Male Bufflehead

Shot this a couple months ago. The buffleheads were pretty wary, but after lying on the bank for about an hour or more, a couple males swam fairly close.

ISO 400

In post, I cropped, sharpened the bird, and reduced noise on the BG. I also used some light and dark masks to dodge and burn the whites and darks. Then, I used a lights mask to remove the blacks from the whites in selective color because the whites on the body were a little muddied. I know the brightest whites are on the edge, but they aren’t blown. Brightest white I see is at 247. I don’t particularly mind not seeing much detail in the whites on the head. Those feathers are exceedingly white and bright in real life, and I don’t see any detail in the field. All feedback welcome.

Hi Lyle,
I think this is a very nice rendition of the bufflehead. The details and colors look good to me and I like the few water drops on the bird as well. Nice positioning in the frame with no distractions. The whites look good to me too. Nice head turn toward us. No nits from me. Well done.

Excellent point of view and depth of field. These ducts are incredibly difficult to display both detail and accurate color. I think the whites could actually be reduced a little in intensity in order to bring out a little more feather detail in the white plumage. The black plumage on the back could be lightened a bit or contrast adjusted to bring out a little more detail. Yes I’m being pretty nitpicky here as this is an excellent image.

Lyle, this is beautiful. Very shy duck for sure. The whites looks fine to me, but maybe getting the brightest white at 240-245 would edge out a little more details on the head? Some time Nik (or rather DxO) CEP Detail Extractor - often at partial opactiy - can come in very handy. Love the head turn!

I agree with your ideas on processing this species and other very bright ones (or black ones), Lyle. I think we try way too hard to make detail where it isn’t normally visible and it’s usually to the detriment of the rest of the image. I’m not at all fond of gray white and blacks. A very nice job on this with excellent iridescence on the head.