Back Modifications (6)
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Blackbird feeding its young.

By simmo73
This image has been partly obstructed by a nearby shrub. I have tried to reduce it in layers by several HSL adjustments with limited success. Any suggestion on the best if any way to achieve this would be greatly appreciated. (This uploaded image has only had Raw adjustments)

Tags: Blackbirds Wildlife and nature

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paulknight 9 2 8 New Zealand
7 Jul 2019 11:53AM
The only strategy I can suggest is to repetitively clone many very small patches of similar feather patterns from other parts of the blackbird to the affected part. It could be done given patience and time. I would make a new layer for the experiment though in case you want to return to the original. You would probably want to manipulate the same blur in the background too.
7 Jul 2019 12:22PM
Thank you Paul, I suppose I was rather hoping there might be a simple procedure to rectify this.But as you suggest, patience and hard work is probably the only way.Thank you most kindly for your input.
mrswoolybill Plus
12 1.5k 2060 United Kingdom
7 Jul 2019 12:45PM
This is something that I see regularly out of my window, parenting is hard work at every level of the animal kingdom!

I've uploaded a modification with a few suggestions. The out of focus leaves top right, appearing against soil, are very easily cloned out using a large soft brush. On the bird's back and tail I haven't done any cloning, I worked with the sponge and burn tools very gently. The sponge tool mops up colour, I used it repeatedly at 30% exposure, that gets rid of most of the yellow colour. You need to leave a bit, for the brownish tinge in the feathers.

The burn tool, used at just 3% exposure and alternating between highlights, midtones and shadows, retrieves detail. Looking at the modification, I've overdone the burn tool on shadows, but this gives an idea of what is possible.

I also reduced contrast and lightened shadows a bit.

It's an interesting exercise!
7 Jul 2019 12:46PM
A tricky one. I approached it more or less as Paul has suggested above.
I selected the affected area on the bird using the lasso tool then shifted the hue slightly towards red before darkening it to get a rough match. Then a bit of careful cloning with lightly feathered ( no pun intended ) selections from other areas, again using the lasso tool.
Not especially difficult... 10 minutes work... but not completely convincing either!

7 Jul 2019 12:49PM
Moira beat me to it. I like what she's done... but maybe dodge that dark band a little?
dudler Plus
15 877 1496 England
7 Jul 2019 12:51PM
That was going ot be my response. I think it's too big for the spot healing tool to get anywhere near, though I might be wrong.

The best strategy is to avoid the obstruction - which may mean a long wait for the opportunity to reshoot.

That leads back to camerawork and preparation: getting your vantage point sorted, maybe trimming your shrubs. If you look at pictures by excellent bird photographers, from Eric Hosking onwards, you'll find a willingness to prepare meticulously, along with near-infinite patience.

It's certainly not my kind of thing, and so I've made the conscious decision not to think of doing more than dabbling ineptly i nthe genre. But I observe what works for those who do excel.
mrswoolybill Plus
12 1.5k 2060 United Kingdom
7 Jul 2019 12:51PM
I've added a version with slightly less aggressive burning...
dudler Plus
15 877 1496 England
7 Jul 2019 12:52PM
And other comments have appeared while I typed - patience and merticulous work in processing rather thna camerawork!

By the way - the framing is quite tight, with both birds missing their tails.
Thank you all for your input, I think no3 Moira"s is my favourite. I do take your point on composition John, but this was a spur of the moment shot sat in my garden with a nice glass of red. I thought that the result would be an interesting exercise.
banehawi Plus
15 2.1k 4012 Canada
7 Jul 2019 3:09PM
I noticed you up;loaded this earlier with the foliage removed, and when went to comment, you had removed it. You can upload both before and after, one as a modification to the other in the CG and be within the one upload limit. That way we could also comment on your own approach.

So reading the above comments, - there is no one right answer. Cloning small amounts has thew effect, and you can see this in the mods using that approach, of removing the smaller back feathers completely. This is fine, as nobody other than a bird expert would even notice.

Moiras approach, being more subtle, leaves the feathers as they were, and carries the risk of looking as if there was something there, - but with a lot of finesses and time this can be diminished.

So perhaps a careful combination of both could work.

I suggest you start by correcting the exposure, - the birds being darker than the background are underexposed, so increase exposure. This right away makes the leaves less visible. The using a combination of both approaches, spend time on it. It may well not be worth all that time and effort, and the straight cloning may be the nest approach depending on what you want. Either way, increase exposure. The original composition is also too tight, cropping off feet and tails.

I did upload a mod.


Thank you Willie, I like your mod. I have updated my no4 mod and stated that I had altered 5 by mistake. Sorry about that. I agree with your comments about the feathers, this is learning curve for me and am most grateful for all your input.
Regards Geoff
dudler Plus
15 877 1496 England
7 Jul 2019 3:31PM
I definitely take that point, Geoff - if it's a casual snap, don't worry: and live with the imperfections.

I find it hard to turn off, photographically (I have recently been in hospital for four nights after an operation, without a camera: normally, I never go anywhere without one (and often two, plus several lenses), including the corner shop.
Sincerely hope you are well now John, I know the feeling I am rarely without my camera. After a long walk recently I had to visit the gents in a local village, on exiting, with my camera and a huge telephoto lens a gentleman stood washing his hands commented," No I am not even going to ask"
Regards Geoff.
dudler Plus
15 877 1496 England
7 Jul 2019 9:05PM
As it goes, the operation means that i can now make use of the gents with confidence. And relief...
Pleased to hear it John, it's an age thing!
paulbroad Plus
11 127 1282 United Kingdom
8 Jul 2019 9:01PM
A lot of comments. A nice shot and I would no worry unduly about the foreground intrusion. It does not interfere wit the main subject and is obviously quite natural. Better without it, but not ruinous. I find the blackbirds eye more distracting - second eyelid closed.

Thank you Paul, I kind of agree with you but thought it would be an interesting exercise and also a learning curve for myself. I appreciate all the advice and comments, and I do agree with you about the eye!

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