While getting everything right in camera is definitely the way to go, sometimes a little more work is necessary. In many cases processing a RAW image in Lightroom is enough, but these are examples where a little more work was required after that to remove distracting elements. I also gave them a little more attention while they were open in Photoshop just to make them really shine.
The first was a client’s dog. These cane corsos are super stunning, even more so in real life, but this one had some minor eye goop going on as well as some dust in his coat. While this is doggy reality, it still detracts from the photo as a whole. His owner was holding onto him with a lead as well so I removed that from the photo.
The second was a quick shot I took while at a pet expo so had no control over the dog’s grooming. At the time he looked clean, but on further inspection at home I realised he’d either walked past some wet paint or eaten yoghurt for lunch! Editing out his lead was also necessary.
As a final step for both photos I also made some more subtle edits using dodging and burning in Photoshop, tricks that were born in the darkroom but live on in the digital world and remain extremely relevant. They can be used to contour human faces and change where the eye is drawn to in a photo and so much more. To say they’re useful is an understatement!
I often also selectively applied different levels of contrast to elements like eyes and fur. Contrast can be applied globally, but sometimes it’s too little or too much for the entire shot, so it’s best to tailor this to the photo.
Like contrast, additional sharpening is sometimes best done selectively. For example I’d rather not sharpen an out of focus background when it’s already lovely and smooth, but giving a little bit extra to elements such as eyes is really beneficial.
Now, in making these changes it doesn’t mean that a good looking photo isn’t required to begin with! A beautiful photo starts in camera every time. You’ll also notice that some of these changes aren’t obvious and that’s exactly the point. For a natural looking shot edits made in Photoshop should be difficult to spot; the idea is to enhance the photo without making it look overworked.
For more information about using masking in Photoshop to selectively apply effects (and so much more!), Phlearn has a nice introductory video on the topic.