by Jim Zuckerman
Sometimes photographers are reluctant to use Photoshop to manipulate nature photography. They often feel it's 'cheating' or misrepresenting what actually occurred. There are times, though, where Photoshop's magic can overcome the fact that the laws of optics (which really mean the laws of physics, which represents the make up of our Universe) fail us. For example, the attached image was taken with a 500mm f/4 telephoto. The depth of field with these lenses is extremely shallow when you fill the frame with a subject like I did here. The large tree branch below the leopard was about 6 feet closer to me than the cat was, and therefore it was impossible to get both the animal and the branch in focus. A very small lens aperture might have done it, but shooting from a vehicle without a tripod made a long exposure unfeasible.
Therefore, since f/4 didn't give me enough depth of field, I took two photos. For the first picture I focused on the branch, and for the second I focused on the leopard. Then, in Photoshop, I put the two images together. The attached picture is exactly what I saw with my eyes, but the lens couldn't do it.