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Monday, December 07, 2015

Can this photo be saved? A Photoshop tutorial Part 1 of 2

Unedited photo of a (domestic) Drake Mallard duck landing on water at Highland Glen Park   by Samantha Walker
Camera Body: Canon EOS REBEL T3i 
Size: 5184 × 3456 6.7 MB
ISO 400  185mm  0.67 ev  ƒ/9  1/640

Introduction  Part 1: 
(link to part 2)
Bullock's Oriole. This is one of my first bird photos...I'm still learning...
and one thing's for sure with bird photography...I'll always be learning.
I love to photograph birds--it's my new "thang." I caught the bug this last Spring, after seeing a streak of yellow dart through my yard.
What was that!? I discovered it was a Bullock's Oriole. (See the photo to the's not my best shot, but it's significant because it's one of my first bird pictures.) Soon, I was buying nectar feeders to attract this yellow beauty back into my yard. Having success with that...I bought more feeders; and put out specific types of seeds and nuts to attract different birds. In no time, I had all kinds of birds flocking to my yard.

The day I knew I lost it...was the day I bought a tub of freeze-dried grubs.

Yup...we can all say "eeew" now. It's just proof, that I can't get enough of these flying feathered friends.

I will often leave my camera on the kitchen table by the back window--ready for anything to spontaneously fly into the yard. Most days it's just my usual House Sparrows and House Finches...a Robin or two...some Magpies, and Eurasian Collard Doves mixed with Mourning Doves. But when an American Kestrel flew into my yard this weekend, I was totally taken off guard.

My camera was in the basement by my computer. I made a mad dash down the stairs, then back up again; and carefully opened the back door (to not scare it away) and crept into the yard. It was on the wire that runs through our yard. I snapped a few photos (forgetting that I had my camera set for another lighting situation.) Then got closer and snapped some more. In a split second, he flew, snapping the whole while.

I was giddy because he had a mouse dangling in his clutch. My heart pounded with excitement, as I looked at my camera to see what I got; only to be deflated because all my shots were horribly exposed. Not only that...the angle of my best shot had a distracting background...and to make things even worse...the sky was less than stellar. I was totally bummed. I really thought I had "caught" the moment...Unfortunately, what I caught was pretty bad.

But before I show you...because this photo is a real doozy, and showing it to you will ding my pride for sure...
Let me show you a good shot--(I vain) the kind you get when everything is going your way...the kind you can only hope for when you snap away...the kind of shot where editing isn't really those are moments are rare and ones to celebrate.

Unedited photo of a (domestic) Drake Mallard duck paddling on the water at Highland Glen Park   by Samantha Walker
Camera Body: Canon EOS REBEL T3i 
Size: 5184 × 3456 6.7 MB
ISO 400  300mm  0.67 ev  ƒ/7.1  1/640

As for the Kestrel shots...there wasn't any celebrating going wanna see why...

From the looks of it...the photo doesn't look salvageable, but I thought I'd play with it anyway, to see if I could manipulate a better photo out of it. After all...who knows when I'll have another opportunity to get a picture of a Kestrel flying with a mouse in the future.

Not bad. Actually, I was pretty excited about how this one turned out considering what I started with. Granted...It's not as good as it could have been if I had taken a great photo to begin with...but at least it's several steps up from the original.

I'll show you how I worked the magic in Adobe Photoshop CC in my next post. Stay tuned...

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