Why it Pays to Edit

Ann and I were out near Middle Concho Park yesterday.  It was getting late in the morning, the light was harsh and contrasty, and the birds were laying in for the afternoon.  However, as we were driving along, Ann was startled to see a Great Horned Owl fly from a branch near the car.  We followed along to where we thought it had landed, and eventually spotted it far back in the woods.

I turned the car around so I could get a shot through the trees from my driver’s side window.  I was using my Canon 7D Mark II and a Tamron  150-600mm lens.  Shutter priority, 1/2500 sec. @ f7.1, ISO 3200.  This is original image.

orig - Great Horned Owl

orig – Great Horned Owl

Now, this image, in itself is really not a bad photograph.  Most people would be happy to have it.  However, with a bit of cropping for composition, some color and lighting adjustments for the bright conditions, I was able to come up with this final photograph.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

So as you can see, the camera really does lie.  It cannot always cope with difficult lighting conditions.  In this case, bright sun high in the sky, making harsh shadows.  I would prefer softer lighting, i.e. clouds covering the sun, or even overcast.  But, when trying to capture wildlife, you deal with what you have to work with.  I edited this image in Photoshop, but the minor adjustments I made could be done with any inexpensive software.  Click on either image to see enlargements.

So, enough about editing.  Monday afternoon, Ann and I were sitting in front of our house watching the neighborhood birds.  This juvenile Curve-billed Thrasher landed in our ocotillo, and minutes later an adult arrived and began feeding it with an insect of some type.  I cursed myself for leaving my camera inside.  I ran to get it, but by the time I got back the adult was gone.  However, I got some images of the young bird.  Interesting, though, that if I hadn’t seen the adult, I may not have recognized the bird for what it was.  I realized that with the juvenile, the bill is shorter and they eye has not yet achieved that fierce orange color.

Curve-billed Thrasher - juvenile

Curve-billed Thrasher – juvenile

Driving near O.C. Fisher Lake at San Angelo State Park on Sunday afternoon netted me a couple of other photos.

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Common Nighthawk on mesquite branch.

Common Nighthawk on mesquite branch.

Well, that’s it for this post.  Catch ya in a few days.

Happy Birding!!


18 thoughts on “Why it Pays to Edit

  1. Thanks for the before and after of the owl, Bob. I really like being able to compare and see how you improved the image with a bit of editing. Glad to hear you have been out and about and are feeling better!

  2. Great sightings and pictures. Thanks for sharing. I especially like the great horned owl in the tree

  3. As usual, Bob, great work. I’m especially glad that you share your settings with us. It helps me a great deal. Glad to see that you are back out in the woods doing what you really like to do.

  4. Nice photos Bob. I certainly agree with your thoughts on editing/post processing. For me it’s important to have a clear idea of what I want the picture to say and then knowing when enough is enough.

  5. I love these photos, Bob. Especially the Great Horned Owl. I hear one regularly but never see it so it’s nice to see a photo of one!

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