Before and After Forum; Macro Cricket

The Before and After forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.You can read more here about how to take part.

This week for the before and after forum I am editing one of my recent macro shots where I will be using both Photoshop and Lightroom.
With a macro shot in my opinion you don’t need to be heavily edited because if you have missed the shot you have missed the shot.


There are some misses with this image, the focus is good on the body and on the head but because of the angle some of the legs are out of focus, as well as one of the antennas. I took this shot using my 50mm lens with 32mm extension tubes at f/16 1/125 250ISO.


First thing I usually do is start in Lightroom and do nothing. I export the image to Photoshop where I apply Shake Reduction (Filter-Sharpen-Shake Reduction).


This filter will not sharpen areas that are blurred but where an edge is fuzzy, it will create contrast to make it seem sharper.


While I was here with this image I fixed the hole in the petal as it was distracting.


Back in Lightroom I made some global adjustments to the image, it seems darker but the colours are looking better.


I then sharped the image and applied some noise reduction.


I love the greens and I wanted these tones to pop in. Generally when editing any shot I will apply saturation adjustments selectively in the HSL panel esp. to prominent colours.


I need to clean my lens and sensor as there were a lot of spots as well as some random marks. I cleaned the images using the heal tool and clicking visualize spots at the bottom (so I can see unwanted marks easier), I always have feather and opacity set to 100%


In my global adjustments I made the cricket quite dark. To brighten him up I used the adjustment brush raising the shadows and upping the exposure slightly. I zoomed in to apply the brush.


As I was applying my local adjustments I noticed a lot of Chromatic Aberration,  I went down to lens correction and fixed this.

Small Green Cricket

I really like this image; it took about 15mins of shooting to get the little cricket in focus and sharp. Although it isn’t 100% in focus, I would only get this by bumping up the aperture to extend the depth of field which would mean a higher ISO. Even so the colours are crisp with the pastel tones of the flower contrasting with the rest of the scene and the saturation of the greens.

Please let me know in the comments what you think of the image or any questions you might have.
Also remember to head over to Stacy’s post to see the other contributions to the forum.

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22 thoughts on “Before and After Forum; Macro Cricket

  1. Our processes are very similar, the order differs. I always do my global adjustments first including sensor cleaning, shake reduction then nose reduction. I do not want to sharpen noise and shake reduction is not as effective after noise reduction. Nik’s detail extractor lightens the picture so I need no worry about parts of the process darkening things. I appreciate your sharing this always interesting to see the approach of others..

  2. Very helpful essay, Ben. The detailed step-through with screen shots was very clear and understandable. I’m going to have to check out that shake-reduction technique among several other things you mentioned. Thanks for the post..

    • Shake reduction is amazing, I was a bit cynical when it was first announced but when you are shooting with a longish lens and or close up the detail it can bring back is great. Takes a bit of playing and every image is different so there is no real presetting you can do.

  3. I really enjoyed this posting and learned a lot about how I might be able to enhance my macro shots. Most of the before-after postings that I have seen have focused on people or landscapes and I rarely shoot either of those two subjects. Insects, however, I do shoot pretty often. I liked the way that you explained not only what adjustments you made, but also why. Although I thought the initial image was pretty good, the final one is a huge improvement and is really eye-catching.

    • Thanks Mike I am glad you enjoyed the post, I try and make it my weekly time where I can give back and share, since nearly all of what I have learnt in using photoshop and lightroom over the last 10 years has been from other users for free.
      Feel free to drop a link if you experiment with anything you have learned.

  4. Really interesting to see what process you use. Even though you say you have not done much to it, it looks great and a significant improvement on the first image, very thoughtful and subtle processing.

  5. Contrary to Mike Powell, I hardly ever try a macro shot to insects but I recognize you did an excellent work, not only getting it, but editing this photo Ben. In the final version, the insect looks so clear, fresh and crispy, that it occurs to me that, possibly, Asian people could find it appetizing!

  6. Ben, as others have noted, your description of your workflow and the reasons behind your choices are so clear. I, too, am intrigued by the shake reduction tool, but I’m wondering if there is anything comparable in Lightroom? Maybe using the adjustment brush just on the cricket and loading it with increased sharpness (I mention this since you did use a brush to increase the exposure). Perhaps using a layer in PS is easier for this kind of adjustment, though, especially if you have no other need for the adjustment brush? I’m also curious whether you set feathering different when using the spot removal tool to clone? Currently, whether healing or cloning, my feathering is set to 50, and to be honest, I don’t know why I chose this setting…

    Thanks, always, for participating in ABFriday. I’m not a lover of insects (I think my squeamishness dates back to an 8th grade Biology project where I had to collect 40 different insects and mount them on pins – things of which my nightmares are made!), but I appreciate your shot and applaud you for getting that close 😉

    Last, the mobile WP app is giving me fits. Despite clicking my own image as the featured image (which readily shows up on the reader on my laptop), when using the mobile app, your cricket picture showed up as the image for the post. My apologies – I was upset that someone who didn’t click through would attribute your great work to me. I actually tried reselecting my own image, to no avail. In the end, I posted a query on the WP Forums about this issue. I haven’t yet heard back… Just wanted you to know.

    • When it comes to sharpening in Lightroom it is a pretty basic system. I could of course selectively sharpen an area but I would just be sharpening a blurred area making the blur sharper. Camera shake reduction although does sharpen slight blurred areas, it is must more selective than I could be with a selective adjustment brush as it only sharpen edges which may be 2 or 3 pixels wide.
      I set the feathering to 100% because I like to have a soft edge to help it blend smoothly , although it is is a tight area i will change the feathering.
      I only saw your post on the laptop and didn’t WP’s issue with your featured image. I have emailed a few times with WP staff and talked about the mobile apps many issues, I am always told they are working on improving it.

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