Stanley Selkow  

Herring Gull with herring by Stanley Selkow

June 2021 - Herring Gull with herring

June 2021 - Stanley Selkow


About the Image(s)

About the image: I live near a herring run, where herring (on Cape Cod we call them alewives) return from the sea in spring to breed in their natal ponds. Gulls, Ospreys, Bald Eagles and mergansers raucously gather to eat them. I was lucky enough to get this picture in which eyes of the gull and herring are really close, and in the herring's eye you can sort of see the reflection of the pond around me.

Editing in Lightroom consisted of adjusting White Balance, Exposure, cropping, tweaking the Clarity, Texture and Dehaze sliders, and fixing black clipping and white clipping. I still struggle with capturing the different textures of white birds, and encourage all suggestions. So following Steve's offline suggestion I lowered the Saturation and Luminosity of Blue.

The handheld camera was a Canon R5, and the lens was a Canon RF 100-500 mm
1/160 sec at f/7.1, ISO 100, 500 mm

5 comments posted

Sophia Schade   Sophia Schade
Hi Stanley, nice photo.. my sister lives on the Cape and would love to visit next spring and try to photograph this event.. I would love to know exact location..
I love the image and I also strangle with white birds.
Being handheld I wish you had a higher speed, iso and f-stop for a sharper image. If I shoot handheld big lens .. I always shoot 1/2500 and adjust my iso.. this always guarantee to get a sharp photo..
Unfortunately, I don't have enough photoshop experience to help you with the process.., I will be at the cape sometime late summer early fall .. would love to get together and go out photographing..
  Posted: 06/01/2021 12:51:43

Jeffrey Pawlan   Jeffrey Pawlan
I like your photo but if I were doing it, I would show the entire bird.   Posted: 06/01/2021 14:02:51

Steve Sampliner   Steve Sampliner
Hi Stan. My feeling was similar to Jeffrey's, and I think that keeping the entire bird in frame might be the way to go. So, I went ahead and did a bit of post-processing of your original.
First thing, I noticed it is a bit under-exposed (which I always try to do on bright days with water and white birds) with some cross section shadows and bright spots. The majority of the colors are in the shadows according to the histogram. Not a bad place to be to draw out color or mute color. First step exposure +.5, contrast -20 and presence clarity +55 (I do this to add texture/definition to the feathers). Step two, highlights -42 and blue saturation -75. We talked about this before, I attack the blue first. Now blue luminosity is the key that will set the direction I want to go with the gull. If I drop it(-65), it will look like there is more shadow. If I raise it (+80), it will act like a highlight (that is why I took highlights out in the beginning). I decided to use blue luminosity as a highlight. Lastly, -12 black for a bit of depth, +6 vibrance and saturation for a bit of color in the rocks and +35 sharpening to give the feathers a final touch. What do you think?   Posted: 06/02/2021 09:40:13
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Stanley Selkow   Stanley Selkow
Thank you all for your advice. Sorry for the long answer, but...
I did a tight crop (attached below), which I really like, both because it brings the eyes of the gull and the herring so close that they almost appear to be from one animal, AND because it lets the viewer see some of the scene reflected in the herring's eye. But then my friend, who's a much better photographer than I, complained about the tightness of the crop. So I ended with a half-way crop which didn't satisfy anybody, certainly not my friend, nor Steve and Jeffrey, nor me. I guess photography is indeed personal.
I agree with Sophia about changing settings to increase sharpness. Sometimes I'm just not fast enough in changing my settings.
Finally, regarding the possibility to go photograph together, Sophia (and the invitation applies to everyone in Group 97)), I'd love to go out taking pics here with anyone who makes it out here. We have many herring runs, with gulls and ospreys and eagles competing and fighting right overhead. But, unfortunately, that's in April and May and most adult herring have returned to the sea. And I find it amusing Sophia that your sister lives on Cape Cod and you live in Sun City Bluffton, and my sister lived in Sun City Bluffton and I live on Cape Cod. You all have my email and I'd love to share "my Cape".   Posted: 06/02/2021 12:25:44
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Steve Sampliner   Steve Sampliner
Hi Stan. No problem stickin' to your guns on how you would like to present the image :). What I like about both approaches is I see a different narrative in each photo. The way you have focused on the eye contact as being central to the meaning of the image is oddly intimate but yet tragic at the same time.   Posted: 06/02/2021 23:22:59


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