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Thread: Duckling; two close-ups

  1. #1
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Duckling; two close-ups

    Went to a park this evening and did not get any shots at all, so I thought, what better way to reduce the frustration of that experience than to edit a couple nice shots from a previous shoot.

    I saw a mama duck and her babies swimming around next to the boardwalk. After watching for a few seconds I could see the babies were about to come toward me through some reeds, so I got down on my stomach and put my camera on the edge, and aimed at the opening. When this youngin came through I fired away. It continued toward me and ended up about 10 inches from my lens, bobbing around for a few seconds and then slowly paddled away. Very cute!!!

    I am not happy with the background on either, but, aside from that, I really like these a lot.

    C&C appreciated. Full size ("f") in lytebox is recommended as always with my photos. Thank you very much.

    edit- I decided to add on that I tried really hard on the processing on these, but I feel like something is lacking. I'm sure a professional could really make these shine in post, but I am not sure what I am missing or doing wrong, if anything. I want to get as good at processing as possible.

    1

    Duckling; two close-ups

    2

    Duckling; two close-ups

  2. #2

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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    1 is an excellent shots. 2 is an exceptional shot.

    Why? Ducks have a long face ie beak to head and while we do try to get the eyes in focus our DOF will usually leave the tip of the beak OOF as in 1. Having experienced the same thing countless times, I now set aperture tighter f8 or smaller so that head-ons like these will have front to back sharpness. Focus will be the face at end of beginning of the beak. For side shots I revert to my "preferred" (ie lens imposed) setting of f5.6 or larger depending on the focal length. Hope this makes sense.

    That said that is just how I see/do it. Your interpretations and objectives will be different.


    PP and background-wise - I think you did exceptionally well.

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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Hi Matt,

    I really don't think there's much wrong with the PP - and the background could be a lot worse too.

    If anything; they present with a blown red channel, perhaps the loss of detail is what you are missing?
    That might have happened in PP, or it might be as shot, just not recovered when editing (I presume) the RAW file, or maybe it was seriously blown, I can't tell.

    However, they are still way better than average, so take heart from that.
    I am not going to offer to edit (even though I'm not a pro) because I doubt they'll improve that much (at least with my skills)

    ... and well done for getting down low too.

    Cheers,

  4. #4
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Bobo, thank you very much for your comments and advice. This is very helpful. I will experiment and learn, trying different apertures at different distances to see what results I get with these kind of shots. It probably would be good to have the beak in focus in 1, but that said, I definitely favor shallow DOF in general for wildlife.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobobird View Post
    1 is an excellent shots. 2 is an exceptional shot.

    Why? Ducks have a long face ie beak to head and while we do try to get the eyes in focus our DOF will usually leave the tip of the beak OOF as in 1. Having experienced the same thing countless times, I now set aperture tighter f8 or smaller so that head-ons like these will have front to back sharpness. Focus will be the face at end of beginning of the beak. For side shots I revert to my "preferred" (ie lens imposed) setting of f5.6 or larger depending on the focal length. Hope this makes sense.

    That said that is just how I see/do it. Your interpretations and objectives will be different.


    PP and background-wise - I think you did exceptionally well.

  5. #5
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Background looks fine as well as the duckling.

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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Dave, thanks as always for your very helpful input. I hadn't considered things like blown color channels in post processing after the inital raw work...during the initial conversion in LR, I generally pull back the highlights by dragging the highlights slider to the left until it looks good. I then go to PS and edit away, just watching how the photo looks and trying to make it how I want it (how I saw it). So maybe I should be watching the histogram more carefully while doing things in PS? I think the RAWs on these shots have the full color info, the exposure is good I believe. Thanks again

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Matt,

    I really don't think there's much wrong with the PP - and the background could be a lot worse too.

    If anything; they present with a blown red channel, perhaps the loss of detail is what you are missing?
    That might have happened in PP, or it might be as shot, just not recovered when editing (I presume) the RAW file, or maybe it was seriously blown, I can't tell.

    However, they are still way better than average, so take heart from that.
    I am not going to offer to edit (even though I'm not a pro) because I doubt they'll improve that much (at least with my skills)

    ... and well done for getting down low too.

    Cheers,

  7. #7
    Cantab's Avatar
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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Matt, these are really good shots! Congratulations on grabbing the opportunity when it arose to get these ducklings. I'd be extremely happy to have taken these photos.

    I see no issues with the background.

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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    You should be ashamed of yourself for not providing a warning about the cute factor in the title of the thread.

    As for the post-processing, I like it but agree that there's a little something missing. If Steve S doesn't show up soon, consider sending him a PM and asking for his advice. He's a true expert with lots of experience post-processing animals. All of us would benefit from his ideas.

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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Beautiful images! Great detail, and oh so cute...

    I do think the ducks would stand out more if the background bokeh was softer and dreamier. Maybe it could be darkened and blurred but since I'm having a huge challenge with backgrounds here is hoping we hear from Steve.

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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Matt, nice photographs. I think there's probably lots of little tweaks under tone and presence (LR4 language) that could enhance your images (especially number 2). Both seem a bit flatter than they should.

    karm

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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    You should be ashamed of yourself for not providing a warning about the cute factor in the title of the thread.

    As for the post-processing, I like it but agree that there's a little something missing. If Steve S doesn't show up soon, consider sending him a PM and asking for his advice. He's a true expert with lots of experience post-processing animals. All of us would benefit from his ideas.
    Mike, thanks. You are right, I should have warned you guys about the cuteness...but my brain was fuzzy from being overloaded by...cuteness!

    I would strongly agree with you about Steve's PP skills. I've seen him rework some other members' photos and have been extremely impressed. Honestly, his knowledge and capabilities in PP are what I am aiming for...

  12. #12
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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Beautiful images! Great detail, and oh so cute...

    I do think the ducks would stand out more if the background bokeh was softer and dreamier. Maybe it could be darkened and blurred but since I'm having a huge challenge with backgrounds here is hoping we hear from Steve.
    Christina, thank you for your comments. Regarding the bg in these images, it's not bad enough that I want to spend time fixing it. In general, I would always prefer to get the bg as perfect as possible in the actual shot. Which means, for something like this subject, I need to get out and shoot more photos, planning ahead for the bg. If the photo was of sasquatch, I would probably spend some time repairing the background since that would not be easy to photograph again

    I would prefer to excel at my photography and field craft than spend time repairing photos. That said, I think there is a difference between "post processing" and "fixing" a photo. In my mind, post processing is about polishing a photo to be what you were aiming for when you pressed the shutter, as well as to correct for things like noise and softness from digital capture...whereas fixing a photo is...um, not something I like to spend time on

    EDIT - it occurred to me a while after writing this reply that I might have come across as being slightly defensive or offended. That is not the case at all. I was just rambling about like I typically do, going off on tangents and being outspoken about my ideals, etc.
    Last edited by FlyingSquirrel; 6th June 2013 at 01:35 AM.

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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Karm Redland View Post
    Matt, nice photographs. I think there's probably lots of little tweaks under tone and presence (LR4 language) that could enhance your images (especially number 2). Both seem a bit flatter than they should.

    karm
    Karm, thank you for viewing and commenting. I see what you mean about the photos, and I agree there may be something I can do.

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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Wanted to add a few quick thoughts to anyone interested in hearing about my PP goals/mindset...

    While I was processing these, I was trying to balance giving them punch while also not wanting to overshadow the mood of the photo that I was going for, which was soft and peaceful. Often when I'm processing, I consider the subject matter and idea of the photo when deciding how much to add contrast, curves, LCE, etc.

    Also, it is my personal preference to do 99% of editing in photoshop. Many will disagree, but I personally do not like to do my edits in LR except the raw conversion, highlight recover, WB, etc. I simply am more comfortable and faster in photoshop, and enjoy the more powerful layers, masks, and other features which allow me to accurately and selectively edit my photos. LR is good, and has some control, but for someone who is used to PS, it doesn't compare (IMO)

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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    I think these are wonderful shots and I don't have any issues with the background. It's blurred and has nice colors. It's nature. I agree the 2nd one is exceptional. You did really well getting low.

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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you for sharing and advising. My intent was not to say that your background needed to be fixed, I was just trying to figure out how to enhance it because it is something that I want to learn to do with my photos.

    I am working on my backgrounds and hope to be able to capture nice, dreamy ones, one day soon in camera. See my ducks, (just posted) with not so great backgrounds. I did get down on low like you advised, but only kneeling. I tried to blur my backgrounds with the blur brush but I learned that it doesn't work well, and I hope to one day be able to get it right from the start.






    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    Christina, thank you for your comments. Regarding the bg in these images, it's not bad enough that I want to spend time fixing it. In general, I would always prefer to get the bg as perfect as possible in the actual shot. Which means, for something like this subject, I need to get out and shoot more photos, planning ahead for the bg. If the photo was of sasquatch, I would probably spend some time repairing the background since that would not be easy to photograph again

    I would prefer to excel at my photography and field craft than spend time repairing photos. That said, I think there is a difference between "post processing" and "fixing" a photo. In my mind, post processing is about polishing a photo to be what you were aiming for when you pressed the shutter, as well as to correct for things like noise and softness from digital capture...whereas fixing a photo is...um, not something I like to spend time on
    Last edited by Brownbear; 6th June 2013 at 01:25 AM.

  17. #17
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Hi Matt,

    Thank you for sharing and advising. My intent was not to say that your background needed to be fixed, I was just trying to figure out how to enhance it because it is something that I want to learn to do with my photos.
    Christina, no worries. I am sorry if the way I replied to you made you feel bad. I edited my reply above by explaining myself.

  18. #18
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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Hi Matt,

    Not at all. I am also trying to learn by viewing and commenting on others photos, and as this is new for me, I was worried that I may not have expressed my thoughts well. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    Christina, no worries. I am sorry if the way I replied to you made you feel bad. I edited my reply above by explaining myself.

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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Hi, Matt. These are Awesome. I'd be happy with them. What else can I say? I'm no PP expert by any stretch so I'll leave those comments to others.

  20. #20
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Duckling; two close-ups

    Thank you Bruce, Terri, and Dan, I appreciate you viewing and commenting.

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