Mike Cohen  

Belted Kingfisher by Mike Cohen

November 2020 - Belted Kingfisher

November 2020 - Mike Cohen


About the Image(s)

This male Belted Kingfisher had just nabbed a minnow and returned to the
perch you can see behind it, but something scared it away, hence this shot.
I've been lucky enough to go with a friend/guide several times to the snag
he sets up for the kingfisher which, fortunately, keeps coming back each
season. Unlike most bird species, the female sports the colors and has a
red chest band. This image was on the edge of acceptance for me due to
sharpness. Even at 1/4000 second there was motion blur at the wing tips.
These guys are fast. It takes it about a second to come off the perch, dive
down, grab a minnow and return. Fast! I used Topaz noise AI and also added
a bit of Nik's detail and tonal contrast. I made a custom vignette using
curves and a mask and cropped. I also slightly darkened the bright spot on
the back of his neck which was blown out. I could have cloned in some
texture there but didn't see it myself as a major flaw. Do you? Sony 400mm
2.8, at 2.8, 1/4000 sec, ISO 1250.

This round’s discussion is now closed!
9 comments posted

Pamela Hoaglund   Pamela Hoaglund
I have yet to capture one of these guys so I would be pretty happy with this image. I like your cropping to bring the bird in closer and to the left with room to fly. The eye and head are sharp and for me not having the wing tips sharp is ok as it shows action. I had to look closely to see what he had in his beak. The drops of water flying through the air also shows action. I think the white around the neck look fine. I have gone back and worth between the original and the edited image and I don't see a problem but I'm also viewing the images on an iPad which might make a difference. I think it's a great capture.   Posted: 11/07/2020 21:38:20

LC Boros   LC Boros
I agree with Pamela that a bit of wing blur when the bird is in motion is fine since it adds to the story. (The blur is a bit distracting at higher resolution viewing though.)

I think the color balnce/metering are well done and my only niggly concern is the composition. My best advice would be to redo the crop and flip the orientation. I think that would help tell the story of "bird was on perch and got startled" more strongly.

Will try to show what I mean...hope uploading works this time.   Posted: 11/09/2020 23:14:12
Comment Image
Mike Cohen   Mike Cohen
Thanks for playing with it LC. (I assume you go by LC) I think if I were going to go for a vertical crop, I would add space below the bird, in the direction of the dive and not above it. Certainly worth considering. Thanks   Posted: 11/11/2020 18:24:59
LC Boros   LC Boros
going to quibble with you a bit. :)

Since the bird has a morsel in its mouth, story-wise it isn't going to leave the space to go fish, and while you know because you captured the moment, that the bird was flushed/scared from its spot, the viewer does not. Thus in my opinion, the story telling would be stronger if instead of leaving space for the bird and viewer's eye to go, you leave the space where the bird was: that way the viewer can infer that the bird was on the perch about to enjoy its meal, but for some reason (up to the viewer) is now vamoosing.   Posted: 11/16/2020 13:14:34
Mike Cohen   Mike Cohen
Thanks LC. I see your logic but since the perch is on the bottom third of the image it doesn't make sense to me to leave a lot of empty space above it. It seems out of balance to my eye but you may like chocolate and I vanilla. It's all good.   Posted: 11/16/2020 13:48:19

Lisa Auerbach   Lisa Auerbach
I don't see texture as a flaw. You have done well with a fast subject. You have a good crop which shows the Kingfisher well. I like it but I also like the crop suggested by LC. The colors are inviting. The background works with the colors of the bird. There is an area of the right side middle high background that could be improved with a mixer brush to smooth out . It looks like white streaks. There is a spot on the bill? It is not clear enough to show as a water droplet thus is a distraction. The other droplets are, for me, a distraction. Otherwise this is a lovely shot.   Posted: 11/11/2020 08:54:18

Sharon Prislipsky   Sharon Prislipsky
As you know, I tend to lean toward a bit of motion blur as something that adds to an image rather than detracting from it. I like the crop you originally presented because it gives me more of a sense of forward motion. Sometimes darkening blown out areas creates an unnatural look, but if you had not said what you did I would not have even looked closely at that area. It seems natural to me. EVent hose tiniy drops of water are tack sharp. You amaze me!   Posted: 11/11/2020 12:03:26

Judith Lesnaw   Judith Lesnaw
Amazing shot! Love the wing fan, the background bokeh and the water droplets! Great catch. I like the original crop. That area back of the neck doesnt need any more texture for my eyes.   Posted: 11/15/2020 14:41:49

Ally Green   Ally Green
Not an easy feat to capture this Kingfisher so good job. Great that you got the minnow in the shot as well. To me the the bright spot on the back of the neck is fine the way it is so no texturing needed and motion blur on the wings all good to depict motion. The crop that LC suggests is nice but think i prefer yours as too much space above the bird on his. Lovely image.   Posted: 11/18/2020 15:35:47