My Photographic Process.
I capture images with a Canon 7D digital SLR. It is an 18 megapixal device. I have adequate long lenses to capture the subjects. The lenses are long but not fast. I use a tripod, almost always. I use a tripod on my Sigma 50 – 500 mm lens and a monopod on the camera as needed. I use two Canon flashes mounted on brackets near the front of my Sigma 180 mm macro lens for insects. I support it with a monopod.
I bracket everything from depth-of-field, white balance to exposure. Digital has increased my learning curve on the latter. I shoot every way of which I can think as I work. I am growing in visualization, though I am learning. I see things in which I think there is something but I am not sure what it might be. I spend a lot of time with my subjects to get a feel for them. I shoot them and try to decide later as I optimize images on my computer what is worthwhile and what is not.
I process the raw files is Adobe Camera Raw as 18 megapixal or larger files. At this stage I make the first round of cuts by eliminating unsharp images and those with compositional flaws. I also eliminate redundant images.
I then open them in Photoshop CS5. I de-spot every image. This is a carry over from the day when my sensor seemed to be perpetually dirty. I remove distracting elements using the clone stamp and healing brush tools. I add contrast as needed with the curves tool. I identify the subject, if needed, name and save the file with all layers intact as a .tiff. This is my master image file.
Next, I have a database in which I record the image. It shows a thumbnail of the image. I record camera settings and setup. I list filters and flash used. I record where and when the image was captured and where it is saved. Once the image is logged into the database, I re-evaluate it as to use, including artistic value. I decide whether it goes onto my website and if I will print it. I decide if a given image should be printed for sale at art shows and the size or sizes. I record those decisions in my database for later reference when I am making prints.
When it is time to make prints, I crop to the intended size and dpi for printing. I use "picture package" in photoshop even if I am making only one of any given size. It applies the file name in tiny letters in the lower left corner. I sharpen using "smart sharpen." I print on an Epson Stylus Photo R2880. My computer system is color profiled from beginning to end. It was built by me.
I sometimes crop the insects and birds tightly. I keep to a minimum, the interpolation associated with cropping to larger sizes. I keep all original raw files as well as all layers on my master image file. I have a double set of copies of my images on DVD's and BlueRay Discs. I have another copy of the images on hard drives. I keep one set of the DVD's and BlueRay Discs in a fire safe in an air conditioned environment for longevity.
If you see a picture of a bird or insect that looks close-up, that is because it is close-up or I have used digital interpolation to make it close-up. The image must pass with my eye as being worth this effort. The final decision is up to you. Look at the image and judge how you feel about it.
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