Mary Ann Carrasco  

Flying by San Francisco  by Mary Ann Carrasco

September 2020 - Flying by San Francisco

September 2020 - Mary Ann Carrasco


About the Image(s)

I took this photograph from Treasure Island. My goal was to get flying birds with the City as background. The first photograph is the original, the second was edited a bit with Camera Raw and Photoshop Elements.

Should I crop more of the sky or other suggestions?

Camera Settings: Nikon D500, @ 38mm; F7.1; Shutter Speed 2500; ISO 100

13 comments posted

Ruth Sprain   Ruth Sprain
I love that a flock of pelicans are flying this close to the city. The different wing positions give me a sense of their movement. The buildings and bridge behind provide an appropriate background without dominating. Yes, I'd agree with cropping off more of the sky.   Posted: 09/11/2020 08:08:46
Mary Ann Carrasco   Mary Ann Carrasco
Thank you, Ruth.   Posted: 09/13/2020 14:43:38

LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Hi Mary Ann,

I like this skyline view of a city with the birds in the clear blue sky. To me, the birds and the sailboat make the image. I think they give perspective and tell me a story of a bright sunny day at the ocean.

As you mentioned as an option, I tried to crop the sky, but I found the photo became too pixelated. My alternative was to add some clouds. In my example, I used Photoshop and removed the three birds in front of the buildings; I like the nice triangular formation of the remaining birds. I then added some sharpening and balanced the horizon. One word of caution, be careful when placing your subject in the center of the frame; this often causes an image to become static.

The only other obstacle is dealing with the haze of the day.

I hope this helps and gives you some ideas for your photograph.

Best regards,
LuAnn   Posted: 09/12/2020 13:31:07
Comment Image
Mary Ann Carrasco   Mary Ann Carrasco
LuAnn, I do like your edits. How did you add clouds to the sky? I am using Photoshop Elements 18 and the only way I see to do it is to take another photo with clouds and add to this one. I have avoided making that much of a change to a photo. I have taken things out but don't add anything in. Thanks, Mary Ann   Posted: 09/13/2020 14:47:41

Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
(Groups 5 & 62)
Mary Ann, this is wonderful. I love the fact that you took this with your idea in mind, and then did an outstanding job reaching your goal. Well done!

I like LuAnn's edits. Making the sky a bit more interesting and removing the birds that are flying over the city-background nicely add "finishing touches" to your excellent image!

  Posted: 09/13/2020 13:55:42
Mary Ann Carrasco   Mary Ann Carrasco
Thank you, Oliver.   Posted: 09/13/2020 14:43:58

Bob Legg   Bob Legg
(Groups 15 & 29 & 62)
Mary Ann and LuAnn. I like the idea of adding the pelicans to the image. The scene was almost perfect, but the plain blue sky is a killer and a panorama results unless you add something to the sky. Mary Ann you added the birds and did very well at that, what's different with adding clouds? I'm not a photoshop user but understand birds and clouds can be added using layers. I use Luminar which has been perfecting how skies can be changed. Blue skies and plain gray skies are most commonly replaced. LuAnn has seem how they can improve my images, but like you she is reluctant to make such changes. LuAnn's edit of your image was a decision based on your 3 lower birds merging with the buildings. The upper triangle of birds makes for a much improved composition. I believe the birds could be moved up by using the transposing feature, but not sure if Elements has it. The clouds are another enhancement to remove dead space at the top of the frame. Luminar 4.3 has a haze filter in the sky replacement tool for just an image where some haze would add to the reality of the birds or if a sky had been added that did not have a hazy appearance. Not sure how LuAnn added the clouds but I know she has an underused version of Luminar and that would take much less time than adding the 3rd layer in Photoshop. I encourage folk to take cloudscapes or cloud images and build a library for every occasion. Luminar is not expensive and would be a whole lot easier to edit than your Elements. If you have any questions, I'm happy to help you all. Keep up the good work.   Posted: 09/13/2020 20:26:46
Mary Ann Carrasco   Mary Ann Carrasco
Bob & LuAnn,
Just to clarify, I did not add any birds to the photo. My photo as posted was what I saw that day with a few edits. I have taken things out of a photo that were distracting, etc. but I wonder about the authenticity when things are added. I am fairly new to getting into serious editing....I tend to be a minimalist with it. But I would like to know more about how this is seen in the world of photography and entering photos into competitions, etc. Thank you for the tip on Luminar. I will check it out. Thanks, Mary Ann   Posted: 09/13/2020 22:41:33
LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Hello Mary Ann,

Your question, I am afraid, does not have an easy answer. I do share your position on being a natural style photographer. I love to shoot with my FujiFilm cameras and capture what I see as I see it. FujiFilm has film simulations in their cameras that I can set to get stylized custom Jpegs with retro color palettes that I like. I love antiques, old and vintage things, so I guess this draws me to the style.

I can see you are developing a unique style in your photography with your question about authenticity. Finding your niche in photography can frequently take a photographer years to ascertain. As I see authenticity for myself, I have a choice, I either follow the crowd or stand as an individual and stick to the style I love; the style that says who I am as a photographer. I am not alone in this stance. I know several professional and creative photographers who have spoken as much about their work when discussing this topic.

Some people endorse artistic/creative photos, and that is okay; it's freedom of expression. There is a genre for everyone, and you will find that not all photographers like the same genre and style; we put our spin on what we capture to personalize our work.

As a salon judge, I have a set of rules I follow based on PSA club guidelines. Camera clubs will create a list of categories for the year, and my job as their judge will be to determine if the photographer followed their predetermined rules. I will also critique their images based on rules of composition (rule of thirds, leading lines, etc.) and technical elements (camera settings, lighting, etc.).

The nature category is one where no modifications are allowed to an image. No techniques that add, relocate, replace, or remove are permitted. However, cropping, HDR, focus stacking, and dodging and burning are permitted. This category also has a rule that no hand-of-man element can be in a nature photograph (including human-created animals).

Some clubs will have altered reality categories and abstract photography; these are more prevalent in the last couple of years. Go to PSA's photo website ( On the Divisions-definition page, you will find the rules on what is allowed and not allowed in the categories.

I know you are new to PSA, so this should be of help if you haven't seen it before. Let me know if you have any other questions. I hope the rest of the group will have something to add. Authenticity is an excellent question, thanks for asking!

Best regards,
LuAnn   Posted: 09/14/2020 10:35:29
Bob Legg   Bob Legg
(Groups 15 & 29 & 62)
Mary Ann and LuAnn. I'm sorry for thinking you had added the birds to the image. It was your description at the top that mentions the 2nd photograph that made me think that. So you added them via a multiple exposure or you put the birds on another layer and merged? I handle the authenticity a little different than LuAnn as there are hundreds of scenarios. When I enter a PSA contest or camera club competition that goes by PSA rules, I follow them. If I were to sell an image, which I have not done in many years, especially for advertising, I would note that the image is a composite. To some people that might matter and to others they could care less where the sky came from, unless it was so unique as it came from another part of the world. To my knowledge the Digital Dialogue, DD, groups do not require that the rules be followed. In fact, the purpose of the DD groups is to foster dialogue,creativeness and what generates positive comments from fellow photogs. Many a professional photographer believe there are no rules because all rules can or should be broken for certain images. If I was still working as a freelancer for newspaper, I would be following the PSA PJ Rules or the papers rules. It has only begun in the last couple of years where the post processing software has evolved where its easy to make edits. If you were to look at PSA Nature and PJ rules from 10-15 years ago, you would see more leeway today to editing.
I made a determination that your pelicans were natural to the locale, West Coast?, of your image, and it's okay to use a second image. If they were birds that came from another part of the world then it wouldn't be okay to sell without a note about authenticity.
Clouds enhance the subject of the image, they don't generally change the subject. Hope this helps you.   Posted: 09/14/2020 11:42:30
Mary Ann Carrasco   Mary Ann Carrasco
Bob, Thank you for your response. To clarify, the photograph I submitted was taken as is. The birds were flying there with the SF City in the background and I shot it. My comments referred to the unedited vs edited photos. Sorry for the confusion. I appreciate your comments. Mary Ann   Posted: 09/14/2020 17:03:32
Mary Ann Carrasco   Mary Ann Carrasco
Thank you, LuAnn. I will look at the Divisions descriptions. I appreciate your response. It is a complicated issue for sure. Mary Ann   Posted: 09/14/2020 17:01:19

LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Mary Ann,

You asked how I added the clouds. I occasionally use a software app by Anthropics called Smart Photo Editor; it is pretty old software. Like most photography apps, it has different presets, and one was of the cloud pattern. I didn't do anything special I just selected it and did not mask or blend. I am sure it was an overlay. I was surprised it worked so well. I didn't look at the edit magnified, but I thought it might be an example of what you could do.

Some times when you crop an image, you sacrifice pixels in the process. Then if you decide to print or enlarge the photo, it turns out pixelated; once pixels are deleted, they can't be replaced. In my opinion, I try to find other alternatives to fix an image that won't take me a significant amount of time to do.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,
LuAnn   Posted: 09/15/2020 21:19:24


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