I took this picture on my honeymoon in Havre de Grace, Maryland. The squirrels on this boardwalk were not at all afraid of humans, and it shows. I would not be surprised if this guy had been hand fed a few happy meals this year.
A little bit about the GIMP processing on this file:
On my first POTW post (also of a squirrel), I included some comments about removing purple fringing from high contrast areas in the photo. I thought I'd give a little explanation of the more basic steps I used on this photo. These are pretty simple techniques that can make a lot of pictures look sharper and more contrasty. This picture just happened to look particularly abysmal to me before processing. So I thought it would be a good example.
1. Levels: I just hit the auto button in the levels tool in GIMP. Unless it's a very strange photo, the auto button usually gives results that I'm pretty happy with.
2. Curves: I just drag the curve down a little bit at the first quartile mark and up a little bit at the third quartile mark to make it slightly S-shaped. This increases contrast in the mid-tones of the image (while lowering contrast in the high lights and shadows.
3. HIRALOAM: This is a special use of the unsharp mask filter; it stands for HI RAdius LOw AMount. In this case I used a radius of 50 pixels (about 7% of the image width), with an amount of 0.12 (threshold=0). I don't do this to pictures that often. Its purpose is not to sharpen in the way unsharp mask usually does. Instead it provides a subtle contrast enhancement. I like the effect, but it's the most computationally intensive thing I did to this photo and probably has the least effect on the final appearance.
4. Unsharp Mask: This increases the appearance of sharpness of the image. Using a tripod would increase the actual sharpness. Unfortunately unsharp mask sharpens everything including noise. I used a radius of 2 pixels and an amount around 80% (threshold =0).