Documentation vs Art

Here is a pair of photos showing the original image, straight out of the camera, versus the final image after processing and manipulation in Affinity Photo for iOS. In this case, the goal was not to document the bird for identification, but instead to create a more pleasing image for enjoyment and self expression.

My take is that each person will have their own preferences and limits when manipulating photos, and so long as they’re honest about their process and intentions, there is no right or wrong.

Here is a synopsis of the process I used to create this image:

  • Import the file into Affinity Photo on the iPad Pro.
  • Crop.
  • Open the develop module and adjust overall exposure, highlights, shadows, clarity, and saturation.
  • Duplicate the base layer.
  • On the duplicate layer, select the bird and limb, then convert  the selection to a layer mask. Now the bird and the background are on separate layers.
  • Apply sharpening to the bird layer (using unsharp mask).
  • Apply noise reduction to the background.
  • Add an HSL layer and pin it to the bird. Adjust the saturation and luminosity of the individual color channels on the bird.
  • Add an HSL layer and pin it to the background. Adjust the saturation and luminosity of the individual color channels on the background.
  • Using the clone brush, reduce the intensity of the highlights in the background, remove the extraneous limb, and clean up the area around the bird’s head.
  • Apply a vignette to the background layer.
  • Export to the Photo Library. 

And here’s the metadata:

  • Camera: Fuji X-T2
  • Lens: Fuji 100-400 f/4.5-5.6
  • Focal Length: 400mm (600mm equiv.)
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Shutter: 1/250 sec.
  • ISO: 5000
  • 12.9” iPad Pro
  • Apple Pencil
  • Affinity Photo for iOS