Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II/1.4X III Composite Flight Pano
One of the most important things that folks learn on an IPT is how to recognize a good situation. Not only is that something that I have learned to do very well over the past 28 years but it is something that I share with my groups at every opportunity. Black Vultures and cormorants spend lots of time on the roof of the shelter at the spot where the main boardwalk at Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park turns back towards the Royal Palm Visitor’s Center. (Note: not all professional photographers are proficient at recognizing a good situation; there was another supposedly competent tour leader who arrived at the rain shelter before we did two days running yet chose to stand with his group under the shelter to keep them “out of the sun.” I guess that you get what you pay for….)
In any case, many of the folks in the Canon group enjoyed some great chances two days running whenever a bird would land on the roof of the shelter. The first morning the wind was from the east northeast and the second morning it was from the east southeast. Both of those are good flight photography winds in the morning with the sun rising in the east. The first image, the one on the left, was created with the lens zoomed to 170mm. With the next four I had zoomed out a bit; all of those were created at 165mm.
Note: The very first frame (not seen here) in this seven frame sequence was–possibly due to operator error, not in focus. The fifth frame in the sequence (also not see here) was sharp but I chose not to include it as the pose was less then ideal. I have written that initial focusing acquisition with the 70-200 II and any teleconverter is not blazingly fast but that once focus is attained the tracking accuracy is usually excellent. This sequence illustrates both of those points nicely.
After converting the five RAW files in ACR I optimized each image individually in Photoshop CS-5. I did some Eye Doctor work on each frame and selectively “sharpened” the head of each bird with a contrast mask (Unsharp Mask at 15/65/0). Then I created a canvas that was 85 inches long by 12 inches high; this gave me a bit of room to play with both from side to side and up and down. As you can see, I placed each bird a bit lower in the frame (going from left to right). I used the Clone Stamp Tool to fill in the empty areas of the pano (top and bottom).
Then I started on the left with Layers 1 & 2 and matched the tonality of the blue portions of sky by using the up and down arrow keys after hitting Control M (Curves on a Layer). Then I continued in the same vein all the way down the line. Next I used Tim Grey Dodge and Burn to lighten the darker underwing areas of two of the birds. The last and most difficult part of the process was blending the clouds in adjacent frames. I used the Patch Tool to do pretty much all of that work.
I am quite proud of the final result.
Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the image above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2XIII teleconverter.
Canon EF 2X III TC. It seems that the new 2X (the EF 2X III) is noticeably sharper than the old one (the EF 2X II).
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. And this is the very best professional digital camera body that I have even used..
And from the BAA On-line Store:
Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. Fast and dependable.
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 Shopper’s Guide.