First of all, I am not searching for faults in your images in any way and I am not trying to be offensive, I am only trying to help.
When I printed this image I could not see the feet or cloning cleanup, So I assume you downloaded the file and opened it up as I did here.
Actually, I didn’t have to download this or do anything special to it to see the issues I pointed out in my previous comment.
I could see those issues even in the small version before expanding it to full screen, full screen was not needed.
I was concerned that my monitor was out of calibration even though I recently calibrated both of my monitors so I opened this image up on both of my iPads, my cell phone, my wife’s cell phone, my laptop and my wife’s laptop and the image looks very much the same across all of those devices.
Could it be that your monitor or maybe your printer needs to be calibrated? Maybe?
Again, just trying to help!
What I was taught by several masters is what’s on paper is the test of the image and the story it tells, what can not be seen is of little importance.
I totally agree that what cannot be seen is of little importance. But what about what can be seen?
If I could not see the issues, I never would have brought them up because I am not looking for faults in anyone’s images, including yours.
what can not be seen is of little importance.
This part has me wondering, you have said in other posts that you like your images dark, is this why you prefer your images to be dark? Just curious, it is absolutely fine that you like them dark, but I do wonder if this is the philosophy behind it.
Well, it appears that motion blur was pretty minor but the softness may be the result of the 1/160s shutter speed used here. A faster shutter speed would likely produce sharper details.
The color fringing and color ghosting adds to the sense of motion blur, I don’t know what your processing involved but there are some colors in the plume in the edited version that are not there in the unedited version.
Edit: Perhaps the color fringing and color ghosting was added intentionally for artistic purposes and that is great if you did but please state what you did in that regard so new photographers can differentiate between what is photographed and what is added for artistic purposes, this is a learning site and we should know what was done.
The guidelines for posting state that any alterations such as this should be stated in the topic at the time of posting.
As Peter pointed out, the exposure is blown out on the upper back of the egret as shown below in the “Threshold” analysis along with the histogram where it shows a spike at level 232, there shouldn’t be any spikes at all on the right side if the image isn’t over exposed.
As I mentioned before, maybe use the manual mode with auto ISO and adjust the exposure levels with the exposure compensation knob or wheel (which adjusts the ISO values accordingly). Letting the camera choose the ISO and aperture can cause issues like this, although, I’m not sure why it’s over exposed since your camera was set to center weighted average metering (unless maybe the exposure compensation was set too high? Maybe?) The Exif Data for this image doesn’t show anything on exposure compensation though. Just trying to help!
Threshold analysis (below):
The whites in the analysis below are the overexposed parts.
Your edited version showing the color fringing and color ghosting below:
Here’s a version I just edited showing the lower portion of the legs and the feet (below):
Please let me know if you can see the lower portion of the legs and the feet in this version.
Also, notice that there’s no color fringing or color ghosting in the version below.
If you don’t see the differences, maybe your monitor really is too dark? Maybe?
The other reason for pointing out these issues is because this is a learning site for nature photographers, both seasoned and new photographers.
I was out of the loop of new trend changes in photography for many years, I was still shooting a fair amount but my style was formed in the early days of the internet and the early days of NPN, I was a member of NPN 1.0 back in 2000, 2001 and 2002 but my construction business grew rapidly to the point where there was no time for online sharing or learning.
Things have changed for sure and mostly in the way of editing and artificial intelligence software (AI ) for example. Styles have changed too.
I am picturing someone new… or just catching up like myself… stumbling across this image and I see the color fringing, color ghosting, cut-off legs with detached feet and think wow, this is the way it’s supposed to be done? I guess so because there are several comments saying that it’s great, it’s awesome, it’s art, etc., etc.
I just can’t imagine that it’s OK to indirectly teach new photographers that this is acceptable or even preferred practices for editing.
Don’t get me wrong, the concept and visual appeal of this image is outstanding, but the technical aspects of the editing are less than what they should be IMHO.
Again, I am not attacking your image or you in any conceivable way, I am only trying to point out things that would help you in some way,
I would certainly be willing to help out in a private fashion through email or PM if you are interested.
With all the best intentions!