Out shooting some of the local ducks today (which I'll post shortly), and this Merlin landed in a tree to my left. Still of at a fair distance and he didn't turn around, just kept his back towards me before he flew off. A substantial crop, portrait mode from a landscape shot. It was spot metered (against a thin overcast sky) at 0 EV, but I still ended up boosting EV by about +1 in Capture NX on the RAW file (Capture NX appears to be quite forgiving for + or - 1EV)
Thanks Jim, it took a little bit of work in pp to get his back looking half decent - it's always best to get i as close to right in the camera if you can. He showed up as a bit of a surprise and didn't have any time to really adjust much, other than sliding my bum araound on a cold frozen rock!
I was going to write something stupid about life’s being unfair. How come you get all the sharp birds that pose for you like studio models, in front of perfect backgrounds? But then I realized that you probably have as much patience as half of this community combined :)
Shooting against a light overcast sky is always challenging, as I'd mentioned I was shooting ducks with a -0.3 EV, dialled back up to 0EV and spot metered, but still wasn't enough. Thanks for your kind words Larry.
Sun 13-Jan-13 10:03 PM | edited Mon 14-Jan-13 07:44 PM by Dubes
Thanks Chuck. I'll give you a quick run down of what I ended up doing. As I'd mentioned, I processed the RAW image in Capture NX and boosted the exposure by 1 stop, as it was quite under-exposed. It was also quite a severe crop. Not much else was done in Capture NX, other than making sure I had the camera sharpening set to "zero" and performed an unsharp mask (Adjust/Focus/Unsharp Mask) with a setting of 55% intensity, 5 radius and 4 threshold. I then saved it as a TIFF.
Reopened in Photoshop CS6. Because of the severe crop and boosting exposure by +1 stop, a fair amount of noise was visible in the darker areas. I ran it through a plug-in (Topaz De-noise) and selected "RAW Light" for the noise reduction, and boosted the slider for detail a touch over the default. I ran it through a curves adjustment just to make sure my histogram was fairly reasonable and that I didn't blow out the blacks or whites entirely. I processed it through another plug-in, Nik's Color eFex Pro and did some playing around with the tonal contrast adjustment sliders (shadows/midtones/highlights/saturation) until I thought there was enough "punch" in the image.
Finally, adjusted mode from 16 bit to 8 bit, and reduced image size (pixels) for posting. Performed a final sharpening (again using a plug-in, this time Nik's Pro Sharpener set to around 23%) (Note, I'll use a brush to apply sharpening to specific parts of the at times). Clicked "save as" a JPEG and made sure I save a file that is no larger than 300KB for posting here.
Hope this makes sense. I've played around with many plug-in trials and have liked these. I'm sure there are ways of doing these adjustments in Photoshop alone, but these make it so much easier with user friendly terminology and interfaces.
<Edit to fix typos - my fingers can't keep up with my thoughts sometimes>
Thanks for the very detailed reply, Richard. You make it really easy to try to adapt that to other pictures for the rest of us. About how long would it have taken you to do this? Take care, CK Nikonian in Ontario, Canada