More Painted turtles

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


You did want more, right? Well, happy to be of service. This was taken the same day as the other one. This backwater is relatively shallow and has tons of stumps and logs, although the water is so high, some are totally submerged right now. I spied these two well before I took this shot and I’m so pleased they not only hung around until I came back to them, but let me position the kayak relatively close. The trick is to get the boat wedged on something to provide a bit more stability. Even a slight breeze can rock me enough that even with all the stabilization, things get a bit bouncy. These two are smaller - about 3-4 inches (carapace length) and show how well they can climb and clamber to a good sunning spot. You can see the exoskeleton of a very large dragonfly nymph just below and between them. Could be a Dragonhunter which is one of the largest species we have here.

Specific Feedback

Bright sun and backlit again. I did my best with the CPL to mitigate a lot of the brightest reflections and refractions and also smoothed as much of the dynamic range as I could in post. Thoughts? How’s the crop look? I have more room, but there’s a lot of stuff on the water surface that pulls the eye.

Technical Details

Handheld in the kayak w/Freewell CPL but probably not on full. Generally for these kinds of more static wildlife photos I use Single-Auto focus with focus peaking and I often adjust manually to make sure I have what I need.


Lr for RAW conversion and contrast taming using masks and some global adjustments. Topaz Sharpen AI then Photoshop to remove some distractions and kiss it with a little Orton Effect in the highlights with some warming.

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Definitely wanted more! :slight_smile:
Nice, colourful turtles and interesting log. Not sure how they climbed up there! are there tides where the water was higher earlier?
The bright areas are still a little distracting, even with your CPL, and the front of the log might be lightened slightly to provide a bit of definition.
You camera skills in a kayak are impressive!

Thanks @SandyR-B - they have great colors under the carapace and in their skins, you just have to be at the right angle to them. No tides, just sheer willpower and those claws. I’m always amazed at how agile they actually are.

The log is up as much as it can be without getting weird and muddy, backlighting! Great for some things, but not this. And the light parts ditto - too much fiddling and they lose naturalness. Plus I like to convey some idea of the real circumstances and conditions when it isn’t too eye-gouge-inducing.

Kris, I like their perch that they managed to climb onto. They are determined turtles to get up there. Their colors are really neat. I was wondering what that was that looked like it had photobombed your shot for just a second, but I read your comments again and realized it was the exoskeleton of a DF. I am enjoying your turtle shots from the kayak. Keep them coming.

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Thanks @Shirley_Freeman - they still surprise me with their climbing abilities. More turtles coming, but so much to edit! Found a few yesterday while kayaking.

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Beautiful subjects, great perch & interesting story !
BG is bit distracting though.

Thanks @JRajput - funny how things strike different people, I don’t find the bg much of a distraction simply because there isn’t anything in it, but I’m obviously in the minority. :smiley: Turtles are such fun little characters aren’t they?

These are so cool Kris. Amazing how they could possibly get up on that stick perch. I love the little extra dragonfly exoskeleton you got too.

Thanks @Ed_Williams - they surprise me all the time with their antics and the places they manage to get to. Dragonfly exuvia is everywhere in early summer! Kind of creepy little things when you get right up to them or if there are a lot of them, but they’re so fragile they usually don’t last more than a few hours.