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Thread: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    All comments, especially feedback so I can improve is appreciated.


    Here is a duck photo that I think I quite like... I photographed it this way because of the light however somehow it seems like the duck should be on the other side of the photo. Should it be?

    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them



    Everyone loves a baby duck

    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them


    And a swan...

    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Just a seagull in flight

    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them
    Last edited by Brownbear; 7th May 2013 at 12:57 AM.

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Hello, Christina! Good to see your improvements! Very nice set. Maybe you could consider sharpening them just a little further (I would also crop 20% of the left side of #3). Nice colors. Thanks for sharing!

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    All comments, especially feedback so I can improve is appreciated.


    Here is a duck photo that I think I quite like... I photographed it this way because of the light however somehow it seems like the duck should be on the other side of the photo. Should it be?

    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them



    Everyone loves a baby duck

    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them


    And a swan...

    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Just a seagull in flight

    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them
    Definitely love the baby duck!

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Otavio and Victor, thank you for your comments and advice.

    Otavio, I will try the crop tomorrow and post. With respect to sharpening, zero done in raw, next I sharpened just the bird, 25% and .3 radius in Elements 9, and then I applied an unsharp mask (after downsizing) of about 80-110%, threshold 1 or 2, radius .3... So I gather I should have sharpened more. I'm always nervous about oversharpening so good to know that I should sharpen more. Thank you.

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Nice.

    About the duck, I think it is totally personal preference. My son-in-law always prefers the subjects on the left third line and, if an animal, looking toward the right. Most of the time, it doesn't bother me either way. But it is easily flipped if it bothers you. I would clone out that spot above his head, though.

    Also, I wanted to comment that most of the time I don't like birds in flight not completely in frame but the last one works for some reason. I like it.

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Thank Terri, Thank you. I will try flipping the duck, and cropping easily done. Will post tomorrow

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Here is the duck portrait turned around, with the dust spot zapped and sharpened another 20%...

    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    I think it is over sharpened because I can see something funky in the lighter green feathers on it's neck? Was flipping the photo around a good choice?

    Here is the swan, sharpened another 20% and cropped... Here I think the sharpening helped.

    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them


    Thank you.

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Otavio and Victor, thank you for your comments and advice.

    Otavio, I will try the crop tomorrow and post. With respect to sharpening, zero done in raw, next I sharpened just the bird, 25% and .3 radius in Elements 9, and then I applied an unsharp mask (after downsizing) of about 80-110%, threshold 1 or 2, radius .3... So I gather I should have sharpened more. I'm always nervous about oversharpening so good to know that I should sharpen more. Thank you.
    Hello Christina, I have been following this thread and wondered about what I read in the quote above. Particularly the no sharpening in RAW and then the sharpening in Photoshop Elements. Sharpening is done to overcome the softening the the Bayer Filter (prevents Moire) and going from analog to digital applies to the image. The amount of sharpening needed is imperceptible and normal viewing, only being seen when viewed at 100% or 1:1. There are three types of sharpening... Capture Sharpening which eliminates the softening I mentioned above that is done in processing the RAW image, Creative Sharpening done selectively to parts of an image ( think eyes on a bird or model ) which I do with the Adjustment Brush in Lighroom 4, and sharpening for printing or posting on the web. I sharpen all of my images the same because I know from experience what works with my camera and is needed. The amount I use is 55, 75 if I need to apply noise reduction. The radius and detail I leave at the default of 1 and 25 respectively. The most important I believe is Masking. That controls what gets sharpened. Only the edges in a image should be sharpened. The masking slider in Lightroom replaces about 20 steps in Photoshop to do the same. Smooth water, clear blue skies, blurred backgrounds should not be sharpened, they should be black when masking an image for sharpening. For how much to sharpen I will defer to Hal Schmitt (whose videos helped me) when he says... just right. Using the ON and Off switch in the Detail Module of Lightroom one should see just a slight sharpening when switching back and forth using the switch. Sharpening cannot correct a soft or out of focus image, they go to the trash bin. Your camera work is fine, post processing needs a little work. Look at images by professional photographers and strive to make yours look like theirs.

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Hi Christina,

    If it is any consolation, I am still unhappy with the majority of my bird images, including most of the ones I promised I'd show you (about a week ago).

    I was out yesterday too, shot some little ones in the trees and every single shot is below par for sharpness. despite being at between 1/2000s and 1/4000s In my case, I think the answer was they are just too small in the frame, I wonder how much you are cropping?

    I then found a Grey Heron quite close to the bank, it filled the frame at 300mm (450mm FFE) and I shot that, but before it caught a fish, some inconsiderate kids thought they'd go paddle in the river and frightened it off

    Anyway; I will post some soon - the heron shots were noticeably better because a) I took my time and b) I braced against a stout fence - well, it was until the kids climbed it, but don't get me started on them again and c) it filled the frame

    Your second pair above do look better than the first four for sharpness.

    Keep practising and when you do get the odd sharp one, analyse why.

    Hope that helps,

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Very nice series, you need more challenges like the seagull in flight.

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Quote Originally Posted by jprzybyla View Post
    I sharpen all of my images the same because I know from experience what works with my camera and is needed. The amount I use is 55, 75 if I need to apply noise reduction. The radius and detail I leave at the default of 1 and 25 respectively.
    I do something similar and I also agree it works. Christina, one of the advantages of shooting raw is the better editing. Try to always use the sharpening in your raw editor. That will definitely help you. Start with Joe's parameters and, from them, make your needed adjustments looking at the image at 100% (or, as also mentioned by Joe, you might not detect the effect of it). I am sure that you will get (still) better results with your images. Kindest regards...

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Hey, Christina. I'll throw my two cents into the discussion.

    The duck: You fixed the one bright spot, that was a minor thing but those little details make a difference even if the observer doesn't realize why. Placement in the frame is good, right or left is a matter of preference. It doesn't look like you were quite at eye level but it's hard to tell if the duck just tilted its head at the wrong time. Others have provided ample advice on the sharpening which does look like it needs some work on is something you need to figure out with digital imaging. Listen, look, study, but at the end of the day you have to figure out what works for you. One thing I will say in that regard is that if you have spent quite a while working on an image and think your satisfied, put it away for a while then go back and take another look. If you over sharpen it will show. If necessary make big changes to see what oversharpening looks like then work backwards until it looks right.

    The baby duck: awesome shot. My only suggestion would be to crop it slightly on the left side to put the eye in the center of the frame. No rules are hard and fast but generally speaking having the critter looking or moving into the frame works best.

    The swan: IMO this is the strongest image of the set. Good composition, eye level with the bird, exposure looks good, water drops are almost always a big hit. Improved sharpening would really highlight the beads of water and bring out a bit more detail in the feathers. Maybe just a tad more room at the bottom of the frame below the tip of the beak would have helped.

    The seagull: pretty good techs and the bird is moving and looking into the frame. Clipping the wings can work but there are too many issues on this one, wings clipped horizontally and vertically, no eye contact, tail clipped in addition to the wings, distracting background with the angular line.... It's good to see you're following up on using these guys for practice

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Continued improvement, Christina!

    Though the last one is "only" a seagull, it is photographically the most satisfying for me. It leaves the full length of the wings up to the viewer's imagination. The wings show a bit of blur that implies motion. The curved lines of the background complement the curved lines of the bird's torso and wings.

    For me, the swan needs more space below the beak.

    Placing the baby duck in the center is too static for me, so I used the following crop. If I didn't tell you that I used a vignette, would you know that I had? Now that you know I used a vignette, does it help provide focus on the subject?


    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    I forgot to mention that the background of the adult duck is a mixture of brown and green tones that form unattractive patterns. To smooth out that background, try applying a small amount of Gaussian Blur or noise reduction that has no sharpening.

    If you sharpened the background, that would be a no-no because it would emphasize the unattractive patterns. That's one reason I eliminate all in-camera sharpening as the first step in my post-processing workflow.

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Hi Joe,

    Until just recently I used the 3 types of sharpening, but then decided that it may be better (for a nice background) for birds just to sharpen the bird and just once in raw, with a smaller radius following something I learned somewhere because in Elements 9, in raw I can't selectively sharpen... I will try your technique next time around in Lightroom raw. I have not tried the masking slider, yet but will do after I view the video.

    Thank you so much for advising.




    Quote Originally Posted by jprzybyla View Post
    Hello Christina, I have been following this thread and wondered about what I read in the quote above. Particularly the no sharpening in RAW and then the sharpening in Photoshop Elements. Sharpening is done to overcome the softening the the Bayer Filter (prevents Moire) and going from analog to digital applies to the image. The amount of sharpening needed is imperceptible and normal viewing, only being seen when viewed at 100% or 1:1. There are three types of sharpening... Capture Sharpening which eliminates the softening I mentioned above that is done in processing the RAW image, Creative Sharpening done selectively to parts of an image ( think eyes on a bird or model ) which I do with the Adjustment Brush in Lighroom 4, and sharpening for printing or posting on the web. I sharpen all of my images the same because I know from experience what works with my camera and is needed. The amount I use is 55, 75 if I need to apply noise reduction. The radius and detail I leave at the default of 1 and 25 respectively. The most important I believe is Masking. That controls what gets sharpened. Only the edges in a image should be sharpened. The masking slider in Lightroom replaces about 20 steps in Photoshop to do the same. Smooth water, clear blue skies, blurred backgrounds should not be sharpened, they should be black when masking an image for sharpening. For how much to sharpen I will defer to Hal Schmitt (whose videos helped me) when he says... just right. Using the ON and Off switch in the Detail Module of Lightroom one should see just a slight sharpening when switching back and forth using the switch. Sharpening cannot correct a soft or out of focus image, they go to the trash bin. Your camera work is fine, post processing needs a little work. Look at images by professional photographers and strive to make yours look like theirs.

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    The more critical you become of your own work the more you improve. Striving for perfection is what drives you to do better.

    May I suggest something Christina? Why not do a couple of bird shots for yourself, shots you like, ignoring any rules and guidelines. Just doing your own thing irrespective of the outcome.
    Get the exposure and focus right and just shoot!!!

  17. #17
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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Good morning and thank you to everyone for your detailed replies and advice. That is a lot of information to digest first thing in the morning!

    Dave, thank you for sharing your challenges. It's nice to know that I'm not alone and I hope to see your bird photos soon.

    Dan, thank you for the detailed analysis, great feedback that I find very helpful and enlightening.

    Mike, thank you as always for being there for me with great advice. I did not notice the vignette but yes, I can see how it improved the photo. I did not sharpen the background of the duck, except in using the unsharp mask once downsized so I don't think this would enhance the distracting background? I'm still working on selecting things, but every time I try Gaussian blur on the background I can see my selection lines around the critter, so it goes into the trash... I hope to improve on this with time and practice. I zeroed everything in raw so no in camera sharpening, contrast or anything applied to the photos but selective sharpening and WB.

    Otavio, John and Andre. Thank you for your kind comments and advice. Will do!

    It was very helpful for me to hear which photos were preferred or not, and why.

    Thank you to all. Truly appreciated!

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I did not sharpen the background of the duck, except in using the unsharp mask once downsized so I don't think this would enhance the distracting background?
    You're probably right. All of my uploaded photos are sharpened throughout the entire image after downsizing and I have never seen a noticeable problem.

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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    every time I try Gaussian blur on the background I can see my selection lines
    Once you have made the selection, try "fading" it (I can't remember the precise term) two or three pixels. Alternatively, try erasing the edges using a soft brush and perhaps adjusting the layer's opacity.

  20. #20
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    Re: New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them

    Hi Joe,

    Just a note to say that I watched the tutorial on masking in LR and it was very helpful. Thank you. I now understand the concept of masking and how to use it.

    I did become a bit confused during the editing likely because I sharpened the photo in raw in LR,before exporting to my pics file folder (Windows)... next I used Picasa to downsize it to 1200 pixels, and then I opened up the photo in Elements 9 to apply the unsharp mask. So I missed the step of creative sharpening because I never had a full size jpeg. Perhaps when I opened the photo in Elements I should apply creative sharpening followed by the unsharp mask?

    Here is the swan sharpened using your process, almost... It should be sharper but for some reason I think it looks softer?

    New Bird Photos - Slowly improving but still working on them


    Anyhow the whole point of this exercise was for me to learn about the unsharp mask in LR, and that I did. (even if I mixed up the process)
    Thank you.



    Quote Originally Posted by jprzybyla View Post
    Hello Christina, I have been following this thread and wondered about what I read in the quote above. Particularly the no sharpening in RAW and then the sharpening in Photoshop Elements. Sharpening is done to overcome the softening the the Bayer Filter (prevents Moire) and going from analog to digital applies to the image. The amount of sharpening needed is imperceptible and normal viewing, only being seen when viewed at 100% or 1:1. There are three types of sharpening... Capture Sharpening which eliminates the softening I mentioned above that is done in processing the RAW image, Creative Sharpening done selectively to parts of an image ( think eyes on a bird or model ) which I do with the Adjustment Brush in Lighroom 4, and sharpening for printing or posting on the web. I sharpen all of my images the same because I know from experience what works with my camera and is needed. The amount I use is 55, 75 if I need to apply noise reduction. The radius and detail I leave at the default of 1 and 25 respectively. The most important I believe is Masking. That controls what gets sharpened. Only the edges in a image should be sharpened. The masking slider in Lightroom replaces about 20 steps in Photoshop to do the same. Smooth water, clear blue skies, blurred backgrounds should not be sharpened, they should be black when masking an image for sharpening. For how much to sharpen I will defer to Hal Schmitt (whose videos helped me) when he says... just right. Using the ON and Off switch in the Detail Module of Lightroom one should see just a slight sharpening when switching back and forth using the switch. Sharpening cannot correct a soft or out of focus image, they go to the trash bin. Your camera work is fine, post processing needs a little work. Look at images by professional photographers and strive to make yours look like theirs.
    Last edited by Brownbear; 8th May 2013 at 10:47 PM. Reason: typo

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