During the nest building stage of courtship, these two will act like high school sweethearts on a first date…there is a lot of “emotion” in their every move.

Specific Feedback Requested

The issue I had with this shot was balancing the BG with the birds. The BG is naturally light and darkening it takes all the attention away from the two Herons. Lightening more than I did looks terribly contrived. I think I’ve gotten it to a place that uses the best of both worlds, but would like other opinions.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
D500, 200-500 @ 340mm, 1/800, f/5.6, +0.67EV

Standard ACR and basic PS but at least two lights masks, one mid-tone mask and one darks mask.

I like the action of the herons in this image. Those details are nice.

I was immediately distracted by the background. I read your concerns and balancing the background is a challenge. I did some work in PS.

I applied some blurring to the background after a careful selection of the birds / foreground.
Also darkened the background just a touch and added a solid color layer in Soft Light blending mode with a soft green picked from the background to the lightest parts of the background.
Also added just a touch of contrast to the herons.

Here’s the result:

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Great action, environmental shot. Excellent detail in the herons. I like what Keith did. I think blurring the background some does make the herons stand out more and it took out some noise as well.

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I never thought to add a solid color and blend to help the blur…good thinking and doing. Thanks!

What a great subject! The BG is something of a slight distraction but you got such great poses and actions, and focus, that I can hardly fault it. @Keith_Bauer did an amazing job with it!

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