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Thread: My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

  1. #1
    Soozie B's Avatar
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    My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    Hi Everyone,

    My goodness doesn't a week in the life of a duckling make a change? There are still 8 of them (thank goodness)) and they are now quite mobile although mum and dad are still extremely protective. In the last shot dad fluffed his feathers in an attempt to intimidate me and scare me away. I apologise for the very earthy tones, however, where they are residing is full in red clay, rocks and mud, and if I interfere with the colour in PP too much I may lose something in the translation (and I am not clever enough yet to do it).

    C&C welcome as always :-)

    1.
    My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives
    Hen and Chicks by Soozie_Lou_B, on Flickr

    2.

    My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives
    Flap those tiny wings by Soozie_Lou_B, on Flickr

    3.

    My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives
    Stay Away from my Babies by Soozie_Lou_B, on Flickr

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    Quote Originally Posted by Soozie B View Post
    I apologise for the very earthy tones,...
    Don't. That's what it looks like and you're reproducing it. In images like this, I think you've got to go for reality. You're documenting the life of the family of ducks and, to do that, you're showing the environment in which they live.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soozie B View Post

    My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives
    I think, compositionally, that is a beauty.

    The reeds are perfectly exposed. But do you think that, as a result, the birds and the water are maybe a bit too bright?

    If so, there are lots of ways of thinking about adjusting that. That's all part of the portfolio of post-processing knowledge and skills that can be worked upon. One idea (and I hope you don't mind me illustrating it), is a to burn along the bottom just to, hopefully in a subtle way, darken it up.

    My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    Click on this to view it in the Lightbox and then use the arrows to flick between your original and my re-work, so that you can compare them.

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    Soozie B's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    Hi Donald,

    Thanks firstly for forgiving the very real redness to the shots as natural (I wasn't sure if natural was always what people wanted to see), and I never mind anyone illustrating to me how my shots can be improved. In a desperate attempt to improve quickly, I am open to all types of feedback, the good-bad-and ugly hehe.

    The photo of mum and chicks in a line is a beauty isnt it? When I saw it through the lens I just knew that it was a picture worth showing even though my presentation might need a bit of tweaking. I will sit down and closely look at the differences you have made in an attempt to get my head around it.

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    Soozie B's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Click on this to view it in the Lightbox and then use the arrows to flick between your original and my re-work, so that you can compare them.

    Ok so how did you make the ducks and below darker without changing the reeds? I'm impressed and completely lost as to how you managed it

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    Quote Originally Posted by Soozie B View Post
    Ok so how did you make the ducks and below darker without changing the reeds? I'm impressed and completely lost as to how you managed it
    There are various ways to do Dodging and Burning. Each software package has it's own twist on the tools and, even within any single post-processing software, there are different ways in which you can achieve the same end. The thing is that you are only applying the effect to the bit of the image that you want to change. The rest just stays the same. It's selective editing.

    I use the GIMP, the free-to-use, open-source package. It has a 'dodge and burn' tool, which I don't use. Instead what I do is:
    • Add a new transparent layer
    • Change it into 'Overlay' mode
    • Select a soft-edged brush and set the brush opacity to 10%
    • Choose black (for burning) or white (for dodging)
    • Gently, with even strokes, brush over the area you want to impact upon. Do it in one application (i.e. don't lift the brush from the image; i.e. don't release the left click on your mouse (or lift the pen if you're using a tablet) in order to keep an even coverage.
    • repeat the last step as many times as you want to build up the effect - the more times you go over the area with your black brush the darker that area will become


    All this talk of layers and modes and opacity, and brushes etc etc is all something for learning. Three years ago I had never seen any of this stuff and did not have a clue how to do any of it. If I can learn how to do it, then anyone can.

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    Re: My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    Donald and Soozie

    Another simple way to do this is to create an exposure adjustment layer.

    Duplicate background - CNTRL J
    Create exposure adjutment layer - 1 stop or half stop underexposed (will darken the whole image)
    The adjustment layer automatically has a mask
    Now overlay a "black to white" or "white to black" gradient over the mask to the level you want.
    In this case about a 1/4 of the way up will do it.

    This technique is a simple PP way of appying a neutral gradient filter and it takes all of 30 seconds. You can redraw the gradient as many times as you like until you get it perfect.

    Soozie - what type of ducks are they? I also love the first image. Very strong composition. Most people would have left too much water at the bottom. Well done.

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    Soozie B's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    Thanks Mark for the accolades as well as the instructions.

    I shall try Donald and your method and see if I can manage either.

    As to the breed of these little cuties, they are the Australian Wood Duck from best I can work out. There is about 15 of them co-habitating with around 10 Mallard ducks in a man made lake around the corner from where I live.

    The saddest thing about all these ducks being so close is that these 8 ducklings seem to be the only babies. Lets hope there are a few late breeders amongst them all!

  8. #8
    Soozie B's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    Ive had a go at the burning tool to see if I can get the ducks a little less exposed. Did I succeed and not make it too obvious thats what I did?

    Another shot of mother duck and her little chicks

    My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives
    Hen and Chicks by Soozie_Lou_B, on Flickr

  9. #9
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    Given that we haven't seen the un-burnt version of this one, we don't know how much you've gone at it with the burn tool.

    My first reaction is that the dark areas on the heads of the chicks looks a bit overcooked, but without knowing what that was like beforehand, I'm only guessing.

    Even if it is over-cooked, don't worry about it. All of us (but I'm sure someone will deny it), when we first discovered how to dodge and burn with digital pp software, went over-the-top and did too much. With this tool it's always a case of being subtle. That's why I screw the opacity back down to 10%. That way you're getting a very gentle brush that, most times, is almost invisible to the naked eye. It's only when you flick between the two that you start picking up the differences.

    For example, on that one of yours I did above, that involved three passes with the opacity at 10%; i.e. I brushed over the same area 3 times. I'd never try and get it right with just one pass of the brush.

    The really important part of this is that you've just learnt a new skill. Now, it's just about practice.
    Last edited by Donald; 30th September 2012 at 12:27 PM.

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    Soozie B's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    thanks Donald and practice I will. A new skill on a Sunday night, how very exciting this all is :-)

    Here is the unedited copy for comparison.

    My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives
    IMG_5523 by Soozie_Lou_B, on Flickr

    Hmmmmm ok so maybe I got a tad excited with the dodge and burn tool! good for future reference

  11. #11
    jprzybyla's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    Nice images Soozie, nature in it's natural environment is so filled with wonder and beauty. Regarding Dodging and Burning the easiest way I have found is by using the adjustment brush in Lightroom 4. Choose either Dodge or Burn from the drop down menu in the Adjustment Brush. Set auto-masking to on and select show mask. Then select what size brush and how much to feather the adjustment and paint over the area to be Dodged or Burned. The areas painted will show as red. After the area is painted uncheck show mask and use the exposure slider to adjust the darkening or lightening. As with most things there are many ways to accomplish the same thing.

  12. #12
    Soozie B's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ducks one week into their tiny lives

    Hi Joe and many thanks.

    As I use Lightroom 4 this instruction may be easier to follow. I do believe I may be getting the hang of this at long last.

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