
I’m finding that most of the editing is start to feel natural using this program, now that I have gotten a feel for what the various filters do. But coming from Lightroom and On1 Photo Raw, I’m really used to the automatic lens profile corrections, and having to manually enable and adjust that is something I haven’t yet gotten used to doing as part of my workflow. Generally speaking though, I am finding it an enjoyable program to use.
The first WordPress photo challenge topic of the year is growth. There are lots of directions that this can be taken, but I’ve decided to use it as an opportunity to show off some of the younger generation of animals that I saw on my last safari. The wild is a dangerous place for youngsters, with so many species having mortality rates above 50%. I hope all of these animals have been able to grow strong and healthy.
I decided that this image would be good for a before and after post after finishing the editing, so today I just have the before and after images to share, not all the steps I took to get there.
This image was shot during sunrise whilst on a game drive at Ngala Camp in South Africa. It was quite surreal to have these massive storm clouds, the light from the sun rising, the moon visible and a rainbow all at one time. With so much going on, it was a challenging scene to deal with, and the image ended up rather flat and uninspired.
I decided to edit the single image using Aurora HDR Pro, as I find that the software is great in bringing out the detail and colour in an image, although it can be a little heavy handed at times. Herein lies the editing issue of course; trying to coax the best out of the image you have, without it ending up looking crunchy and radioactive. I layered two different presets within Aurora, blending them at different opacities, and then dialed back the result within Photoshop to find a level of punch that I felt worked for the image, and for my memory of what to scene looked and felt like.
I’d be interested to know any opinions on the edit – did I go too far, not far enough, or just right, based on what I had to work with? Everyone looks at things differently and I am always interested in the reactions of other people.
It was a soggy day flying from Phinda to Ngala, which was my second to last stop on my trip. It’s tough thought o be too upset about rain in locations where it has been desperately needed for years, and besides, we only had two days with any rain over a four week period, which is pretty fantastic from a sightseeing perspective (especially in an open vehicle). I have spent time at Ngala previously (you can check out some past highlights here if you want).
We only had two days at the camp, but they were filled with lots of laughs with our wonderful ranger Lee-Anne, some fantastic game viewing, and really great meals. The first game drive was a soggy one, but we didn’t let that get our spirits down, and we ended up seeing both lion and leopard on the same game drive – not too shabby!
I hope you enjoy a small selection of the photos that I took at this beautiful property.