This great blue heron flew across the pond near Jacksonville, just barely skimming the surface. 11:30 am

What technical feedback would you like if any? All feedback is helpful

What artistic feedback would you like if any? What could I have done to improve the artistry and emotion in the image?

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Nikon D90 with Nikor 18-300 DX lens, shot at 300mm
f/6.3, ss at 1/800, ISO 250
(If backgrounds have been removed, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)
Some slight cropping and straightening. The water was very green, so I tried to desaturate the greens and increase the blues a bit. Also tried to slightly blur the background above the bird.

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Detail in the near wing looks pretty good, Scott, though the head’s just a bit soft. I think you might want to go to f/8 for these large birds. You have plenty of room to raise your iso a notch or two to keep your shutter speed up. As to the processing, the background looks good, but the blues in the heron seem a bit too much. While they’re called Great Blue Heron’s I rarely see any obvious blue in them (but maybe that’s just our gray skies up here).

Thanks Dennis. There is definitely some blue in them, but I get your point - not that much. Still learning to balance getting the color to pop with being real. Thanks for the feedback.

Another nice flight shot. A good idea on upping the dof. Those big wings will sometimes grab the focus. You might try lowering the luminescence of a color but add a bit of saturation to it. Just subtle changes can make a difference. It looks like another heron body on upper edge you may consider removing. I really like how that wing tip is just above the water surface.

Those are all helpful comments. Thanks very much

Flight photography is fun and challenging.

Images with the bird past you are generally not as appealing as those where the bird is coming toward you. This bird is past you.

The saturation is distracting. Increasing saturation is a common thing I see with post processing. I don’t understand why as it generally doesn’t help images. I’m certain there are instances where it does, but as a general rule there seems to be some fascination with pushing saturation.

Here’s a version of the image with a significant drop in the green saturation and a modest drop in the blue saturation. I’ve photographed hundreds, and seen thousands of Great Blue Herons and this is far more realistic.

Depth of Field: You said this was a slight crop so I’m assuming you were relatively close. Of course this is an assumption on my part so these numbers are based on you being about 100 feet from the bird. With your camera, at 300mm, and at f/6.3 your total depth of field is 8’ 4". Focused at 100 feet, near DOF is 95" 11", far DOF is 104’ 4".

You don’t need more depth. That amount of depth is more than enough to cover the bird. If the focus is not correct on the bird, then all bets are off. Too many people think DOF is solely a function of aperture. It depends on aperture, focal length and subject distance and sensor size. Look at any depth of field calculator. Why do think to calculate DOF, you have to answer all of those questions.

Hope those thoughts are of some value in your work in the field.

Yes, it all makes sense, and your comments are all helpful. The focus part may be just low skill on my part. I try to focus on the head of the bird, which is challenging in flight. I use AF-A most of the time, and generally hope that if I miss the head, it is close enough to the body to be sharp.