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Snowy Egret in Mallorca

By MikeRC
Hi....I'm looking for critique on this work has been done on this image.

Please note the settings and tell me what you would use.

Aperture mode 5.6
ISO 200
EXP -1.3
F length 300 mm
1/1600 sec

I cannaot recall whether I used VR but I think not.

All help appreciated....thanks

Tags: Pets and captive animals Wildlife and nature

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


18 Jun 2011 9:56AM
Great shot! Taken on the right moment!

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paulknight 8 2 8 New Zealand
18 Jun 2011 10:28AM
Great lines! Well captured!
CarolG 11 199 20 Greece
18 Jun 2011 10:55AM
Perfect timing, Mike. Carol
G6DDS 8 231 Scotland
18 Jun 2011 11:54AM
Not really my area but from what i've read on here your settings are correct. Have the aperture wide open to get the faster shutter speed for freezing movement.
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
18 Jun 2011 12:04PM
Technically speaking I can't see anything wrong with this photo at all, at this scale on the web. You've even used the -2/3rds exposure compensation to help counter the brighter parts of the white bird from overexposing (the whites along the back look strong white, but I don't think they've overexposed - histogram on your computer should be able to give you a more definitive answer, but they don't stand out to me at all).
ISO is where I'd start for wildlife - 200 is a good base to work from; though on dimmer days 400 is normally very usable on pretty much all cameras without worries. Shutter speed is certainly fast enough to freeze the motion (and has done wonderfully) and is also more than fast enough that any handshake should be of no concern (at 1/1600 at 300mm VR, strictly speaking, won't be having any effect on the hand motion blur in the shot).
Aperture - well you've been reading and chatting in the forums about the aperture and sharpness, esp with regard to the 28-300mm so I'll take it as given that you already know to try shifting to a slightly smaller aperture to get a little more sharpness out of the setup.

Having done no editing work at all its a good result - myself I'd say sharpening (esp after resizing) would be needed on the photo, but other than that no areas appear in need of work. Some burning around the whites might be in order if they are just blown - though if you shoot RAW I'd be tempted to process the RAW twice - once normally and once for the highlights (same settings as for normal, but then slide the exposure slider until the whites are more controlled; but not too far that they look "dark") and then blend the two images into one with layermasks in editing.

However I get the feeling that the result you've gotten has left you feeling like something might be wrong, that something is lacking that you'd prefer different. If you have some examples taken by others that you'd like to emulate if you could link to them it might help to understand where you want to head - what you'd like to be able to create with the camera.
csurry 16 9.2k 92
18 Jun 2011 12:20PM
Hi Mike, whether the image works or not is down to does it represent what you wanted to capture?

For me personally I would go for a slower shutter speed, but that is because I like some movement in the wings if possible on a shot. Why? Well for me I never like my images to look like I could cut and paste the bird on to another background. Blurring the wings for me appears to "anchor" the bird in to the image. I suppose it is comparable to taking pictures of prop driven planes and showing the props as completely static. The dynamic aspect of the image is lost. Or motorsport images where the wheels and spokes are completely frozen.

Of course the slower the shutter speed the harder the shot as you will need to match your panning of the bird to the effect that you are striving for.

That said, of course, the initial aim has to be a sharp shot. From there your technique can be adapted to achieve different results such as the wing blur.

ams99 Junior Member 6 65 9 England
18 Jun 2011 12:52PM
Wonderful shot. It really stands out.
CathR 11 151 564 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2011 1:05PM
It's a nice shot Mike - I like the green feet and shiny black legs Smile

Your settings look fine. I might have been tempted to start off with a bit of a smaller aperture, say 6.3 or 7.1, as you have some latitude with the shutter speed and you could afford to lose a little from your 1/1600 and still freeze the action. However it does not look to me that you have a depth of field problem, so maybe it doesn't matter too much.

I do think you are getting dangerously close to burn out in areas behind the head and on the left wing. the histogram shows a very narrow line going right to the edge of the display and sampling with the eyedropper on the "information" palette reveals 255 in places in both the blue and green channels. I would absolutely no question use raw for this type of shot as white birds are a nightmare to get the exposure spot on. You can then do as overread suggests and adjust the exposure in the raw converter. I suspect your main problem is that the light in Majorca is on the harsh side which contributes to the burn out and shadows. Softer light in the early morning and late afternoon is much easier to control.

Best wishes

MikeRC Plus
13 3.6k United Kingdom
18 Jun 2011 2:54PM
Thanks everyone...I appreciate the critique, I wasn't really unhappy with the shot but I'm constantly afraid that I am continually doing it wrong and/or, could do better Smile

I didn't want to carry on the way I was if it was wrong and I'm a lot happier knowing I'm somewhere near, I think that I have begun to understand the settings more recently and I think this critique and the recent aperture thread have helped a great deal.....I'm 'gonna close the aperture a tad and see how that goes.

....many thanks "Overread" ""Cheryl" and "Catherine"....much appreciated.

Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
18 Jun 2011 3:13PM
Just to add, but improvements can also be had at the editing stage as well. You might find the articles on the following sites to be of help:

I'd recommend checking out the articles on sharpening, noise reduction, curves, layers, levels and histograms for a good starting point.
banehawi Plus
13 1.8k 3881 Canada
18 Jun 2011 4:08PM
Excellent shot anyone would be proud of. Very good balance between brights and shadows, wisely accomplished by exposure compensation. A load of great tips, - all of which will take your skill to the next level, but to find any fault with this would be difficult.


Niknut Plus
8 1.8k 76 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2011 4:41PM
Faultless shot ! proud of it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
pluckyfilly 11 351 33 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2011 5:16PM
Lets say I would be pleased to get this shot, in the first place hes not stationary and that makes getting the picture more difficult but I know what you mean by moving up 1 grade I am in the middle as well - no longer a beginner and wanting to improve to the next stage. Your being very self critical Mike, I guess thats not a bad thing and we all do it, me includedWink You have some good feedback here but honestly I would not worry overly much you have more than a half decent shotSmile
18 Jun 2011 7:14PM
Fantastic timing and a ggreat capture!
Andy_Cundell 7 1.1k 5 England
18 Jun 2011 9:16PM
Great photo but I have to agree with csurry on the shutter speed.

To 'believe' the bird is flying and landing on water, you need a slight movement of the wings or what would of been really good, would be water from the birds feet spraying up as it lands. The viewer 'needs' to see some movement or they could think it's just hanging in mid air.

As for the colour, I think it's pretty spot on. We all know a bird would never be really 'white' and I love the green tinge to its feet.

The focus is also spot on, people always tell me you need the eyes in focus and you have done exactly that!

Nice job

Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
18 Jun 2011 9:21PM
I don't think I can add anything at all to all of that!

An excellent shot.

NEWMANP 10 1.6k 574 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2011 9:51PM
nice image all around, nice and sharp and particularly well exposed without losing any detail in the white and yet retaining a nice balance in the background tones.

the eyes are sharp and have the obligatory highlight and there is room to move into in front.

settings wise i sort of agree that a little blur either panning the background or in the wings from a static shot may have given a little more life to the image. similarly its a shame there isnt a reflection in the water to give that extra element that makes a good shot great.

its a luxury to have 200 ISO at those speeds, usually im around 500 iso with any kind of flight shot. similarly im surprised there isnt a little flap even at 1/1600sec. you mention the VR but to honest it works against you above 1/500sec and may even cause you problems. its unlikey to kick in during a short exposure anyhow.

Its a nice shot, and its damn hard to give really useful critique where the work is pretty good and there is no direct area of assistance been requested.

best regards
LeeFisher 8 59 8 England
19 Jun 2011 12:39AM
Hi Mike,
In essence what you've achieved here is a good shot, I like the birds pose and the position of the feet.
For me the image is anchored fine and I personally would have pushed the ISO a little further to gain even more shutter speed to assist with obtaining a razor sharp shot. (though 1-1600th should be more than enough for a landing egret)

In my opinion the things that slightly hold it back are the lighting and the sharpness of the image.
The image lacks that critical razor sharpness that would lift it to the next level, this could possibly be achieved at the processing level as the image already looks pretty crisp or possibly in the panning technique.
The second thing for me, and the thing that is most important is the lighting, It's simply too harsh for the bird. In my opinion there is nothing you can do about this as a harsh contrasty light will always look unflattering in an image. This is particularly emphasised on a white bird. If this same image had been taken in the hour before sunset or after sunrise then the image would be transformed to a whole new level. This for me is the fundemental key to all good shots, but I appreciate that you shoot in the light that has been given to you Smile
Hope this has been of some help mate,
Cheers Lee
Ray42 10 3 England
19 Jun 2011 8:10AM
An excellent shot - well timed and sitting nicely in the frame - very little work to be done in PS and some great tips from the experts above to help you to the next level - good on you
paulbroad 10 123 1245 United Kingdom
20 Jun 2011 5:28PM
First class. I assume the full size image is as sharp as this looks and am amazed if you havn't just done a touch of sharpening - even the best gear usually needs a bit of unsharp mask.

Nothing to crit for me - great stuff. Lots of comments again on a brilliant shot - lets have a few more on the less than brilliant shots!


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