White birds are always difficult, and sunshine can actually be more problematic than lightly overcast skies.
The second bird is fractionally over exposed which has lost a little of the feather detail but this isn't serious. And it's feet are a little closer to the frame edge than I would ideally have preferred.
But still a good shot and an interesting pose.
Overall, nice photos all round.
Hello Bedanta, nice captures. I concur wilth Geoff's comments. Living in Florida I shoot a lot of white birds in bright light. The way I have found to keep from blowing out the exposure in the white is when seeing white I set the +/- EV controll to -1 EV. After the first shot I look at the hightlight screen on the LCD display. If I see it blinking I then continue to underexpose until it stops. Then in post processing I raised the exposure to just short of the white blowing out or climbing the right hand side of the histogram.
Very nice shots. Well done with the whites.
Thanks Geoff, Joe, Bobo.
While photographing birds, I always meter off the bird using spot metering so that the bird is properly exposed. For the rest of the image, I adjust the exposure / brightness / fill light to my liking during RAW conversion in ACR. Is there any problem with this approach?
Geoff mentioned that the second bird was fractionally over-exposed. Here is the original RAW file for you to have a look. ACR did not show any blown highlights in the original as well as the processed image:
Any other suggestions are most welcome.
Yes they are quite nice, I might tend to expose just a shade less myself, as Geoff suggests, but I'd be pleased to have shot these.In the following images I have tried to incorporate those comments. Are they any better?
Your technique sounds valid, I used to use that technique myself when on Av.While photographing birds, I always meter off the bird using spot metering so that the bird is properly exposed. For the rest of the image, I adjust the exposure / brightness / fill light to my liking during RAW conversion in ACR. Is there any problem with this approach?
As you have no doubt discovered, when shooting Av and average or centre weighted, with a white bird and darker background, it matters (a lot) how big the bird is in the frame (i.e. the ratio of white bird to dark background), spot metering largely avoids this, but if you're shooting alternately between some all white and some other birds, the exposure needs a different EC offset and I have found there's not always time to do that
Recently I have started shooting birds on manual exposure, I do some test shot(s), review the histogram and blinkies, discover the correct exposure required, switch to manual.
Now any bird I shoot, whether it be all white, or black with a white crest, is properly exposed, to the point where I can do what you do in PP, as long as the light doesn't change - DO NOT adjust that exposure, no matter what the meter is telling you!
There are a couple of things you are not doing in PP that are diminishing the quality of the shots as we see them here.C&C most welcome.
When you have finished processing, instead of just uploading the full size image (as I believe you are), try this;
Downsize the image to the pixel dimensions that most people can see at 100%, then sharpen the new smaller file.
As a step-by-step process (even if you don't need this, others may find it useful)
1) Save the full size version after processing (e.g. DSC1234.jpg)
2a) If portrait orientation; downsize to no more than 1000 px tall, or
2b) If landscape orientation; downsize to no more than 1600 px wide
3) Sharpen the image using USM (UnSharp Mask) method with these settings; 100% amount, 0.3px radius, betweeen 0 and 2 threshold, depending upon image noise (raise number above zero if a bit noisy after the downsize)
4) Save the smaller version with a suffix on file name; e.g. add DSC1234_H1000.jpg or DSC1234_W1600.jpg
5) Upload the smaller file to TinyPic
Hope that helps,
Looking closely at the original image, I still find some feather detail missing. Roughly about the wing edge just above the legs.
With white birds it is possible, particularly in sunshine, to lose fine detail while the area isn't strictly over exposed. I regularly get this problem with egrets.
#3 is perfectly exposed and retains a lot more details on the same patch of feathers.
With regard to editing. What I frequently do is to create two Raw conversions with different exposures, and other adjustments, then combine the best bits from each conversion. Using layers and masks.
In fact with some software, like CS5, it is possible to convert as a Smart Object then copy any return to ACR for extra adjustments to the copy layer.
Hello Bedanta, I read you post regarding spot metering when shooting birds. From my experience that works fine if the bird is not white or has white as part of it's coloration. What happens with white birds is that the highlights do not cover the whole bird and most instances they are too small to meter off. You have to expose for the highlights not to loose feather detail in the highlight areas. Use the +/- exposure control and watch the blinkies on the LCD screen. Experience in Florida I begin at - 1 EV then if needed decrease by 1/3 stops until no more blinkies. Then in post processing I raise the exposure carefully watching the histogram not to overexpose the highlighted areas.
One more question: Do you follow the same procedure for a black & white bird (eg. a black-headed ibis)?
Very roughly as my editing computer is switched off.
Try holding down the keyboard Shift key when transferring a Raw edit to the main CS5 edit window. That creates a Smart Object.
Right click on the layer, in the layers etc box in the bottom right corner, and select New Smart Object via copy. A duplicate layer will be created.
Double click on the thumbnail image of the new layer. That will return you to ACR.
Do any secondary adjustment to this new image. Then click OK. This returns you to the main CS5 window. But you now have a layer with different adjustments from the original converted image.
Use a mask to edit the two layers together. Add a mask (reveal all or hide all) from the Layers menu. Or use an Adjustment layer, which comes with a reveal all mask already attached.
Painting with the appropriate brush (white or black) hides or reveals what is under the brush. Gradually build up changes by rebrushing with a low opacity brush, say 30% or less, usually a soft edged brush.
It does take a bit of getting used to, but I wouldn't be without that option now.
There is a lot of information about layers and masks on this site. But it does assume you already have a basic grounding in the subject then rapidly gets into more complicated issues.
Worth struggling with though.
Last edited by Geoff F; 1st February 2013 at 09:57 PM. Reason: link added
Hello Bedanta, most times I use the multi-pattern metering mode that Nikon has. I have set the Function Button to spot metering when pushed, so I have both available. After shooting many birds experience will guide you what to set before the first shot. Normally I set -1 EV because I know it will be at least that. Black and white birds present a special problem... hope for overcast so that you do not have to try to expose for the white highlights.