Jeffrey Pawlan  

Secretary bird in the Masai Mara, Kenya by Jeffrey Pawlan

February 2021 - Secretary bird in the Masai Mara, Kenya

February 2021 - Jeffrey Pawlan


About the Image(s)

Nikon D5 with a Nikon 180-400mm set to 370mm
1/2000sec, f/5, ISO 400
edited in LR
This is my favorite large and non-colorful bird that I have seen. It is really funny looking to watch it walking around in the tall grass looking for things to eat. It is able to kill and eat snakes but seems to eat anything. I even watched a female lion roar at one to scare it away. I had to be far away to not bother it so that is why it is so small in the original.
My edit was to make it the focus of the picture. I did adjust the eye brightness but did little to the rest of the photo other than crop it.

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

Steve Sampliner   Steve Sampliner
Hi Jeffrey, what a magnificent bird. Seems to be a chimera of a few different birds. The direction you went in post-processing brings the image to life. In terms of the crop, I feel like I want to see it within the vastness of the landscape. Maybe just trimming the top off below the horizon. It might also help in showing the size of this bird. The viewer would have some reference points to estimate proportions. Just a suggestion, maybe it doesn't work as I see it in my head :)   Posted: 02/07/2021 22:30:44

Thorro Jones   Thorro Jones
You have created a wonderful photo of the Secretary bird. The details on the bird's feathers are nice and sharp. You have done a great job in the post processing to enhance and bring out the colors in the photo. I love the bright red color around the bird's eye. I also like how you did a tight crop of the bird but left a little extra space on the side that the bird is looking at. It makes you wonder what is out three that has caught the bird's attention. My only suggestion would be to dial the exposure down a little bit to further bring out the details in the bird's feathers. See my photo edits (reduced exposure by -0.89, increased highlights and shadows by +20, added +20 for Clarity and set Sharping to 50 and Masking to 80).   Posted: 02/08/2021 09:55:51
Comment Image
Jeffrey Pawlan   Jeffrey Pawlan
I have re-edited it and will attach.

I find the masking control makes an image less clear so I set it to 0. I balance de-haze with other controls to get the right combination of exposure and colors. I think it is now still close to the colors I remember yet it pops out better. I re-adjusted the eye after that because it got too dark.

I took the suggestion from Sophia and added some background on the right side. I did not change the top because the head and eyes are already well above the top third of the image.   Posted: 02/08/2021 12:36:18
Comment Image
Thorro Jones   Thorro Jones
Jeffrey I like the edits you made to the photo. The changes you made bring out the details in the bird's feathers. In addition the eyes now pop with more clarity. I also like the extra space you added to the right side of the photo. The amount space was just enough to give the bird room to look at. As I stated before this is a wonderful photo that is even better now.   Posted: 02/10/2021 19:28:36

Sophia Schade   Sophia Schade
WOW! WOW! WOW! Love this bird! I like what Thorro has suggested.. I would just suggest that you darken everything around the bird and make him a bigger star then you already made him. Also, I agree with Steve that you need a bit more on the right give him room to run on hunt.. What is the name of this bird?   Posted: 02/08/2021 10:48:25
Jeffrey Pawlan   Jeffrey Pawlan
See my new edit above.

The secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) is a large, mostly terrestrial bird of prey. Endemic to Africa, it is usually found in the open grasslands and savanna of the sub-Saharan region. These raptors of sub-Saharan Africa's savannas, grasslands, and shrub lands stand at nearly four feet tall - and standing is often how you'll find them, because they primarily move around on foot. They fly only when necessary, such as to reach their nest in the trees and for courtship displays.   Posted: 02/08/2021 12:32:48

Jeffrey Pawlan   Jeffrey Pawlan
I need the help of all of you.
I want to submit this in a club competition in the Color Pictoral category. I will submit the re-edited version.

I need a catchy title for the competition.

here is one idea I have: Even if you think I am funny looking, the Secretary bird ladies think I am very attractive.

Let me know if this is good or if you have a better title.   Posted: 02/12/2021 19:03:55
Thorro Jones   Thorro Jones
Jeffrey how about: "I got a quill for you". Kind of fits in with February's Valentine's theme?   Posted: 02/12/2021 19:23:03

Sophia Schade   Sophia Schade
How about going with something fun..
Bad hair day   Posted: 02/12/2021 20:54:08

Stanley Selkow   Stanley Selkow
Jeffrey, my problem with a title is that we all try to let the image speak its name to us. And whenever I see a picture of a Secretary Bird (I've never been fortunate enough to see one in life) it seems like it doesn't know where it fits in nature. It's size and posture suggest something regal. But the plumage and shape border on the comical. Even its name, "Secretary", doesn't help me understand its nature. I found one suggestion that its feathers can be used as quills. Farmers like them because they eat snakes. Although I personally don't like titles that try to be funny, I guess I'm inclined to follow Thorro and Sophia with something cute like "What Am I?".

  Posted: 02/13/2021 04:18:56

Matthias Haug   Matthias Haug
Jefrey, most things about your photo are already said. I would suggest to leave a little more of the foreground at the bottom of the picture.   Posted: 02/14/2021 14:50:27