Apres le bain (avec la nouvelle version)

2nd version w/left edge lightened a bit -

Original -

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


More bird practice, this time by the feeder as this wet Red belly eyes me before making the jump to the feeder. I have one other shot of him in process, but this was the start. He was pretty wary of me and kept hiding before getting brave. I really like this face-on view since it’s a bit different and I’m shocked I got the focus right. Seems face on poses always lose the crisp eye. Only when I got the photos into the computer did I realize he was wet - probably from having a bath.

I’m finding two learning curves with wildlife photography, especially birds - field work, of course, but also processing. It’s amazing what some rotation and cropping can do for an otherwise awkward presentation. I’m also experimenting more with Topaz Sharpen models - especially around wispy feather edges, changing models and controls makes a big difference. If I can’t get what I want out of a single job in a single app, I blend in Photoshop to see if I can optimize things. Takes longer, but I like the results a lot better.

Specific Feedback

So yeah, the background. It’s the house in the far distance with shadows and branches in between. I did what I could in Ps to blur it more. Thoughts? How’s the birdie look? Too much tree? I cropped out the bg entirely over there and it felt lopsided.

Technical Details

Handheld sitting on the ground, elbows braced on knees.


Lr for basic RAW work - wb adjustment, crop w/rotation, masking to even background and bring up the bird nicely. A hint of saturation and vibrance. Topaz Sharpen using Out of Focus very blurry model which made the branches in the bg too sharp so I brought it into Photoshop, duplicated the layer, and added a 16px gaussian blur which I masked and then painted in on the branches. Made things a lot better.

1 Like

I love the light on the tree and the bird in this image, Kris. Thank your neighbors for having such a neutral colored house-it makes a fine background. As for the tree, this seems to work. I might have tried cropping into it just left of the cool knot at the bottom (and if you have more down there, I’d love to see the whole thing). Your sharpening works extremely well, though it seems pretty complex. I haven’t really seen need for much of any sharpening with good focus. About all I do is add a bit of micro-contrast through a very old Topaz pre-AI plugin.

Thanks for chiming in, @Dennis_Plank - the light was pretty nice as it was later in the afternoon, but with the sun still high. Unfortunately I don’t have more room below. I backed off the zoom somewhat because he was moving around so much it was hard to keep him in frame and so it’s less than optimal in terms of cropping choices.

I’ve been experimenting with different sharpening techniques, but not to save an OOF shot so much as to tease as much detail out of my sensor that I can. Lightroom does a good enough job most times, but Topaz has more flexibility and so I pop it in there sometimes. Other times I will use Photoshop’s Smart Sharpen which has similar controls to Lightroom, but can be layered and so blended in a more targeted way. For the most part, I’m happy with the G9, but it is a 5-year old camera with the smallest sensor of the bunch. Good for not having to lug lenses the size of a horse’s leg, but that’s a trade off to sheer number of pixels to work with. I’m hoping for a Mark II G9, but not holding my breath. Panasonic has been concentrating on the full-frame cameras lately and has only released one new M4/3 camera (the GH6) which is video-centric and not quite what I need as a hybrid shooter right now.

This is very nice! Face-on views of birds can be awkward, but you pulled it off here. The extra DOF of the smaller sensor made the beak sharp (possibly with some credit to your processing). The colors are rich without being overdone and the hint of branches in the BG is very nice. My only thought is that the area to the L of the trunk looks unaccountably darker than the other BG on the right. Maybe a tweak of lightening. Other than that, the composition works well for me.

Spending time on details is more than worth it, and we have such amazing tools these days to work with.

Thanks @Diane_Miller - face on is indeed hard, but the nature of M4/3s does lend itself here. It’s funny about that left side, I had a different crop with more of it included and I did lighten it as well as adding the blur. With it just a strip here, I didn’t take the time and wondered if anyone would notice. Leave it to your eagle eyes. So there’s a 2nd edit up there, see what you think.

Better, but it’s still unaccountably darker, and warmer. I like subtly burned edges but the tree splits the two BG areas and, large as it is, my eye wants the two areas to match. Undoubtedly OCD.

Nice head on look Kris - well captured. I like the wet look of the bird and peek-a-boo pose. Either of your versions posted here work for me.

Thanks @Allen_Sparks - this guy was hiding on me, for sure. But he isn’t too shy and decided it was worth the risk for the feeder. The background is just the shadow of the remote garage against the house I think, so it’s naturally darker and I think I’ve taken this one about as far as I’m inclined to.