This image of an adult Bald Eagle beginning a dive was created on the recently concluded Homer, Alaska Instructional Photo-Tour with the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM zoom lens (hand held at 207mm) and the Canon EOS-7D. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop off the blue sky 30 degrees up from the horizon: 1/2000 sec. at f/5. 19-Point Auto-Select Rear Focus/AI Servo AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial.
For a greater appreciation of the image, click on the photo. Then click on the enlarged version to close it.
Image Optimization Magic Part II
I borrowed a 70-300 and a 7D from CPS (Canon Professional Services) to use on a sunny day in Homer. This rig is both lightweight and deadly. I used the lens in Norway along with one of my EOS-1D Mark IV bodies. AF was deadly accurate but the lightweight lens did not balance well with the pro body. (See the Parasitic Jaeger flight image and my comments here.) Thus I found myself in Homer with the rig in my hands on a sunny morning. I much prefer 7D images made in sunny conditions to those created in low light.
This image was made early in the trip–on the 2nd morning of the first IPT. During the ACR conversion I noted that the WHITEs were really bright with RGB values in the high 240s and with some even in the low 250s. I moved the Exposure slider a bit to the left and dialed in 40 points of recovery. Though the WHITEs on the TIFF showed nothing over 236 the bird’s white head appeared detail-less. I tried my usual bag of tricks (Select/Color Range with Linear Burn or Selective Color/adding BLACK to the WHITEs) but nothing really helped. I figured that the image could not be salvaged but luckily did keep the RAW file. (Do see “Capture and Beyond Workflow Lessons That You Cannot Afford to Miss” if you still need to learn why it was right to save that RAW file.
Toward the end of the trip I began playing around with NIK’s Color Efex Pro 4.1 plug-in and loving Tonal Contrast. (See here for an example.) Someone had mentioned that the Detail Extractor setting did a great job of restoring density and detail to bright WHITEs so I gave it a shot. And was amazed. Give the animated GIF immediately below a few seconds to play and you will see what I mean.
You can see that Detail Extractor in NIK’s Color Efex Pro 4.1 did a fantastic job of restoring detail and density to the eagle’s bright white head without graying it out. And that in a situation where my tried and true Photoshop techniques failed. I applied Detail Extractor to the entire image, created a Hide-all Mask, and then painted the effect back in only where I wanted it, on the bird’s head. Soon I will learn to use control points to make this simple operation even simpler.
After I mentioned using NIK Color Efex’s Detail Extractor for saving the WHITEs in a BPN post recently, crack Avian Forum moderator Randy Stout sent me an e-mail (Subject Line: Holy Cow Batman!) as follows:
Artie: I had tried Details Extractor previously, but not on any whites. After your response, I tried it on the blown out breast of a loon–I have a few of those. It worked really well and didn’t seem give the slight brown effect that I sometimes see with a heavy linear burn. I also tried the Dark Contrast filter. On first blush this seemed way too dark, but if you tweak the defaults and use it judiciously, it can take the white recovery even further. I will explore more of the filters in Color Efex and do some more work with the ones that I mentioned, Detail Extractor and Dark Contrast Filter alone would make the whole package worth it to me! I really appreciate your tip!! I will have to stop deleting all the images with very bright whites until I have a chance to work on them with these filters. WOW! Cheers, Randy
My response: Hey Randy, Thanks and YAW. I can’t wait to try the Dark Contrast Filter; it sounds great. And heck, you forgot all about Tonal Contrast, the very best filter in Color Efex! Keep up the great work on BPN. I will see you in February. later and love, artie (For the third straight year Randy will be joining me as a co-leader on the SW FLA IPT.)
Thanks to Denise Ippolito who had been telling me for two years that Nik’s Tonal Contrast (in Color Efex Pro 4.1) was fantastic. And good luck to her this weekend; she is presenting her popular slide program, A Blend of Art and Nature at the 2011 Nature Visions Mid-Atlantic Photography Association Expo, November 11-13, 2011 in Manassas, Virginia (on the same bill as Art Wolfe!) You can learn more here.
You can save 15% on all NIK products by clicking here and entering BAA in the Promo Code box at check-out. Then hit Apply to see your savings. If you doubt me (could that be possible ?), you can download a trial copy that will work for 15 days and allow you to create full sized images. Bet you can’t eat just one!
If you are confused by Regular and Hide-all Layer Masks (as I was for about eight years), check out Layer Masking for Dummies in the latest (free) update of Digital Basics, an e-mailable PDF that includes my complete Digital Workflow and dozens of great Photoshop tips, all written in my clear, easy to read, easy to follow style.
I will be sharing lots more examples of what Color Efex can do here over the next few months at least. In addition I will explore many of the other Color Efex filters, learn to use Control Points, and master Viveza. In my spare time.
Earn Free Contest Entries and Support both the Bulletins and the Blog by making all your B & H purchases here.
More and more folks are earning multiple contest entries with their B & H purchases. See here for details on that. Eleven great categories, 34 winning and honored images, and prize pools valued in excess of $20,000. Click here to visit the competition home page.
Below is a list of the gear mentioned 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 EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM zoom lens. This lightweight mid-range zoom lens is sharp as all get-out and has focused like a dream with every camera that I have used it with.
Canon EOS-7D. This lightweight digital camera body is surely the great value ever in the history of photography. It is so good that the newly announced EOS-1D X, Canon’s new flagship professional digital camera body has borrowed lots of 7D features. If you have a 7D be sure to get yourself a copy of our 7D User’s Guide.
And from the BAA On-line Store: