Female Mallard Duck Portrait

I wanted to practice with head shots for birds. I did not have to edit a lot here but did some. R7/RF100-500 at 700mm ISO 2500 1/640 f/20

Raw File

20230213-Birds-Shorebirds-9921.dng (38.9 MB)

You may only download this file to demonstrate how you would process the image. The file is Copyright of the photographer, and you must delete the raw file when you are done. Please post a jpg of what you created, along with an explanation of what you did and why you did it.

My Edit (click to see)

1 Like

Hey Dean, thanks for playing this incredibly fun game. Here’s my take on your fine image. Again, this is just my interpretation and I am by no means an expert in Avian photography…but am trying to improve myself.

I use Capture One for processing, so please keep that in mind too.

First off, I see that you shot at f/20. This gets into diffraction range so I switched “Diffraction Correction” on in the lens correction tool. This brought back a bit of sharpness to the feathers.
In terms of global adjustments, I warmed the image up a tad with white balance, added a touch of contrast and reduced the highlights on the light feathers using the highlight tool.
I also reduced the saturation a touch
I also gave the image a slight vignette.

From there I used Capture One’s adjustment brushes to selectively adjust the following:
The highlights brush to further recover the white/light areas on the bird.
A warming brush to warm up those same whiter feather areas.
A dodging brush to brighten up the eye.
And finally a details brush (uses a combination of clarity and structure) to build a bit more detail over most of the feathers.

Thanks for posting this. It was fun.

I like what you did David. The detail came out nice and warming it helped. I was not sure if f/20 would cause diffraction because the lens combo will TC is f10. I need to try the correction and see if Lightroom Classic makes the feathers have more detail. Thanks for the details, I think this area on NPN will be valuable


Beautiful head shot! It’s been many years - a couple decades maybe… since I’ve done any wildlife or birds, but this is about image processing, so I thought why not give this one a try.

I don’t have any screenshots of my layer stack since I kinda did this piece-meal, but I’ll describe what I did.

  • first, opened in ACR, slight boost in vibrance, dehaze and clarity. reduced the whites and highlights a bit
  • opened in PS and first thing, bring in to Topaz DeNoise AI - reduce the color noise in the blue water, and at the same time really enhanced the details in the feathers (Love this app!)
  • cropped. As much as I liked the details of the feathers on the back, to me, this is a head shot and by cropping, that is emphasized even more.
  • Back in PS, flattened and then duplicated bg layer. I cloned out a foamy area to the left/above the nose that I thought was distracting.
  • then applied a generous dose of Gaussian blur globally, then masked out the duck (very rough masking)
  • lastly applied a slight vignette.

The colors and detail in the feathers are excellent - and THE most important thing - the sharpness and highlight in the eye. Even I can remember that from back when…