Fun with creative editing….

In times like this, when the weather is hot and the birding is slow, it is time for….drum roll please………..Creative Editing.

Actually, I did get out for a little while Sunday morning.  I didn’t want to spend too much time as I wanted to get home in time to watch Andre Beltre, of the Texas Rangers, get his 3000th base hit.  In the history of baseball, only 30 others had accomplished that in their career.  But, heck, you are not interested in hearing about baseball.

So, back to the original purpose of this post.  While we were out, Ann, a couple of family friends, and I, were birding at San Angelo State Park.  As I said, not too much going on, but we did spot a Northern Bobwhite perched and singing in the distance.  In the distance, is an understatement, as we could barely see him with our naked eyes.  I put my bean bag on the window sill, turned off the engine to prevent anymore vibrations.  I settled my Canon 7D Mark II with my Tamron 150-600 G2 lens, on the beanbag.  With that solid bed, I fired off a few shots at 1/1250 sec. @ f6.3, plus 1/3 stop of EV adjustment.  ISO was 800, which promoted a little digital noise.  Here is the original, looking through that long lens.  I was at a distance of approximately 100 yards.  Remember, with the naked eye it looked even much further away.

Northern Bobwhite

Since that was the only usable image from that outing, I loaded it into the computer to see if I could make something out of it in my digital darkroom.  The result follows below.  First, you can see how I first cropped it.  In doing so, it left part of the tree taking up space, too close to the quail for my liking.  Fortunately the sky was an even blue all around, so I just cloned the tree out very easily.  After all, I was after a nice photo of the bird, not the tree.  It was just a distraction in this case.

The first thing I did was get rid of the tiny bit of noise that the higher ISO of 800 created.  There wasn’t much, as the Canon 7D Mk II handles high ISOs very nicely.  But I have a plug-in, Topaz DeNoise, that does a great job of eliminating digital noise.  Very easy to use.

Now, even with taking those precautions described above, the image wasn’t tack sharp.  But that is going to happen when you crop an image so tightly, especially since the original was shot from so far away.  I do all of my cropping and editing in Photoshop CS5.  I do not use their sharpening, though.  I have a great plug-in, called Focus Magic.  Photoshop’s sharpening method with the so-called “Unsharp Mask” just messes with the pixels.  Focus Magic actually corrects the focus very naturally.  But having said that, evev after I use the Focus Magic, I sometimes tweak it a little more by using the Photoshop’s focus tool and paint it a little lightly.  A very neat trick.

After that I tweaked the contrast and color saturation a bit.  And there you have it, my little secret recipe that has been handed down over hundreds of years.  Not bad, if I do say so myself.  I hope you like it. 🙂  (Click on either image to see nice enlargements.)

Northern Bobwhite

And yes, in case you were wondering, Andre Beltre did get his 3,000th  hit,. After that, I took a nap. 🙂

Oh, in case you missed it my beautiful 2018 calendars are here.  Click this link for more information:

Osprey and Great Egrets……

Ann and I took a ride to Spring Creek Park this Thursday morning.  We were looking for the arrival of migratory birds.  They are still slow in coming, but saw the arrival of the first Double-crested Cormorant of the season, so I guess that is a start.  We watched an Osprey hunting up and down the waters.  It took me by surprise and caught a fish, but I tracked it and I saw it land in a tree.  Fortunately, it was nearby and I was able to hand-hold my new Canon 70D with a 100-400mm zoom lens.  The first shot is of him perched, then I took the second shot as he began to fly off.  Then I was lucky enough to catch him in flight.

Osprey perched with fish.

Osprey perched with fish.

Osprey taking off.

Osprey taking off.

Osprey in flight.

Osprey in flight.

Farther on as we drove around the horse-shoe drive in the park, we looked across the water and saw four Great Egrets in the trees.  At that point the water is about 300-400 yards wide.  I propped my Canon 7D with the 500mm lens and tele-converter on my window sill to try for the shot.  I really thought it was to far for a quality image, but my state of the art Canon equipment performed as advertised.  Here is the result.  By the way, it is also tightly cropped for composition.

Two Great Egrets in a tree.

Two Great Egrets in a tree.

As always, these images were post processed through Photoshop applications.  Click on any picture to see an enlargement.

Hey, he’s just a kid………….

Going through some old photos, I came across this one that brought back a fond memory.  A few years ago I was at someone’s ranch.  I really don’t remember whose.  I was just wandering around through the brush and weeds and I came across this new-born goat kid.  The mother was standing about about 20 feet away.  The little one was under a dense mesquite brush.  How it got there I didn’t know.

Looking at it carefully, I realized it was just a few hours old.  It still had blood clots in it’s coat and signs of the after-birth.  It didn’t have a way out of the bush, so I pushed branches aside and carefully reached in.  I gently placed my hand under it’s body and lifted it out into the clearing.  It seened like it only weighed a few ounces, and probably only messured about 14 inches from nose to tail.  It was so cute, I just had to take a photo.  The mother was not concerned in anyway.  She just stood and watched.

I used the cloning tool in Photoshop Elements and cleaned up the coat.  Click on the image to see an enlargement.

"Hey, I'm just a kid"

Photoshop Elements 8

A number of people have asked me over the years, what editing software do I use.  I have Photoshop CS4 which I am learning to use.  But I stll have my dear old Photoshop Elements.  I have used Elements since they came out with their first version several years ago.  I now have version 8.

As they have upgraded, they have gradually added tools, bells and whistles,  that were originally in the full Photoshop software.  Version 8 has continued improving in that sense.  It is very user friendly, and very, very less expensive.  Example:  Full Photoshop CS4 or CS5 – around 600.00.  Photoshop Elements 8 – less than 100.00.  If you are inclined to shoot RAW file, Elements can handle the conversion with no problem.

I myself, shoot RAW and JPEG simotaneously.  My Canon EOS 7D allows me to do that.  Then I can choose to use whichever image I want.  But either way, I find that the final results are excellent.

Following are two examples.  Both were processed in Photoshop Elements 8.  An Eastern Bluebird and a Sunflower, which you saw the photo yesterday.  The bluebird original was a JPEG, whereas the Sunflower was shot in RAW.  These were shot with my 18MP Canon EOS 7D.  Having that extra large file to work with enables me to crop extra close.  Both of these photos produced very nice 11x14s.

Eastern Bluebird - original from the camera



Sunflower - original from camera




Of course, there is more to producing a good photograph than just cropping.   In these photos, I have adjusted the light, color saturation, contrast, and done a little more sharpening.  So that’s how Photoshop Elements has helped me out. 

If you have any questions or comments on this subject comment here or contact me direct at   Click on any of the images for an enlargement.