Sunday slide 37

American bobcat Lynx rufus drinking
This one’s only about seven years old I think, not too long before my slide shooting petered out in favor of digital. Well, not really in favor of, since I still like the color register of slides, but it became harder and more expensive to get them processed, and when doing the more demanding pursuits of macro, it was easier to a) shoot several frames to help ensure critical focus was nailed, and b) see that the lighting was working the way I needed it.

Anyway, this is a bobcat (Lynx rufus) in the NC Zoological Park in Asheboro, NC. I have seen bobcats in the wild, twice, both times so fleetingly that I never even started the motion to bring a camera to bear. Maybe someday, but they’re very scarce around here and I’m rarely spending time in an area where they’re more common. Even when they’re common they’re not, tending to be secretive and more nocturnal, much like the foxes, which we do have in this area and I yet have no photos of. Crappy video, yes, but no photos.

However, this is also an edited photo, since the flash was mounted on the hotshoe of the camera and produced really bright reflections from those eyes. The original, in fact, looks like this:

American bobcat Lynx rufus drinking, without editing
This comes from having the flash too close to the lens and getting a direct reflection from the retina, and can vary depending on how close the subject is and how dilated their pupils are. Usually, I know when this is going to happen and can take steps to prevent it, but sometimes you take what you can get, and getting the flash off-camera on a cord to get outside of the reflectance angle would have required a second person to do the aiming of the flash, and I had only moments to get the shot.

But I want you to go back to the first and look carefully at the eyes, because this is something that is often missed when “red-eye removal” is done. You can’t simply black out the entire reflection and expect it to look natural, because eyes very frequently have natural reflections from the surface, called a catchlight. Those bright spots need to remain to look right, so your editing needs to take this into account. It often takes a bit of practice and some familiarity with more-than-basic editing functions, like de-selecting the outer surface reflections after selecting the retinal reflections, and fuzzing the edges of the selection to prevent unnaturally sharp edges. Not to mention being sure that both eyes are aligned right and you don’t have one reflection skewed further from center than the other to produce a crosseyed or walleyed effect [spellcheck doesn’t like “crosseyed” but is just fine with “walleyed” – go figure].

If and when I get my ‘true wild’ shots of a bobcat, they’ll likely be much worse than this because the conditions will be demanding, yet at the same time they’ll be, you know, true wild shots, and I’ll be more proud of them.

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