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Thread started 30 Apr 2013 (Tuesday) 03:44
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How do they do it? - Wildlife edits

 
Paulstw
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Apr 30, 2013 03:44 |  #1

If you look at this guys favorites on 500PX

http://500px.com/wise-photographie/favorites (external link)

I see a continuing theme in the pictures even though they have all been taken with different photographers. Some with no better lenses than mine and I wonder if there is a mythical post processing bible that wildlife photographers live by because no matter what I try I just can't seem to get the same look.

Best I could come up with was this

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/gif' | Redirected to error image by FLICKR

Robin in Spring (external link) by Campsie Photography (external link), on Flickr

All the pics on the 500px link seem to have the same sort of editing done to them, it's hard to explain, however it really seems to highlight the subject.

If I'm not seeing something I should then maybe that's my fault, however it would be nice to get a step for a hint :)

Thanks,.

Paul

i've taken on the advice of the few who have replied and I do agree that removing the distracting elements of the original pic does really make the subject stand out. Sometimes though when a Robin jumps up on a fence in front of you, there's not much time to react :) However thanks for the advice and while I tried to stay away from using photoshop to remove things, I think it's worked out for the best in this instance.

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/gif' | Redirected to error image by FLICKR

Robin in Spring (external link) by Campsie Photography (external link), on Flickr



  
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goldboughtrue
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Apr 30, 2013 04:07 |  #2
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I'm no wildlife photographer, but from glancing at the link it seems none of them have a fence like yours. That detracts a lot in my opinion. The backgrounds of the others are more plain than yours and therefore highlight the subject more.

Looks like your bokeh isn't very smooth or pleasing too. But your sharpness on the bird and its pose is great. Next time try to get a bird with a more plain background such as sky or have the bird as far away from the background as possible. That will help throw it out of focus more.


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Paulstw
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Apr 30, 2013 04:17 |  #3

goldboughtrue wrote in post #15881882 (external link)
I'm no wildlife photographer, but from glancing at the link it seems none of them have a fence like yours. That detracts a lot in my opinion. The backgrounds of the others are more plain than yours and therefore highlight the subject more.

Looks like your bokeh isn't very smooth or pleasing too. But your sharpness on the bird and its pose is great. Next time try to get a bird with a more plain background such as sky or have the bird as far away from the background as possible. That will help throw it out of focus more.

Thanks. I should have been a bit more clear. I was thinking more about how soft each of them are, but how they still show detail. It's like when you use a negative clarity on LR. However these images maintain perfect tones. Almost like a HDR effect.

I'm having trouble explaining what I mean I think.




  
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tzalman
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Apr 30, 2013 04:31 |  #4

If you say that you want to improve your editing but fail to say what you do now and to what software you have access, there isn't much advice anybody can give that would be appropriate and helpful.


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Paulstw
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Apr 30, 2013 04:45 |  #5

tzalman wrote in post #15881909 (external link)
If you say that you want to improve your editing but fail to say what you do now and to what software you have access, there isn't much advice anybody can give that would be appropriate and helpful.

I guess I should probably add that in too.

*facepalm*

On this image

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/gif' | Redirected to error image by FLICKR

Robin LR Settings (external link) by Campsie Photography (external link), on Flickr

I thought screen shots were more appropriate to show the workflow.

I added some CA removal and lens corrections too.

Thanks Paul



  
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drvnbysound
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Apr 30, 2013 07:12 |  #6

goldboughtrue wrote in post #15881882 (external link)
I'm no wildlife photographer, but from glancing at the link it seems none of them have a fence like yours. That detracts a lot in my opinion. The backgrounds of the others are more plain than yours and therefore highlight the subject more.

Looks like your bokeh isn't very smooth or pleasing too. But your sharpness on the bird and its pose is great. Next time try to get a bird with a more plain background such as sky or have the bird as far away from the background as possible. That will help throw it out of focus more.

These were the first things that I noticed too...


I use manual exposure settings on the copy machine
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IslandCrow
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Apr 30, 2013 11:05 |  #7

Assuming you're starting with a technically strong image, there's still quite a bit you can do in post processing, even beyond global adjustments. I don't do a lot of wildlife photography, but for your image in particular, I'd probably darken the background, do some work with the tone curve, do a little burning on some of the slightly overexposed areas, and probably pull it into Nik Color Efex Pro as well. I've talked with one photographer who goes as far as burning around the edges of each feather individually.

So, I don't know how mythical it is, but post processing can be a huge part of making a good image into a spectacular photograph.




  
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sticknpuck
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Apr 30, 2013 11:44 |  #8

Just had a quick glance and I don't think you're too far off.

One thing I notice in many of the 500px images is that the bokeh seems to be (I think) enhanced in PS. The backgrounds almost turn into a painting - really soft.

The background of your image still has some "busy" bokeh effects that could be smoothed out and the color could be enhanced using adjustments to get a more pleasing overall color. Add in some vibrance to the bird and see what you think. Try a few things out of the norm for you and see what you come up with.

One other thing that makes an impact on your image is... the MODEL!!! Nothing against your bird - it is a beautiful little robin. But I think most of those birds are pretty amazing and more interesting overall than your model. Many of them are in more dynamic poses or action as well. Unfortunately, there's usually not much we can do about that. Just have to keep trying.

Good luck - just my .02...


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Snydremark
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Apr 30, 2013 12:35 |  #9

The other thing that you're fighting here, that I haven't seen mentioned, is that this shot was taken in some pretty high, harsh sunlight. Getting your shots when the light is softer (shaded, slightly overcast, etc) and warmer (earlier/later than mid day) will really help your colors stand out more and give a bit more of the feeling that you see in those linked shots.

Remember that it is not only the quantity of light, but the quality of it as well, that affects how our images turn out.

For example, I like this shot because it shows the Eagle trying to dry off after a bath, but it's just not "pretty"; because there was plenty OF light that day but since it was mid day and heavily overcast (and heavily backlit) everything is a little...."flat":

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8506/8493487063_600b1e1d77_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/snydremark/8493​487063/  (external link)
Sequim Bald juvi-1867 (external link) by Guideon72 (external link), on Flickr

Whereas, the colors here "pop" a lot more because the clouds had thinned out and I was shooting later in the day so the light had a better quality to it:
IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8097/8493483133_f63792d080_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/snydremark/8493​483133/  (external link)
Killdeer-2000 (external link) by Guideon72 (external link), on Flickr

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bridge99
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Apr 30, 2013 14:35 |  #10

As there is dozens of my images in that chaps favorites I thought I would say hi.

Now if you are thinking that there is some sort of magic PP involved to make the background bokeh smooth while leaving the subject sharp then no there isn't really, most of it comes from using fast long primes wide or near wide open, your robin image is nice but the background bokeh is a bit rough because of your DOF, you have shot at f8 which is fine if the green is quite a way behind the robin but I guess its not, if I was shooting that shot I would use a 500mm @ f4 or a 300 @ f2.8 - f4 which would do exactly what your talking about. You dont need f8 if its a little bird a dozen feet away from you, you only need f4, this will sort out your background and make it look more pleasing and your subject jump out. My 300mm @ f2.8 will isolate my subject and completely obliterate the background giving a lovely smooth bokeh, of course you dont need to have a fast lens you can do this with a f5.6 lens you just have to make sure the subject is further away from the background.
I always try and look for pleasing backgrounds and what way the light is and then hope that something comes along or I spot something, or course that doesn't always work with wildlife. I would have left the railing in in the robin shot, gives a depth to the photo and its more natural, you could try some test shooting in your park or garden with something like a can and change your aperture and distance between the can and the background to see if this give you the sort of effect you are looking for.
Sorry if this isn't the answer your looking for and I've got the wrong end of the stick, feel free if you see any of my images in that chaps favorites to ask me questions about it if it helps you.


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Paulstw
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May 01, 2013 01:37 |  #11

bridge99 wrote in post #15883630 (external link)
As there is dozens of my images in that chaps favorites I thought I would say hi.

Now if you are thinking that there is some sort of magic PP involved to make the background bokeh smooth while leaving the subject sharp then no there isn't really, most of it comes from using fast long primes wide or near wide open, your robin image is nice but the background bokeh is a bit rough because of your DOF, you have shot at f8 which is fine if the green is quite a way behind the robin but I guess its not, if I was shooting that shot I would use a 500mm @ f4 or a 300 @ f2.8 - f4 which would do exactly what your talking about. You dont need f8 if its a little bird a dozen feet away from you, you only need f4, this will sort out your background and make it look more pleasing and your subject jump out. My 300mm @ f2.8 will isolate my subject and completely obliterate the background giving a lovely smooth bokeh, of course you dont need to have a fast lens you can do this with a f5.6 lens you just have to make sure the subject is further away from the background.
I always try and look for pleasing backgrounds and what way the light is and then hope that something comes along or I spot something, or course that doesn't always work with wildlife. I would have left the railing in in the robin shot, gives a depth to the photo and its more natural, you could try some test shooting in your park or garden with something like a can and change your aperture and distance between the can and the background to see if this give you the sort of effect you are looking for.
Sorry if this isn't the answer your looking for and I've got the wrong end of the stick, feel free if you see any of my images in that chaps favorites to ask me questions about it if it helps you.


that's very good fo you Mark cheers, I hadn't realized most of your stuff was in there. I recognized a few.

F8 was used because it's the sharpest aperture for that Tamron lens and I thought it would enhance the detail of any bird I shot. My initial post was less about the background bokeh and more to do with the soft tones in each image.

Now that I look at them again it's clear that most of the pics that appeal to me are the ones taken at low sun times, so I guess the light will be a little less harsh, and making the image seem less contrasty but still keeping detail.

I'd love to be able to go out and buy a 300 2.8 prime or a 500 f4 but until that day comes I'll need to figure out a coping strategy everytime I see images like this.

Looks like A long way ahead for the right lens for the job. The Tamron is great but at 5.6 @ the 300 end its not doing the job.

Cheers for the input folks as always :)




  
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RandMan
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May 01, 2013 10:14 |  #12

It's not the best news, but unfortunately it holds a lot of truth: you need a badass lens. I used to ask similar questions as you along the lines of, "What Photoshop settings do you think were used in this image?" Truth is, most likely the same adjustments I've been using forever--just simple luminance, contrast, color, sharpening etc.

Lenses that stretch long and open wide can do marvelous things to a photograph--I don't have one yet and I'm not a professional but I know this well enough. The first time I ever opened my first picture shot on my Canon 50mm 1.4 (a very good but not mind-blowing lens) it made sense. Before even adjusting anything, there was a grin across my face as I blurted out, "holy sh%t."

Low aperture, good glass is what's up.


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CyberDyneSystems
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May 01, 2013 10:48 |  #13

I fear RandMan is mostly correct re: "Badass lens"
However, despite the fact that my examples use a 500mm, one can get this with the 400mm f/5.6L as well, if subject distance/background distance behaves for you.
ie: Badass does niot have to cost many thousands. The 400mm can be had for about 900.00 used.


The look is only enhanced with post processing, it is achieved by using a fast super telephoto and isolating the subject from a distant background by using the extreme limited depth of field that the optics create.

After getting that original shot, one can use a mask for selective sharpening and noise removal blur to enhance that image.

These are small low detail examples, but do they meet your criteria?

IMAGE: http://jakehegnauer.zenfolio.com/img/s8/v81/p1422592030-4.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://jakehegnauer.ze​nfolio.com/p326415976/​e54cb081e  (external link)

IMAGE: http://jakehegnauer.zenfolio.com/img/s8/v82/p1422591804-4.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://jakehegnauer.ze​nfolio.com/p326415976/​e54cb073c  (external link)

IMAGE: http://jakehegnauer.zenfolio.com/img/s8/v83/p1422592022-4.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://jakehegnauer.ze​nfolio.com/p326415976/​e54cb0816  (external link)

All were taken with a 500mm f/4L IS, and in each case, the back ground was significantly behind, and thus out of focus as compared to the subject.

But the lens does a lot, here the background is quickly obliterated from the point of focus, as you move merely a few feet from the subject;

IMAGE: http://jakehegnauer.zenfolio.com/img/s2/v71/p1422591894-4.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://jakehegnauer.ze​nfolio.com/p326415976/​e54cb0796  (external link)

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CyberDyneSystems
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May 01, 2013 12:52 |  #14

Paul, check out this post with the 400mm f/5.6L;

https://photography-on-the.net …p=15886708&post​count=3876


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May 01, 2013 13:58 |  #15

I came across this while searching for something completely unrelated on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com …dbook+of+bird+p​hotography (external link)

The Handbook of Bird Photography. I find Rocky Nook books to be excellent - maybe this will be helpful to you.

kirk


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How do they do it? - Wildlife edits
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