[missbirdphotos] Re: My Take on Bittern Photo

  • From: "Judy Howle" <howle@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <missbirdphotos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2012 22:22:27 -0500

I sent a reply to Jay Cliburn that hasn't shown up in my inbox that said:


I agree the exposure was good but having never seen a live bittern, I wonder
why the feathers look so washed out except for one small spot on the back
when the rest of the photo looked normal.  Was it molting or something?
I've seen photos of them where the colors were darker and more contrast in
the striped area. That's why I thought it was difficult to try to get more
detail and contrast in the body.


As to what I did to the photo other than using the Nik Color Efex filters
which you may not have, they are easy, assuming you have Photoshop, Elements
or other editor that has the tools.  In the toolbar on the left are many
useful tools that most people overlook.  If you choose the paint brush you
will see options in the options bar at the top. Choose a low opacity like 15
- 20 % and a soft edged brush, run the hardness down to 0 or pick a fuzzy
looking one in the drop down and paint over anything you'd like to tone down
to darken it. To choose a color, while in the paint brush tool, just hold
the alt key and click on a suitable color in the image assuming there is a
very dark color.  The blur and sharpen tools are also found in the toolbar
but both are in the same group so you have to click on it and hold until the
chooser dialog box comes up. Then you can add blur at about 70% or so in the
options bar and brush over what you want blurred. Then click to choose the
sharpen tool and an appropriate sized smaller brush and brush over small
areas like the eye and beak (and sometimes the legs\feet) which I almost
always do on birds, at about 50% or higher in the options bar. This tool is
not intended to use on the whole image, just small parts where you want
extra sharpening.  If it looks way too sharp, undo in the History panel and
lower the amount and try it again.


A good tip for doing any painting/airbrushing is to create a new blank layer
from the layers palette new layer icon or the Layers menu up top and paint
on it instead of the actual background layer. That way you can lower the
opacity or erase if necessary and you have not permanently altered the
original.  It's also the way the pros do any cloning, they do it on a new
blank layer. When cloning, you must check the box in the options bar that
says current and below or sample all layers since you will be cloning from
the layer below the blank layer.


Judy Howle


Southern Exposures



Digital Photography Class; Resources for Photographers




From: missbirdphotos-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:missbirdphotos-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Dana Swan
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2012 8:37 PM
To: missbirdphotos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [missbirdphotos] Re: My Take on Bittern Photo


A great photo Judy, but your skills are way beyond mine to comprehend.
Curious as to why it was a challenging photo?  

On Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 8:25 PM, Judy Howle <howle@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

That looks good Jay.  It was a challenging photo to me.  Here's my version.
I used CS6 raw converter and adjusted color and tone  and I added some blue
also and then I used Nik Color Efex color contrast filter and the Detail
enhancer filter.  I also added a light vignette plus I airbrushed a dark
color over some of the bright spots in the background foliage and used the
blur tool on same. I often use the blur tool on busy backgrounds to make
them recede a bit. I used the Photoshop sharpen tool in the toolbar which is
now very good, not like the older versions, just on the head and neck and

Judy Howle

Southern Exposures

Digital Photography Class; Resources for Photographers


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