Back Modifications (4)
Views 147 Unique 68 Award Shortlist   

The one that almost got away!

By pottie  
Kgalagadi South Africa, The Kgalagadi is a dessert, an probably the best place for photography, the only problem is that the animals don't know that early mornings and late afternoon is the best light for photography...
I sat at this dripping tap and waited for the right bird to make a show... well this Glossy Starling made an appearance.
I would like to enter his photo at our local club and would like to know what I can do better, so please feel free to do some mods and your critique will be apresiated.

Tags: Birds Starling Colourful birds Wildlife and nature Glossy starling Birds wildlife nature

90% Off inPixio Photo Studio 10 Ultimate Software Bundle


dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1778 England
13 Jan 2021 5:09PM
I think the bird's posture means that this is one to play for laughs... Beautifully silly!

There's always a problem when there are straight lines and high contrasts - they look sharper than more subtle and organic detail. Here, the screw thread on the tap looks as if it may have caught the camera's AF mechanism out, and pulled focus back from the eye - it's hard to tell. A more subtle editor than I am might be able to blur that thread slightly, so that the eye is obviously sharper. Just a thought.

I don't have any other contribution to make - and this is a long way from my comfort zone!
Owdman Plus
5 6 17 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2021 5:29PM
I agree with John, I'm not a wild life photographer, but my initial viewing of the image is that the tap is fantastically sharp, whereas the bird isn't. I've noticed with other bird photographs on here that it's usually possible to pick out individual feathers, though I imagine that here. there was some movement of the bird. Perhaps a tighter crop, losing some of the stand pipe? I have the same lens, my favourite one by a mile, but it's a heavy lens, perhaps up the ISO, a faster shutter speed and that would have also frozen the water drip.
(Looking at Banehawi's mod, that looks much better and the bird's feathers are much sharper.)
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4202 Canada
13 Jan 2021 5:30PM
Hi Issi, welcome to 2021!

Its a nice shot overall; I think, just maybe that the shutter speed may have been marginally slow if the bird was moving, even slightly; it might also account for dudlers comment above where the camera seems to have focused a little in front, as of course the tap is still when the bird may move? Might even be a combination of both.

Either way, it can be improved with a little careful sharpening on the bird only.

In addition, since the bird is dark against a brighter background, I would increase exposure a little; this makes the pipe quite bright, and Ive left it as is in the mod, but depending on the rules, you may be able to reduce the brightness there.

I would also warm this to some extent, - I set the blue/yellow slider to +10 towards yellow.

Finally, remember to use the sRGB profile when uploading here, or to the club.

Take a look and see what you think.


chase Plus
15 2.0k 517 England
13 Jan 2021 6:28PM
Hi Issi,
For a start, this made me smile and I applaud your patience waiting for the bird.

The focus however is most certainly on the tap, using autofocus, (which I do loads of Blush), it is really easy to just drift from the place you actually needed the focus to be, in this case, the bright yellow eye of that lovely bird.
Birds move so very quickly, even the slightest shift can spoil the focus, especially if you have already set your focal point before the bird landed, a sensible thing to do especially if you are using a sturdy tripod, sometimes it works and sometimes not.

You could have afforded a slightly higher ISO here which would result in you able to up the shutter speed a touch which may have helped to freeze the moving drips from the tap.Also, you could have used a shallower DOF, perhaps F5.6 and that, again, would have enabled a possible faster shutter speed. At that though, your focus has to be spot on, very difficult with a fast moving, small subject.
I did do a mod...
Cropped a little from the top, straightened the water pipe. Reduced contrast just a smidge to see if I could help with the feather detail.
Added a little sharpening.
I did darken a couple of light bits at the bottom of the pipe with the clone tool set to darken.

Depending on the rules your Club has and what category you enter this into, you may be able to do a little more work on your image, sometimes Wildlife images are only allowed very basic editing.
pamelajean Plus
15 1.5k 2190 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2021 7:36PM
I have seen some amazing bird pictures where they are perched on unusual objects like cameras, garden fork handles and the like, but this is even better because of the unusual stance and balancing act of the bird, it's beautiful irridescent blue colouring and the way it is taking the water. I love the way it's clinging onto the top of the tap.

I like the bird being closer, as in 2 of the modifications, and that would be the easy part. If you can get the bird a bit sharper and the image a bit brighter, I think you will do well in your club competition.


dark_lord Plus
16 2.7k 738 England
13 Jan 2021 9:34PM
You've got an uncomplicated background to make the subject stand out well and those water drops are then icing on the cake, so that's all good.

However, the questionable focus is what lets this down, but with the processing tweaks suggested above will help somewhat.

Focus is critical, amd being 'just off' relegates so many wildlife shots to the bin, not that I'm suggesting that here but you're likley to have discarded a number from the shoot. Once you've taken the time and effort to get ready for this you need to keep shooting. It's no problem if you end up with only one out of fifty. You'll onlu use that one.

You could safely raise the ISO to 400 as 1/320 is on the whole on the slow side for small birds because they move so quick. That's not to say you wont manage as it is but you'll increase your chances of a good capture.

AF is good but it may be awkward to adjust focus points rapidly (no matter what the marketing people may say, I'm talking real world) to cater for where the eye is but you can with that (and some other) Canon lenses use the focus ring after AF to tweak the zone of focus though that's easier with the camera on a tripod.
pottie 8 2 South Africa
15 Jan 2021 4:09PM
To all the critique team, thanks for your time and knowledge, that's why I love coming to the page... your comments are to the point with out being harsh. I have learned so much from you, It's most appreciated

Dudler, thanks for your comments, after I saw your comments I realized that what you say is true...
OWDman, Norm, thank you... what you say is so true... Next time Ill up the ISO and the shutter speed.
Willie, WOW Thanks it looks much better, Ill try our suggestions on a different image...
Janet, Thanks for the detailed explanation, Ill keep that in mind, perhaps Ill use your advice on another image.. one that is more in focus!
Pamela thanks for your comments!
Darklord, your comments is spot on and next time Ill use the tripod and I will up the ISO as suggested, Thanks your comments.
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1778 England
15 Jan 2021 5:30PM
You're always fun, thoughtful and appreciative, Issi.

Happy shooting in 2021.
chase Plus
15 2.0k 517 England
15 Jan 2021 5:50PM
Thanks so much for responding Issi, it really does help us to help you.
pamelajean Plus
15 1.5k 2190 United Kingdom
15 Jan 2021 7:17PM
Your feedback and thanks are very much appreciated, Issi.
dark_lord Plus
16 2.7k 738 England
15 Jan 2021 8:30PM
Thanks for your feedback Issi, the Team really appreciate it.
And we look forward to more uploads from you.

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.