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Old Feb 11, 2005, 2:19 PM   #1
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I learned of a large flock of cedar waxwings this past weekend. So I just had to go over. They are beautiful birds, aren't they?

I kinda feel like I over sharpened in the head, what do you all think? I'm starting to think that 1/500 just wasn't fast enough. I've got some more that I'm going to edit up later.

Camera: 20D 600mm f4 +1.4TC 1/500 f5.6 flash & -1FEC, tripod, RAW
PhotoShop: exposure on RAW convert, contrast, selective-sharpening, reduce.

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Old Feb 11, 2005, 2:30 PM   #2
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Eric, I think its lovely! Sometimes I don't post comments as I feel like I am just saying gorgeous, lovely, etc. over and over - I am not experienced enough at this point to give technical comments. Still, I love everything about it - it looks soft and warm - warm fuzzy feeling??
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Old Feb 11, 2005, 2:41 PM   #3
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Just beautiful Eric, just beautiful. And I'm wondering why you didn't go at least one Fstop smaller to get all of it in good focus. But I guess using the flash limited you to that didn't it. I'm far from being the photographer that you are and I'm surely not being critical. And shooting with that much magnification you must have a very sturdy tripod and remote release. Sure wish there were some of them around here.


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Old Feb 11, 2005, 3:08 PM   #4
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That's a brilliant shot. You've judged the fill flash just right. The lighting is excellent.

I'd agree that the head is a touch sharp, but it would depend on output resolution/print size/etc nothing to worry about.

Just curious - there seems to be a red "smudge" obscuring the tail somewhat - is that a leaf or flower or lens flare or something else?

Really head and shoulders above most of (the sometimes very good photos) we see here.
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Old Feb 11, 2005, 4:28 PM   #5
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I don't mind gushing praise. Sure, it isn't exactly "constructive" but I'm not always looking for that (that is why I ask questions.) But its nice to have people just say "good shot". I work hard at them and see them so much... they just become "shots" after awhile. And it reafirms that others like what I think is good. When my partner looks over my shoulder she some times tells me to edit a particular one when I think is only "ok". Learning what others like is a good thing.

Actually, I used high speed sync (something not all Nikons have, but all recent Canon's do) which lets me use any shutter speed I want but cuts the power of the flash by... either 1/3 or 2/3, I forget. A lot, either way. The reason reason I didn't use a larger aperture is that it would have cut my shutter speed even more. 1/500 when at 840mm is about as low as I can go and still stop the motion (and I didn't, as you see... the head is still blury.) I wish I could have used f8, that would have helped.

As for the tripod... yes, I used the second best that Gizto makes, the G1348 and a full Wimberley head. Really the only way to go with that lens. I've though of upgrading the tripod, but I don't really need to. The 1548 is better, but not enough to justify the cost/hassle of selling this one.

I actually don't use a cable release. I have studied long-lens technique for a while and I'm fairly good at it now. It's not easy, but it isn't hard to learn either.

I tried a variety of flash settings. I didn't want too much or it will look artificial. Yet I wanted to fill in the shadows some. On the flip side, those white hilights are hard not to blow out big time. So I had to be very careful. I thought I used some negitive exposure comp as well (I did on most shots) but a look at the EXIF data said I didn't. I was surprised. As it was, I had to be very careful not to mess up the whites when increasing contrast. Not hard stuff, but attention to detail can make it even better.

The smudge over the tail is a branch or berry stem which is so close to me as to be out of focus. It was very hard to get a good clean shot through the branches and berries of this tree.

Nuts, I just noticed that there is a sligth sharpening halo on the branch. I'll have to reedit that away. I thought I prevented that, darn it!

I'm glad you all liked it. I do work hard on them.

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Old Feb 11, 2005, 5:01 PM   #6
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Great shot! It's not too often you see any feather detail in these guys.
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Old Feb 11, 2005, 9:57 PM   #7
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Eric Waswings are beautiful birds. I really appreciat the foto info you included with the shot. Most helpful, including your statement with the flash.
Better Beamer is on my list.
By the way, take a look at what I was able to do with the new 1x4 under Caono Lenses. Works pretty good right out of the box.
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Old Feb 12, 2005, 2:13 AM   #8
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Eric, very nice indeed. I also think Waxwings are beautiful birds. We get the Cedars here in Calif. too.
Say, could you do me a favor. In the interest of becoming a better Post Processor, could circle or highlight what you are referring to when you talk about the "slight sharpening halo on the branch" I can't see anything that looks out of the ordinary so if you could help out by pinpointing what you mean I can learn something new. :G

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Old Feb 12, 2005, 5:11 AM   #9
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Great timing on this shot catching this guy chomping on its chow. You've
managed to get feather detail on a bird that doesn't normally show a lot of
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Old Feb 12, 2005, 10:57 PM   #10
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Look at this crop of the original:

The circle was supposed to be red, but came out black (thanks PS!) See the edge of that berry stem? See the edge of the branch where the lichen growth is? See that light line that follows their edges, kinda like a halo around them? That is caused by too much sharpening (USM) in post processing. It is not there in the original.

There are several ways to prevent it. Less sharpening (obviously), layers and masks, selection regions, better sharpening tools.

My prefered way is with selection regions. It's a bit harder, but I find produces better results. If I sharpen in a layer and use a mask to remove the halo, I find that it gives the edge a different look. Less odd than the halo, but still wrong to my eyes. There is a blurriness to the edge because... well, that is what I did. Expose the layer underneath that doesn't have any sharpening.

I've been finding a new way to create sharpening halos. When I reduce the image I use Bicubic Sharper interpolation. That can produce halos some times. And there is no way to protect against them other than using Bicubic (i.e. reduce with a different algorithm.)

Does that help?

when I originally sharpened the image there was a halo around part of the back of the bird. I prevented it by using a selection region. But I missed doing it on the branch.

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