Great Blue Heron in a Blue Oak

What technical feedback would you like if any?

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

All comments welcome.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If backgrounds have been removed, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)

A few months ago this GBH was visiting our property most mornings. It was never in a place to get a decent shot and would fly if I tried to get in a better position. One day I saw it head for this tree, which I can see from the house, but it is over 200 ft away. I grabbed the 600, put on a 2X and mounted it on a big tripod with a Wimberley II head. The spot focus on the 1DX2 let me focus on the bird and I got several shots as he quickly changed position and then decided to leave. I like this one as it looked like he was conversing with the branch in the LL. ISO 800, f/11, 1/400. Cropped to 30% of the full frame. Highlights on the tree tamed in PS and cloning in the UL corner of a distracting color in the distant BG.

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1 Like

There is nothing like posing to make me see flaws in an image. I am not happy with the IQ of the OOF branch at the top, and it is probably not contributing to the composition. Here is an alternate crop that I like better. (And looking at the leaves more closely, it appears to be a White Oak.)

Diane, I am so glad he perched in this tree. What character it has, with all the curves and bends in the limbs. I actually like the first one, because it seemed to curve right with the shape of the GB, and framing it nicely. I saw that it didn’t look as sharp as the bottom limb, but it was okay, and didn’t seem to distract but for me to add to the composition. Wonderful details in a 1200 mm reach. The GB is tack sharp. Great shot.

A nice frame. The pose and the environment are nice. Of the two, I prefer the first post. I don’t care for the branch just hanging there in the upper left on the second. On both, technically look pretty good. The top of the head is blown. I pulled it into PS and checked. I’m guessing you could get rid of the clipping in the RAW but the detail is probably not going to be recoverable. A minor issue on an otherwise fine image.

Thanks guys! Yes, the top is blown. Highlights to -100 and Exposure to -0.7 brings the long tail of the histogram off the wall but no detail is recoverable even pulling the Exposure down all the way. I was afraid it would be a fleeting opportunity, as it was, and went for Av with no compensation, as the scene looked like that would give a good histogram, and it did except for the top of the head. I was more concerned with stabilizing vibration with the long lens and getting focus on the bird. I got 7 different poses in a minute and a half, and he decided that was enough. In most, he is peering out from behind the lichen.

Both are lovely photos. For me it is all about the GBH in a very photogenic setting. It has complimentary colors through out, a very nice mottled bg and a great composition of bird and tree. I am not trying to downplay the oof branch or blown highlights but it is a really nice photo. I would be glad to have it. It must have been pretty exciting at the time.

Beautiful! It doesn’t bother me that the upper branch is slightly out of focus. I would try a crop in between your original post and the second one. Let that branch go all the way across the top of the frame but eliminate some of the distracting sticks and foliage at top center.
I love the way the shapes of the bird’s neck and the tree branches mimic each other. And that you have just a bit of separation between the tip of the beak and the branch.

Diane: I’m not a bird guy but this is excellent and a different take on a GBH. The bird is clearly the dominant subject and the tiny flaws are inconsequential IMO. Top notch shot. >=))>

Love the curling branches, the moss, and the open beak. The blown highlights on the head are noted, and I agree with Greg’s crop suggestion. Details on the bird are good but could be improved by getting closer to the subject. Tech-wise, I doubt shooting at f/11 added anything here. At that distance and focal length, you almost certainly didn’t get much more in focus than you would have at f/8 or f/9. Looking forward to more!

Thanks guys! Here’s a crop as suggested – I like it. The f/11 was in hopes that I might get a little more sharpness on the elements that were not in the bird’s plane. I tend to stop down a bit with that combo when I can to possibly help a little with any issues with the 2X, although it (the III) is very sharp with that lens (the II), so probably not gaining anything. I would have loved to get closer to the subject but I would have needed a helicopter. It was very high in a large oak that was growing well downhill from where I was standing, so I was close to level with it.

That heron certainly chose a charismatic setting, Diane. I loved your original post, but I have to admit that the final version is even better. Superb detail, particularly for that long a shot. The palette in this image and the soft greens of the background are particularly appealing.

Thanks Dennis, and everyone! The comments have helped refine the crop to one I’m much happier with. He gave me one more pose that I like – I’ll post it soon.

I really like this. The slight issues talked about above really don’t strike out at me. All I see is beautiful color with the bird in its environment. I do agree that the revised photo is more appealing, but both are good. Very nice.