My Thoughts on the Young Bald Eagle Image « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

My Thoughts on the Young Bald Eagle Image

My Thoughts on the Young Bald Eagle Image

First off, I hope that all of you are enjoying the holiday season with friends and family. I enjoyed a rare dessert after lunch today: my 88 year old Mom made an ice box cake from scratch at my request and I had a 3.5 ounce slice. Mmmmm good. I could have eaten the whole thing!

Taking a close look at the animated GIF above reveals the most obvious before and after changes. The two most important for me were the removal of the single blade of out-of-focus grass that overlapped the two broad feathers on the right wing just above the tail. If anyone knows for sure which feather tract they belong to I would appreciate knowing. I suspect that they are great coverts….

In any case, we learned here that out-of-focus foreground elements tend to be quite distracting whether they intersect with the subject or not. First I used Divide and Conquer Cloning; this allowed me to use the Patch Tool to eliminate most of that big blade of grass. Then I needed a few small Quick Masks in the area where the blade of grass intersected the white feather edging. Working very large I used the Patch Tool to eliminate a white speck on a nearby feather. Even Joerg Rockenberger who did an excellent job with his comments missed that one 🙂

That brings up an important point: with the ever-increasing inter-activity here if you do not either check out the comments regularly or subscribe to new comments you will often be missing a ton of good stuff.

Next I eliminated the o-o-f yellow grass blade on the bottom frame edge just to the right of where I had been working. I should have also eliminated a similar blade of grass near the lower right corner. Most folks picked up on the removal of the significant black speck lower right center. I used a small Quick Mask to cover that.

Next I used the Quick Selection Tool (thanks to Denise Ippolito for the how-to lesson on that one) to select the light areas of the lores and the lower mandible. Before putting the selection on its own layer I ran Refine Edge (Alt/Ctrl/R) with my soften-the-edge settings: Smooth: 4; Feather: 2.0 px; Contrast: 0; Shift Edge: 0. Then I ran a 15% Linear Burn on the selection and increased the YELLOW saturation (Ctrl U for Hue-Saturation on a layer).

Next I added two points of BLACK to the BLACKs and the NEUTRALS via my Selective Color action (the f/9 key for me). I do that to probably 95% of my images to yield a slight contrast boost. Lastly I hit my f/4 key to apply the Linear Contrast (RGB) Curves preset to the whole image and reduced the Opacity on that to 25% as it looked overdone.

I am fairly sure that but for the Quick Selection Tool every single Photoshop technique that I mentioned above along with my complete digital workflow is detailed in our Digital Basics File (a PDF that we send by e-mail.) Simply put it is the cheapest high quality Photoshop instruction on the planet and includes free updates for as long as I am pushing the shutter button. Instructions on how to use the Quick Selection Tool will be part of the next update. The last update included a complete rewrite and reorganization.

Lastly I was surprised that several folks suggested getting rid of blade of grass with the seed heads to the left of the young eagle’s head; I chose to leave that one as it balanced nicely with the seed heads on the right side of the image.

BIRDS AS ART NOTES/December 22, 2010

The BIRDS AS ART NOTES OF December 22, 2010 are on-line and can be viewed here.

Here are the features:


  • Japan in Winter “Only One Trip in a Lifetime Needed IPT.”

2 comments to My Thoughts on the Young Bald Eagle Image

  • Thanks for the explanation, and I really like the animated gif to show the before and after! Guess I have been in a cave for a while, I haven’t noticed that being used before.

    I agree that that blade of grass should be left, without it I think the image would become quite unbalanced. Although at first look it feels like it needs to be removed…I guess it goes to show that we need to pay attention to what we have before automatically changing and altering…

  • Joerg Rockenberger

    Thanks for the shout-out. But more importantly, thanks for explaining why you left the grass behind the eagle in place. JR