White-breasted Nuthatch

Although this is a year-round species here, I find it difficult to get acceptable photos of this bird. This appears to be a juvenile.

Specific Feedback Requested


Technical Details

Canon 60D, Canon 70-300mm IS USM Zoom, f/5.6, 1/350 sec., ISO 1000. Processed in ACR and PSE 2020 for exposure and cropping. Topaz De-noise.


Nice job on this one, Terry. I like the way the scruffy appearance (perhaps a molting adult rather than a juvenile?) goes with the bug eaten leaves to five this a distinctly late summer look. You might bring down the brightness around the top of the leg as it tends to pull my eye from the face a bit. You could also remove the branch stub sticking into the bottom of the frame in the lower right.

Excellent pose and setting. I like the diagonal elements in the image. Composition is fine. Agree with Dennis on some of his points.

@terryb I like the pose and the bit of environment. Agree on maybe a little cleanup on the branches.

The thing that I don’t understand is the high level of noise still apparent in the image, even after running De-Noise. I don’t use De-Noise, but see it used often with great results. Here’s a version where all I did was select the bird, invert and use NR in ACR and the results are far cleaner. Maybe someone with De-Noise and help with settings that produce a better result.

Hard to get these guys to sit still. At 1/350 you could have had some head movement and tried to sharpen it, which I doubt would help. Your title says you used AI Clear. I tried it first on the JPEG and of course it’s amplifying the effect that’s already there but it gave too much unattractive pseudo “sharpening”, especially obvious on the fine feathers of the upper back. I tried Severe Noise on the JPEG and it did very little, but Low Light cleaned it up very well. I always compare the various “models” at 100% and about 95% of the time, Low Light wins. I’ve never found any kind of magic to actually sharpen anything beyond the pixel level. Sometimes a touch of Texture on a raw file will help a little.

Here’s my suggested crop as well. It puts the head squarely on the point of thirds (by chance) and I rather like the idea of turning the “rule” on its head. We know the bird is about to head out of the frame but does it really need room to move into? Maybe not always. The large and interesting leaf acts as a counterbalance to justify this crop, for me.

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Thanks @Dennis_Plank. Others did my work for me, and it is improved.

Thanks @David_Schoen. Appreciate your comments.

Thanks @Keith_Bauer. I was thinking maybe the issue was in the workflow, but @Diane_Miller had other ideas.

Thanks @Diane_Miller. That looks exceptional. I need to pay closer attention, I guess. At what point in the workflow do you generally apply noise reduction?

I do global tonal adjustments in raw, never anything heroic, usually just exposure, shadows and highlights, sometimes a little texture if it will be a big crop where it might show. (Examine at 100%.) Then I open in PS and the very first thing is Denoise. (I always use the default mix of the sliders, and compare Low Light and Severe Noise. Clear is supposedly an older algorithm.) Then any cloning happens on a clean image. Then any TK or simpler masked adjustments, left as adjustment layers.

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Fine snag, Terry. These little guys are not very cooperative posers. They are always dancing a rhumba. I find that they are good for practicing lift, and shoot fast.

Thanks, @Dave_Douglass . They are certainly elusive little rascals.