Unexpected snow raw

Hummingbird in the snow. Z9 560mm f/8.

Raw File

_Z910628-2.nef (60.8 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)

Hi Daniel,

I’ll post my attempt later this evening, turns out I need to go take care of a few things.

But, I did want to let you know that I think the jpeg version you posted here (your small version) looks much, much better!
It still has a little ‘small diameter’ noise in it but I think we can nail down the cause.
It could be that any smoother might cause a slight loss in sharpness.

The version I’m working on looks pretty smooth but it doesn’t seems to be quite as sharp as the one you just posted. It might be a good compromise to have a tiny bit of noise but retain some sharpness?

Be back in a while :slight_smile:

And it will be good to see what others here come up with as well! :slight_smile:

Hi Dan, Got a hunch you’re already loving the Z9. Very nice look at the hummer with sharp detail and nice pose. The way the perch moves through the frame is nice. The snow adds an extra dimension to the scene. The background complements the hummer well. If this were mine, I’d try to remove all the background brambles( well maybe not the one behind and parallel to the perch, except for the portion to the right of the bird). I’d also remove the white spot behind its head

Hi Dan, I wrote the above without realizing you had posted this in the avian section. I played around with it in PS. I was surprised that attempts to sharpen the bird seemed to make things worse. I use Topaz Denoise and usually have success, but it didn’t work to help the bird, though I think helped remove BG noise. I’ll post my attempt at processing. In removing the background brambles, some of the snow is also removed, which removes an important element of the photo. I ended up using the High Pass filter to sharpen the bird at 40% opacity; though really, I’m not sure how much sharpening it needs. It is a fairly large crop, but the bird holds up pretty well. I’m sure others will do a better job, but this may give you an idea of what can be done-assuming you don’t mind removing objects.

Well, I certainly can’t fault your processing on this, Dan. This one gave all the noise reduction packages I tried fits. Most of them overdid the noise and even trying to pull it back produced pretty bad results. I haven’t updated my LR yet, so I couldn’t try that. I did try On1 and Topaz Denoise on the RAW file and an old favorite non-AI package called NeatImage as a PS plugin. Topaz Denoise AI seemed to give me the best results. I used the Standard mode with Remove Noise set at 23, Enhance Sharpness at 68, and Recover Detail at 91. There’s a fourth slider that I cant remember that I left at 0. I then took it into PS, cropped it, selected the bird and applied an old Topaz preAI plugin called Detail 3 to enhance feather texture. I have a canned setting for that with fine detail set at 22, Fine detail boost set at 10, medium detail at 10, medium detail boost at 4 and large detail left at zero. I prefer using this to sharpening. It just suits my taste more and I’m dreading the day it’s no longer compatible with PS.

For my taste, this image is all about the hummingbird in the snow and I thought a looser composition with more of the blackberries and snow told the story I saw better (that may not be your story, that’s the nice thing about post processing-it lets you tell your own story much more effectively).

PS I wish this was my image. It tells a great story.

I have tried multiple times to remove distractions in PS and never been as successful as you were in this edit of my photo. I find it very frustrating. I am rewatching some of the videos on PS that I purchased to see what I am missing. Thanks for your input.

I agree with you that the thorns and snow with less cropping tell a great story. I think the problem I had with processing was using Topaz DN and sharpening - the latter to excess. Then I added texture in LRC. Anyway, I’ve had fun today taking too many shots of the hummingbirds trying to capture a brilliant male rufous chasing the female around the barberry thorns. I will keep trying, as it is a lot more fun the editing.

Dan, for me there’s a difference between your cropped shot and the uncropped shot. The later shows the environment, where at least to my mind the cropped shot doesn’t. I like the uncropped shot for the environment and maybe just keep like that. For me it tells more of a story than when it’s cropped.

Hi again, Daniel,

I finally finished my errands and was able to make some time for editing your image.

I decided to update Lr and ACR so I could try their new Denoise feature, this was all done in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw). even the sharpening was done in ACR.

It seems that ACR Denoise did pretty well at smoothing the BG but the bird suffered just a little as I thought it would (it was that trade off I mentioned).
From a personal preference point of view, I prefer the BG to be as smooth as I can get it if I can.

As others have mentioned, the heavy crop made it a challenge, and the larger crop that @Dennis_Plank shows with more environment makes another very fine image :wink:

I didn’t add any color enhancements at all but I did clone out the thorn under the bird as well as a few snow flakes that were close to the bird (one was over the corner of it’s eye).

If you don’t see the Denoise in Lr or ACR (Under the Details tab), you’ll need to do a fresh update.

Anyway, I hope this helps!

This is close to the crop you did for the this thread.

And this is a copy of the image from the Avian Critique thread. (below).

And again, the opening image you did for this thread looks pretty good, I recommend giving the new Lr and/or the ACR Denoise feature a try, you’ll probably like it better than Topaz Photo AI :slight_smile:

Ha, you can tell how sharp I am, I just now noticed that the one I just edited is a different shot from the one posted in the Avian Critique thread. :roll_eyes: :laughing:

I like that crop, Dennis! :slight_smile:
The thought crossed my mind to do the same but I chickened out :laughing:

Finally got my new monitors today :smiley:
It took a while! :frowning:

Nice work, BTW!

Thanks Mervin - I agree that the new NR feature in LR does aa better job the Topaz. I have 20 or so RAW images of this bird in the snow, so plenty of material for practice.

Part of the problem we’re encountering with doing noise reduction and sharpening on this image is just inherent in having a small subject (small in the frame) with fine feather detail. The size scale of the noise is approaching that of the real structure and that makes it difficult for the software. It actually is doing pretty well.

Thank you for this. I have learned a few things from this exercise. First, the Nikon Z9 is a very capable camera. Second, severe cropping definitely increases the noise. Third, sharpening unless done very selectively, may increase noise. Fourth, when comparing noise reduction tools, the new LR option and DxO were both better than Topaz AI for this image. Fifth, a pleasing photographic story can be told by an imperfect image. Most importantly, NPN is a great site, full of generous photographers willing to share their knowledge.

Best regards,

Dan Mulkey

Hi Daniel, sorry I am late to this post but I thought I would rework the file with my preferred workflow just to show you that option. Very intriguing capture with the rain and hummingbird. Nice job on the initial capture - very fine exposure.
The workflow here is DXO Pure Raw 3 (no sharpening), then into Photoshop where I added a hint of saturation, cropped, and sharpened in Photoshop Smart Sharpen on bird only.

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