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Echidna in Black and White

Another image of the resident Echidna who was wandering my parents back yard looking for some Ants to eat. This image was captured (from a distance) with a Nikon D610 and a Tamron 150-600mm @ 600mm. The Image was a three stack HDR which was initially edited in Aurora HDR (Base image 1/320 seconds, f/6.3, ISO 2500), then was tweaked in Luminar AI (AI Enhance and AI Structure) and finished off in the DxO Silver Efex Pro 2 (part of the Nik Collection) to convert to Black and White.

I used a few different packages to edit this image, each for a slightly different reason:

I started off with doing a HDR stack using Aurora HDR to bring out some of the details in the highlights and shadows, I used Aurora HDR because it is an industry leader and their Quantum Engine brings out so much in images even using default settings. Even though the image was always intended to be a black and white image, I thought it was still valuable to bring out those details as that all contributes to the subtlety of black and white images.

I then brought the image into Luminar AI and used manually edited the image. I used the Accent AI tool to improve the overall exposure and contrast and then used Structure AI to bring up some of the details. This was generally to improve the overall quality of the image. In reality you could have used Luminar 4 to achieve the same thing given the specific tools I was using.

The final part was the black and white conversion. Because conversion to Black and White is much more than just removing color I used a specialised plugin from the Nik Collection 2 called Silver Efex Pro 2 which in my view is one of the best conversion plugins. This plugin converts images into Black and White but retains some of the tonality, contrast and much more. In this image I used Underexposed as a preset and then increased the brightness slightly, finally I used control points (which is powered by the U-Point technology) around the back of the Echidna to reduce the brightness and try and focus the viewers attention back onto the Echidna rather than some of the more bright areas behind the Echidna.

I also fed the image through Topaz Sharpen AI just to improve sharpness. Because I shot the image handheld using a longer focal length it meant the image was a little bit softer than I would have liked. Topaz Sharpen AI determines which parts of the image would benefit from improving sharpness whilst not affecting those areas that don’t need improvement rather than applying a global adjustment.

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