How I edit my images


After publishing my post about how I shoot my bird photos, I thought it would be nice to do a follow-up about how I finish up, or editing my images for final publishing.  Believe it or not, regardless of what you have heard or read, cameras DO lie.  When a RAW image comes from the camera, it often looks flat, without that snap. and with bland colors.

I am going to show you how I obtained a beautiful photo of a Northern Bobwhite.  It began when I was driving through San Angelo State Park, and spotted some of these quail in a fallen tree about 50 yards away.  This is the original photo from my Canon DOS 7D Mark II with a Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Northern Bobwhite on tree branch

Northern Bobwhite on tree branch

It was early morning, there was broken shade and the subject was partially back-lit, the light coming slightly from the left.  Exposure was 1/1000 sec @ f7.1 with an ISO 1000.  I added one stop of EV adjustment to ensure enough light on the subject bird, the one in the center of the frame.  It was too far away to zoom in any closer. I had the lens maxed out at 600mm.

Now I am going to tell about how I do my editing.  First, no, it is not an old family recipe handed down.  It may not be the best method, but it is what works for me.

I have been told that I am pretty unorthodox with my editing.  I just like to keep things simple, and not have to do anything complicated.  The first thing I do is to load my images into a program called FastStone Image Viewer.  I like that little (free) program.  It is, for me, a great place to put my image files.  Great for organizing, and most of all, I can convert my RAW files there.

So after loading the images from my camera, I then convert the RAW file to the JPEG image that you see above.  After conversion, I save that JPEG file to a folder in FastStone Image Viewer.  I told you that I liked that organizer.  Now unlike a lot of photographer that use Lightroom,  I use Photoshop 5, having gotten it at half-price several years ago, when the dropped the price when Photoshop 6 came out.

After opening a file in Photoshop, my first step in my workflow is to check it out using the Shadows and Highlights tool, making any minor lighting adjustments there.  Then I like to use the Curves adjustment tool to tweak the exposure more, for contrast, etc.  I have another plug-in, Topaz DNoise, and excellent tool for removing any visible noise.  After that, it is time to check out the focus, and tweak the sharpness, if necessary.   Personally, I don’t like Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask. I use a plug-in called FocusMagic.  It gives a photo a pleasing natural sharpness.

After doing all of that, which usually takes me only a few minutes, here is my finished product.  Do you like it?  Click the image.

Northern Bobwhite - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +1 EV adjustment, ISO 1000.

Northern Bobwhite – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +1 EV adjustment, ISO 1000.

Now, that looks like the Northern Bobwhite I saw when I drove by that broken down tree.  Click the image, and the one above, to see enlargements that show more detail.

So now you have it.  You know what tools I use.  It will only take you to learn how to use them.  In other words, I teach you all you know.  I don’t teach you all I know.   Now as the photo doctor said, “If you have a problem, take two pictures and call me in the morning”.

How I Shoot Birds (With my Camera)


I have been asked many times about how I capture my images.  Well, to begin with, I no longer use the big Canon 500mm that you see in my photo at the head of this blog.  That camera and lens set-up got to big for me after using it for about twelve years.  At 82 years of age, there are times that those heavy lenses are to much.  (However I still wear a camo cap.)  I like to keep that photo, though.  It makes me look macho, don’t you think.

For my bird photography, and other wildlife, I basically use a Tamron 150-500mm zoom lens.  With it attached to one of my two Canon EOS 7D Mark II cameras, I get comparable photos to what I got with the 500mm.  I either use a tripod, or when shooting from my car, my favorite way, a SafariPack bean bag on my window sill.  When I want to walk or hike, to make things a bit lighter, I use a Canon 100-400mm lens in place of the Tamron, sometimes carrying a monopod.

When shooting, I go against what a lot of purists would do.  I seldom shoot in Manual mode.  Why in the world, would I do that when I have a high dollar camera that is designed to figure the exposures for me?  That’s why I paid the big bucks.  When shooting wildlife, lighting situations change by the minute.  There is no time to make quick decisions or I lose the shot.  I use Manual mode for flowers, landscapes, etc.  My subjects are not constantly on the move then.

But make no mistake, I don’t use AUTO either.  With my set-up I have found that what works best for me, with my Canon 7D Mark II, is to shoot Shuttter Priority, that’s Tv on your camera dial.  Depending on the time of day, or lighting, I generally set the shutter anywhere from 1/1000th or 1/2500th of a second, I use auto-ISO, and auto-white balance. The camera generally gives me a large aperture at those settings.  I like to shoot in high-speed bursts.  I use spot-exposure.  I usually use spot-focus, but I am ready to toggle the button to go to zone-focus if I need to acquire a fast moving bird or animal that is in the open.  Oh, one more thing.  As I shoot, I always have my thumb on the back dial, so I can quickly adjust the Exposure Values on the run, should all of a sudden the bird is backlit, or deep in the shade.

I am not recommending that you use the same set-up.  I am only saying what works for me with my own camera/lens combination.  As you can see, by looking at my results on this blog, I have been very sucessful with it.  I will say that I tried using Aperture Priority, (Av), and my results were mixed.  Not as consistent as I have gotten with Shutter Priority.

Perigrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

I photographed this juvenile Peregrine Falcon as he was lifting off to begin flight.  Exposure was 1/1250 sec @ f6.3, +0.3 EV adjustment, because of it was slightly backlit.  ISO was 125.   Click the image to see an enlargement.

If you have any comments or questions, I would be happy to hear from you.

Happy Shooting!!

 

Let’s blog for another year.


In my previous post I mentioned that it was the seven year anniversary of this blog.  After much soul-searching, horn-blowing, champagne-drinkin’ and general partying, I have decided to go for another year.  Or at least make it until my 1000th post, which this one is my 927th.  Or which comes first.  We will whoop it up then and make another decision if need be.

The birding is still a bit slow, considering the time of the year.  I guess it is because of the continuing high temperatures here in San Angelo.  I think the summer birds got tired of the heat and left town.  Their replacements, the fall and winter birds, decided to delay their visit because it is still darned hot here.

But, we still get out several days a week, hoping to get to see something new or get good photos of any hangers-on.  Here are a few recent images that I am proud of.  I was using my Canon EOS 7D Mark II.  Lens was my Tamron 150-600mm.  I will begin to try to put my exposure data under each photo.  It is something new that I thought I would try.  Several of my readers say that they would like to know how I shoot my photographs.

We stopped near a shrubby area at the Isabelle Harte Multi-use area of San Angelo State Park.  We spotted some bird activity within, and after waiting a few minutes, this Yellow Warbler came out of the branches into view.  It was early in the morning, and the bird was backlit, thus the reason of the one stop EV adjustment.

Yellow Warbler - 1/1000th sec. @f7.1, +1 EV, ISO 1000.

Yellow Warbler – 1/1000th sec. @f7.1, +1 EV, ISO 1000.

This bobwhite was about 30 yards away, partially backlit and shaded by some tree branches.

Northern Bobwhite - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +1 EV adjustment, ISO 1000.

Northern Bobwhite – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +1 EV, ISO 1000.

This Vermilion Flycatcher was high atop a tree branch, pretty far off, but my Tamron 150-600 long lens helped me out.

Vermilion Flycatcher - 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 160.

Vermilion Flycatcher – 1/1000 sec. @ f6.3, ISO 160.

There are still several Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in San Angelo State Park.  Most of them we have found lately are the short-tailed juveniles, but we did come upon this adult.  One of my favorite birds.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 250.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – 1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 250.

This morning we heard, before we saw it, this Cactus Wren.  Very rare for me to get so close to one.  Another one that was heavily backlit by the morning sun.

Cactus Wren - 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +1.7 EV, ISO 320.

Cactus Wren – 1/640 sec. @ f6.3, +1.7 EV, ISO 320.

I hope you enjoy my post today.  I would love to hear your questions or comments, so let’s hear what you have to say.

Happy Birding!!


 

Seven years and still counting. A one, anna two, anna three……… :-)


Yesterday I celebrated my 7th anniversary of beginning this blog.  In those years I have accumulated 45,320 readers in 164 countries.  Together they have visited 205,231 times.  This will be my 926th post.  I still don’t know how I have been able to come up with that much subject matter.  I cheat by putting in a bunch of pictures to fill it up.  I also try to make catchy titles that get your attention.  But whatever works.  Anyway, I really appreciate my readers and fellow bloggers that make the job easier.

Migration has started and the fun has begun.  For example, yesterday Ann and I visited San Angelo State Park.  Up in the Isabelle Harte picnic area we spotted some activity in a group of live oak trees.  We had gotten up early, got a cup of coffee and a burrito to go at Jack N’ Jill Donut shop.  We took that with us, and when we spotted that forementioned activity in the trees, we decided that would be a great place to just watch and eat our little breakfast.

Well, we were kept busy as we spotted several birds and warblers in the trees, including Yellow Warblers, Wilson’s Warblers, Nashville Warblers, Least flycatchers and the highlight of the day, an American Redstart, which was a lifer.  Also we saw a Willow Flycatcher, another lifer. What a thrill!

This morning we returned to the same spot, with another burrito and coffee, hoping to catch some more new birds for the year.  We missed the American Redstart as I wanted to get some photos, but it was not present. I  failed at getting photos of it yesterday.  Try as I may, I could not get it into my viewfinder fast enough.  It kept flitting in and out of the leaves, teasing me.  Anyway to digress, we were not disappointed otherwise.  I got nice photos of a Great Crested Flycatcher.

Then just before we were leaving, a Peregrine Falcon flew overhead.  It was flying low and I suspected it was about to light somewhere near.  We drove out of the trees and about 100 yards away, it was sitting atop a picnic table shelter.  Surprisingly, I was able to drive up to about 25 feet away.  It was a juvenile bird and was still trusting humans.  I circled the shelter in the car at a distance, getting shots from different angles.  He just perched and watched me for around 15 minutes.

In other news, I came across three more photos from our Uvalde trip last month.  Here they are.

White-tailed Haek

White-tailed Hawk

Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara

Green Jay

Green Jay

The following are photos that I have gotten since my last post.  We have visited local San Angelo parks including Spring Creek Park, Middle Concho Park, and of course, San Angelo State Parks.

Bullock's Oriole - female

Bullock’s Oriole – female

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Northern Cardinal - female

Northern Cardinal – female

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon lifting off from perch.

Peregrine Falcon lifting off from perch.

That’s it for this post.  I still have more photos to go sort through and of course, I hope to get some more nice ones in days to come.  So stay tuned…….  It looks like many more burrito and coffee breakfasts to come.🙂

I would like to mention to you to click on any image to see enlargements.  Also any photo you see on my posts are available as prints.  Contact me if you are interested.

Red-tails in the Sunset


Okay, so I didn’t photograph these Red-tailed Hawks in the sunset, but I thought it made a catchy title to this post.  Actually, I got them over the past few days of the Labor Day Weekend.  Birding has been a bit slow, but as Ann and I were driving through Middle Concho Park, we spotted a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on the ground, and upon further examination of the photo, it seemed to be contemplating snatching up a worm.  Whether it did snatch it or not I do not know.

Red-tailed Hawk checking out a worm on the ground.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk checking out a worm on the ground.

We heard or saw movement above us, and discovered a mature adult Red-tailed Hawk sitting on a tree branch.  It appeared to be unaware of us, so I was able to get this photo.

Red-tailed Hawk in tree.

Red-tailed Hawk in tree.

We thought that was a neat encounter as we seldom see two of these hawks at the same time.  Our luck stayed with us, as a couple of days later we were near the same location and we spotted the juvenile high up perched on a dead tree.  This time I got several images of him and I picked these two to show you.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on the move.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on the move.

The adult was nowhere to be seen this day, but we did hear him scream a time or two, so he was somewhere nearby.  However, there were a number of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers around.

Young Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

Young Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Also Eastern Phoebes…..

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

And a few other assorted species……

Inca Dove

Inca Dove

Cassin's Sparrow

Cassin’s Sparrow

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

Dickcissell

Dickcissell

Bullock's Oriole.

Bullock’s Oriole.

I am happy to share all of these images with you.  It is the reason that I go out day after day, so I can get new images to post here.  I hope that you understand that, because my copyright is shown boldly at the bottom of each image, that these photos can’t be copied without my permission.  It would be my hope, that if anyone was interested, they would purchase a print from me for a nominal fee.  A friend wanted to print directly from my blog instead of buying.  Hey, with friends like that who needs an enema.🙂

By the way, the photos you see here are at a very low resolution.  If you were able to use them to print, they wouldn’t be very usable.  I have spent many thousands of dollars on education and equipment in my profession.  The only way I recoup any of that is by selling prints.  On that note, I have my 2017 calendars now.  They are really exquisite, high quality, and beautifully printed.  The selling price is 18.79 plus 1.21 Texas sales tax.  Free delivery in San Angelo, Texas.  Out of town mailing add 6.00.

 

August birding in Uvalde


Ann and I decided to take off for a couple of days and visit friends down in Uvalde.  We left Wednesday morning for the three hour drive.  We arrived at our friends, Bob and Marianne Shackleford, about noon, just in time for lunch.  Bob has fixed a water feature in his yard and has had many birds arriving to partake of the wet stuff and a free meal of birdseed.

Although, Bob complained that the birding was ‘slow’, Ann and I were very pleased that we were able to see some birds that we don’t usually see in San Angelo, and add six more to our 2016 list: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Crested Caracara, Harris’s Hawk, Green Jay, Great Kiskadee, and a Roseate-Spoonbill.

About that Roseate Spoonbill, it is a very rare bird to show up in Uvalde.  I was fortunate to spot it in a pond about 75 yards off the highway.  We all had a good look at.  It was among some sparse shrubs of some type along the water.  I couldn’t get a decent photo from where we were parked, so I got out of the car and tried to quietly make my way closer.  But I was impeded by deep weeds that hid about 8 inches of water.  I accidently spooked a Great Blue Heron that was nearby, and it in turn, spooked the spoonbill.  So, unfortunately, no photograph.

I also missed a photo of the Great Kiskadee.  I was sitting in the Shackleford’s front yard.  As it came in, I was in the process of putting a new battery in my camera, and I didn’t get it turned back on in time.  The kiskadee was there for only a brief few seconds.

Here are some photos.  There are more, but I haven’t had time to get them all edited.  Click on any of these to see some nice enlargements.

Hariss's Hawk

Harris’s Hawk

Crested Caracaras

Crested Caracaras

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Green Jay

Green Jay

Here is a photograph of a Great Kiskadee from a previous trip to Uvalde.  Not a great photo, as it was taken from a greater distance, but I think you will like it.

Great Kiskadee

Great Kiskadee

Also after digging through my archives, I found this photo of a Roseate Spoonbill.  It and two others spent about three days here in San Angelo back in 2010.  I photographed it at O. C. Fisher Reservoir.

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Before I forget, I wish to thank Bob and Marianne Shackleford for their generous hospitality.  We stayed at a nearby Hampton Inn, but the Shackleford’s insisted we dine with them for several meals.  As we say here, they fixed us up with some very nice vittles.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and as always, prints are available of all of the photos in this post or a previous post.  A further note, my 2017 calendars are in.  They will go fast, so contact me if you are interested.

Happy Birding!!

.

Hot Diggety!! Migration is starting!!


Okay, I might be rushing the season, but with the storm Saturday dropping an average of two inches and the temps dropping into the low nineties and even upper eighties, you can’t blame me for getting excited.  And, right on time, a Yellow Warbler showed up at the bird blind in San Angelo State Park.  I got this photo, which isn’t a very good one because it took me by surprise, and I had a camera in one hand and a breakfast burrito in the other.  It didn’t stay around, so I didn’t get a second chance.  It isn’t as sharp as I would like, but at least, you can tell what it is.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Because of the heat, birding was not very good.  Still, during a few limited short trips out I did get a few images last week.  Please click any image to see some very nice enlargements.

A trip to the Hummer House down near Christoval, netted me a couple good photos of a Black-chinned Hummingbird.

4G7A1523-net-hummer-black-chinned-bob-zeller

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Back in San Angelo, we went to San Angelo State Park, early one morning.  We stopped at the blind there first and this Curve-billed Thrasher obliged us by making a brief stop.  The light was still a little low but I think my Canon 7D Mark II handled it nicely.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

The following morning, we returned to to just take a meandering drive through all of the roads that interlace the park.  It is great fun doing that, as we never know what we will come across.

Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

There were still numerous Scissor-tailed Flycatchers hanging around.  Because of the shorter tail, I believe this one is a young one.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - juvenile

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – juvenile

Before heading home we saw this perched Common Nighthawk, not fully awake yet.

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

I guess that’s all for this post. I hope to get in more birding in the following days, now that the temperatures are more tolerable, both to me and the birds.

Oh, one more thing.  I have my 2017 Calendars in now.  More beautiful than before.  Twenty bucks plus mailing will get you one.  E-mail me at bobzeller@pobox.com if interested.

You can see more of my photos at http://bobzellerphotography.smugmug.com