Susan Cifaldi  

I'll Take the Salad, I'm on a Diet by Susan Cifaldi

July 2024 - I'll Take the Salad, I'm on a Diet

July 2024 - Susan Cifaldi


About the Image(s)

I'll Take the Salad, I'm on a Diet"

Gear: Nikon Z9 with 500 mm PF priome+ 1.4 adapter (focal length 700 mm). F/8, 1/1250. Something screwy with my ISO (at -320? Is that possible?) and it looked dark so I added 1 stop of exposure compensation.

At the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in Seneca Falls, NY, has a drive that goes around the perimeter of the wetlands. About halfway through there is a tree where eagles like to rest, eat, etc. So everyone stops at the Eagle Tree, patiently awaiting arrival of our national symbol. Well, (to me) after the first 150 they all start to look the same, and besides, every photo that you take before 4 pm is backlit. Anyway, I've been stopping there to look on the other side of the road, where there is a muddy, low water area, and that is where I spotted this black-crowned night heron stirring up the water in search of a wiggly lunch. I stayed there for a good half-hour, hoping I could get a photo of him/her in flight, but no. Once the heron had been satiated, it wandered back into the brush. Dang!

But I did get some decent photos. This one was clear, focused, and croppable, and we can see that only salad was on the menu that day.

Some of the other photos were marred by a couple of cattails/rushes that blocked part of the heron's head. I tried using the brush tool in Photoshop (yes, I took a deep breath, signed up for a course, and am playing with it very gingerly) but I noticed that after using the brush to paint out the offensive vegetation the area underneath became really blurred and out of focus. Obviously I am doing something wrong, but it will have to await more instruction, my head is spinning at the moment.

Besides a whopping crop, I brightened it a bit and de-noised. After de-noising I sharpened it a bit with the sharpening tool. :-) I was pleased that the only whites that I burned out was some glare on its leg; the white feathers actually have some detail. Very happy! But do tell me the flaws that I can't see.

5 comments posted

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Nothing screwy with your ISO. I will venture the guess that yoou were not shooting in manual mode. Quite often when the camera is in an automode (A or S) or when shooting with Auto ISO the camera will create its own ISO to obtain accurate exposure. It is really nothing to work about.

Now what I really want to know is just what is a Night Heron doing roaming around in the daylight?? Florida Night Herons know where they belong. Hardly even see them after the sun is up or before it is setting.

I think you have a really interesting shot, can't recall ever seen a Night Heron being a vegetarian so that alone makes it really interesting.

Personally I'm not a fan of this type of crop. The chopped off long body just does not appeal to me (my bias) I would have preferred a more square crop and one that was tight on the head. Perhaps starting the crop right behind the long ed feathers.

As for Photoshop, just keep gingerly playing with it. Once you get a grip on it you will realize it can do amazing things. Masks and brushes are miracle workers. I'm proud of your for starting.

  Posted: 07/09/2024 14:24:23

Susan Cifaldi   Susan Cifaldi
Thanks, Larry. Pretty sure I was in Manual/auto iso. If that ISO is correct, then I should not have been at f/8, I could have done better at f/11 or even a bit higher. (John O thinks my penchant for manual is a bad habit that I need to break, he may be right!).

I don't know what that heron was doing out in the daytime, but if I get there in the late morning, he's always in the same spot. Sometimes he flies off to a smaller marsh about a half mile aaway, but he always returns; I'm thinking there's a nest somewhere in the tall reeds and grasses.

I've invited Photoshop over for peace talks. . .it's been a struggle of late with unexplained program crashes. But I think I have that issue solved; now I can get back to trying to understand its quirks and secrets. :-)

I'll post a re-crop later on. Thanks always for your suggestions. They are always good ones.
  Posted: 07/09/2024 17:47:08
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
To each his/her own. I've been shooting wildlife for decades and almost always shoot manual and auto ISO. The newer cameras can handle high ISO and I do get to set just how high I will let it go. Shooting manual I almost always shoot wildlife with the lens wide open, which for me is f4 or f5.6. I like that for my backgrounds. If my subjects requires a greater DOF for save large wing spans for example, then a quick rightward drag of my finger on the aperture dial will make the adjustment and the auto ISO will kick in to fix the exposure. My shutter speed is what I prefer not what the camera decides.

For me this works, proof is in my results. Still each of us has to use what system works for them. My recommendation is that you use what works for you. Make your own creative choices. Just practice what you decide on until it becomes second nature. You should be able to make adjustments with out ever taking you eye away from the viewfinder. Sometimes you do have the luxury of being able to look at the dials. Use what makes you happy. I'll never tell you that your are wrong. What eer gets you your shot--go for it!   Posted: 07/10/2024 12:02:34

Susan Cifaldi   Susan Cifaldi
See? More good advice! :-)
  Posted: 07/10/2024 15:50:13

David Kepley   David Kepley
You captured a great moment with the bird opening his mouth, ready to guzzle down some salad. Love the blue feathers and teh red eye. Both are sharp. I also commend you on getting the feathers sharp. That's not easy to do with white feathers. For a shot like this I agree with Larry that you would be better off with a wider f stop like 4.0 or 5.6. It would blur you background a bit better. You might want to consider toning down the bright stalks right in front of the bird and right behind it. AS for PS, I would recommend that you invest time in LRC. It is a whole lot less confusing the PS.   Posted: 07/15/2024 15:31:12


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