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Old Jul 4, 2003, 8:03 PM   #1
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Default woodpecker from hike

I was out hiking today in a State park when I saw a pair of woodpeckers having lunch (notice the lunch ant at his foot!) I wasn't fast enough to catch one feeding the other, but I was able to get a few pictures of this one. Unfortunately, I was shooting through 2 trees so the branch interference made the shot rather difficult (that branch slightly in front is from another tree.)

My guess is a immature Downy, but the red is wrong. Anyone have a better guess?



Canon 10D 100-400 @400, 1/180, F6.7, ISO 400
Neat Image to remove noise
PS: Crop, Sharpen, and minor levels

As usual, any and all comments welcome. That is how I improve.

Eric
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Old Jul 4, 2003, 8:59 PM   #2
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I really like that shot. I don't even mind the branch in front.
There is such thing as a red-headed woodpecker but I'm no expert on birds.
In what order do you post-process you pics.
Do you sharpen and then use neat image?
I find neat image can do a pretty good job especially on noisy backgrounds, but for me, it also softens parts of the image that I want to remain sharper. I have played around with the program a bit but definitely have not mastered it yet.
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Old Jul 4, 2003, 9:28 PM   #3
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Hey, that's pretty good, especially at 400 ISO!! Canon really has the noise reduction and flash down pat. Maybe someday Nikon will follow suit!. Can't tell the size from here but could it be a Hairy Woodpecker? It runs about 1.5 or so times the size of the Downy.
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Old Jul 4, 2003, 11:39 PM   #4
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Thanks both of you for the kind words.

jazcan

My workflow in PS is really rather ad-hoc. It's what I've developed over the past... month or so.

I shoot in the best JPG setting supported. I don't have enough CF memory to use RAW, or I would. I also don't have the full version of photoshop, I'm using PS elements. This means I don't have to worry about 8-bit vs. 16-bit steps. So realize that is where I'm starting from. I'm going to make it into a list to make it easier to follow.

1) I do a little in PS to make sure the picture has potential. Testing with different crops and levels. If it looks good, I go back to the original and...
2) run it through neat image. Even with my 2Ghz machine, neat image still takes a while on the highest setting.
3) Then I crop it.
4) Play with levels to recover dark details.
5) maybe add "fill flash" under the brighten menu item.
6) From there I reduce it if need be. I do this if the picture is too big. I'd rather reduce the size of the picture than add more jpg compression. I like a picture with good detail & no jpg artifacts.
7) Then I sharpen it. I don't know enough about Unsharp Mask (USM) so I don't use it. I need to learn it, 'cause it's more flexible than just "sharpen" under the filters menu.
8) Then I use "save to web" to save the jpg. I try to not make the picture over 100K or so. I've noticed that Kevin G posts larger than that (and no one complains) so I might raise that.

In the case of this picture, I did everything but 5 & 6. I did almost no 4, I used the entire dynamic range of the camera in the picture.

I do sharpening so late because things like reducing the size can alter the picture so much that it needs to be sharpened again. Since I don't want to sharpen more than once, I delay sharpening. If this is a bad idea someone please set me straight!

That is it. I spend awhile trying to get a good crop. And if necessary, trying to recover details in shadows without destroying the rest of the picture (using the magic wand tool to select only parts of the picture and then apply levels or brightness to just that part.) Some times this is easy, other times it's very hard (that #3 heron, I think, was quite hard for me.. and even after what I did Klaus improved it.)

Kevin G
I'm sure Nikon will catch up. But I have to admit that picture did show noise. I've posted the original picture here, directly out of the camera (note, 2.38MB file):
[url=http://www.marx7.org/~dsmith/eric/woodpecker_orig.jpg]full sized pic[/img]

The trick is neat image. If you haven't used that software yet, get it. You'll fall in love with it. In the places and ways that I shoot (in the depths of a forest, with nothing but the built in fill flash) I have to shoot 400ISO or my shutter speed never breaks 1/90th. Not nearly enough for the subjects I like.

Believe it or not, that picture had no flash. Their ETTL system is good, and I expect I'll get a good flash some day (soon?) but I haven't yet.

My girlfriend and I spent quality time looking in two bird books. Both have the Harry and Downy with the red on the backs of their heads, not the tops (like this one.) The bird did seem somewhere between 6-9" (the Harry is 9") so Harry might be a better choice. Maybe an immature? Don't know. It's not a read headed, as that has a completely red head. The closest I saw was the Ladder-Backed Woodpecker, but since I'm not in Texas or Mexico I ruled that out. .

Eric
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Old Jul 5, 2003, 5:32 AM   #5
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Just did some poking around in my reference books..in "Birds of Connecticut" the juvenile Downy is said to "sometimes have a red mark near the forehead"
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Old Jul 5, 2003, 10:05 AM   #6
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Thanks for checking. Neither the Kaufman nor the Peterson book has a good description of the immature. I have to check my Stokes later... it burried around here somewhere

Eric
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Old Jul 5, 2003, 11:04 AM   #7
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Eric,
Thanks for listing your steps. I've spent countless hours playing around with pics that I have trying different ways of doing things to see what works the best. I do use USM and I find that it can make an incredible difference in certaiin situations. It's great for removing the all over haze that some pictures have and also great for adding sharpness to subjects faces. The trick is to use is conservatively. There have been several times that I've gone too far and it starts to look really fake.
Thanks again for letting us in on your secrets
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Old Jul 5, 2003, 11:30 PM   #8
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Jazcan

You might also find this link useful. Its way overkill, but its designed to be complete and exaustive... not realistic. Pick and choose the parts that you need. I haven't read much yet, but I should. Its just more fun to go shoot than to read about PS editing workflows!

Nuts, I can't find it. Here is one useful link:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...hotoshop.shtml

Ah, here is is:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...orkflow1.shtml

I have so many links, I think I'm drowning in them.

I agree that sharpening is a must for good results. But I don't fully understand the 3 different settings for USM. Before I "get it" I am only crashing around with a blindfold on, wrecking furnature. Hopefull that last link (or a good PS book) will do it... once I actually sit down and read them! :lol:

Eric
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