Fixing A Dog Photo

Vizsla adjusted with Topaz Black and White
Vizsla portrait adjusted with Topaz Black and White

As I was playing around with the 100mm macro lens that my favorite boy toy lent me, I took pictures of all kinds of things (you can see more of them here and here).  Because I was learning to use it, at one point I switched back to my regular zoom lens for comparison and in the process, took a picture of the Vizsla on the deck.  The lighting was all off, but when I reviewed it later, the composition was good and I decided to see if I could salvage it.

So here’s the original:

Original Vizsla head shot

Whatever I was metering from, the dog is too dark and the background is too light.  I should have changed over to spot metering and blown out the background.

Using Lightroom, I corrected the lighting as best I could, cropped it down, and got this:

Cropped and adjusted for lighting, with a white vignette to cover up the edges
Cropped and adjusted for lighting, with a white vignette to cover up the edges

It’s not a bad photo, but the vertical beams on the deck railing bother me and so does the fence in the background.  I think it would have been better with a background that was totally unrecognizable.  I added a white vignette to it, which helps somewhat and draws your eye to the middle, which is his beautiful head and gray muzzle.

To experiment, I took the picture into Topaz Black and White.  I used the sepia presets and played with it more to successfully fade out the background.  Because he’s already brown, the sepia worked nicely, leaving some color in the head shot.  I also put a frame around the picture, using the eyedropper tool to pick a color in the picture.  In this case, I used his fur and thought it matched nicely for a frame.

Vizsla adjusted with Topaz Black and White
Vizsla portrait adjusted with Topaz Black and White

Ten years or more ago, I took an on-line class for Photoshop Elements (probably version 2 or 3).  One of the class projects was converting a picture to black and white using the selector tool and then putting a frame around it.  Frames weren’t automatic and you had to use layers to make one.  I was and remain proud of that photo of my baby Vizsla.

Can you tell that we never ever let him up on the couch?

Here’s some pictures from three years ago.  There’s some gray on his muzzle, but not much.

One of the contradictions I have with nurturing my creativity is spending enough time with the dogs.  They are quickly growing old and I don’t want regrets that I shut myself away in my home office after working all day and spent more time with the computer than with them.

Lately, my routine is to sit on the couch after supper and cuddle them until they’re reading to leave.  I’ll have a Vizsla plastered to my hip, a miniature pinscher on my lap, and a beagle sitting near my feet to get petted until he’s had enough.  That seems to work for all of us.  After about 30 minutes (give or take), they’re all ready to go to their beds.  They’ve had enough attention and when they leave, I go work on my pictures or my blog.

It was fun nurturing my creativity by salvaging a poorly lit but well composed head shot of the dog.  It was also fun to look at the old photos and show off that I have been post processing photos for a long time now.

To see everything I’m doing with my 31 Days of Nurturing My Creativity, click here.

To see what others are doing with their 31 Days project, click here.



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I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

12 Comments Leave a comment

  1. A few months ago I decided there are no bad shots – some just need a little fixin’ and fiddlin’. You know a lot more than I and much more successful. Great post. The top pix looks just like a you-paid-a-lot-of-money-for-this portrait

    • A lot of shots can be improved enough to be usable, although I’m still surprised at the occasional one that just can’t be fixed up. Thanks for the compliment – it seems like this year, my photo skills have really accelerated. And that top pic does look like something someone would pay for, doesn’t it? I hadn’t quite thought of that, but I think you’re right.

      Thanks for coming by!

  2. I’m no where close to using these editing skills yet. But have MANY pictures waiting for when I am. I will have the perfect ‘image’ I want to keep or share and have it ruined by the background. Onward we go, learning more! :)

    And the Favorite Dog Toys (play on Boy Toy there!) look like they love someone too. ;)

    • They are my favorite dog toys for sure! My Photoshop skills have come slowly. I think if my husband didn’t help me, I’d get a lot less done. But it’s been fun to improve them and try things out. Using the Topaz Labs filters helps a lot too.

      I did take off the picture of the dogs greeting me at the door. After looking at it this morning, I decided it needs to be in its own post. Maybe the beagle needs to write something up for it. . .

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