Bessy licks her lips

Bessy: Before and After

It’s the little things that spoil photographs. They distract and focus attention where it is not wanted, on imperfections rather than the subject. That’s where Photoshop comes in. My approach is always to retouch for need, not attention. Done well, you will never even know an image was edited. Case in point, this curious cow.

Here’s a quick Before and After to illustrate. This image was taken on a beautiful Summer day. The pasture was full of cows grazing contentedly (read: bored out of their skulls). This one ambled over to the fence running alongside the dirt track I was on, to see whether this new biped brought tasty treats or something to take her mind off the monotony of walking the same field for the past several hours. Spoiler alert, I didn’t. I simply took photos.

It’s a nice enough photo. One of many shot during an hour of simply listening to nature and cow watching. But there are things I wanted to change: The wire fence obscuring her face. The scraggly orange cow tail sneaking in on the right. And the agriculture ministry ear tag, which not only identifies this beast as livestock (bit of a downer), but in the right (or wrong) hands provides trackable biodata to anyone with access to the online database. Ever mindful of potential privacy issues, I don’t publish photos like that. So I blacked it out in this ‘Before’ shot.

I replaced the numerical data with a far friendlier (fooling nobody, I’m sure) name tag. Removed that swishing tail. And eliminated that annoying wire fence. The result is a cleaner and better image, which allows the eye to focus on other details like the flies buzzing around Bessy. Those curious, beautiful eyes. That tongue.

Photoshop is a tool which can achieve a lot, but subtlety should be the key word. I could have had Bessy here jumping over the moon, or put her on a surf board. I can and do do such things, for clients, but my preference is for edits to be less noticeable. Images should (I feel) be judged on their content, and edits should go unnoticed. When that happens I consider it a sign my work was good. People focus on the subject. Bessy.

Anyway, Bessy here deserves her moment in the sun. Her fifteen minutes of fame. Just because she isn’t a human model I don’t want to make her look unrealistic or silly. Not my style, not my taste. I can give her her moment without putting a hat on her, or giving her a lollipop. I’ll say it again: The best edits are the subtle ones.

Full size image of Bessy is available for your browsing pleasure HERE.
Where, of course, prints of this majestic creature are available. 🙂

Bessy licks her lips
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