Judith Lesnaw  

Turkey Vulture by Judith Lesnaw

January 2021 - Turkey Vulture

January 2021 - Judith Lesnaw


About the Image(s)

Several days ago I was walking down a new path that I feared would be quite dull. Suddenly I spied a deserted stone house hidden in bramble. Perched on a nest on top of the chimney was a pair Turkey Vultures who clearly owned the territory. I tried to get a good shot of them, but alas I couldn’t find settings that would work. The sky was very overcast but behind them bright and so I mostly got silhouettes. The path is close to my home and I will return for additional attempts. So I thought I would ask the group for suggestions for camera settings that might result in a better image. Would HDR be of use?
For “Turkey Vulture” I used a Canon 80D with a Tamron 16-300mm lens set to 173mm, and fitted with a circular polarizer lens. Camera settings were: Aperture priority, 1/250 sec at f 8.0; ISO 1600. I cropped and adjusted many settings with Lightroom Classic.

8 comments posted

Mike Cohen   Mike Cohen
Here in Florida, no matter where you are, vultures are in the sky. We have mostly Turkey but quite a lot of Black Vultures as well. I'm imagining a shot from further back, showing the vulture of the chimney as kind of a nursery rhyme story. Whenever the sky is bright, it's necessary to add exposure compensation when using Aperture priority, at least one stop. On a very bright sky sometimes as much as 3 stops. It looks to me like you didn't need to brighten the bird up as much as you did. They are black and I can see both luminance and color noise induced by the brightening. I'm glad there's someone other than me that likes these guys.   Posted: 01/09/2021 16:06:27
Judith Lesnaw   Judith Lesnaw
Thanks Mike!!   Posted: 01/09/2021 17:11:17

Lisa Auerbach   Lisa Auerbach
I like the angle of your shot. You have good subject matter. I would suggest dodging and burning the eye. Darkening the black and making the white brighter will draw attention to it. As for the color I would suggest whatever Mike said because he is an experienced birder.   Posted: 01/10/2021 09:21:39

LC Boros   LC Boros
I agree with Mike and Lisa re: the selective dodge/burn to pull down the sky without blowing out the bird. I think you did well with what you got out of the camera and the composition works

For future attempts I'd try to time a visit so that the sun is behind you on a clear day. Would help with the highlights on the feathers as well as help keep the sky from being blown out.

Side note: pretty sure that is a Black Vulture. You can tell by the nostrils (which are more narrow than those of TVs,) and the legs. While young TVs do have the blackish/grey heads and this late in the season they will start looking ruddy and their legs will be going from baby pink to yellow.   Posted: 01/10/2021 22:16:47
Judith Lesnaw   Judith Lesnaw
Many thanks for the identification and tips. I have much to learn!   Posted: 01/11/2021 09:19:52

Pamela Hoaglund   Pamela Hoaglund
What a great find and so near that you can go back in various weather conditions. Yes, I would use HDR in this situation or bracketing 1-2 stops. I agree with the others on the luminance and color noise. I like that you flipped the vulture so he is looking to the right. I usually don't think of doing that.   Posted: 01/11/2021 15:59:02

Sharon Prislipsky   Sharon Prislipsky
You have captured a subject many would pass by - they are nature's sanitation workers and have a unique place in the ecosystem, even though many people do not like them. As I indicated in another member's comment you faced a big challenge shooting up with such a bright sky behind your subject. To me, it seems that there is detail in the breast feathers, but that area also has a lot of color noise. I would definitely consider noise reduction in that area.
I note that there is one suggestion about using HDR. That will work great as long as nothing at all in the frame moves. If you have movement you will end up with a lot ghosting. There is one trick I try that sometimes works - not always though. Make 2 virtual copies and move them along with the original into your HDR program; in th HDR program I adjust images so that there is one stop between each image (-0, 0,+0) then merge to HDR. Sometimes that creates funky artifacts, so you have to discard it, but sometimes it works. It's wort a try, I think.   Posted: 01/14/2021 11:06:31
Judith Lesnaw   Judith Lesnaw
Many thanks Sharon. The few times I tried HDR my camera merged the images. Is Photoshop or Lightroom capable of your suggestions, or do I need a special software program?

  Posted: 01/14/2021 11:27:49


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