Richard Matheny  

Black-bellied Whistling Duck by Richard Matheny

September 2021 - Black-bellied Whistling Duck

September 2021 - Richard Matheny


About the Image(s)

I took this image of a Black-bellied Whistling-duck a week ago while out chasing warblers and finches in the Sunflower fields. I wasn't having much luck with those little guys but on the way out of the Refuge I found the swamp area full of whistling-ducks. This one caught my eye because of it's balancing act. This guy stood on the tip of the Cypress Knee for at least one half hour and I left, it may still be there. I thought it very interesting so I snapped several images of it and others there also. A little dark in the swamp but that is the way a swamp is supposed to be. I lightened it up just a little bit. Shot with the Nikon D500 with the 300mm lens and 1-4 converter . My settings were F5.6 for the narrow Field of view on the duck. 420mm at 1/2000sec and ISO 640. Processed in Lightroom. I increased the exposure just a little and cut back the highlight a little and opened up the shadows a wee bit. A touch of Clarity and Vibrance on the duck and it's pearch. I did run the image through Topaz deNoise to get rid of some noise.

12 comments posted

Jason Stewart   Jason Stewart
The color patterns in this are very appealing. Good composition and you can see the eye well. Defiantly a keeper. The only thing I may suggest is that the subject is a little on the softer side.   Posted: 09/07/2021 18:11:47
Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
I think you are right Jason. Just a little soft maybe. I did adjust for that but not very successfully I'm afraid.
  Posted: 09/09/2021 13:21:15

Michael Weatherford   Michael Weatherford
I'm really liking the images you have been posting to the group. This is another good one. The only thing I might try is to use the adjustment brush to lighten up the body of the duck a tiny bit. Thanks.   Posted: 09/11/2021 07:58:10
Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny

Thanks Michael and I hear you but this is a BLACK-bellied Duck. I could open up some on the brown/orange breast a little.
  Posted: 09/20/2021 12:49:16

Cindy Bilinsky   Cindy Bilinsky
I like your image this month and you did a nice job of bringing out the rich colors of this bird. I agree with Jason the bird is a little soft but the defined separation of the bird from the background helps to offset that. You captured a sharp eye and and interesting position of the bird looking off in the distance   Posted: 09/11/2021 09:20:27
Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
Thanks Cindy. I think the softness is coming from the soft nature of the feathers on the duck. A shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second on a solid shooting base would not lend itself to out focus issues. I have seen this before on some birds. Some times there feathers are so tight like on Cedar Waxwing that it is very difficult of show much detail and therefore it seems soft when it is just a smooth surface. When you look at the surfaces below the duck, tree stump and Spanish Moss that are on the same plane they are very sharp.
  Posted: 09/20/2021 12:59:25

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
This is really a quite striking image. The subject pops out of the background and the contrasting colors really help that to happen. I like the fact that the background is somewhat understandable and not a total blur. I works to set a stage. I think what looks to be soft are the breast feathers, the moss is quite sharp and so the the bird's eye. Breast feathers are often so fine that it is hard to obtain detail. You might try selecting the subject in PS using the subject selection tool. Then run that selection through Topaz and sharpen the duck. The simply replace the duck in the original picture. OR you could use the secret sharpening code hidden inside Lightroom. Seriously---go to the sharpening panel. Set the Amount to between 40-60 (whatever looks good.) Set the radius to 0.5 and the
Detail to as high as you think looks good--at least go to 67 or more. Then apply the masking tool. You might me surprised to see what it can do.   Posted: 09/16/2021 12:46:50
Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
Thanks Larry I did use Topaz denoise which adds a little sharpening as well as the deNoise. I will take a look at the sharpening in LR and see if there might be a difference.
  Posted: 09/20/2021 13:03:33

Bud Ralston   Bud Ralston
I like the image very much, especially since we don't see these birds in the PNW. I agree with the comments on softness and lack of feather detail. You might try increasing your exposure a bit in LR and doing some light work in Topaz DeNoise Ai and Topaz Sharpen Ai. You will be amazed at what the new Ai programs can bring out.   Posted: 09/19/2021 19:07:57
Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
Thanks Bud. I did use Topaz deNoise and do on most of my images. Since I was shooting a 1/2000 of a sec. on a tripod I am going to blame the Duck's soft/smooth feathers this time. You need to come to the SE and I will show some of the strange and beautiful ducks. I will train you on how to avoid the gators while in the swamp too.   Posted: 09/20/2021 13:09:17

David Kepley   David Kepley
This is a great capture! The duck is sharp and the balancing act is visually intriguing! Love it.

Sugestions: The tonality on the duck is spot on. I'd darken the background a touch to allow the duck to pop out more.   Posted: 09/20/2021 09:27:12
Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
Thanks David. I have learned that there is not much of a way to improve the colors on wild life when the image is taken in good light. I did make a mistake that no one has challenged me on is that I said the Duck was perched on a Cypress Knee. Not, just a stump. I will take a look at that background a little closer.   Posted: 09/20/2021 13:14:35


Please log in to post a comment