Save 20% On Zoner Photo Studio X - The photo editor just for your style
Back Modifications (7)
Views 146 Unique 52 Award Shortlist   

Caught in the act

By Bajob3
Again as usual for me a grab shot. I will also upload the original. I have cropped from a horizontal to vertical crop. I have done very little processing on this image. Thanks for any feedback.

Tags: Wildlife and nature Exhibitions 2020



chase Plus
17 2.5k 676 England
11 Jan 2021 5:44PM
A lovely looking bird and I think you have done well in what looks like challenging light conditions.
You are right at the end of the focal length on your lens, that, coupled with the high ISO has brought in the noise. It's actually not too bad tbh but the more you crop and mess with it, the worse the noise is going to get.

I think you could have gone down a little on the ISO and the aperture, perhaps F5.6 would have been enough. The shutter speed you have selected here is fine and even a very slightly slower speed would have been ok.
Not sure the focus is right on the bird, looks to be more on the edge of the tree here.
Still, for a grab shot it's good.
I did a mod and used your original, uncropped frame, thanks for that.
Cropped to put the bird on the left third.
Warmed the whole thing up a tad in the Camera Raw filter.
Attempted to pull up the darks on the bird but then....noise raised its head as I thought it might.

You have a nice little catchlight in the eye which is so very important, otherwise iy just looks like a puddle of darkness.
I must say, that bg is rather nice, I do like the colours and the bokeh.
dark_lord Plus
19 3.0k 836 England
11 Jan 2021 7:33PM
It's well timed, and the background is complementary, seting the scene and indicating the environment without being a distraction.

However, it's the original exposure setting that's caused problems. Given the tricky lighting conditions I'd have gone for Manual too but based the exposure more towards the shadow areas in order to retain detail there and reduce noise issues. You'll get more noise trying to lift dark shadows than giving more exposure.

Shooting RAW would mean you can recover highlight detail much more easily from that extra exposure, and if you wnt to get the best results you can then you need to consider that rather than jpg.

It's very attractive with the light just catching the bird's head.
pamelajean Plus
17 1.8k 2289 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2021 8:12PM
I have done a modification, Trevor, using your original (thank you for uploading that).

With the woodpecker long and tall on the vertical, it seems right to present the image cropped to portrait format, buit it isn't necessarily the best format. In my mod, I have cropped to square. I used noise removal, brightened the image, slightly lifted the shadows and selectively sharpened the bird. I was careful to avoid the pitfalls that have already been pointed out.

I also removed those bits of protruding bark on the side of the tree trunk.

Paintman 16 1.5k 180 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2021 8:29PM
I think all this needs is to increase the exposure a bit and lighten the shadows, which look too dark, muddying the detail. Some selective sharpening and noise reduction was used.

I desaturated the b/g a little and darkened the lighter areas so as not to fight with the main subject, the bird.

I selectively lightened, saturated and increased the contrast of the bird's head.

I dodged and burned the tree and lichen to produce a more 3-dimensional look and to enhance the look of the light and shadows upon it.

I felt the image looked better with the tree vertical rather than slightly leaning to the right.

I think your crop from the original photo works well.

These are only suggestions for further processing.
banehawi Plus
19 2.9k 4354 Canada
11 Jan 2021 8:41PM
The original shot is nice. The crop works ok too.

Some general observations, some mentioned above, some new.

Try not to crop so tight, as this not only zooms in on the bird, but also on the ISO noise.
The default Auto white balance will ALWAYS produce an overly cool but image; fine if thats what you want, but when you get a chance, in daylight situation shooting in JPEG, set WB to daylight and see if you like the difference, It not only affects the overall tone, but will also affect perceived exposure for the good in most cases.

The more noise reduction you need to apply, the greater you risk the detail abd sharpness of the subject.

You used manual exposure here, and applied +1/3; this has ZERO effect on the image, as exposure compensation for that camera only makes any difference in any shooting mode other than Manual. Ideally, shoot in RAW rather than JPEG, and you can apply non destructive exposure adjustments in post processing,

I used your full size image for a mod; its cropped less tightly which can improve the sharpness and detail; altered the extremely cool color temperature which also has the effect of making the strong blue background less intrusive.

Hope this is helpful,


dudler Plus
19 2.1k 2018 England
12 Jan 2021 7:12AM
A bit of a crop, yes: but maybe not so much. Give the bird room to breathe, compositionally, and why not include those lovely out of focus colours and twigs on the left. But I'm a sucker for some attractive Bokeh...
chase Plus
17 2.5k 676 England
15 Jan 2021 3:06PM
Have any of the above comments helped you? Have we given you ideas to think about, processing suggestions to try? The Critique gallery works best when we get a conversation going, that needs your input too. It really would help us if you come back and let us know if any comments have been useful. Otherwise we are really operating in the dark.
Bajob3 2
15 Jan 2021 5:00PM
Apologies, yes your feedback has all been invaluable. I had uploaded another version of the image noting in the comments the feedback That I was trying to apply. I had always tried with nature images to try and fill the frame with the subject rather than using the negative space to strengthen the overall image. I had tried to lighten the dark feathers on the back without getting too much noise and again the wider crop has helped with this. With the different modifications I see that there is no single correct image/processing. I really do appreciate all of the feedback and constructive criticism.
mrswoolybill Plus
16 4.1k 2606 United Kingdom
15 Jan 2021 5:19PM
Thanks for your feedback, it makes all the difference!

Filling the frame versus allowing space - it's a personal thing and going in close can work very well, it creates a private, intimate space. But when there is life, activity, movement then it usually needs space to move into.

All the best,
dudler Plus
19 2.1k 2018 England
15 Jan 2021 5:28PM
Yes, indeed - thank you for getting back to us.

The twin challenges of bird pictures are technical quality, and getting something that isn't just a 'bird on a stick' - and it's an important point that there isn't one single right way with most shots. There are usually different ways that work, emphasising various aspects - composition, habitat, plumage...
chase Plus
17 2.5k 676 England
15 Jan 2021 5:57PM
Really great to get your feedback, it is really appreciated, thank you.
Bajob3 2
15 Jan 2021 6:24PM
I am loving the critique and different viewpoints. I have been in a club for almost 30 years but we are now a very small club and donít get external judges. Whilst I enter exhibitions and get scores there is no feedback on the images so no way to improve on the bad points.
pamelajean Plus
17 1.8k 2289 United Kingdom
15 Jan 2021 7:14PM
Thank you so much for your feedback, Trevor. That is a critiquer's only reward !
It's gratifying to know that our critique helps you to improve, which of course is the whole point.

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.