Something From Nothing Sillhouette Lesson

herring-gull-and-sanderlings-7-23am-silh-_y9c3027-nickerson-beach-long-island-ny

Tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/500 sec. at f/25 in Manual mode. Central Sensor/Rear Focus AI Servo AF and re-compose. Read on to learn about rear focus.

Lens/TC/Camera Body Micro-Adjustment: 0.

For a greater appreciation of the image, click on the photo. Then click on the enlarged version to close it.

Something From Nothing Sillhouette Lesson

In last night’s post, Something From Nothing, I presented two very washed out images and asked “Which would you keep, and why?”

Lots of folks chipped in with relevant comments but perhaps none more telling than David Pugsley who wrote, “I prefer the HA of the gull in A, but prefer the positioning of the sandpipers (?) in B. Regardless, I suspect you’re going to blow us away with an optimized image. :)

I kept both images. I converted B first increasing the the color temperature, contrast, exposure, and Vibrance and then pulling the black slider far to the right. I was most of the way to a nice silhouette. To convert the second image I chose “Previous Conversion” from the Basic dropdown menu. Then I used a Quick Mask to bring the head of the gull in A (that one had a a perfect head angle with the head feathers blowing up a bit) into frame B (which as many felt, had the nicest arrangement of Sanderlings). Kudos to those who mentioned the difference in head angles and those who like arrangement of the sandpipers better in B. Once I had the new head in place–that was as easy as pie–I blackened the blacks with a Levels adjustment while holding down the Alt key. That was followed by lots of beach and specular highlight clean-up mostly with the Patch Tool, the Clone Stamp Tool, and the Spot Healing Brush. Everything above of course as described in detail in Digital Basics. Both Subhrashis and Bill Richardson both pretty much mapped out my battle plan (but missed the head replacement deal.

Tonight’s Questions:

1: What do you think of the optimized image above?
2: Do you like the Sanderling that is right below the Herring Gull?

See how others answered those questions in my BPN post here.

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Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the image in today’s blog post. 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. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon 1.4X III Teleconverter. Designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders :)
Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
CR-80 Replacement Foot for Canon 800. When using the 800 on a Mongoose as I do, replacing the lens foot with this accessory lets the lens sit like a dog whether pointed up or down and prevents wind-blown spinning of your lens on breezy days by centering the lens directly over the tripod.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
Be sure to check out our camera body User’s Guides here.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV User’s Guide. Learn to use your Mark IV the way that I use mine.

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14 comments to Something From Nothing Sillhouette Lesson

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    I like the final image. I like the Sanderling under the gull as it emphasizes the huge size difference between the two species. I do wish that the front leg of the Sanderling were clear of the gull’s leg. If you hate the Sanderling under the gull please do not take it personally. :) Please remember that the washed out images were the correct exposure and that I knew in advance that I would be able to create a nice silhouette. artie

    ps: I would probably like a version without the Sanderling too. :)

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    Not a bad silhouette.I believe the image would look better if the area above the Sanderlings was cleaned up.

  • avatar Andy

    Yep. Like it a lot. This works perfectly as a silhouette and I do like the sanderling under the gull. It distracted me in the original image, but not in the silhouette. In the current image, it’s a pretty strong element.

  • avatar John Storjohann

    Hi Artie;

    This was a pretty amazing transformation, and a wonderful bit of post-processing. The Sanderling beneath the gull brings a smile to my face; the silhouette of the two combined reminds of a weather vane atop a barn roof. Great compositional lines with the Sanderlings forming a half-circle around the gull; to my eye, there are still a couple of specular highlights in the background that I might evict or tone down a bit..a matter of preference. A great lesson in “making soup from stones”…I believe that’s the phrase I heard you use once. Nicely done.

  • I add to other comments… that the only thing that I really don’t like is the sanderling under the gull. :-) It seems “pierced” by the thick leg. I understand Denise’s observation about the vertical balance, but I supposed you’d have edited it (e.g. erasing the pierced bird and replacing it with a clone of another bird).

    BTW, I didn’t expect a silhouette mode. It’s really a great idea to recover a poor light scene.

  • avatar Bill Tyler

    I agree with others about the pattern of the sanderlings – it’s a nice U shape, and moving just the one under the gull would destroy that shape. However, I think it would be more effective if the sanderling’s leg were not exactly superimposed on the gull’s leg. Making that change without disturbing the sanderling pattern would require either moving all the sanderlings, or the gull, or both, then reconstructing leg portions on each.

  • avatar Charlie Young

    WOW! You took lemons and made lemonade…:)

  • avatar Mary Stamper

    Agree with Denise. I think the sanderling under the gull makes the image, and I like the patterns created by the sanderlings. Might take a tiny bit more off the right side, but it works as is as well.

  • avatar Jay Gould

    I would use the Gull’s image from “A” and eject the Sanderling. Then, I would compare the two and make my final decision.

  • Just as I suspected! :) I think the real lesson here is that while we need to be honest when sorting our files, we should think twice before hitting the delete button.

  • I think it’s gorgeous. Very pleasing to the eye . . . the rich gold tones.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    BTW Artie, is it possible for you to provide higher resolution downloads of the images you put up for editing so your readers could use them to try out the techniques being discussed? Just a thought.

    Hi Bill, You can grab a 1024 wide from BPN. We have disabled right-click and save on the blog as these images are of high enough resolution to make decent sized prints…. artie

  • I like the pattern that the Sanderlings create. The silhouette looks nice with the black against the gold. The one below the gull keeps the image from being top heavy. It looks natural like a scene you would really see when walking on the beach.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    I like it a lot. Much more than I thought I would actually. I went back and looked at the head angles and I did miss an obvious fix there. I still think a vignette would work well on this shot. And I still don’t like the sanderling under the gull. I suppose you could argue it is an interesting juxtaposition but I find it awkward more than interesting. I also would crop a bit off the right side to balance the compesition better. Altogether though, I think you made a pig’s ear into a silk purse.