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Old Dec 26, 2012, 6:54 AM   #1
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Default Pileated Woodpecker on Christmas day

The pileated woodpecker was distant and the contrast was intense, with an overcast gray sky. The photo was taken at 300mm, handheld, and I have posted the original and the cropped edit. I assume with a steadier hand and/or tripod, improvement would be possible. I played quite a bit with different exposures and variables. Any suggestions are welcome.



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Old Dec 26, 2012, 12:40 PM   #2
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Hi MacBook,

Great capture!!

We have Pileateds up here, I've seen the holes, and heard them pecking, but in over 7 years have never spotted one, much less get a shot. You did well by using Ev comp to overexpose a bit.

I've noticed in my very short experience with the K-5 IIs, that there are markedly less color aberrations than expected in this kind of high contrast shot with a given lens. There is only a tiny bit of red/green lateral CA and just a touch of PF in a few areas.

I do have a processing tip for your cropped image -- this is not a criticism, just a trick that I've found useful.

I immediately noticed a bit of haloing at just about all of the high contrast borders, I assume it's from sharpening. Both in-camera sharpening and Unsharp Mask in PP will cause this as they both use local contrast enhancement emphasize edge contrast, and this can result in the halos being created. It's not really obtrusive, but noticeable to me since I'm sensitive to it, and it's something that I always try to fix as I like to PP to get an optimum final image.

I fix this by using the clone brush in PSPP X4 in "darken" mode. These different modes are commonly found for the clone brush in most editing programs. On this example, it's really easy to fix, and just takes a few minutes at most. I use a large brush, uncheck the "Aligned Mode" box which has the effect of fixing the "source" in one place, and set the opacity at @ 30%. The darken mode only effects areas that are lighter than the source, so you can be sloppy. Move the target brush to include the haloed areas and click -- only the lighter halos will be effected, and they darken to match the surrounding sky eliminating the halo.

The same brush can be used in "color" mode to correct the CA/PF if you want, but you have to be a little more careful since you only want to change the unwanted color, but in this case, you can be a bit sloppy since the wires and metal sections are actually close to the color of the sky, and the the back of the bird is black, so minor changes in color won't change anything much. On the pole, you want to be careful to only effect the edge, and not get too far into the brown area.

I've processed you posted pic to show you the difference it can make. The changes are subtle, but I think the fixes improve the overall look.

Some people only want images as they come from the camera, I obviously don't agree, and think that PP allows us to get the best of the images that we take. If you object to me altering your image, please PM me or state such in a reply, and I'll remove my version.

Scott
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Last edited by snostorm; Dec 26, 2012 at 12:42 PM.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 3:46 PM   #3
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Thanks, Scott. I hear the pileateds from time to time, but do not often see them, or when I see them do not have a camera. I had an opportunity a few years ago to get shots of a very active one on a tall palm on our street. Even though I was fairly close, I only had a Panasonic FZ15, and the shutter lag and resolution just were not sufficient for clear shots.

This bird was much further away, but in a fairly unobstructed view from our backyard. I did sharpen in Lightroom 4.3 and appreciate what you have done. One question: Will less aggressive sharpening avoid the problem? In this instance I used the sharpening shown below:


The original settings were 25, 1.0, 25,0.

I have been lucky with many of my photographs that post-processing is not necessary, at least for a cursory view or prints up to 13x19", but as one challenges the conditions a bit more, then PP becomes more important.

Elliot
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 5:10 PM   #4
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Hi Elliot,

I really can't even remember what parameters to use for Unsharp Mask, which is what it looks lke you're using here. I have been using deconvolution sharpening (Focus Magic, and now Topaz In Focus) for so many years that UM is something that I used to know how to use. . . but. . . since I have to look at my phone to remember my own phone # nowadays, is a long lost skill. I think that if you toned it down, you might be able to avoid the halos. Otherwise, my trick can be used to eliminate them after the fact.

I'm sure that some others on the forum might be able to give you some tips on sharpening with USM or maybe even some other tools that might be available in LR. The halos weren't bad, as I said, I just happen to be sensitive to seeing it.

Scott
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Old Dec 30, 2012, 6:40 PM   #5
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I would not have noticed the haloing if Scott had not pointed it out. But his work sure makes a fine photo even better!

MacBook - you might find these tips useful for sharpening:

http://www.bythom.com/sharpening.htm
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Old Jan 1, 2013, 4:26 AM   #6
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Thanks to both of you.

mole, I have read that link and saved it, because it needs more in-depth study. A couple of things come to mind. Different cameras would produce RAW photos differently, which might have some effect. Also, software packages certainly vary in how they process images, which could conceivably have an effect as well.

More than anything else, though, understanding the concepts and being able to identify the distortion introduced is key to producing better photographs.
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