Katmai Quick Mask Magic

This is the original capture: "Before"

When the mother bear placed her head above the cub, I knew that the moment would not last more than a second or two.  My urge was to move to my left to separate the gull from the bear, but if I did that, I was pretty positive that I would miss the shot.  Seeing that the gull did not merge with the bear, I created the image almost immediately knowing that it would be easy to move the gull with a Quick Mask.  (See same below.)

The improved color and contrast in version 2 were a reslut of the standard levels and contrast adjustments that are part of my regular workflow as described in detail in our Digital Basics File:  https://store.birdsasart.com/shop/category.aspx?catid=30.

This is the optimized image: "After". Note: as always, you can click on any image to see the larger version.

In the optimized image immediately above, I created a Quick Mask of the gull, moved it well to our left, and then used another Quick Mask to seamlessly cover the gull in its original position.  Note also that I used a series of QMs to eliminate the two rather ugly salmon heads that were lying on the shoreline.  I used a variety of the Quick Masking Techniques that are described in Robert O’Toole’s APTATS CD (Advanced Photoshop Tips and Techniques).  You can learn more about or order APTATS here: https://store.birdsasart.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=54.

This is the original capture

The many gulls in the background are quite distracting so I created the two different versions that can be seen below, again using a series of QMs.

This is the original capture

To create version 1 above, I used a series of QMs to cover the small, out-of-focus white blobs but left the larger gulls in flight and the perched bird behind the bear. 

Version 2

In version 2, immediately above, I decided to eliminate the larger gull from behind the bird and to move the single flying gull that I left to our left for better compositional balancce.  Though this is my favorite version, I do appreciate the fact that some photo editors would prefer version 1 as it gives the viewer a better idea of the setting. Note the small crop in version 2.

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4 comments to Katmai Quick Mask Magic

  • avatar Nick

    Hey Art,
    Thanks for your reply. I wasn’t suggesting that you needed Photoshop for every image. The quality of your photographs is definitely not in question. I do understand where you are coming from now…a valid approach. It’s just that people seem to be loosing trust in photography because of what is possible in Photoshop. I can’t seem to talk to anyone about it without getting strong opinions 🙂

    • YAW Nick. Folks need to realize that whatever can be done in Photoshop could have and was done in the darkroom but only by skilled folks. Today it is easier. I began to lose trust in photography when I learned that many folks were telling lies about the situation in which the image was created. That was done before digital and will continue forever. If folks wish to get in a tizzy about my or anyone else’s images that is their choice.

  • avatar Nick

    Hey Art,
    I have to say your photographs are great! I have only been following your work for a few months and noticed that you use Photoshop quite heavily to improve many photos. And I mean going beyond processing the image, like you chose to move the gull in the first image or adding a missing wing tip. I know you are making the photos as art but to someone who is interested in photography and looking to learn more about it, this seems like graphic art that started off as a photograph. Do photo contests accept these altered images?

    • Jeez, I just typed a long answer and it disappeared. Bummer. Here I go again…. Thanks for your kind words and for getting in touch. And yes, I am using the latest tools to improve my images. Many folks forget that most of the images that I optimize are finished in 2-4 minutes or less, Levels, Curves, and dust spotting. And many forget that I made a few good images with film over the course of 19 years. JI = JO no matter how good you are at Photoshop.

      Most contests forbid entering images where anything has been removed or added. Some do not. I always tell the truth and let the editors know what we have done. Most editors have zero problems; they just want the image that they need. My main interests are creating images that look great and that will sell.