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As Darkness Creeps In

Photography is all about light. Working with light, shaping light and shadows. In studio and controlled settings, photographers try to get the perfect exposure and noise levels in camera - meaning we don't expect to do any extreme editing, it should come out very close to how we visualized the shot. Shooting wildlife and nature photos, we don't get studio lighting control. Wildlife sometimes means shooting pictures even when the light is far from ideal.


I ventured out to find a tiny screech owl just as the late fall sun was setting. As the owl opened its eyes preparing to wake for nighttime hunting, I clicked away. My camera settings were pushed as far as I dared in the near darkness. Could I save the photos under such challenging conditions? (note: I do not use flash or artificial lighting for wildlife)


When I looked at the photo on my computer screen, it was very dark, and very noisy. Noise is what we called "grain" in film photography - the somewhat fuzzy distortions that we try to minimize so they don't degrade the image's quality.


I knew I'd have some work to do - I wasn't sure that the photo was salvageable.

In addition to my editing software - Lightroom and Photoshop - I also have some programs designed to recover images with high noise levels and low light. This was probably the darkest and noisiest picture I'd ever attempted to edit, but I had to try.


Did it work? What do you think?




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