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Thread: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

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    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    A few shots I got while in a wetland preserve, during my recent photo vacation. This animal is a Coypu, also known as a Nutria (latin name: Myocastor coypus). C&C welcome (I have a question about shot #2, noted below)

    #1 - From a relatively close distance, I was able to get a shot which allowed me to crop in on the head without losing resolution. I didn't have many cropping options, especially on the right side, because immediately outside of what you see there is a big green grass stem overlapping the body. However, I really like where this crop went, and I think it's one of my favorite wildlife shots of mine.

    Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal


    #2 - Much further away, I captured this photo of the same individual. I don't love this photo nor am I particularly proud of it, for a few reasons. One, the lighting is not great. Two, the background is too distracting (although it illustrates how the animal somewhat matches in with its environment).

    Although I usually don't show photos unless I really like them, I'm showing this photo to illustrate what the entire animal looks like, in case anyone is curious after seeing the headshot, and also to ask a question...I am hoping to get your opinion on something in particular. I'm having the toughest time figuring out if the subject is in focus. I mean REALLY in focus. Even when zoomed in to 100% view in photoshop, I can't tell. I think maybe the wet clumps of matted fur are creating the illusion of it not being in focus because there is no fine detail in the clumps. Although this is not at 100%, I'm curious what you think about the focus issue... Thank you for viewing!

    Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Hey Matt, like number one a lot. Plenty of detail to creep-out the viewer.

    Karm

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    I too think that the first photo is magnificent!

    I also like the 2nd photo very much but truly I can't decide if it is at 100% perfect focus. When I look at the eyes and top part of the head, it does not seem to be as in perfect focus as the first photo is but I'm not 100% sure...

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    I hate those things. You captured it well in all its creepiness. Your focus is good. The eyes and whiskers don't lie. I shoot a lot of sea otters and have the same dilemma. When the fur clumps like that it never looks good. Well captured. Both shots.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Hi Christina,

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    ~ how does one know if their focus is perfect or not. I struggle with knowing if my focus is good enough with my birds in flight shots.
    If there is foreground and background, it is usually easy enough to see if something in front or behind is sharper than the subject itself.

    Birds in flight though are a problem for this - although arguably, the camera probably has nothing else to lock on to and stuff it up for you as long as we can keep the focus point on the bird, something I seem to find difficult

    Most of my BiF shots look soft, usually camera shake from too slow a shutter speed, but I'm learning on this, with Joe's help.


    Hi Matt,

    That is a common problem - obviously what we see here is not 100% and is sharpened - and the threshold of sharpening, if too high, can have an adverse effect on perceived sharpness of low contrast detail like fur. I also wonder if there is any 'shiver' occurring that might compound the problems for us.

    When you did the downsize and final sharpen, what threshold did you use?

    I note this was shot at f/5.6 at 400mm at 1/250s - probably wide open?

    Looking critically at the second image, it is possible that the grass close to the coypu is slightly sharper than the eye/fur, but I could well be being mis-led by sharpening.
    UPDATE: The more I stare at this closely, the more convinced I am that sharpening may not be optimal; on the near whiskers and some of the light coloured grasses I think I see quite a wide dark halo, while on most I don't, so I suspect too wide a radius and too high a threshold was applied - well compared to what I'd do. If you can get the RAW to me via Drop-box, I could try.

    Another thing that will kill such detail is jpg compression; e.g. if the quality is too low and/or especially if such images are shot jpg, not RAW. Not saying either of these things is true here, but just saying these factors can make it worse - as I have found with my (jpg only) Nikon P510.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 28th April 2013 at 07:04 PM.

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    #2 certainly places the whole scene into context.

    Possibly the head isn't absolutely sharp when viewed at full size, although still good.

    And I suspect that any extra selective sharpening would appear 'over processed' although you might get away with a fraction of extra sharpening on just it's nose and eye.

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernFocus View Post
    I hate those things. You captured it well in all its creepiness. Your focus is good. The eyes and whiskers don't lie. I shoot a lot of sea otters and have the same dilemma. When the fur clumps like that it never looks good. Well captured. Both shots.
    Dan, thanks so much for your comment. It is super helpful to hear from someone with so much experience. BTW, I just looked at your website and photos. My mind is blown!!! WOW, you are crazy good. Considering I will be going pro someday, I guess I better get learning and practicing a LOT if I'm ever going to even approach your talent. That's pretty much all I can say... although I wonder if you could let me know what camera you use for most of your shots, particularly your eagles. Thanks

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Matt,

    That is a common problem - obviously what we see here is not 100% and is sharpened - and the threshold of sharpening, if too high, can have an adverse effect on perceived sharpness of low contrast detail like fur. I also wonder if there is any 'shiver' occurring that might compound the problems for us.

    When you did the downsize and final sharpen, what threshold did you use?

    I note this was shot at f/5.6 at 400mm at 1/250s - probably wide open?

    Looking critically at the second image, it is possible that the grass close to the coypu is slightly sharper than the eye/fur, but I could well be being mis-led by sharpening.
    UPDATE: The more I stare at this closely, the more convinced I am that sharpening may not be optimal; on the near whiskers and some of the light coloured grasses I think I see quite a wide dark halo, while on most I don't, so I suspect too wide a radius and too high a threshold was applied - well compared to what I'd do. If you can get the RAW to me via Drop-box, I could try.

    Another thing that will kill such detail is jpg compression; e.g. if the quality is too low and/or especially if such images are shot jpg, not RAW. Not saying either of these things is true here, but just saying these factors can make it worse - as I have found with my (jpg only) Nikon P510.

    Cheers,
    Dave, thanks for the detailed, helpful reply. I don't recall (nor did I record, like I should have) which USM settings I used at any stage in the editing process, including the web size work.

    Correct, f/5.6 is wide open for my canon 400mm. Basically all shots I take with that lens are at 5.6, and the lens is crazy sharp even wide open like that (assuming I get the focus right and don't have any motion / shake /blur etc.)

    I completely agree with you about the sharpening job being bad on shot #2. I definitely overdid it; I think I was probably trying to compensate for the feeling I was getting of the shot appearing slightly out of focus.

    JPG file export from lightroom is at 100% JPG quality, no sharpening applied.

    Thanks again. I'll send you a PM with file details...

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    #2 certainly places the whole scene into context.

    Possibly the head isn't absolutely sharp when viewed at full size, although still good.

    And I suspect that any extra selective sharpening would appear 'over processed' although you might get away with a fraction of extra sharpening on just it's nose and eye.
    Geoff, thanks for your comment, feedback, and suggestion!

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    ... although I wonder if you could let me know what camera you use for most of your shots, particularly your eagles. Thanks
    Different gear over the years. I'll PM you the list.

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Hi Matt,

    Well I am not at all sure I have done any better - this was pretty much 1:1 after cropping and that's never good - I always try to post at 50% of the crop size, so I can do a 2:1 downsize to reduce noise and get better sharpening.

    Anyway, here's what I arrived at, cropping as close as I could to your composition, first a 1:1, then a downsize from 1351 to 1000px across.

    Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Update:
    Rats, it is now apparent I got the contrast of the unsharpened background foreground wrong

    OK, one last go, downsized to 700 wide and with the contrast improved.

    Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 29th April 2013 at 11:13 PM.

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Matt,

    Well I am not at all sure I have done any better - this was pretty much 1:1 after cropping and that's never good - I always try to post at 50% of the crop size, so I can do a 2:1 downsize to reduce noise and get better sharpening.

    Anyway, here's what I arrived at, cropping as close as I could to your composition, first a 1:1, then a downsize from 1351 to 1000px across.

    Update:
    Rats, it is now apparent I got the contrast of the unsharpened background foreground wrong

    OK, one last go, downsized to 700 wide and with the contrast improved.

    Cheers,
    Dave, thanks for spending the time to do this; I really appreciate it. Oh, so you did NOT sharpen the foreground or background, you only selectively sharpened the coypu, if I'm understanding you correctly? That is a great idea, I have not thought to only sharpen the animal in a shot but not its surroundings so much. Nice! Yours looks pretty good, I like that you have sharpened it better, so you don't have the dark edge artifacts. Thanks again!

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Big ol' ugly things aren't they Matt. You captured him well. We have a bunch back up here at the Canyon park pond. They just can't trap them fast enough.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    Dave, thanks for spending the time to do this; I really appreciate it. Oh, so you did NOT sharpen the foreground or background, you only selectively sharpened the coypu, if I'm understanding you correctly? That is a great idea, I have not thought to only sharpen the animal in a shot but not its surroundings so much. Nice! Yours looks pretty good, I like that you have sharpened it better, so you don't have the dark edge artifacts. Thanks again!
    Hi Matt,

    No, ordinarily I might, but as I wasn't downsizing (for the one same size as yours), it was another way to get 'better separation', although if anything, the fore/background is almost too muted now - and setting the contrast on the last little 'un only did half the job.

    I did use Neat Image in CS5 to reduce the noise across the board, after ACR initially (with no NR)

    On the Coypu;
    LCE with USM 20%, 250px, 0th
    Sharpen USM 50%, 2px, 2th
    Sharpen USM 60%, 1px, 2th
    Sharpen USM 80% - 100%, 0.3px, 1th (although this one varies between the 3 versions)

    The multi-pass approach 'builds up' the edges - well, it does in my head

    Other comments;
    Good exposure I thought
    Quite noisy, but then it was 1000 iso and a severe crop
    There seemed to be some axial Chromatic Abberation, even in the blurred (now mostly cropped out) water ripples.
    I couldn't find an EF 400mm f/5.6 lens profile in my CS5 or CS6, is that an old, or new model?
    Or is it the 100-400mm? (EXIF says not though)

    HTH,

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Are they edible?

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Quote Originally Posted by jamn4ex View Post
    Are they edible?
    Depends on whether you consider opossum edible.

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    Re: Nutria AKA Coypu AKA Giant Creepy Water Mammal

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Matt,

    No, ordinarily I might, but as I wasn't downsizing (for the one same size as yours), it was another way to get 'better separation', although if anything, the fore/background is almost too muted now - and setting the contrast on the last little 'un only did half the job.

    I did use Neat Image in CS5 to reduce the noise across the board, after ACR initially (with no NR)
    Good points. BTW, I use Lightroom and take the image with no NR into CS6 and then run Topaz Denoise on it for NR.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    On the Coypu;
    LCE with USM 20%, 250px, 0th
    Sharpen USM 50%, 2px, 2th
    Sharpen USM 60%, 1px, 2th
    Sharpen USM 80% - 100%, 0.3px, 1th (although this one varies between the 3 versions)

    The multi-pass approach 'builds up' the edges - well, it does in my head
    This is really helpful and seeing the numbers got me thinking; foolishly I have been ignoring the threshold setting completely. I believe I always leave it at 0. I just got curious and looked up threshold to refresh my memory on what it does. Apparently I ought to be using it! I read that a higher value can reduce sharpening of flatter softer areas, so I can avoid speckling on backgrounds and such. Nice thing to have. Of course I generally exclude the background from sharpening anyway (only if it's a smoother blurred background)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Other comments;
    Good exposure I thought
    Quite noisy, but then it was 1000 iso and a severe crop
    There seemed to be some axial Chromatic Abberation, even in the blurred (now mostly cropped out) water ripples.
    Yes, my 7D is not the greatest with noise levels. I'm rather disappointed with it in that respect, but it's not a pro body so I wouldn't really expect it to perform like one (.... maybe I should get a pro body some time soon ... although the disadvantage would be loss of the 1.6 crop factor for wildlife and stuff )
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post

    I couldn't find an EF 400mm f/5.6 lens profile in my CS5 or CS6, is that an old, or new model?
    Or is it the 100-400mm? (EXIF says not though)

    HTH,
    It's the 400 f/5.6L lens. In LR I can select that lens for corrections automatically. It's the old dinosaur model

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