Sprinky was on the kitchen table performing a very good impression of a ‘Flat Cat.’ Flat Cat is a term we use to describe the Maine Coons’ habit in warm or hot weather of trying to meld with a cool surface. They do this by maximizing their surface area in contact with the object they are laying on, giving them a flattened appearance.
I saw the picture as I was ‘getting my steps in’ on one of my regular walks around the house. Unfortunately, when I returned to the kitchen, camera in hand, Sprinky woke up and started taking an interest in what was going on. So no flat cat picture.
It was only when processing the picture I realized just how old Sprink is starting to look. She is allowed, she’s fifteen, on various meds, and a survivor of fifteen+ bb gun pellets, several of which she still carries, as the vet felt that the operation to remove them would be too dangerous. (aside: the person who shot her has had a stroke and is now confined to a wheelchair. I — not so — secretly hope she’ll outlive him).
I decided to use this picture for a processing experiment and produced five different variations.
Above – My Favorite Treatment
In addition to the cropping and the removal of a distracting mark on the wall that I applied to all the variations; this picture uses the Fuji Camera Classic Chrome Profile, additional sharpening, the contrast has been increased and stretched using shadow uplift and highlight reduction; I’ve applied a slight vignette (I’m addicted to vignettes at the moment) and I warmed the white balance.
Out of Camera
This picture is straight out of camera with standard Adobe raw image processing apart from cropping and the removal of a distracting mark on the wall.
Black and White
Who cannot like a black and white picture? I took my favorite version, converted it to black and white. The image needed to be lightened more and the blacks enhanced. I didn’t need to selectively adjust the different color channels.
This and faux Lomo are my favorite ‘cutsie’ treatments. The contrast has been reduced and the black level raised using Tone Curves, and Split Toning applied — blue to the shadows and yellow to the highlights.
There is another aged photo effect — which involves lightening the picture, reducing the contrast and really boosting the magenta content, but I didn’t produce a version with that effect.
This appears to be one of the most popular modern processing effects. And I’ll have to say it works a lot better with back-lit portraits than cats lying on a table in a dark kitchen. The contrast has been reduced and the black level raised using Tone Curves, no split-toning, and no vignette. I confess that the wide adoption of this processing technique is one reason why I decided not to venture back into commercial photography. In small doses, it is fine — but whole albums of it? I suspect that in twenty years’ time a lot of recent brides and grooms are going to wish they’d opted for more traditional processing of their wedding pictures.
Copyright © 2017 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.