Bright Perch Recovery

I was prepping a bunch of images from our Nome trip this past June for an Audubon Society presentation. While I liked the pose of this Arctic Tern, the perch was extremely bright, though not blown out. Just reducing the brightness left it looking like it was made out of cardboard. I’ve noticed this phenomenon in the past with very bright perches. They just do not look realistic when you try reducing the exposure or burning them. In this case, I isolated the perch on a separate layer and used Topaz Detail on it. More or less on a whim, I tried using a very high microcontrast boost, which seems to have gone a long way toward allowing me to reduce the exposure and still keep it semi-realistic looking. I know it’s still not perfect, but it’s the best technique I’ve found for this situation thus far.

I’ll post a jpeg version of the original file.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Does anyone have another technique they use for this situation?

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any pertinent technical details:

7Dii, Sigma 150-600 C @ 435 mm, handheld, f/8, 1/1600, iso 640, aperture priority, pattern metering, +2/3 EV. Processed in LR & PS CC. Taken June 8th at 2:35 PM.

Allow other members to download your photo to demonstrate processing examples only? Yes

Here’s the original.


Tough lighting here. I like the pose. The exposure on the bird is good. I still think the perch should be a little darker.

I like your original version better. The brightness of the post sets it off from the BG. The tip of the bill is a tad soft so I would use a smaller aperture for this type of shot. Otherwise, exposure and comp look pretty good…Jim

David. I’d like to have taken it darker, but it started looking weird again when i went further.

Sweet pose and nice detail. Sounds like this was a great trip you took. I feel funny re-posting someones image, but I did play with this a bit and used a levels layer and brought the middle arrow down to around .28 and it did darken the perch and brought out more detail.

Thanks, Allen. I’ll take a look at that.