Jim Horn, QPSA  

Herons building their nest by Jim Horn, QPSA

May 2023 - Herons building their nest

May 2023 - Jim Horn, QPSA


About the Image(s)

I like pushing the limits of what I can do. I just got the 2x teleconverter I ordered months ago and went out to Conowingo Dam. Many mated pairs were building their nests on the island. The nest is 750 feet across the Susquehanna River. I cropped a lot, but the original is 117Mb with lots of detail. In Photoshop I adjusted exposure, highlights, shadows, clarity, and dehaze, with Topaz DeNoise AI, and Sharpen AI. I used the dodge tool to darken the tree branches to outline the heron’s nest. There are branches in the way and I chose not to alter them for a PSA Nature entry. Lots of branches in many directions, but that’s where they build their nest.
Sony α7Riv, Sony FE 200-600 5.6-6.3 G lens, 2x teleconverter, tripod, gimbal, LED targeting “ f/13, 1/2000sec, ISO 12800, 1200mm

13 comments posted

Sophia Schade   Sophia Schade
Hi Jim, I Love to photograph GBH! Your 2X teleconverter did the job in getting them closer. Your photos tells the story of nest building .. You might consider tone down the white in the nest, It is a very hard to do anything else since you are following the PSA nature rules.   Posted: 05/01/2023 22:27:42

Jim Horn   Jim Horn
Sophie, I like your idea. I used the burn tool and hope it blends in. Thank you. Jim   Posted: 05/02/2023 08:28:15
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Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Jim, your use of the burn tool worked well! I like the fact that the Herons are building their nest together. Very cool.

I found the third bird in the background to be a bit distracting. So, I did what I could to remove it... and played a bit with the eye of the nearest Heron. I also played with the light some. Your thoughts?

  Posted: 05/02/2023 16:18:02
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Jim Horn   Jim Horn
Pete, thank you for this. I wanted to alter the pixels and clone away the branch as you did. I like what you did. I decided to stay within the rules of a PSA Nature entry. Yours is much better for a DD#5 entry. Thanks.   Posted: 05/03/2023 00:33:35

Jim Horn   Jim Horn
Here is my revision with a lot of detailed cloning, and is not qualified for PSA Nature. I addressed all of your thoughts and came up with this. Thank you all for your suggestions. Jim   Posted: 05/03/2023 16:18:57
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David Price   David Price
For me this is a nature rather than a pictorial image so I wouldn't clone out the third bird. However I would crop it out. I have also brightened the image slightly. Have you tried the new lightroom Denoise AI and how do you think it compares to Topaz?   Posted: 05/04/2023 04:33:37
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Jim Horn   Jim Horn
David, I've been using Photoshop exclusively. I don't like the way that Lightroom opens up other photos, even open other folders. I want to work on one photo at a time.
Photoshop has the TopazLab DeNoise AI and Sharpen AI in the "Filter" tab. Very easy access. Jim   Posted: 05/04/2023 15:38:42

Barbara E Miller   Barbara E Miller
Jim this is a good shot of the interaction of the birds but with my experience of PSA's Nature exhibitions (and with 40 years of membership) I find that more and more the judges want the nature shot to show the subject "doing something." Yes, the herons are nest building but the clutter and similarity to colour in the surrounding branches diminishes the birds at work. Sorry Jim, hope I am not offending   Posted: 05/04/2023 13:12:29
Jim Horn   Jim Horn
Barbara, You're helping. I thought it was to "busy" for PSA Nature judges, even if it is their nesting environment. Jim   Posted: 05/04/2023 15:32:04

Mark Burgess   Mark Burgess
Wow Jim great capture and a good result at 1200mm You must have been in the neighbouring county! Topaz is doing a good job. I have dropped Sharpen AI in favour of Photo AI and use either that or Denoise. I think Photo AI does a better job on sharpening. Respect your need to follow the rules of nature which leaves few options. That pair have not considered photographers in choosing such a messy environment for nesting. Storks are amenable.   Posted: 05/04/2023 17:04:02
Jim Horn   Jim Horn
Mark, good to hear from you. Photo AI when it was free with DeNoise and Shapen AI was too automatic for me. I liked the options in DeNoise. I would do some additional dodge, burn, texture, clarity and then Sharpen. I don't hava as many options in the Photo AI that I had to pay for - so I didn't get it. Jim   Posted: 05/05/2023 02:03:01

Dr Isaac Vaisman   Dr Isaac Vaisman
(Groups 4 & 58 & 59 & 72)
Jim, you have achieved a pretty sharp image considering the tools used. All the adjustments suggested improve the image on the eyes of the beholders, but can not take away the incredible amount of intruding branches because of the nest location, and with each attempt, the quality of the image is degraded. I went once there looking for the bald eagles, but it was not the right time of the year.   Posted: 05/05/2023 14:43:00
Jim Horn   Jim Horn
Isaac, I do appreciate your critique. I seriously considered submitting another image because of all those branches. That large, thick branch goes right through both bodies. That's a significant distraction and would not be received well by PSA Nature judges if I entered it in an exhibition. As a nature subject, the nest is protected from the six eagles that live there year-round, and worst of all is the peregrine falcon that chases eagles and herons away.
I am fortunate to live 17 miles away from Conowingo Dam. There are other nests that are not as obstructed. I'll be back when there are juveniles.   Posted: 05/06/2023 01:05:51


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