Photoplus for the Wildlife Photographer

Serif PhotoPlus

Serif PhotoPlus is a powerful image editing alternative for you as a wildlife photographer, especially if Photoshop is understandably beyond your budget. There is a substantial price difference so it is well worth considering.

It works on the same principle of non destructive editing using layers – the background layer will remain the original untouched image.

The whole enjoyment of wildlife photography is being outdoors seeing animals, so getting as much right in the field goes without saying. However post production is still a vital part of the wildlife photographer’s workflow for making minor adjustments and corrections.

My workflow involves using Adobe Lightroom to organize my photos and most of the adjustments I tend to make. However, some adjustments just can’t be done in Lightroom, which is where PhotoPlus comes in.

Here we will look at a few of these adjustments – Black and White conversion, Extending the canvas and Creating Panoramas so that you can get a good idea of how easy it is to use.

Black and White Conversion

In 2012 Serif ran a photo competition. My entry of a Pelican reached the finals in the nature category. It was converted to black and white quickly and easily despite me being new to Photoplus. This is because I could simply repeat the things I knew from Photoshop.

before after

An effective black and white conversion blends each color channel by different amounts. Dragging the slider decreases or increases each color. There’s no right or wrong answer, just play with the amounts noticing how each one affects the image.
photoplus wildlife example
PhotoPlus X5

Extending The Canvas

During a golden sunrise I managed to capture this flying swan silhouetted. It is let down by the fact that the empty space is behind the swan. The composition would be stronger if you could see the empty space it was flying into. and turn this …..

Mute Swan Flying Out of the Frame
Mute swan in flight

into this ………

Mute Swan Flying Into the Frame
Mute swan flying

Resulting in a stronger composition with the bird flying into the space.

The video below shows how to do this with a series of edits using the deform tool to stretch part of the canvas.

Despite its similarity to Photoshop, some of the useful tools aren’t where you’d expect.  Clicking the Photofix button opens up a useful dialog. Here you will find the mask brush where you can paint a selection.

As an example here I have painted a selection over a red kite flying.
Photoplus painting a selction mask

This now means that any adjustments only affect the bird not the sky. I can make the subject pop by increasing the sharpness of the bird. A better approach than sharpening the whole image which could reveal noise in the sky.

Creating Panoramas

As a bonus, it comes with another software program called Panorama X4. This automatically stitches photos together to make a panoramic image. It can even turn photos into a scrolling video.

The below image of a field of mute swans is made up of 3 photos stitched together. The swans were moving as I took the photos but the software still managed to stitch the together. I like the effect this has given. It looks similar to a slow shutter speed shot with the blur to show movement.

Photoplus panorama from 3 stitched photos
Panoramic image of a field of mute swans

Pros

  • Good black and white studio mode
  • PhotoFix dialog has an intelligent masking option, great for selecting and editing local part of image.
  • Layers, levels and curves is all there just like Photoshop.
  • Panoramic stitching software is a great bonus.

Cons

  • If price is disregarded Photoshop is superior.
  • If you haven’t used Photoshop there’s a bit of a learning curve.

PhotoPlus X6 from Serif can be found by clicking here. PhotoPlus X5