So that is what the sun looks like

This shot is taken from the Zodiac on Aug 6, at 7AM. This Great White was one of only 6 bird on the Back River that morning.
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Technical Details

Canon R%, Canon 100-500mm & 1.4ext, f9, 560mm, 1/1600, ISO 500. The shot is cropped by around 35%. and I adjusted the highlight and contract in DXO PhotoLab 6.


I really like this shot, Peter! The light is great and your composition is excellent. It has a pleasing mood with the bird apparently enjoying the sunshine. The dragonfly is a nice little bonus also.

The only thing I noticed is that the bird seems a bit soft without much definition in the feathers. It looks like the focal point might have been on the grasses just in front of it. I thought it could benefit from some micro contrast (using Topaz) to bring out feather details so I gave it a try. Here is the result:

It would have been more effective working on the full size version but hopefully it gives you an idea of the difference it could make.

Hi Gary
Thank you for the comments and I can what you mean about the focus. I was only looking at the Egret’s eyes, witch I believe are in focus. Anyway I did go back to the shot and using a local brush to bring up the sharpness some, this is what I came up with.

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Thank you Linda, Arial, David & Paul for you kind thoughts.

A very nice shot, Peter. I like it a lot. Great light on this egret, nice pose in the sunshine. Nice soft BG.
About the bird being a bit soft: I agree with you that the eye is in focus, and with f/9 the rest of the bird will have been within the depth of field. Sometimes we expect the impossible from our gear; I see that this is 560mm, so quite a distance. A few years ago this would have been a very difficult shot, manual focus maybe more reliable than autofocus, and low ISO or high ISO with noise.
With the 1.4TC you had 700mm available, but you used 560 and decided later to discard some of the image. You will have had a good reason for both. This said, I think the detail in the bird is not bad.
If you want some more detail, than @Gary_Minish did a good job with a bit more microcontrast. If this detail is actually present is not evident, when AI comes into play I’m usually suspicious. I have seen a lot of fake detail invented by AI. You did something similar with a local brush, avoiding extra noise in the BG.
A minor nit: I find the large, unsharp insect to the right of the egret (a dragonfly?) a bit distracting. Could be cloned out easily, but that is up to you of course.

Hi Han
Thank you for the comment. With this photograph, I liked the softer looking Great White, it just seemed to go with the early morning sun. I really liked the dragonfly. (surprised it was in focus)

Han; the micro contrast I used isn’t a Topaz AI feature it’s something they have in most of their older software. All it does is increase the tonal contrast using a small radius of effect rather than affecting the whole image. It does result in amplifying the details but doesn’t manufacture them.

Thanks for the correction @Gary_Minish , I didn’t know this.
And besides that, it is anyones decision to use the tools available, or not :slight_smile:

Hello, Peter, okay, so the detail isn’t perfect, but for me that’s not a deal breaker, as what I value is the overall atmosphere the images renders, which for me is the main attraction of bird photography. I love the way you include the environment. Would you have more space at the bottom of the image? As we all know, there birds have rather long legs and I feel I am missing part of it, even if it would have been hidden anyway. Less cropping also means less attention on the detail :wink: . A win-win … With all that said, a fine image ! Cheers, Hans

Hi Han
I was showing my granddaughter this photograph and explained to her, how the early morning dew will sometime reduce the feather detail on birds. Thank you for your comments.
Here is a opened up view.

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The microcontrast addition from Gary’s edit worked very well. I like the comp, lighting, and dragonfly which are all essential to the scene. Well done…Jim

HI Jim
Thank you for the comments.