Brian's Photo Blog — Article 317
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Variations on The Cat Knows 2
Sunday 27 April 2014   —   Category: Processing
This morning I was reading the latest blog entry from one of my favorite photographers, Robin Wong in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Every photographer has his own style and niche, and Robin’s seems to be street photography, with little or no processing of the resulting pictures.

Besides the very captivating and striking images he posts month after month, I also like to read his blog because his primary camera is now the same as mine: an Olympus OM-D E-M5. As you can tell by the title of his post today — Lens of the Day: M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 — he was out taking shots with the new Olympus 25mm lens.

This was particularly interesting to me because I ordered this lens — the silver version — way back in mid-February. But because it’s so new it hasn’t been available until recently, and my very own copy of this lens will finally arrive in just two more days.

Anyway, when I came to the photo displayed below, entitled “The Cat Knows 2,” my first thought was that it might look better in black and white. This is a treatment that Robin sometimes gives to his images, as you can see in five of the photos featured in his article today. It sounded like an interesting exercise to download a copy of his picture, process it, and see if my idea was a good one or not.

Before I continue, let me say that even though I might be a bit presumptuous editing someone else’s work, I’m not in any way trying to judge or criticize Robin’s work or him as a photographer. Nor am I trying to set myself up as better than him. I simply love to process images, and when I came across this one, I saw some possibilities which intrigued me. I’m sharing the process and results with you in the hope that what I have done might help and inspire you in your own photo processing. Robin knows I have written this article, and he didn’t have any objections to it.

All of the image processing in the following photos was performed in Adobe Lightroom. You can click on each image to see a larger version.
Here is the original image as Robin posted it, which appeared in his blog article Lens of the Day: M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8.

Rather than being drawn to the cat, my eye is more drawn to the red color of the door area, and to the bright light in the back­ground.
This is a monochrome version of the above image, with no further processing. It resolves the issue of the eye being drawn to the large patch of red in the door area, but the eye is still drawn away from the cat to the very bright background.
Then the idea stuck me that instead of making the entire photo monochrome, I could use Light­room’s Graduated Filter Tool to apply mo­no­chrome proc­ess­ing gradually across the im­age. So, starting with the original image, I dragged the tool from left to right, and then made the following adjustments — High­lights: -100; Shadows: -33; Sat­u­ra­tion: -100. I moved the middle anchor point of the filter to the right so that it pretty much lines up with the hinges on the door.
I was intrigued and pleased with the direction things were headed, so I decided to press on with a few more tweaks. As a result of the previous adjustment, the right side of the image where the cat is became kind of dull and flat. So I added another Grad­u­at­ed Filter, this time starting on the right edge, and ending just to the right of the man’s hand on the door. The only setting for this filter was Highlights: 50. This restored some of the brightness to the right side of the photo.
In order to draw the eye to the black cat even more, I selected the Radial Filter Tool, and start­ing on the center of the cat, I made an oval with the left edge at the hand-truck wheel, the top edge somewhat under the top of the crate the other cat is in, and the right and bottom edges of the oval somewhat beyond the edges of the photo. The only ad­just­ment I made was Highlights: -100. This had the effect of darkening the rest of the image, while making it seem like a soft beam of light is falling on the black cat.
For the finishing touch, I reduced the Red Saturation to -30 for the entire image.
I’m showing the original image again, so you can easily compare it to the final image I created.
Well, I have to say that I really like the final image I have come up with, even though my tweaks are not perfect. The graduated monochrome effect is intriguing, even if it obviously does not reflect reality. But what IS reality anyway? That’s a subject for another article, so I won’t go there now!

Of course, we all have our own tastes, and you may very well prefer the original image. Or the monochrome version. Or one of the in-between images in my multi-step process. Vive la différence!

Hopefully this article has given you some ideas for processing your own photos and creating your own compelling works of art!
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 317
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