The vigilant partner

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


A slightly larger bird for you today. This alert Trumpeter Swan dad (I think) was guarding his territory while I drifted closer in the kayak. Having been charged by a swan before in the kayak, I gave him plenty of room, didn’t make much noise or movement and he let me get quite close, feeding all the while. I didn’t see his mate who was probably on a nest with the eggs since the cygnets join their parents on the water within a day or two of hatching. Trumpeters are the largest waterfowl in North America and aren’t named that for nothing. Wicked loud!

Specific Feedback

So windy that it was hard to shoot even only a hundred feet or closer from this really big bird with the boat jammed on a dead tree. This is about the sharpest I got and I’m pleased with it because it was when he was in a clearer bit of the water which is loaded with old stumps, logs and branches (handy for holding the kayak in place though). Still had to do some cloning and a few other digital sleights of hand. Thoughts on the processing are welcome.

Technical Details

Handheld w/CPL in place


Lr for some wb adjustment and lens correction. The usual S-curve for contrast and taming of the highlights which I was careful of when shooting. These guys really are very white in the body feathers. Topaz Sharpen AI and then Photoshop as layers with a denoise version. Also did some playing with the Beta Neural Depth Map Blur method and I quite like it once I got the hang of adjusting the area that got the blur (it decided part of the bird was background) and how much and how much grain to add back in. Also some distraction removal, a little crop and a horizontal flip. All part of the deal when the swan just won’t swim somewhere pretty and in the right direction!

Nicely done, Kris. Even zoomed in to the largest, the detail is impressive and I don’t see any signs of your cleanup of the environment. The kayak gave you a very nice angle and the exposure looks spot on.

Hi Kris, bird looks quite sharp to me. Love the low shooting angle. Must be a treat to see these in the wild. Nice frame.

Thanks @Dennis_Plank & @Allen_Sparks - between the boat moving and the bird moving, it’s a wonder I got anything. And video - fuggetaboudit. But it is great seeing them even though the other pair I usually see on this lake was absent. First time the other end has no swans. I did spy a crane nest though the parents wouldn’t come out, could just see a head sticking up into the cattails now and then. In a week or two it will be so thickly grown with waterlilies that it will be really difficult to paddle over to it so I’m glad I got to watch them through binocs for a little bit.

Here’s another look at him. I did quite a bit of processing for this one, too, but it’s worth it for that pose.

Used a combination of Lr with a Linear Profile because other profiles pushed the highlights too high. Basic stuff there including a denoise job and I layered that in Photoshop with a Topaz Sharpen AI version for the best of both. I also used the Beta Neural Depth Blur filter and really like how it improved things and wasn’t as cumbersome to use as older methods.

Then I was blown away by some of the improved object removal and delete and fill tools. I didn’t use the Beta Generative Fill, but the new toolbar that floats on the canvas is pretty handy. Here’s the original file out of Topaz for comparison -

The sheer amount of crap I was able to remove kept amazing me. For a couple things I needed to go over them with the local healing brush just so patterns and seams wouldn’t be evident. This plus the Generative fill that is coming is going to change a lot of things. I will try to use my new powers for good.

Excellent work on the second image as well, Kris. It is amazing how much can be removed with a lot of patience and attention to detail.

You are right and it takes less and less time now with the new tools in Ps. I was really blown away by its accuracy on first tries.

Hi Kris!

These are Fantastic! The tones and details in the swan are absolutely lovely!

The low perspective from the kayak adds a lot, the camera seems to be at the same level as the swan’s head and to me, it’s a very effective view.

I really like the way these were processed, too!

Every time I feel like I have the most import tools to me figured out in Ps, they add new ones to try.
I haven’t tried the new AI Generative Fill tool yet but I did see a video of the process, I can see that tool being a great way to accurately and quickly get rid of distractions.

It’s a little scary thinking about all the images to come that have AI Generated elements in them, it may be tough to tell what’s real and what isn’t :frowning:
I’m hopeful that nobody will do that to us here! I know the ones that are regulars wouldn’t do that but we never know about newcomers.

Anyway, I was traveling by a local park the other day when I noticed two swans in the middle of the pond, I quickly turned around and went back, then popped on the 100-400 lens in hopes of getting a good shot!
I got down as low as I could which actually hurt due to back surgeries but it was going to be worth the pain! But as I was working on a decent composition from a low perspective I noticed that heir heads weren’t moving, then I noticed that the swans were made out of “Plastic”, they were decoys, fake park pond eye candy. Russum! Fussum! Arghh!! :angry:
All that pain for plastic pond birds anchored to the bottom. Gee Whiz!

Sure glad you were able to get some great shots of REAL swans!! :smiley: