Michael Nath  

Blue Heron by Michael Nath

February 2021 - Blue Heron

February 2021 - Michael Nath


About the Image(s)

The image was taken at 1/1250 s, F8. ISO 800 with a 150-600mm lens set at 600mm. Post processing started with NIK Vivenza to get more color saturation. On separate layers, this was followed by Topaz Denoise, Topaz Sharpen, then Topaz Impression (my cezanne II preset at 65% opacity).

The heron is standing on ice (temperature in the 20's F or -10 C). In the original image, the heron did not stand out enough and ,to me, did not have much personality. Thus the post processing to bring attention more to the heron than to the background. Everyone's comments will be greatly appreciated on whether or not I succeeded.

10 comments posted

Jeff Coyle   Jeff Coyle
You definitely succeeded! Great shot. The bird is a fine subject looks sharp, and the color of the background really set it off. I like how the background is blurred.

The one suggestion I would make is to crop a little off the bottom and top (4x5 vs 4x6) to make the heron even more prominent.   Posted: 02/01/2021 08:13:06
Michael Nath   Michael Nath
Thank you Jeff, I appreciate it.   Posted: 02/01/2021 11:02:11

Paul Smith   Paul Smith
This is stunning! The focus is spot on! The background color (and blur) allows the bird to stand out...crisp. I agree with Jeff's comment regarding the crop.   Posted: 02/01/2021 11:18:04
Michael Nath   Michael Nath
Thank you Paul. Glad you like it.   Posted: 02/03/2021 10:03:52

Ed O’Rourke   Ed O’Rourke
For me the composition and the color contrast make this image stand out. I think the grayish white of the ice complements well with the bluish white colors of the Heron and then the browns of the dry reeds in the background create a good contrast. It also helps, in my opinion that your blurring of the background helps the heron stand out. You've captured a profile image of the heron and I like that you have him positioned off center to the left and have him looking to the right. The focus look very sharp to me.

It seems to my eye that the chin area just below his eye looks a little bit overexposed.

For me, this is a really great picture.   Posted: 02/22/2021 12:59:15
Michael Nath   Michael Nath
Thank you Ed, I appreciate it. I agree on the white under the eye is overexposed in the original - thus the loss of detail in the chin feathers.   Posted: 02/22/2021 14:24:38

Mark Bargen   Mark Bargen
Hi, Michael, nice to meet you. Wow! Heron on Ice. Didn't know that happens. I'm impressed by the subtle, yet very effective, post-processing. I especially like that you managed to lightly soften the background. Dunno if I could pull that off. I like the effect on the ice, too. I've tried toggling back and forth between the original and the final images, and even so I still can't quite tell how you achieved the effect. The, bird of course, looks great.   Posted: 02/22/2021 13:20:21
Michael Nath   Michael Nath
Thanks Mark, I appreciate it. Here in northern Utah winter is cold and rarely gets above freezing. The Bear River Migratory Bird refuge where this image was taken is only about 20 miles south of the Idaho border, therefore the ice. The "effect" that you mention was in using Topaz Impression as a separate layer and reducing its opacity before merging the layers together. What sets Topaz Impression apart from other plugins is that it is designed to produce a "painterly" effect reminiscent of various impressionist painters. On this occasion I choose a Cezanne filter and adjusted its various parameters before reducing the opacity and blending the various layers. Another idea in use comes from Harold Davis and his book "The Photographer's Black and White Handbook" where he creates B&W HDR prints. Almost all of his layer modifications come in opposing pairs - such as a sharpen layer followed by a blurring layer before blending the layers. For this specific image I used both Topaz Denoise and Topaz Sharpen to make the edges and subsequent definition very pronounced. This was followed by the Cezanne filter (on a separate layer) to produce an effect similar to a soft blur on the edges. The overall effect was to move the Heron visually forward as though I had used a large aperture to reduce the depth of field. You can see the effect best if you look at the wing feathers of both images (when enlarged for viewing details) and comparing them. The individual wing feathers are not very sharp in the final image but the Heron appears sharp in the overall image.

Hope you didn't mind my long winded answer. I am anxious to see your image next month. Welcome to the group.   Posted: 02/22/2021 14:53:28
Mark Bargen   Mark Bargen
I like "long winded". Thanks for the explanation.   Posted: 02/22/2021 19:45:03

Darcy Quimby   Darcy Quimby
Thank you for the long explanation on how this was accomplished. I do think the blurred background makes the heron pop.   Posted: 02/22/2021 15:15:03


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