Editing Friday On Monday; Larva and Pupa

Normally on Mondays I post my One four Challenge post, as this month has 5 Mondays there is no Once Four Challenge today but a new photo will enter the challenge next week. Also on Friday it was my school’s end of year celebration and I didn’t have a chance to post my Editing Friday post. As a person who likes to take advantage of a situation and loves sharing how I do what I do, today will be editing Friday on Monday.

Julie asked, after I shared my macro focus stacked shot of a Barn Weaver, what stacking was. Although this post is not solely about stacking I did use the same technique with this image. Stacking is when you add layers of images taken at the same time, sometimes with different focus points or with a different view point. From here you are able to merge the layers together in all sorts of different ways; focus stacking, median stacking to remove people or moving objects, stacking to reduce noise and even create panoramas.


I came across a Ladybird Larva and Pupa on a leaf, I thought it was quite rare to see three pupa and a larva together. I took 14 pictures focusing on different areas to trying to capture a different part of the leaf in focus so I could bring it all together with a wider depth of field in Photoshop.
In Lightroom I made some basic changes to the Camera Profile, Exposure and Camera Calibration. I loaded the files into layers and auto aligned them, Edit- Auto Align. I then selected auto blend with the layers still aligned and choose Edit- Auto Blend and choose focus stacking. Photoshop added a layer masks with only the in focus areas showing through. These layers can be identified by the very geometric layer masks. Photoshop can be hit and miss sometimes. In areas where things were not quite right, I duplicated the layer and masked in areas. The file was about 4 gigs at this point so I collapsed it all down to a smart object, now only 150mb.


I cropped the image removing all the empty areas and opened the image again in Lightroom. I played around with Camera Calibration to intensify the red and oranges.


I tweaked the white balance as well as the shadows and highlights and tried to reduce the black clipping. I also desaturated a lot the colours leaving the orange and red quite strong.


In the saturation panel I increased the strength of the greens. I used the eyedropper selecting the green in the leaf; this naturally also increased the yellows. The whole process of desaturating all the colours and then increasing others, allows me to control the colour palette.
I also increased the contrast slightly.


I added a radial adjustment to control the colours around my subject. I first reduced the sharpness which helped to smooth out the details, like a very soft blur. To create some more softness I reduced the clarity as well. I also lowered the contrast and exposure a bit.  I did increase the saturation as well just to give it a bit more pop.


I used a few adjustment brushes to dodge and burn areas. I wanted to open up the shadows on my Ladybird subject. To contrast this I also burned in the areas around the leaf as well as some of the surrounding leaves.


The final stage was sharpening and noise reduction.

Larva and Pupa Lady Bird

There are some areas I can nick pick on with the focus stacking but I think I did a good job (this is still an area I am working on improving). I do like the colours and contrast and it feels quite natural.

Over to you. What do you think, let me know in the comment box below or if you like just say hi.

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