But I couldn’t pass this up. It was getting late and I had an hour drive, plus more to paddle, so I was making good time back to the boat launch when this heron flew right in beside me, maybe 30 feet away. With me paddling pretty hard, so I thought, well hell, it isn’t scared, I’ll stop.
I missed the fishing shots, but I like this one of it just standing with the breeze blowing up its little crest. Plus the light is kind of nice and it was so darn willing to put up with me.
Specific Feedback Requested
Anything to improve is welcome
Handheld in the boat
Lr for the initial edits to smooth tonalities - lowered highlights & blacks, raised whites & shadows, added texture and clarity and horizontally flipped so the heron is facing right, a little crop. Into Topaz Sharpen to bring up some detail. Then into Photoshop to soften the background using a Tilt-Shift blur tool on just the background which is done by using CAF to remove the heron and then put it back again on a different layer. The fiddly bits around the head feathers took me a couple tries, but Object Selection with refinements on the layer mask itself worked the best.
I love the low angle to the water here Kris. One of the benefits of kayaking/canoeing while shooting birds. I also really like the environment, both the foreground as well as the background. I might be tempted to clone out the tree trunk but not a big deal and as you pointed out, the crest is blowing in the wind. What’s not to like about that? Great pose, head angle and light. All first rate Kris.
Hm…I hadn’t though to remove the tree, but I might have a go if I can make it look natural. Trouble is that I’d have had more pixels to work with before the crop. I’ll have a think.
Oh when you use this technique Dennis, the trick is to expand your bird selection when you make it - 5 pixels will be fine. Save to a new layer and then apply a layer mask to it. Click the mask, then contract the mask by at least 5 pixels, sometimes 5.5 or 6 will do it. The point is to first expand the mask so there is a gap between the bird and the edge of the selection, then to contract it even maybe slightly inside the bird’s outline. Then after you’ve done the blur on a Smart Object layer below it, you can use black and white brushes to adjust the mask itself. Make sense?
I did a step-by-step tutorial on my blog a while back. If that would help, I can send you a link. It’s fiddly with feathers, but can be done even if it takes a few tries. For some of your Costa Rica images, it might be a great technique. Depending on the perch, a tilt-shift blur would be perfect, but other blurs could work, too.
Yes, herons are common but they are really beautiful. I think it’s difficult to get a really good heron image. You did a really good job with the processing on this one. Thanks for explaining how to do that. I’ve always wondered. Excellent detail and color. Yes I could see removing the tree and maybe the closest really bright specular spot. It pulls my eyes a little.