Better "Lemonade" With Filters

A "lemonade shot" is one that's not quite right (out of focus, too much noise, etc) that you improved upon by accentuating the fault.  This King Fisher is a great example.

The bird was not in sharp focus and was very far away which dictated a very deep crop - really making the noise stick out.  So to make some lemonade out to this, the following formula was used:

  • Heavy noise reduction, even on the bird, which served to further smooth it out
  • A softening filter to smooth it out even more (accentuating the lack of focus on the bird)
  • A "painterly" filter even further accentuating the softness of the image.

The final result is an "artistic" image that does a nice job of presentation.  Trying to fight the reality of this shot (working contrasts and details of the bird - followed by selective sharpening) would have resulted in a mediocre shot at best, most likely ending up in the trash.

Here as some great filter packages to checkout and play with.  Give em a try!

Stay in focus,


Make Lemonade!


It happens to all of us, amateur and pro a like, you think you have a great shot in the field, only to get home and find out it's just not quite right.  Maybe you blew the highlights a bit, or missed the focus, or . . .  take your pick, there's a whole bunch of possibilities.   So what to do now, trash it?

I don't think that should automatically be the next choice - at least not yet.  If the image has some character, let's get creative and try to save it.  Take a look at your image editor of choice (or plug-ins that work with it) and see what filters are available - just start playing around with the options - try black and white and go from there -  see what happens.  (Remember, you were probably ready to trash the shot anyway - so it's not like you are going to ruin it!)


The shot above was almost completely "bad lemons" (blown highlights and out of focus) but it had some character to it.  These fellows were having a gentleman's disagreement over a lady and the goose on the left seemed to be yelling directly in the other chaps ear.

This image was too cute, I had to do something to rehabilitate it.  My personal choice in filters is Nik Color Efex Pro and the primary effect in the goose image is an effect called "Glamour Glow".  Now it's still not a great image - but I like the personality it has.  If an image is technically perfect, but boring, there's not much you can do - but an interesting image will give you some latitude and allow some imperfections to be overlooked.

From the Soaring Artist’s Dictionary . . .
Bad lemons: all the sugar in the cupboard won't make these images sweet!  A really bad lemon usually has three or more critical flaws (the geese above have two) or a particular flaw that is exceptionally bad.  For example, if the focus was so terrible that you couldn't identify the critters as water fowl, than it probably wouldn’t qualify for lemonade!


Sometimes making lemonade isn’t about covering something up – occasionally it may be going with the flow.  The image above is an example of this, the in camera capture was out of focus.  Rather than try and make it “sharper”, I used a soft focus and a smooth portrait filter to accentuate the already out of focus image.  Once again, it certainly isn’t an award winning image – but I think it took and interesting image and made it pleasing.

Give it a try - the next time you end up with lemons, make some lemonade.  

Here are a few links to some creative filter packages, check out the trials and see what you think.

Nik Color Efex Pro

Nik Silver Efex Pro

Topaz Adjust

Stay in focus,