18-55mm IS lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 80D, Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Using a Brush

Among my files that I am working on this week is this one:

ISO 1000 f/11 1/25sec 55mm

This qualifies as a snapshot. I had just a moment to catch the “who me?” expression on the bird’s face just as he was standing near the warning sign. What I wanted to do was make the story more front and center. A crop was an obvious choice. I thought also I might like this in black and white.  The edit is here:

ISO 1000 f/11 1/25sec 55mm

I’ll call this a black and white with a cheat. I did a layer with my initial edits like the crop and some clarity. Then I did another layer with a the black and white edits. This particular black and white is done with a yellow filter, that ended up being the interpretation that I prefered. Then I added a final layer. I took a brush to that layer, made it the size of the bird’s eye and set the opacity to 35%. I was erasing just a bit off the black and white layer, just on the eye. So the final edit has a hint of color to the bird’s eye. I use the brush fairly regularly in my editing process. I don’t always think about setting its opacity, but that is a small but impactful way to make use of the tool. My final edit was a vignette that is centered on the eye, further accenting the look the bird was giving me.

What do you think of the final image, does the story pop more? Do you like the touch of color? Feel free to comment below.


Added to Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge, Signs.


50mm Lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Nature, Photography

I go to the zoo, encounter a few problems

For this trip to the St. Louis Zoo I went to the bird house. The problems there for photographers include:

  1. Low light
  2. Cage wires
  3. Distance from the birds

For me you can add:

  1. Forgetting to take down the names of the birds.

I’ll come back to the problems is a minute, but for now the birds:

ISO 500 50mm 0ev f/13 0.6s

ISO 500 50mm 0ev f/13 0.6s

This was probably my most successful image.  I actually got two exposures of this white winged wood duck, which I merged in HDR to bring out some of the really interesting detail this duck has. Notice I actually know the name of the duck as well.

Here are some other images, notice how many don’t have names:

So, of the seven birds featured in this post, I know the names of three.  Pretty bad when you consider I had a strategy for remembering the names.  The thought was to take a picture of the display sign whenever I took a picture of a bird.  Not a bad idea, but I guess I didn’t follow through because I came home with a bunch of birds but not a bunch of names.

As for the more generic problems I listed, here is what I did.  First I bumped my ISO to 500, usually I stick to as close to 100 as possible.  I was using my 50mm lens, because I can get my f-stop to 1.8, allowing as much light in as possible.  Where possible, I tried to have a fast shutter speed.  What I was trying to do with that was blur the cage wires as much as possible.  Because a fast shutter speed cuts down on the light, my shutter speed varies a lot in these images.  The shutter speed range is 1/30 to 1/320 depending on the shot.  I also used my tripod.  The birds were already moving, I didn’t want to add in camera shake.  As far as the distance from the cages, I did the best I could.  There were certain birds that I could not get close enough to to get a decent shot.  Either the bird was too far away for a 50mm lens, or the cage wires were to prominent in the images.

So, when you are taking photos of subjects and want to remember proper names later how do you do it?  I guess I could use some tips!