Me with my muse, Bailey!

About Allison Shamrell Photography:

Thanks for visiting my blog! My name is Allison, and I work in San Diego, CA, capturing the personalities of dogs and cats of all sizes & temperaments. I do photo sessions on location and in-studio, wherever my clients prefer! My photography style is natural, playful & soulful.

Here on my blog, I tell the stories of recent sessions and events. You might even find an insight or two into the behind-the-scenes side of my business! I hope you have fun looking around!

If you would like to receive a quick little email to let you know when I publish a new post, see the button at the bottom left of this page! Thanks! :)

619-357-6624  ~  ~  3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116

Officially Voted the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego, 2014-2017, by the San Diego A-List.

Behind the Scenes: Editing & Post-Processing an Image

Today you get to see the details of one of the many things I do for my clients: post-processing the images from their session! (Blog subscribers: were you surprised to see this pop up in your email on a Sunday? True to my latest Facebook post, college football season means I’ve switched my non-work, family day from Sunday to Saturday. And thank goodness the Irish started the season with a W. So here we go!)


It’s a common misconception that a photographer’s session fee is simply for their time & talent during the session itself. Not true – not even close! All photographers have different policies and processes, but to give you an idea of how I work, I can tell you that my session fee includes: the Pre-Session Consultation, my prep time for the session, my travel time to/from the location, my time & talent during the session itself, time spent editing and perfecting your images, prep time for our Ordering Session, all the communication via phone/email we’ll share to coordinate everything… the list goes on.


Each activity could be its own blog post, but today I’m concentrating on just one item on that list: time spent editing and perfecting your images. During a session, I take more photos than I share with my clients in their final gallery, because the more selection I have to work with (to a point), the more effectively I can whittle down to the absolute best-of-the-best images! So it’s a two-step process: I’m not only picking out the most wonderful photos amongst everything I come home with, I’m taking those photos and making them look their best. Sometimes they come out of the camera looking great and I hardly make any adjustments at all – but that would make for a pretty boring blog post! So I decided to start with a photo that Facebook page subscribers might remember from a couple of weeks ago, which I took of the image display on the back of my camera with my iPhone. Our subject is King Bailey the rottweiler and this is the post as it appeared on Facebook:

Post-processing blog about digitally enhancing a dog's photo from straight out of the camera.


It’s cute – and you can see the depth of field even in this ridiculously-low-resolution photo – but there’s plenty of work to be done before I want to show this image to Melissa & Brian, King’s parents.


First: here’s the photo in RAW format as I opened it on my computer.

Post-processing blog about digitally enhancing a dog's photo.


My first round of edits occurs in Adobe Camera RAW, a program that works alongside Photoshop. Here you can see I’ve opened it up and am ready to start working on it. (Other photos that I also worked on are in the sidebar and in the background.)

Post-processing blog about digitally enhancing a dog's photo.


My first thought was that the image was slightly too dark for my taste. (My style doesn’t really have that “dark & mysterious” vibe…) So I brightened it up! Big difference already!

Post-processing blog about digitally enhancing a dog's photo in Adobe Camera RAW.


And I noticed I was holding my camera a bit crooked (I always do this! Gah!) so I cropped it with a slight tilt. I also took out Brian’s hand (in the upper left corner) since it wasn’t really important to the image; I want all the focus to be on King for this one. A tighter crop helps achieve that as well.

Post-processing blog about digitally enhancing a dog's photo.


I don’t need to use the capabilities of Adobe Camera RAW too much for this photo, so I’m ready to bring it into Photoshop. Here it is – in the nice new interface of CS6 (Photoshop’s latest version)!

Post-processing blog about digitally enhancing a dog's photo in Photoshop.



First order of business: add a bit of extra sparkle to King’s deep brown eyes. This change is a subtle one but I think bright eyes can really help bring a photo to life. Photoshop is great for targeted, specific edits that don’t affect the entire photo, so that’s why I’m doing it here instead of Adobe Camera RAW. (Yes, fellow photographers, I know I could get a similar result in ACR, but this is quicker & more precise for me.)

Post-processing blog about digitally enhancing a dog's photo.



Next: can you see what’s disappearing? Link by link, I’m taking King’s collar out. This, in my opinion, is what Photoshop was invented for! (haha!) Safety comes first, especially in public places, so if the dog’s owners aren’t comfortable taking their dog off-leash, it’s totally fine by me. But not all owners care to see a distracting collar or leash in all their photos, so while it’s not possible to take these out in every circumstance, I like to do it when I can.

Post-processing blog about digitally enhancing a dog's photo in Photoshop CS6.



Adios, collar! The trickiest part was removing the tags at the bottom of the frame, because A) they were the biggest part of the chain, and B) they overlapped from King’s leg to the railroad behind him. So I essentially had to create that part of the photo from scratch. But with some patience it can look 100% realistic!

Post-processing blog about digitally enhancing a dog's photo.



Last but not least, I wanted to eliminate one more distracting element: the little slobber bubbles that formed on King’s whiskers. I just think he looks more handsome without them! And this is a good example of what my clients never even expect me to do in post-processing; I take care of things they never even think about upon seeing the final photo, but they’re things that all contribute to making that final image look the BEST it possibly can.

Post-processing blog about digitally enhancing and finalizing a dog's photo.



And now I’m done! I’ll include a watermark (why watermark? that post is coming soon!) and the photo is finally ready to reveal to my clients! Here’s the before & after comparison:

Before and after dog photography example.


Some things never changed: the fact that King is in focus and the background fades softly out of focus; the sharpness & detail so you can see the texture of his fur; the general crop of the image. These are things I control in-camera, and it’s taken a long time to develop these abilities to make the straight-out-of-camera image look very similar to the finalized, edited image. So while Photoshop can’t fix/change EVERYTHING, I love it and absolutely consider it an essential piece of equipment to my business.


(Fellow photographers might be surprised that I don’t utilize Lightroom, another one of Adobe’s image editing softwares. I just don’t! I’ve never gotten accustomed to it and ACR works smoothly with my workflow. Photoshop is my editor of choice, and I’ve gotten quick enough at keyboard shortcuts and using a mouse that – gasp! – I don’t even use the tablet my wonderful husband gave me for my birthday last year. I know, I know – it’s crazy. Let the stoning commence…)


But anyways, I hope you enjoyed this post for a change of pace and a peek behind the scenes! More posts like this one are coming soon… thanks for reading! :)


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Allison Shamrell Pet Photography
Call: 619.357.6624 // Email: // Visit: 3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116
San Diego's Best Pet Photographer, voted by the San Diego A-List 2014-2016
© Allison Shamrell Photography, 2016

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2 Responses to “Behind the Scenes: Editing & Post-Processing an Image”

  1. There will be no stoning!! ;) I have heard that the tablet rocks but I LOVE my iMac trackpad for editing. I guess it’s because I got used to editing on my laptop with I first started learning and so that is what I know. I actually met someone once that uses a mouse with that ball thing on the thumb part to edit….yikes! I couldn’t imagine…but whatever works! :)

    • Allison says:

      Thanks Nicole! I got my start with editing in college, on the newspaper staff, and they didn’t have any fancy tablets/trackpads for us :) so I guess that’s why I’m so comfortable with a mouse! I think that ball-mouse-hybrid thing would give me carpal tunnel…

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