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Archive 2013 · GBHGBHGBH
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · GBHGBHGBH

Great Blue Heron three ways.
Same bird,
No flash.

Which comp?
Which technically?
Which frame?
Other thoughts, suggestions?

Thx, Scott

Edited on Apr 18, 2013 at 01:10 AM · View previous versions

Apr 18, 2013 at 12:03 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · GBHGBHGBH

1st and 3rd look soft to my eye, the 2nd is sharp. I like the second one too for the pose. #1 looks a bit awkward to me. Just my $.01.


Apr 18, 2013 at 12:37 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · GBHGBHGBH

+1 @ Keith

#1 looks a bit like the "pear shape" that people can exhibit @ times ... wide at the bottom tapering toward the top.

Apr 18, 2013 at 03:54 AM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · GBHGBHGBH

I like the facing left composition of the last best but find the white border distracting against the gray background of the page. It makes the highlights in the subject look duller by comparison.

Shots of feathers (and fur) taken in diffuse overcast or indirect lighting lack the "pop" of specular micro-reflections seen off the flat planes of the feathers in direct sun which help create the illusion of 3D and fluffy softness. It's one of the counter-intuitive aspects of lighting; needing "hard" (collimated source) lighting to make "soft" objects look more realistic.

Feathers or hairs individually are actually hard with angular scales, but feel soft to the touch. The trick to getting the soft appearance in the photo is creating the illusion of 3D on the individual feathers with specular highlights. Flash with a "Better Beamer" extender is used in bird shots not so much to add fill but to create those specular reflections.

Even in direct sunlight the RGB mosiac and AA filter tends to "mush up" the subtle specular sparkle seen by eye so birds and furry critters will benefit from more aggressive than normal low radius USM.

What I'll do with a bird shot in the size posted is create two duplicate layers and apply an overall USM of 500, .2, 0 to one, and exaggerated 500, .5, 0 USM to the second. Then with masking and adjustment of the opacity sliders I will selectively apply the lower radius USM to most of the bird and the higher exaggerated USM to selected parts like the head I want to contrast, adjusting the opaciities by eye until it looks similar to the appearance by eye. By turning off the two USM layers and just viewing the SOOC result below you can get a good before / after comparison. Here's an example with the 500, .2, 0 "baseline USM" on the left and the more exaggerated 500, .5., 0 USM selectively added to areas like the head:


Your Heron shots are good candidates for trying that approach to add more 3D texture. The exaggerated USM halos wind up looking very similar to the sparkle of the specular reflections seem by eye..

Apr 18, 2013 at 03:03 PM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · GBHGBHGBH

Thanks for all the feedback.
I agree 1 and 3 are unfortunately soft and probably go the wastebasket on that account only.
The first is an odd pose. Which makes the comp different from so many other GBH shots. But perhaps it doesnt work on that ground. The feedback is useful.
Chuck, interesting to hear about the sharpening/3D/specularity issue. Thanks.

Apr 19, 2013 at 01:17 AM

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