After the Rain & repost

Description: I was able to get a Bushtit sitting inside the bushes right outside my windows. Raindrops kept dripping from the leaves getting in the way of being able to focus! But I was glad to get several tries with this individual! Must’ve been full to actually sit in one place for at least a minute!

Specific Feedback Requested: any feedback appreciated , I like the bokeh in the background, does it look okay?

Pertinent technical details or techniques: Nikon D3400, iso 800, 300mm, f/6.3, 1/1000, I sharpened, and adjusted exposure, highlights, contrast, shadows (and I didn’t need to crop, I was that close!!)

Is this a composite? No

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Great photo of this puffed up little guy! Seems to be an overall green tint to me. Bokeh looks fine.

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You mean the bird looks green! I thought there was something different about him but I just thought it was because of all the leaves and sunny raindrops! Do you think it’s because of the wet leaves reflecting onto the bird? Do I need to do something in post processing to adjust that? So I guess I would go to I think it’s called ‘Channel’ in Pixelmator photo, and lower the green slider?

What I like: I like the natural setting and the frame the foliage creates for the bushtit. Those work well.

What I don’t care for. The image has a strong green cast to it. The bird in natural sun is gray. It could have a slight green cast from the foliage, but not to the extent that it does.

The bird is underexposed largely because the background was bright and overwhelmed the metering. Although I see that all of your photos have the same settings so I’m guessing you are shooting in manual and not adjusting the exposure. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to understand light and how the camera sees the light. What it sees and records is not the same as our eyes see and interpret. I also can’t emphasize enough how critical it is to have solid post processing skills to work with the results of the camera and optimize them.

Here is a quick adjustment of the image. It is far from great, but the best I could work with the jpeg. With the RAW file, I’d hope to achieve a better result.


Hi Keith, thanks for your feedback. I’m not sure what you mean about my settings being the same on all my photos as I’m always adjusting at every photo session. For example in this one I had to adjust focal length from 70 up to until I was able to get to 300mm as well as changing iso from 400 up to 3200. The rain kept rolling off the leaves and changing the lighting from bright to dark in addition to trying about 10 different birds fluttering around everywhere! I agree for this moment in time probably 1600 iso maybe higher would’ve been better. I’m assuming that’s what you mean? Also just the other day I entered some other Bushtit photos and I did have different settings 1600 iso on those. I would think I would always want my apperature the widest possible which it always is and when I am trying to shoot something with wings I usually have it at 1/1000 to be ready for take off!

I guess I should have said most, not all, of your images have the same settings. I’m not talking about focal length, I’m referring to exposure settings. I’ve seen 1/1000, f/6.3 ISO 800 and many of your Avian images. This image was not at ISO 3200, it was at ISO 800 as you noted in your description and I validated by looking at the image data. If the light is changing as fast as you indicate, then manual exposure is not a good option. Aperture priority would have been a better solution to the lighting problem at hand. Yes, 1/1000 is great for flight, but you are not going to catch a bushtit flying at 1/1000 anyway, so I’d be more concerned about getting the exposure on the bird correct (or as close as is feasible) given the lighting scenario. The color cast is likely a cause of many variables, white balance being the most prevalent. Shooting in RAW, White Balance is just an instruction to be interpreted by the post processing software, it is not a baked in White Balance like it would be shooting jpegs.

[quote=“Keith_Bauer, post:6, topic:19837”]
I’m not talking about focal length, I’m referring to exposure settings. I’ve seen 1/1000, f/6.3 ISO 800 and many of your Avian images. This image was not at ISO 3200, it was at ISO 800 as you noted

I understand, but correct me If I’m wrong : I thought that when you’re working in a low light setting and actually most settings where you want to focus on a main subject you want your aperture as wide as possible. Which is why you are going to see that when I have my focal length at 300 mm I’m always going to have the aperture at the widest possible setting, which for my camera f/6.3 is the widest I can open it at 300 mm.
I also know that my ISO was at 800 for that particular image, but what you quoted me on I was talking about the whole photo session which encompassed about 20 different birds, different lighting and different angles.
Anyway I’m going to repost my image and I hope it looks better…

This is much better. If you’re using auto white balance, it may or may not be correct. That was probably the issue with the greens, and is easily corrected in the raw conversion by trying different Tint and Temp settings.

I don’t know about your software but I think it should have a way to brush on a soft selection of the bird and lighten it further. That is a major feature of PS and I’ve read that your software (whose name eludes me at the moment) has many of the features of PS, but you may not be able to access them on your iPad. Here is an example, to keep in mind the possibility. If your camera has flash, you might be able to use it to help a shaded subject pop a little, when you are very close.

I’m tempted to get on a soapbox about the term bokeh, which is widely misused to mean a soft BG, but I’ll try to resist. It refers to the optical quality of OOF highlights, and is a characteristic of the lens, not of your settings.

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Lol! You should start a discussion about bokeh! I never thought it meant a soft background I just think of it as those little circles you get in the background when it gets out of focus. Which I can usually see if I’m getting or not right before I take the picture or maybe more technical ‘release the shutter’. I think what I did wrong with my original was in pp I just let my program adjust the settings, I thought it looked good for some reason at the time, but I think the program was reading all the foliage and not the bird. So this second one I just adjusted mainly exposure, highlights and shadows. I probably should have my screen settings on the brightest possible? Which I don’t, but I think it might explain why so many people say that they see my different photos as very bright? It might help me to see the colors better too… Thanks Diane!

No, that is absolutely not correct. The only way to have the brightness correct is to use a hardware calibration system that reads the real brightness and the real colors. I do not know of a system to do that with an iPad. Maybe there is one, but I’m unaware. If you set your screen brightness to the brightest setting, when you make adjustments you’ll be basing your adjustments on that. Then when you share your image on a site like this, or any other site, the image viewed on a properly calibrated monitor will be dark.

I’d really appreciate it if you would reply to my last message to you… Thanks

I guess in your last post you are talking about this question? Yes, I would suggest shooting at f/6.3 on your lens at 300mm as that is the widest aperture available. At the settings of the original post, 1/1000, f/6.3, ISO 800, the image was underexposed. So that leaves two options: A higher ISO, or a slower shutter speed. I’d opt to at least get down to 1/500 to let in twice as much light. You’re not trying to capture a bird in flight, so 1/500 is more than fast enough. Capturing an image that is underexposed, then trying to brighten the image in post processing is a guaranteed recipe to accentuate any noise that is in the image. This image has backlight, so if you simply use the camera meter to come up with an exposure, you are going to have the subject too dark. That is what I mentioned earlier when I said it is important to understand what the camera is going to see and record, versus what our eyes see and interpret. Our eyes are far superior to cameras in seeing a range of tones and we also adjust very quickly to overcome lighting that is contrasty. Cameras don’t do that. They just record the luminance values that are there. Meters are definitely not always correct and you have to learn how and when to adjust the exposure variables to get the exposure that works for the subject.

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Vanessa, apologies, as so many people use bokeh to refer to a creamy, shallow DOF BG.

@Keith_Bauer raises excellent points that will be difficult for your iPad. If you can see a histogram, trust that over the appearance of the image. Your best bet might be to keep a middle brightness and view the iPad in a dimly lighted room. If people comment on brightness of your images, use that as a calibration. We can all have trouble seeing whether images are under or over exposed, even with good calibrated monitors, as our eyes compensate for a lot.

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Very nice framing on this photo. Well done. If mine I would add a bit to bottom as it seems tight and i would crop just a bit into tree on right to eliminate the bright spots and foliage on right edge. And a good discussion about exposures. I always look at the histogram when reviewing an image in my camera. Sometimes if it is going to be hard to do so after or during photographing something I will take a test shot before I get to where the action is. This way I know what i need to do to either overcome blown whites or underexposed shadows as in this case.
Well done Vanessa.

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Hi David! Thank you! I wished I could have had more at the bottom too. But with all the foliage and raindrops in the way this was the best I could do. It’s the full frame, not cropped. I was glad to get some more shots of these birds though. Even if I don’t get a photo they’re fun to watch!