Feeding Avocet with repost

American avocet feeding at sundown. This was taken last month when the air here was full of wildfire smokes. The avocet was moving constantly, and I was able to get one image with the water on it as it raised its head.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

I am not sure if the bird is placed too high in the frame, but I wanted room in the bottom for the unseen legs.

Any pertinent technical details:

840mm on tripod, 1/1250s@F9, ISO800

Gorgeous! I really like the water at the end of his beak. Is this cropped? You didn’t say. Maybe if you have the pixels, you could just allow more room all the way around, keeping your format/composition the way you have it, but having a little more room on all sides. Just a thought. I would be thrilled with this image with the top a little tight.

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Beautiful low angle. The water slurp is a real plus. To answer your question, it seems to me way too tight on the top. I think if you crop all the way to the reflection on the bottom and add an equal amount of canvas to the top, this image would go from merely good to prize winning. Better balanced, at the very least!

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As Phil said, it’s a beautiful angle with great action and the water adds a lot of interest. I also agree with him about taking some off the bottom and adding a corresponding amount to the top, though I think I’d only do about half of what he suggested. I think if you play with it a bit without worrying about rules, you’ll find the sweet spot.

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A lovely, low angle image. Water is a nice bonus. Your specific question… Yes, I think it needs more room at the top, but I’d go much further, it needs more room all the way around (except the bottom).

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Thank you all for your feedback. I have added some canvas at the top and right of the image and recomposed it with the avocet more in the center. Please do let me know how the addition looks - both compositionally and technically.

@Shirley_Freeman: The original was full frame. I have a few with the avocet smaller in the frame, but I like this particular image for the water cascade over the neck and beak.

I am no pro at this, by any means, but to me, that looks much better! Good job adding canvas to the top.

Govind, it’s really nice to get the perfect timing of the water coming off the beak, and harmonious gold BG is a fine compliment to the plumage. When I looked at this yesterday my first thought was more room above was definitely needed. And with a little more work you can blend the upper parts to look even more natural. I have some ideas on that should you be interested. Overall it’s a fine capture that I would be very proud to have gotten.

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I like both, but the second one better. Lovely water color there setting off that bird!

I think the second version really works well, Govind. Congratulations on a really great image.

Thanks, @Bill_Leggett. I would love to hear your ideas on how to blend the background better.

Thanks for your feedback, @Kathy_Snead, @Shirley_Freeman, @Dennis_Plank.

Great moment, well captured and in awesome colors. Although I like the original post already a lot, I think the repost is definitely the better choice. Still, playing with unexpected compositions is always worth a try. Cheers, Hans

Govind, I’d be happy to expound on my ideas. Assuming that you have Photoshop CC, and you have used content aware crop to add canvas, one solution is pretty easy. Content aware is pretty powerful for adding “natural” looking canvas, but it’s not perfect. And in your image there is so little space above that Photoshop has little to judge the surroundings, so it tends to blend using the thin band of negative space up top. The result can give the appearance of a “smear” as if you simply cut and pasted successive thin strips just above the bird. Bear in mind that the content aware feature is pretty smart but it’s not psychic. The results in your case is the continuance of smooth water in vertical bands without noticeable horizontal definition. After you’ve added canvas above, it would be worthwhile to exercise a little artistic license by using a small clone brush and sample from just along either side of the contrasting bands, so as to give it a “soft but jagged” appearance much like natural reflections on water. I realize this may be counter to some photographers’ more realistic opinions, and may have better ideas, but without much effort it can be an easy fix and look quite realistic. Hope this helps.


The second image works a lot better for me. This is really a nice action shot with terrific color, detail, water texture. Excellent timing.

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Excellent tip, Bill. Thanks,

Thanks much, @Bill_Leggett. Those are very useful pointers which I can use the next time I add canvas. Do you see any obvious missteps in how I have added the canvas?

Govind, what you’ve done so far looks like a good foundation for finishing with certain brush techniques to blend the contrasting edges together a bit, much like a painter might do with oils or watercolors, similar to how I previously described. The clone method I mentioned is only one idea, and I’m sure that some of our members who do Photo Art could advise you better than I can.

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