Lincoln's Sparrow

It started to drizzle pretty good so I headed to the car thinking I should dry the camera and lens . I was challenged most of the morning trying to find a subject in a “clean” location where the dried thickets and twigs did not conceal too much of the bird. So this guy’s open positioning caught my attention. It was a low sky, gray morning and the image was dark in the view finder, I assumed I was shooting yet another Song Sparrow; but reviewing the shots later I was surprised and delighted to see one of my favorite birds, a Lincoln’s Sparrow looking back at me.

Specific Feedback Requested

Any comments and input appreciated. How obtrusive is the dried flower stalk? Does the gray background look ok? I did a bit of Spot Healing Brush surgery in the area.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Nikon D7100, Nikkor Lens 200-500 @500 mm, w/ 1.4 crop factor f6.3 @1/8000, ISO-1600 handheld
I used Topaz AI for noise removal and some sharpness. Lr and PS for processing. PS for cleaning up a lot of annoying cross shadows in the gray background and removing some white rain drizzle drops. In Lr I burned the background a bit and used a radial to lighten the sparrow and a touch of saturation for the buffy color.

Very nice look at the sparrow; nice head turn and pose. I like the geometry of the perch. I like the flower stalk, though might clone out the bright part of the stalk on the bottom.

@Allen_Brooks Thanks for the input, I don’t know why, didn’t even think of flower head on the bottom. I don’t see that adding to the scene. I’m probably going to make some changes to the graininess I am now seeing and will remove that flower.

I rather like the criss-crossing of the stalks. I think they provide an excellent frame for the little sparrow. I don’t mind the flower stalk, but good suggestion to remove the brighter flower head.

The background is interesting and looks intentionally “arty” to me. The colouring suits the bird.

Hi Stephen
The framing is nice and with the Sparrow head turn, this makes for a good looking photograph. I agree about removing the bright flower in the lower frame. The only real nit I have is the digital noise, possibly produce by Topaz Al?

I love the little sparrow and the perch he chose. Good suggestions above. The noise is an issue you should be able to deal with. I don’t know if your description of processing is in the order you did things, but if so you will get a much better result if you work first only in LR for tonal and color adjustments, then go to PS and make Topaz DeNoise the first step, on a new layer. Compare the different algorithms, and if the one you choose is too strong, just reduce the opacity of its layer. Then do a composite layer and do any cloning or other work on the clean file.

Thanks for all your comments @glennie @peter . @Diane_Miller appreciate your input. My workflow was and usually is Lr for crop, colors, shadows, tones, etc. and any brush adjustments I might choose. Then Topaz (access from Lr) for noise reduction. Then PS usually for annoying clean up and removals. In this case the biggest obstacle was removal of soft “shadows” of oof twigs and branches I was shooting through . Some of the graininess I see may be caused by a steady light drizzle I was shooting in I’m going to try and brush in some smoothness to the background. Also I’ll revisit Topaz and compare a few modes and sliders.

i would seriously recommend limiting brush adjustments in LR to small areas such as sensor spots. I would not access Topaz from LR and then go back to LR than to PS – I would got to PS directly from LR Develop and use Topaz in PS on a copy of the BG layer before doing anything else. That avoids what I call crossed wires.

The drizzle may have caused some “artifact-like” areas but they would be equally distributed across the image and not what you have here. I would strongly recommend going back to the raw file and trying the workflow I suggest and comparing the results at 100%. I think you’ll see a big difference.

@Diane_Miller, I appreciate your recommendation and try and give it a go.

I like the pose and the geometry of the perch. The major issue as others have stated is the noise. This image has a sense of being overprocessed. I would also crop a little differently as I think it would look better with the subject less centered. I think you could do this without losing the general feel of the twigs.

Thanks for your input, @David_Schoen, I think I could have used a better Topaz Denoise algorithem. I like the image but will let it sit for a while,I think.