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eric s Jul 16, 2004 12:03 AM
I slipped out of work for a bit and took this picture of 2 American Kestrel babies. I got pictures of the parents 4 months ago at 7am in 30 degrees doing it on a billboard. Then we lost them.... until they were found last weekend only a few blocks from there. I wonder if these are the babies that I saw being made?

This is reduced by about 50%. That made sharpening a bit trickier, because it was already sharp in a some places.

The crop is a bit odd, but I'm trying to get into the habit of cropping to dimensions that work better printed. I'm not sure if this worked. I wanted it a bit tighter, cutting off about one whole vertical board on the left.

I was told by others that I missed their first official "flight" by about 2 hours. The person who told me about them came home at 6:30 to find them on the TV antenna on the next house over, and she watched one fly off of that.

But now the question for Eric CAN. I tried again to "shoot to the right". I agree that it seems to make NeatImage unnecessary. I didn't use it here. But I found that the hot spots were harder to deal with. I converted it twice, once about -0.5 stop and once about -1 stop (Note the RAW has data there so those spots aren't technically blown out.) Then I erased on the leg and a few other spots. I'm not thrilled with how those came out, but I accept it. The problem I had was with contrast & a color cast. I was getting a red tint (not brown or cream, which would be correct for the bird) in the almost over exposed parts. It got worse when I increased contrast. This caused me to not raise the light end of the contrast as much as I would have liked. Do you have this problem? I don't believe I've ever seen this when I just try to "Expose correctly".

Camera 10D 600mm f4 1.4x TC f8 1/750 +0.5EC ISO400 RAW
Photoshop: double RAW conversion with exposure reductions into layers. Combined the layers, Curves, Crop, Reduce, Sharpen.

geoffs Jul 16, 2004 12:10 AM

These young kestrels are rather cute! Is it you they are looking at Eric? With both having their heads turned in the same direction, it certainly seems so.

That one that is peeking out from under the railing is really funny.

I am not going to touch the technical questions with a ten foot pole...

Normcar Jul 16, 2004 12:15 AM

Superb photographs. My only wish was that the background would be less specific and I'm sure you've considered that yourself. The birds are spectacular, as usual, and the expressions are priceless.

PS - I also understand that it would be impossible to make the background more blurred. In other words, this photo is next to perfect.

Eric CAN Jul 16, 2004 6:36 AM

Eric, I have to go to work now, I'll get back to you on this afternoon.

Superb shots btw ;)

aladyforty Jul 16, 2004 8:36 AM

nice shots, cute birds.

eric s Jul 16, 2004 9:02 AM

I think their heads are turned to look at their father (who had been feeding them that day.) I don't know that for sure but at one time I was shooting them and they kept looking up right (towards the porch) and I finally thought "what are they looking at?" So I took my eye from the camera and saw the father perched on the railing. So I took some pictures of that too!

I do have a shot or two of them staring right at me. So they knew I was there, but were usually interested in other things.

The one thing that I never saw but was told about was that the adults would some times sit on a wooden scarecrow owl (for keeping the pidgens of the porch, but it didn't work.) He would just land on top of it's head. Now that would have been worth printing and framing!

I agree that I'd have rather seen them in a better situation. But they are fairly rare now (starlings share nesting desires with them and they are way more numerous so they win out) so I was just happy to find them again. I'm actually thinking of making some kind of "urban birds" poster... showing birds you wouldn't expect in urban situations (like these guys.)


geoffs Jul 16, 2004 9:08 AM

eric s wrote:

The one thing that I never saw but was told about was that the adults would some times sit on a wooden scarecrow owl (for keeping the pidgens of the porch, but it didn't work.) He would just land on top of it's head. Now that would have been worth printing and framing!
I'll bet that the effectiveness of that scarecrow increased by orders of magnitude with the adults perched on top of it! :-)

zoomn Jul 16, 2004 10:03 AM

Eric very nice shots. Like how you caught the second one peeking out from under the board.

I was looking at those birds and they just didn't look quite right to me.

I have been watching Kestrals and their babies for some months now out here in Idaho. So I went and looked at some of my shots and was quite surprised to see the color variations between your eastern kestrals and our western kestrals. Your birds have a very brown color, ours have more of light tan and more spotted. Almost doesn't even look like the same kind of bird.

I post this shot here solely to demonstrate this color difference. Please no commentson the shot, I think I may have posted it here before.

geoffs Jul 16, 2004 10:40 AM

Zoomn, the color differences are due to Eric's birds being juveniles and the bird you posted a picture of being a mature kestrel. Really pretty birds, don't you think?

zoomn Jul 16, 2004 11:33 AM

geoffs, nope that can't be it.

The bird I posted a shot of is just one week out of the nest box. Just barely learning to fly.

discodudette Jul 16, 2004 12:05 PM

Great shot! That would be cool if it was that pairs babies.. it'slike you would be their unle or something.. haha okay forget that Idea... great shot, though!

geoffs Jul 16, 2004 1:24 PM

zoomn wrote:

geoffs, nope that can't be it.

The bird I posted a shot of is just one week out of the nest box. Just barely learning to fly.
Zoomn, you are correct and I stand corrected. However, with two cheek marks I can't think that they are anything else other than young kestrels. So, why is there such a difference from the norm in the coloration of these two juveniles?

eric s Jul 16, 2004 2:31 PM

Well, I can think of three reasons.
One could be different age. I don't know how old these are, but I think it's are more than a week old.

Two is that these are females, while your picture is of a male. The female has streaks while the male has spots (like in your picture.) So maybe they are growing into it.

Third is that I might have got the colors wrong. It's very possible I did, but I don't think so. The worse I did was darken that a touch as a side effect of raising the contrast. I do go to great pains to not do that (a landscape friend of mine thinks I'm obsessed about it. To him, you modify the scene to make it look good and sell; "realistic" has nothing to do with it. I know that there is huge amounts of documentation about bird plumages, so I try to make my shots accurate.)

geoffs, I agree about the owl effectiveness. My understanding is that they don't do much (normally.) I'm told that the owner of the porch likes having the kestrels around because there have been no pigeons. And while he hasn't been able to use the porch, they don't mind him being at the door looking at them.

Eric CAN, if you want the RAW file to look at, I can upload it like before (it probably won't do you much good at work.) It just bugged me that some things were much easier, but then I ran into problems I didn't expect.


Eric CAN Jul 16, 2004 6:50 PM

Hi Eric and all, I'm back. Had a little misfortune today at work, so I just came in. About your question, hmmm I never seen this happening. Have you ever tried C1 LE (trial 15 days) ? I think after you know the software, its pretty much straight forward to create TIFF that you'll use in PS afterwards. There's 3 aspect of that software where I think outshines others. EC and CC combined, WB (you choose litteraly what you want) and sharpen / soft look which is great to layer a soft look background which kills the noise instantly. It also comes with your camera profile for different task. Manipulation of image are instant, what you see is what you'll get in TIFF.

Give it a try, if you have any question let me know.

About layering overexposed parts by using negative EC, by using layer mask, you can make miracle with that.


eric s Jul 18, 2004 8:18 PM

I just wanted to throw up an other kestrel picture, this time of the father. Hope you enjoy it.

Camera: 10D 600mm + 1.4TC 1/750 f8 400ISO +1EC (or so)
PhotoShop: RAW convert with -exposure, curves, saturation, reduce, sharpen


Eric CAN Jul 18, 2004 8:21 PM

Beautiful father indeed. I'm impressed at the details @ 840mm ;) How far away were you ?


eric s Jul 18, 2004 9:07 PM

I was probably around 60 feet or so, maybe a bit more. It was hard to judge because it was on the 3rd floor of the building as well. So that changes things a bit.

The birds didn't look that big by the naked eye. This picture is cropped to around 1300 or so on a side, and then reduced to 800 on the longest side.


Normcar Jul 18, 2004 11:47 PM

Great representative photo of the power of that lens (and the photographer of course).

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