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Hello--

I have been reading through some of the photo critique threads, and really enjoy hearing everyone's opinions on image cleanup. As I have stated in a few previous threads, I am a complete novice when it comes to photography, aside from reading my camera manuals several times, and I have a few photos that I'm curious what other people think as far as cleanup:

This picture was originally taken from above the frog. He is attached to a window, and I had to steady the camera on the window above him. I rotated, cropped, and enlarged the photo, and adjusted the brightness and contrast to compensate for the cheap flash on the camera.

Here is the original:

This next photo I did a white balance in Camera RAW using one of the ladybeetle's black spots as a reference, a small crop, adjusted the brightness and contrast to bring out the beetle's spots (although I have noticed on some monitors the flower appears almost too bright), and a little sharpening:

This final picture I have done nothing to, because everything I do to it seems makes it look worse. It is from an old Kodak Advantix print that I can't find the film cartridge or CD to (hence, the print scan):

Again, I am just curious what people's different opinions are on cleaning up my photographs. Be as harsh and critical as need be; I'm pretty thick-skinned :). Besides, you can't learn what you're doing wrong unless someone tells you exactly what it is that you're doing wrong, right? Thanks for any and all input!

--Jordan

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Cleaning up? If you mean post processing (editing) of your photos, most photo editing software has a lot of tools you can use. It is all up to you as to which you are comfortable with and what you ant the end result is. There is an old photograhy trick called "dodge and burn". Where you darken (burn) or lighten (dodge) certain part to give your photo some highlights. You can Google more on this technique. 

I will comment on your flowers photo. Focus is good, DOF is can be better (using a bigger Aperture to get the background a little more out of focus).  Here I did a quick dodge and burn. I darken most of the photo except for the area where the lady bug is thus giving the highlight.

Here's your gray tree frog - I would suggest you take a class in film-darkroom, this will assist you in learning the basics of retouching such as "Burn & Dodge."

 

Sorry about your not being employed, but as you said now is a good time to indulge in some classes. As old and crusty as I am, and as many decades as I have been doing photography (over 5), I still take classes, go to seminars, and chat with as many knowledgable people as I can on those subjects that are of interest to me. Education is power, education eliminates the need to make 10,000 mistakes or as Edison said, " ... 10,000 ways that didn't work." If you can get into school and take classes that will advance whatever interest you have, then I say get into school ASAP and study hard and long.
Proud of you man. Study hard, learn all you can, pump the teacher for all the info you can get. Keep me posted on your progress.
Back a few decades ago, I made a deal with a used-book-dealer to buy all his photo books and magazine provided he'd buy them back when I was done with them. Worked out really well for both of us. Acquire as many photo books as you can, study them, learn from them, and always apply your new knowledge to your photography.
Many blessings

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