Archive for October 15th, 2009



The Wing!

The Wing!

Great Egret preening. The stretch of that amazing wing, and the birds head reaching under, is what the shot is all about.

Not an easy shot: timing had to be right…but so did exposure. My first shot was correctly exposed for the whole scene, but that left the bird’s white plumage totally blown. I was able to quickly dial down the Exposure Compensation using the PhotoScope’s on screen access to common menu functions, and have time for a second shot. This one is correctly exposed for the bird…catching the full range of whites. Even a tiny bit more exposure and the whites along the back would go to hot, but it left the background, in the original, too dark. It took some work in Lightroom with Fill Light and Exposure curves to achieve an acceptable balance…not ideal background yet, but getting there. Unfortunately the noise in the dark areas of the image made it impossible to bring the background up more. I could selectively reduce noise, but it would take considerable work in this complex shot with masking tools in Photoshop. [actually, see ps. below…]

Zeiss PhotoScope 85FL at about 1200mm. 1/320th @ ISO 100. Programed auto with -1EV exposure compensation. Approximate effective aperture of f5.0.

Besides the work in Lightroom with Fill Light and Curves mentioned above, added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen landscape. Cropped slightly from the left to improve composition.

From Green Cay, FL.


Last night I decided to take the image into Photoshop Elements 7.0 and see what more I could do. PE7 has an auto masking tool called magic extractor, designed to cut a foreground object out of its background. Essentially you draw on the background with one color and on the foreground object with another, and the software does an amazingly accurate job of cutting out the background.

If you make a new layer and apply the magic extractor to isolate a foreground object…a bird, as in the image above…you can do anything you want to the base layer, and background, without affecting the bird. In this case I brightened the base layer, applied heavy noise reduction, and then used the smart blur filter on it to smooth the tones even more. Because the bird is safe on a layer above the base layer, none of these changes changed it.

I did select the layer with the bird, and brightened that just slightly.

I then flattened the image (combined layers) and save the resulting image as a new file. This is the edited image. What do you think?

Edited Egret

Edited Egret