two best improvements

2012 marched in and out with the usual fanfare. At the shelter the dogs, cats and other creatures just keep on coming. So I continue on with photography every week to help capture images of the amazing animals of the Roanoke Valley SPCA. So as far as photography, what is the one thing that improved my photos during 2012? Actually there are two very big things that have leaped the photos forward.

Lightroom (Lr)

Not sure why I waited so long to buy Lightroom (Lr). The cost is relatively low at $150. It is an amazing photo handling program.  You can use it directly after install and as you learn more and more about the program your photo will just keep getting better and better. For me the first great advantage was the preview. Before Lr, I would download every single photo and edit through Irfranview (a wonderfully free software). It was time-consuming and over time ate up a large chunk of storage for photos that I keep meaning to go back and delete. For each animal I tend to sh0ot about 60 – 100 shots.  I know overshooting. But with the storage capacities of both my  32 GB memory card and a very nice Stora external storage, it wasn’t too much of a concern.  75photos x 10 animals per week = 750 photos per week x 52 in a year = 39,000 photos.

And that is 39,000 photos with about half not being editable. The animal is looking the wrong way, running out of the shot, too much blur (not in a good way), or a variety of other undesirable shoots. With Lr I can quickly import only the shots that actually have a chance at being edited for the website and dump the rest.  I think I just heard Stor give a big sigh of relief.

Once inside the program, the controls are amazing. Clone or heal quickly corrects imperfections and even the dreaded eye booger. Rotation and crop are a dream to use.  Exporting and saving the final images in the format the shelter wants it is ten times easier and quicker. Overall, the time saved gives me back time every week.

Bob Cat 93711250mm f1.8 prime lens

One of the other ladies at the shelter that takes pictures other days bought this same lens and I immediately had lens envy.  I could not stand it and ran right out and bought one for myself.  The improvement in both of our photos was tremendous.  There is a little learning curve to the 50 mm distance.  Everything is much closer. So the set up for the cats had to be modified a bit. That so far has been the only negative, which isn’t really a negative just an adjustment. To accommodate the closeness we simply backed up a bit and sometimes stand on a step-ladder. The amount of light this new lens lets in helps in the low light situation in the puppy room. And the bokeh effect is STUNNING.  Bokeh is the blur to the background seen in most professional portraits. By blurring Bob Cat’s paws the emphasis is directed to his face and those eyes. The great thing about bokeh in your photography is that all that shelter clutter just blurs out to the point of obsolete, storage boxes, trash cans, handlers, power lines, etc…

So here is to the future improvements of 2013, where I expect the dog, cats and other creatures to keep coming and the photos to keep getting better every day.

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