This image is a stitched, offset composite. The two originals were created within moments of each other with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops off the sky set manually: 1/160 sec. at f/16. .
Photoshop Lesson, For Randy
I was photographing all three vultures (at f/16 for lots of depth-of-field) when the Black Vulture on our right hopped out on the branch to stretch one wing. Thinking digitally and thinking fast I created two images of the stretching bird and then pointed the camera left and down, re-focused on the eye of the Black Vulture on the left, and created an image of the two birds on the left (with a bit of overlap). I had a plan! I was in my Toyota Sequoia working on the BLUBB with a Double Bubble Level in the hot shoe.
When I saw the vulture do an elegant wing stretch, I focused on the eye using rear focus AF, recomposed, and made two images. This was the best.
My first thought was that I could crop out most of the intruding Turkey Vulture from the left side of the frame and cover the rest of it with a Quick Mask. But then the idea of creating a composite came into my mind.
So I re-framed down and left, focused on the eye of the Black Vulture on the left, and created three more images.
The image above had the best head angles.
First I used a series of Quick Masks to cover the back of the Black Vulture on the right of the frame.
Then I expanded canvas above.
Now it was time to work on the original wing stretch image.
First I used a series of Quick Masks to cover the portion of the intruding bird on the left. Then I expanded canvas below. And then I added a ton of canvas on the right so that I could bring in the other two birds on a layer.
Next I went back to the image with the two birds, put them on their own layer (Control J), and moved them into position with the Move Tool (V).
Notice that part of that layer covered the stretching bird. Not to worry. The main problem was to match the branch. By reducing the opacity of the introduced layer to 70% that was a snap. I noticed however that there were depth-of-field issues with the branch even though I was able to match the two sections perfectly by moving the layer up or down, right or left one pixel at a time with the arrow keys. The solution is below.
Next I created a Layer Mask and erased the portion of the layer that covered the stretching bird.
To deal with the depth of field differences I painted a Quick Mask of the too-sharp portion of the broken branch and applied a .7 pixel Gaussian Blur to it. Even blown up it looked much more natural.
After that, I added the needed sky with another series of Quick Masks. (Thanks Robert; I couldn’t live without them!) Then it was some of the usual clean-up, some Tim Grey Dodge and Burn, some Eye Doctor work, and a few contrast masks to sharpen the heads of the three birds non-destructively. And voila. Vision accomplished.
Most of what I did above is detailed in our Digital Basics File, which includes the basics of Quick Masking. Advanced Quick Masking Techniques are taught in Robert O’Toole’s APTATS I. Everything that I learned about Layer Masks I learned from Robert’s APTATS II.
Tim Grey Dodge and Burn will be covered in the next update to Digital Basics; I hope to finish that before the end of the year 🙂
BIRDS AS ART Bulletin #345
BIRDS AS ART Bulletin #345 is on-line now and can be viewed here thanks to the hard work of Peter Kes.
The Bulletin includes a slew of great vulture images and lots of great info on the Canon EOS-7D and our EOS-7D User’s Guide.
Here is a list of the features:
- FCCC APPEARANCE/NAPLES FLORIDA: NOVEMBER 7
- CANON EOS-7D USERS GUIDE UPDATE
- CANON EOS-7D USERS GUIDE KUDOS
- CANON USERS GUIDE COMPLAIN E-MAILS
- MARK IV USERS GUIDE UPDATE SENT
- BOSQUE IPT AND BLURRY DAY LATE REGISTRATION DISCOUNTS
- THANKSGIVING AT BOSQUE
- CANON USED 70-200M F/2.8 L IS FOR SALE/PRICE REDUCED
- A GUIDE TO PLEASING BLURS
- POSSE NEWS/ROBERT AMORUSO
- SHOPPERS GUIDE
- IPT UPDATES
Here is the gear that I used to create the two vulture images:
And from the BAA On-line Store:
If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our complete Shoppers Guide.