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Full Critique Female Botswana Leopard

arjay

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Hi everyone. I have lurked in this (and other) forums for a while now. Never really thought any of my stuff stands up against the superb material here, but thought it was time to jump in.

I have been on a fair few African safaris over many years and have struggled to capture decent images of leopards. They are normally solitary, secretive and elusive. Anyway, just got back from Botswana where I was finally able to catch a leopard in the open and in reasonable evening light.

I'd appreciate comments. First ever post so go easy on me hehe.
Female Leopard 1024.jpg
 
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Roger S

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Seriously, I think this one is about as good as they get for a wild capture. The head and eyes are in sharp focus and the fact that she is composed looking back into the frame works great.
 

Snips

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You've just added to the "superb material" and raised the bar a little too.

The second is a wonderful capture and if you could clone out the grass in the bottom left (either copy a section from that image or copy it from another image) that would make it even better. Photoshop would make this edit a piece of cake.

Gorgeous set of one of nature's most magnificent animals.
 

arjay

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Snips - its nice to know that you think the other two images are good. I see what you mean about the rather intrusive bright coloured grass and clumpy grass in both images. I have done a bit of light cloning before in the GIMP (I don't have Photoshop as I mainly use Linux not Windows on my PCs) but not sure about this example. Do you mean replacing the bright coloured grass in the corner, or something more ambitious? Any tips gratefully received.
 

Roger S

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Do you mean replacing the bright coloured grass in the corner, or something more ambitious?
Arjay, I believe Edward was talking about just that; the bright coloured grass just distracts from the beauty of the scene, so something like this?

Untitled - 1.jpg
 

arjay

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Ah - that's cool. I'll have a go myself tomorrow - thanks for the example
 

Snips

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Do you mean replacing the bright coloured grass in the corner
Exactly that and Roger has shown the example - you should be able to tackle that in GIMP without too much problem - check YouTube if you need a little assistance as I'm sure there will be a short and suitable video there.
 

David_MC

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Excellent shots. You did well to capture her in her habitat.
 

Mj224

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Great photos. I hope she was not hungry...:)
 

arjay

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Excellent shots. You did well to capture her in her habitat.
Thanks for the compliment. It took two days to find her. A tracker-guide and myself picked up her tracks in the afternoon on the first day and tracked her for two hours before losing her in the fading light. The next day - another 3 hours to find fresh tracks and then follow them for about 3 km before finally seeing her in the open. A big adrenalin rush after so many years trying for decent opportunities for a photo or two. :)

Great photos. I hope she was not hungry...:)
Actually, she probably was hungry, but her mind was on other things or it would have been very hard for us to get these shots. Luckily she, herself, was tracking a male leopard for different reasons. Once she was close to the male she rather ignored us.

Many people don't know that male leopards lead a completely solitary existence all their lives after being kicked out by their mothers at a young age. They establish and patrol a territory protecting it on their own for as long as fitness allows. The females have to find them in order to mate - pretty well the only time other than fighting that the males engage with another leopard. Mating occurs every 10-15 minutes or so for up to three days before the male takes off, leaving the female to bring up the cubs on her own. During mating neither will think much about hunting or eating - letting lucky folk like me observe them over enough time to grab a few pics.
 
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arjay

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Thanks to those who pointed out the need for a bit of cloning. Here are the two images after a bit of cleaning up.

leopard drinking 1024 (2).jpg


crouching leopard 1024 (2).jpg
 
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Snips

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Fantastic! Such a small thing can make such a major difference.
 

Mike Singh

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Beautiful photos! Keep posting your work!
 

rebel06

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I wish my first few images on here were as good as these.
 

arjay

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I thank all who posted positive comments. It has given me confidence to post some more work in the future.
 

Pete Larkin

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A great set of images with which to start your interactions with forum members. Particularly like the third one, looking at the camera, and might suggest a little lightening around the eyes to make them stand out a little more, and in the first just slightly taking down the brightness around the left side of the head and shoulders - only needs a touch.
 

arjay

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Pete - thanks for the hints. I see exactly what you mean. The thing is I have not ever partially done anything to an image - i.e. only just lightened or increased the contrast of the whole image. At the moment I only have the GIMP and darktable (just installed) so I will have to read up how to do what you suggest.

BTW - if and when I get a passable result - do I just upload it to the same thread? It is looking a bit messy already!
 

Pete Larkin

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Pete - thanks for the hints. I see exactly what you mean. The thing is I have not ever partially done anything to an image - i.e. only just lightened or increased the contrast of the whole image. At the moment I only have the GIMP and darktable (just installed) so I will have to read up how to do what you suggest.

BTW - if and when I get a passable result - do I just upload it to the same thread? It is looking a bit messy already!
Arjay...you are looking for Dodging and Burning instructions to get the effect. I would add it into thus thread, then you can see a progression in your work, which you will be able to access in the future
 

arjay

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Well I had a go at a'dodging and a'burning. Not sure how well though. First surprise was that the color used to fill in around the ear turned out to be gold. Finally figured that this was probably because it was the original (hidden) colour. However, the result looked over-saturated so i had to reduce that. Anyway I messed around for hours before somehow losing GIMP's dodge/burn box. Never got it back so decided to call it a day. Best I could come up with:

Female Leopard 1024 (2).jpg
 

arjay

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OK Pete, last one. Tried to give the crouching leopard a bit more "presence". Definitely looks more menacing and intense but any more dodging or lightening and it began to look false. Difficult to believe, now, that I was only 20 feet away:shocked:

crouching leopard 1024 (2).jpg
 

Pete Larkin

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Think you've done a great job Arjay! Much better for me
 

arjay

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Cheers that's a wrap as they say. Now on to the Lions - still got the better part of 1000 images. Don't worry - I won't inflict them on you hehe
 

arjay

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Fantastic! Such a small thing can make such a major difference.
I read in another forum post about the many challenges you are facing at the moment and it is more than generous of you to take the time to comment our photos. I hope you get through this time OK..
 
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