Personally I like this image a great deal and there have been many others express their connection to it as well – thank you to all those who’ve commented. I’ve put it up here before but I thought I’d offer some more insight into the thoughts and physical processes I went through to achieve it.
Interestingly, the final result is remarkably close to the vision I had within seconds of seeing the animal asleep. My wife and I were at Colchester Zoo on a very weather threatened day (actually we were soaked through in one of the short downpours that occurred throughout the day).
This Mandrill was dozing outside, in one of the all too short moments of sunshine. I instantly knew I wanted him, yes it is a male (in fact I think THE male of the group), I wanted him on a dark background. Unsure of how I’d achieve this, except that he would probably be removed from his surroundings, I wasn’t concerned with his environment at all. What was important was the expression and I wasn’t sure how much of the body would be needed to show this in the final image. So I made sure the whole animal was in shot.
The main problem with this was the distance he was away from me. I only have a Panasonic DMC-FZ18. It is a good quality, but still just really a point and click camera. The zoom was at maximum so focus was somewhat compromised. For those interested the settings were – 1/250sec @ ƒ/4.5 ISO 100.
Here’s the original (click for larger view).
The basic processes were…
1. to carefully mask the head and neck area to fade into a dark background. I also enhanced the colour a little by increasing the vibrancy and sharpened it as well to give the fur some structure again.
2. I created a rustic frame that was coloured in a way to blend, rather than clash too much with the colours in the mandrill. This also has the effect of enhancing the fur colour a little.
3. Finally I masked out some of the lower frame to add the illusion of the Mandrill resting on the bottom edge of it.
That’s really all there is to it… I know it isn’t much but the interest for me was the original idea, just a few seconds of seeing him settle on the rock. I am very pleased with the result as it is very close to my original thought without it being about 3 days work to achieve. Enjoy folks and if you’d like to see more (maybe even purchase one for yourself) come on over to my website and take a look.
By the way, you’ve still got a few hours left to get a poster for FREE just follow the instructions here.