RWBB calling

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


Red-winged blackbird seen this morning at a local pond.

Specific Feedback

Any comments appreciated.

Technical Details

Canon R7, 400mm f4 DO IS II, 1.4x extender III
ISO 800, f6.3, 1/2500s, hand held

Processed in DXO Pure Raw 3 and Photoshop.


Excellent, Allen. Superb detail and I like the way you handled the black plumage. PS I just upgraded to PureRaw 4 from my old first version and it works beautifully (when I can get LR to quit hogging all my CPU resources).

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Excellent. Interesting to see the bird is hanging onto a big branch and a very small one. Seems like it would grab the bigger one with both.

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Allen: wonderful presentation of the details in the blacks. The bird is at a diagonal as its perch making for an excellent compositiion.

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A nicely composed image of a calling RWBB against a good background.

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Allen, I am still trying to figure out how you got all the detail in the black feathers without an exposure bias on this. Nice composition and nice action with the RWBB calling.

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Hi Ed, thanks…
As far as how I shot this, I shot in full manual mode (ISO, aperture, shutter speed) as I usually do for birds to fully control exposure. This lets me properly expose for the subject regardless of changing backgrounds. The only time I tend to shoot in aperture priority is when I am at my set up on a partly sunny/cloudy day with constantly changing light but with a constant BG (I’ll use exposure compensation in this situation). But again, 99.9% of the time I’m shooting in full manual mode.
That said, for this shot, when the RWBB showed up I reduced shutter speed from 1/3200s to 1/2500s to account for the darker bird (I was initially waiting on kingfishers) while still taking into account that I had the reds to properly expose for. To check for proper exposure, I use highlight alerts (“blnkies”) and try to make sure they are just barely not being seen in the image playback. This makes sure I am properly “exposing to the right” which I think of as having the brightest image possible while not blowing anything out. The initial image had good detail in the blacks initially and a fairly bright area in the upper BG that I would have to tone down in post processing.
In post, I ran the image through DXO Pure Raw 3 so I would have a low noise/high detail file to work with (even though initial image was only at ISO 800). In Photoshop ACR, I increased shadows/blacks for best detail on the bird and decreased highlights/whites to tame the bright area in the upper section of the image.
Hope that helps.
P.S. I’ll add that my settings were set for birds in flight and not necessarily for a perched bird like this (this opportunity came and went quickly). If I had more time, I would have liked to narrow my aperture to around f10 and raise the ISO accordingly to get full DOF on the tail and maintain a high shutter speed to freeze the calling action. I’m still pretty pleased how this turned out though since the head, body, and upper wings are sharp.

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@Allen_Sparks i appreciate your explanation Allen. Really helpful in how to deal with the conditions, the bird, and the post processing.

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