I wrote this entry in my google blog in April 2009. Now in June 2010, after my tastes and ethics have slightly changed I am not sure how I think of the post processing I have undertaken. I keep rereading my last sentence in the final paragraph below I believe I fell stronger than ever to strive to do as little as possible in the post process. Of course, if a rare image presents itself in less than ideal surroundings, then I may choose to amend the background a little, hoping that minimal amendment is required. Now back to the post processing story.
The original image with the clutter.
I created this image in December 2007 at Long Reef Aquatic Reserve, NSW. The subject, a Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) was coming into land in a small colony congregating on the rock platform. With the light behind me (even though a bit strong for my liking) I captured the landing. Looking at the RAW image, flaws are immediately evident and it took close to 18 months and a new set of Photoshop skills learned for me to take another look at the RAW image again.
The improved image after acquiring more Photoshop skills.
With a series of Quick Masks, some cloning and healing and a crop for taste I created the final image that you see above this paragraph. In the process I took out three other members of the cormorant clan already resting on the rocks, drying their wings. I find the final image much more satisfactory, though in the first instance I would always prefer to do as LITTLE as possible with a RAW image. Thus my aim (and yours too) really, should be to capture the ideal image in the camera so no time-consuming retouching work and tweaking become the necessary enhancements in the post process.
Hope you like my image(s).
I have a good friend who lives just north of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Of course I don’t hold that against him, as he is a great man with excellent artistic vision and execution. He has always been interested in wildlife and I got to know him from a web forum, which is now not much of a forum anyway. 🙂 In any case, Arturo – or Art to his friends – has tried hard and hard to obtain nice images of birds in particular. But he was often frustrated as he hadn’t had a decent piece of glass to capture images with. The most important thing is thought that his passion and enthusiasm never left him, not even for a moment.
However, Art recently got a new camera; a Nikon D300s and a 75-300VR lens. I am sure he will correct me if I am incorrect about his new gear. He has made some awesome progress due to the better quality of his equipment, particularly that telephoto lens. Of course, he the same as most wildlife nuts, wants longer glass and would do most sensible things to get one. 🙂
He sent me a link to his new site on Pbase and I will provide the link later, however, this image really, really grabbed me for its simple, yet fabulous execution. I am not always keen on smooth backgrounds, but in this case it works wonders and the Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) is looking razor sharp and very artistic! So big hats off to my good friend Art Plottier.
Enjoy his other images too. We all need encouragement to better ourselves and nothing is more encouraging than providing honest feedback to help us get better at our craft.
Art’s main gallery is here.
My photographic interest began when I started scuba diving in 1995. Even on my basic course I had a good understanding and knowledge of fishes. That knowledge that came from spearfishing and fishing previously for quiet a few years has developed into my affections for marine lifeforms and my need to learn and understand as much as I possibly could about them. The more I learned how to photograph the many unknown critters, the more enthralled I became in this world that is so unknown to the average Sydney-sider.
My good friend George Evatt from Coralsea Television took this of me.
One of my very first legal openwater dives was at Camp Cove, in Sydney Harbour. One of my last dives was also there in 2003. Though I did a couple more dives at the end of 2005, my diving and underwater photography career was well over before then. Thank God for birds and topside photography, which keeps me keener than anything ever before. However, one must not forget humble beginnings, therefore, I wanted to take this opportunity to reminisce in a few fond memories. My last Camp Cove dive was in the company of my good friend of nearly ten years; George Evatt. George is a multiple, international award-winning professional cinematographer with as much passion and interest in wildlife (both above and below the surface) as I. Some of my greatest adventures were in George’s company especially as we spent hours upon hours filming for his award-winning Beneath southern seas DVD that won a Gold Medal at Australia’s Oceans Underwater Film Festival in September 2003. That was an awesome year for my credentials as well, for I took out the Gold in the Underwater Photojournalism section. Enjoy a few images of Sydney Harbour’s weird and wonderful critters…..
A Striped Anglerfish next to an old bottle in Camp Cove, Sydney Harbour.
An Eastern Frogfish, which makes strange (almost didgeridoo like) sounds at night. Camp Cove, Sydney Harbour.
An Eastern Spiny Gurnard, a truly beautiful fish. Camp Cove, Sydney Harbour.
A Flying Gurnard at Camp Cove, Sydney Harbour.
The 'famous' Small-headed Sole at Camp Cove, Sydney Harbour.
The Small-headed Sole mimics a poisonous flatworm (Platyhelminthes sp.) and even swims through the water in an undulating fashion when threatened. All but the Eastern Spiny Gurnard were taken with a Nikonos III camera and Fujichrome slide film. Most people nowadays wouldn’t even know what film looks like. LOL!!!
The photo of me was I think the last ever taken with me in dive gear with a Sony Cybershot digital camera. 🙁
Except that I am very passionate about what I do photographically; I love my subjects and always consider their welfare first and foremost. From day one I wanted to have photographers to look up to, to aspire to be like and to be inspired by and stay motivated because of them. I have recently found new inspiration from someone whose name I have known, yet I have not seen much of his photographs. His work is superb, his images do not always have the “expected” frontal light nor even necessarily sunlight. He shares the philosophy that I really like and live by. Use the light I have and make the most of the situation. I have been devouring one of his book recently. The photographer is none other than Andy Rouse of the UK. A great photographer and he loves his wildlife; especially his local stuff. That is like me. I love nothing more than seeing what’s about at my local haunts – not that I have been fortunate to travel really. There are thousands of possibilities within a stone’s throw from where I live. When those things become boring, I may travel a little to spice up my photography. This is a link to Andy’s website by the way. I am constantly amazed at his innovative skills and he is an overall wildlife photographer and not a specialist; yet any image I see that he created is a special piece of art in its own right. Good on you Andy!
And here are a couple of photos I took yesterday morning at one of my local spots. Dedicated to my new source of inspiration: Andy Rouse! Thanks mate!
Both images below were taken with a Canon EOS 30D, 300mm f/4L IS USM lens and 2x converter, hand held.
An obliging Brown Falcon.
White-faced Heron hunting in the fields.
I thought I’d write about why one would want as long a lens for wildlife photography as possible. I had a fairly calm subject this morning in my trusty resident Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) and I shot a number of combinations of converters. I tried a stacked 2x and 1.4x, just the 2x, then just the 1.4x all from the exact same stance. So in reality the images will show you what the magnification does. Of course if I had used longer prime lenses I could have had the same effect, but at the moment I cannot spend on a super telephoto. With my equipment, using converters give me the following true focal lengths (I will put field of view crop due to my APS-C sensor in brackets following true FL).
300mm + 1.4x = 420mm f/5.6 (672mm)
300mm + 2x = 600mm f/8 manual focus only (960mm)
300mm + 2x + 1.4x = 840mm f/11 manual focus only (1,344mm)
So you can see that by stacking converters you get a really good, long lens. It’s still not advisable as you do lose image quality and it becomes somewhat noticeable when stacking. The three images below were shot hand held. Exif details will be under the images themselves. Just remember, they are all full frame, have not been cropped at all. At 840mm I had to use portrait format as landscape would have made the falcon too tight in frame.
30D, 300mm f/4L IS USM, 1.4x, ISO400, f/6.3, 1/500th, +1EC
30D, 300mm f/4L IS USM, 2x, ISO1600, f/11, 1/250th, +1EC
30D, 300mm f/4L IS USM, 2x + 1.4x, ISO1600, f/16, 1/250th, +1EC