Challenge! Digital Darkroom Derby #79 - Closed - Winners Announced

griffljg

Regular
Location
Lota, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Name
Larry Griffiths
Start Date: 16 Nov 2022
End Date: 21 Nov 2022


Start date : 16 November 2022
End date: 21 November 2022 @ 06h00 Brisbane time.

This is Digital Darkroom Derby #79, a digital image editing/processing challenge.
Please read the rules here.
Short version: Host provides the challenge image and selects the winner, who then becomes the next host.

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I have thought that, before submitting an image for a Digital Darkroom Challenge, you should first make certain that the image is (1) interesting and (2) is at least of a reasonable standard. But what happens if you have struggled to find the subject and the conditions weren't exactly conducive to photographing the subject? Should you just "bin" the image(s)? Or should you keep trying, but retain the "best of a bad bunch" until you manage to find something better, if ever?

I retained the proverbial "best of a bad bunch", recognising that this opportunity would probably never come to me again.......

In late 2012, I returned to my native South Africa for the first time in 18 years. A high school reunion called me. I did a fairly thorough tour of my old stomping grounds and visited many old friends. A couple of days after the reunion, I was sipping a cold beer with Dave, an old friend from Wankie (now "Hwange") Power Station construction days in Zimbabwe in the early 1980s. Dave's wife suggested "You two haven't seen each other for over 20 years. Why don't you go down to the Kruger National Park for a few days and see what you can spot?"

A "Boys Trip" for a couple of middle aged men? We were off the next day! I drove down to the southern end of the Kruger Park, before Dave took over the driving, so that I could look for game and take photographs.

We joked that we were going on the hunt for the "BIG 5" (Lion, elephant, cape buffalo, rhinoceros and leopard), even though conditions were against us. - There had been a lot of rain recently and the vegetation was green and lush, making it very difficult to see the few animals which came down to near the edge of the road.

Much to our surprise, we saw four of the BIG 5 on our first afternoon. The only one missing was the leopard. This was not exactly unexpected, as leopards tend to be primarily nocturnal.

On the second day, we were driving slowly along looking for game, when we saw a number of cars parked on the side of the road. Dave wound down his window and asked the driver of a car which was slowly departing what was going on. "Leopard on the horizontal branch of that far tree" was the whispered reply.

Dave pulled the car over to the side of the road and I spotted the leopard on the branch of the far tree. "I just KNEW I should have brought a longer lens!", I remember thinking. The longest lens which I had with me was an Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL 70-300mm 1:4.0-5.6, which on a camera with a 4/3 sensor, has a crop factor of 2 when compared to a 35mm "full frame" camera. With my old Olympus E-3's 10.1 megapixel sensor, opportunities for cropping were seriously limited. Also, there were many stray branches obscuring my view of the leopard.

Dave manoeuvred the car backwards and forwards to try to give me the best possible view and I fired off a few shots. None were particularly satisfactory. - The framing wasn't quite right. Or there was too much backlighting. Or there were branches or leaves in the way. Or the autofocus locked in to a branch or leaf...... But this was probably the best of a bad bunch.

I would like to see if any of you can retrieve this image. ;) For reasons stated above, I was reluctant to throw it away.

PB260220.jpg
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JPG and ORF raw files can be found on DropBox here. Please let me know if you can't download them.
 
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Stiga

Regular
#1 Phew! That was a PP marathon

1. PL6 > lens coreection and crop
2. Topaz Gigapix x4 - this make dodge, burn, delete and clone-stamp much easier in the next step
3. PS/ACR - too many steps to report but I really wanted to remove the fuzzy green leaves near to the leopard's head
4. Luminar AU for sky replacement
5. Back into PS/ACR for minor adjustment & resize - then Topaz Sharpen AI

NoGreenSpldge5500w+tweaked copySharp.jpg
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gecko

Veteran
Location
North Carolina
Name
Rashid
I enjoyed reading the story of taking the photo. I edited the raw file in DxO PL5 (basically DeepPrime NR, did not fiddle with light levels as I found it easier to do that in Elements) then tried to adjust lighting, etc. in Elements and Topaz Photo AI and ON1 Effects plug-ins (fiddled too much to remember what I did).

PB260220_DxO-1IdcLL11.jpg
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griffljg

Regular
Location
Lota, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Name
Larry Griffiths
Once again thank you for all who entered and put in a great amount of effort. It made picking out a winner especially difficult. ;)

When I first took this photo, I wondered whether I could get anything even remotely useable out of it. Over the years, as photo processing software has evolved, I have continued to use this photo as a "test bed" and kept trying to process it to reflect the scene as I remember it, while still bringing out the details of the leopard. I was most impressed to see that quite a few entries improve on my own best efforts. Some of the more "artistic" interpretations were, for me, interesting and thought provoking.

In the final analysis, I resorted to my time honoured method of scrolling scrolling backwards and forwards through the photos to see which ones which had me thinking: "Now that looks great!".

These are the results as I saw them:

  • Second Runner-Up: @Stiga #1 - Now this is one I would like to print and hang up on my wall. Not at all like what I remember seeing, but still an interesting and eye-catching interpretation.

    I had a great amount of difficulty choosing between the First Runner - Up and the Winner...........

  • First Runner-Up: @Irene McC - Now this is how I remember it being. - Just the right amount of exposure correction, noise reduction and sharpening.

  • Winner: @kae1 Entry #1 - As for @Irene McC 's entry, but with just a bit more contrast and saturation, which gave the image a bit more "pop".

Congratulations @kae1 . Over to you now.
 

Stiga

Regular
Many thanks for placing me in the final shortlist. I much enjoyed working on this images and regret tnot entering a 2nd PP. IMHO, images like this are well-worth a bit of effort whereas the "no hope" shots are are a waste of space and time - there is one like this in another place right now!
 
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