Story: More often than not I am disappointed when I view my underwater images on my computer screen for the first time. Because I just spent an hour below the surface doing my best to capture an animal or scene in a certain way visualised in my mind’s eye and then it turns out it did not come out exactly the way I wanted it. Though sometimes I do come pretty close It is NEVER exactly what I was aiming for. And that is ok, because with all the factors involved in underwater photography that is nearly impossible to do. I know that now, but for years I have been rejecting most of my images.
I took the pictures of these Bumphead parrotfish more than 5 years ago, using an Olympus PEN Lite EPL3 Hybrid camera (something in between a compact camera and a DSLR). I was not happy with them ( they are a bit soft, lacking contrast and have distracting elements) so I never did anything with them. Now I realise that that’s a shame, because I did put a lot of effort into taking these. I’d say it is even foolish because these days all images are or can be improved by some editing.
This just to say that if you are not happy with your images do not discard them. Post processing is a vital part of photography. I also think I did not divert (too much) from reality. They are still the same images, just more attractive, finally getting the attention they deserve.
Editing: In the first image I stretched the water on the left side of the subject to place the parrotfish in the middle by: 1) enlarging the canvas using the crop tool, 2) making a selection of the blue area on the left and turning this selection into a separate layer, 3) using the move tool to stretch the left side of the selection more to the left and 4) cropping the image again with the stretched part included and the excess canvas excluded.
For the second image I used the same technique as for image 1, but I did it both on the left and the upper part of the image.
I did something similar with image number 3: I lowered the surface and stitched it back closer to the fish. I did this by making separate layers of the upper part and the upper + middle part of the water by using the selection tool. Then I used the move tool to compress the upper + middle part of the water and to move the surface water lower. After that I cropped the top off. Apart from the stretching and compressing I used mainly the curves adjustment to brighten, darken and add contrast. I used 3 different sharpening techniques in combination with a mask and/or different blend modes to tackle the softness of the images. These techniques were: clarity, high pass and unsharp mask.
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