Eastern Kingbird fledgling (+ 3 re-edits)

Here is a re-edited version with Dennis’s suggestion to blur the background -

I used a quick mask to protect the bird from the blur - I couldn’t get the regular selection tool to work well around the beak and head no matter how I finessed the mask. So I used a brush and painted around and then created the selection from there. Brought up some saturation and vibrance when it went back to Lightroom.

Here’s another, just checking for feather detail -

Now with more blur! How does this look?

Although I’ve watched their antics many times, I’ve never photographed kingbirds and so despite the harsh light I was super happy to be able to. I was in the kayak and it was rather windy (plus it’s a river so there was current although the dam above wasn’t letting much water over). A pair of fledglings were hanging around the nest that was 6 feet above the water on this dead tree. They could fly just fine. When one went back to the nest I had this great opportunity to get close. This pose has the most direct eye-contact of the few that I took so I went with this one. Plus the details are pretty good. I think it was gaping because it was very hot so I left soon after. Hopefully it went in the shade to cool down.

Specific Feedback Requested

Not sure I can reshoot since I don’t know how long they will be there, but any advice is welcome. Yeah, the light is what it is…can’t change that. How about the processing?

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Lumix G9
P/L 100-400mm f/4-6.3 lens @ 400mm (800mm equiv)
f/6.3 | 1/640 sec. | ISO 250
Handheld in the kayak
Pattern metering, shutter priority, -1/3 ev.

Lightroom for a rather large crop and to tame a lot of highlights, added texture & sharpening, nr and a bit of a vignette.

1 Like

I think this is an absolutely outstanding photo, Kris. Details are excellent, and though the light is harsh, you handled it very well. Plus, shooting from a moving kayak - even if moving slowly - could not have been easy. Very nice.

Hi Kris. You obviously got the focus right on given the excellent detail in the bird and perch. You mention using texture and sharpening in LR-I think you could back off on those a bit as I think they contribute to the harsh lighting look of the image. The only other suggestion would be to blur the background a bit to soften the look of all the bright twigs.

An extremely good image and a great find.

Another wonderful capture Kris. The light and pose of the bird did very we’ll.

Thanks @Dennis_Plank, @terryb & @Dean_Salman - I spent quite a while with these birds…mostly trying to get the boat in the right position to shoot. It was crazy, but photography from a kayak usually is.

In the OP I put another version with a Gaussian blur applied to the background. Masking out the bird was a PITA using the regular selection tool, so I used @Diane_Miller’s Quick Mask method and it worked great. Thanks Diane!

I did lose some detail in the bird now I really look at it, so I will go back and further increase the mask opacity and see how that does. Bah. Still losing feather detail and I can’t understand why if the bird was masked…

HI Kristen
I like the second photo the best. Having photograph from a kayak, I know this shot is not a easy thing to do. Nice work.

Wonderful capture, Kris! And I’m glad the masking worked well for you.

I second @Dennis_Plank that the bird is a bit crunchy, probably due texture and sharpening. The latter, especially, only gives an impression of sharpness by adding artifacts that can look crunchy. The only real sharpening (so far) is in camera.

If it were me, I’d look at even more blur on the BG.

I like the blur on the background, Kris and the slight reduction in sharpness of the bird actually improves it to my eye. The plumage looks more natural in both of the reposts.

Thanks @peter, @Diane_Miller & @Dennis_Plank - I won’t stress over the feather detail if it serves the image and looking critically, I think it does. Sometimes I get overzealous with the sharpness. I upped the blur a bit, too. I don’t want to venture into fake too far…did I?