Snow Geese Trees

I took this last week in the central valley of California on a very foggy day. I liked the white snow geese and the two bare trees. I am not sure about the processing, though, and could use any suggestions.

The Snow Geese make a cool background for the trees, Kathy. I actually prefer the smaller image because in the larger one the geese are large enough to look out of focus. I’m not sure of any remedy for that. I like the tonal range and composition.

That’s quite the flock of Snow Geese Kathy. The two trees are a fine centerpiece. I think your focus on the trees with the geese as a backdrop tells a good story. As for processing, I think darkening the trees would give them more of a presence. In the larger version the smallest branches are a mix of light and dark that creates a “choppiness”. Burning them in through a darks luminosity mask may fix that without significantly darkening the background.

Now that’s pretty cool, Kathy. Not only having the birds in flight but such huge numbers in the BG. The fog gives it atmosphere and the bare trees look great! Lots to like.

Hi Mark, I tried to darken the tree but ended up also darkening the sky. What do you think? It does make the birds stand out more. Dennis is correct that the geese, at least on the left side, are not in focus so it may not be an image to keep working on.

Interesting effect, Kathy. The darker trees and sky completely change the feel of the image. It’s like a storm moving in now.

If you have another frame with the swirl of geese on either side of the trees in focus, it would be easy to steal that part of the frame and put it to the left of the trees. Or for that matter just a swirl of geese from any image with the foggy sky background.

Lovely scene. I agree that darkening the sky along with the trees doesn’t work. Do you work with luminosity masks? That would be the way to darken the trees without darkening the sky. Basically, you can target and burn just the darkest darks.

Kathy, the darker trees and sky do change the feeling notably. This version is much more dramatic. I like the sense of a goose storm, with the geese both in the sky and on the ground standing out strongly. The change is what I call artistic license, so it’s really a matter of what you would like the image to say. I was going to download your original post to “play” with some midtone masks, but I don’t see a download link…something to ask David K. about. If you’d like, you can email me the original and I’ll try a couple of things. Send me a message and I’ll send you my email (if you don’t already have it and want to try this).

Fabulous photo, Kathy. I prefer the first version. I am developing an interest in avian photography. I have been twice (the season before this one) to some of the Colusa Wildlife Refuges along the Sacramento River delta, and never managed to find any large groups of geese. This year in early December I went to Bosque del Apache and saw one of its famous lift offs. Now I’m hooked. I live in San Francisco, so would like to stay closer to home for this photography. Can you offer any suggestions about how to approach finding geese, short of hit and miss at the various refuges? Any newsletter or blogs with current suggestions, etc, etc. Any “how to explore the territory tips”? I’m a total newbee to this type of photography and would appreciate any advice.

Hi Tony,
I usually go to the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge, Colusa, and sometimes Gray Lodge from mid-November to mid-January. Those have snow geese but not sandhill cranes. (and lots of other birds, too. ) Lodi area at Staten Island is good for the cranes. Merced National Wildlife Refuge was where I took this, but there weren’t many cranes left and not nearly the masses as there are earlier in the winter. By now many are headed north. Bosque is the best, though. I usually just drive around the loop in these refuges…you’re not supposed to leave your car except in designated areas. Good luck next year! Kathy

Kathy: This is a great scene and a fine comp. Without knowing your SS I would suspect that the apparently OOF geese are instead suffering from motion blur. As good as you are with Photo Art I think you could do something there with this frame. :+1::+1: >=))>

Thanks for the reply and info. In the refuges you refer to, can you make any generalizations about what time in relationship to sunrise and sunset the geese land on the water and take off from the water? At Bosque it was always land just before sunrise and take off just after sunrise. (Although I was told the geese sometimes spend the night on the water, thus, no morning mass landing). I couldn’t find out for sure since nobody, myself included, speaks geese…

Hi Kathy, I downloaded your pic and did some burning-in of the trees and dodging of the land using luminosity masks. The changes are subtle and I couldn’t get the bright bits at the tips of the branches to go away (but that may be from working on a jpeg).

I wouldn’t change a thing Kathy. I love the monochrome like colors and the simple composition.