Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Isn't this a fascinating image? The orange creature is stealthily approaching the absent minded toad. In a split second it will attack and devour the poor animal. The tension! The drama! This is what wildlife photography is all about. National Geographic, I'm ready for signing my contract!

Well, in reality those two fellows are not natural enemies about to enter a fight for survival. They were in the same glass cage at an exhibition on amphibians at Porto Botanical Garden. They actually stood in that position for more than an hour - no, they are not made of plastic. Maybe they were engaged in some kind of staring contest...

But there is another reason why I find this photo interesting. It was taken without a tripod, using an extension tube, through a not very clean glass, under quite bad artificial lighting and at ISO 1600. I've made some  adjustments on the tone curve and white balance. The color noise in the final JPEG, which is quite evident at this ISO level on the E-P2, was filtered out with Neat Image. I'm impressed at how this software can preserve sharpness and detail on the in-focus areas, while the rest of the image is made absolutely smooth. Silkypix, the RAW editor I use for all my post-processing work, doesn't even get close to this, both in terms of final quality and ease of use. Ironically, I've never been too preoccupied with noise on my photos, but after trying Neat Image I found a particular pleasure in watching the graininess disappear. Of course, grain can be nice on some photos, I did not forget that.

Here's another 1600 ISO photo treated in the same manner and shot in the same location. By the way, that frog did not move much either.

Olympus E-P2 + Zeiss Sonnar 135/2.8 + extension tube

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