Sunrise/Sunset Silhouette Magic: No Flash Needed « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Sunrise/Sunset Silhouette Magic: No Flash Needed

News Flashes

The Digital Photo Professional RAW Conversion Guide

I am working with Arash Hazeghi on a short new eGuide, The Digital Photo Professional RAW Conversion Guide (The DPP RCeG). It should be finished in a few days. As regular readers know I have been working more and more in DPP, at first with my 1D X files, and more recently with all of my Canon RAW files. There are many advantages. The eGuide, which should be available this week, will cost $10 and will be sent as a PDF.

Digital Basics News

The basics of converting Canon RAW images in DPP will be included in the next update of Digital Basics. As always, updates are free to all who have purchased Digital Basics. Once the next update is complete, the cost for new purchasers of Digital Basics will go up, from $20 to $25. Buy Digital Basics now or before the next update is released and you will effectively get the DPP Conversion info for free when the update becomes available.

The 1D X Autofocus Guide

The 1D X Autofocus Guide is available for $25. All of the early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Click here for more info (see item 1) or here to purchase.

“The Photographers Guide to Attracting Birds”

The amazing “Photographers Guide to Attracting Birds,” available for only a week, has also been receiving rave reviews. Click here for more info or to purchase.

This Sandhill Crane was photographed at sunset at Bosque del Apache NWR in San Antonio, NM with the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the unfortunately discontinued EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 1250. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/125 sec. at f/8 in Tv mode.

Central sensor/AI Servo/Rear Focus active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial.

Sunrise/Sunset Silhouette Magic: No Flash Needed

The JPEG above represents the original capture. The image is neither here nor there. It is not an effective silhouette with the crane and its reflection in the pond jet black. There is not enough light on the bird to make the image interesting. At times, hitting the shadowed side of the bird with some flash can yield spectacular results. But using flash is somewhat of a pain. And digital is magic, right? Lastly, the small branch sticking out of the water just beyond the bird’s head is distracting.

This was my first attempt at improving the image. I used Content Aware Fill to eliminate the protruding stick.

I used the Quick Selection Tool to select the bird. Once I made my initial selection I worked large and fine-tuned the edges of the selection. (Holding the Alt key down allows you to subtract from the selection as you paint.) I made sure to save the selection. Then I put the selection on its own layer (Control J) and used curves on a layer (Control M) to lighten the bird only by pulling the curve up. Better, but no cigar.

Now you’re talking!

I was still not too happy with the image so I brought the bird only on its own layer in NIK Color Efex Pro. I applied Detail Extractor at 80% followed by Tonal Contrast at 30%. Digital is magic but here, Color Efex Po was the magician. The final image looks more natural than if I had used flash in the field. Almost forgot, I reloaded my saved selection, selected inverse, and applied a bit of Tonal Contrast to the background only.

The animated GIF above gives you an idea of the progression from the original image through to the optimized master file.

NIK 15% Discount

As regular readers here know, NIK Color Efex Pro has drastically changed my digital workflow. 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. You can download a trial copy that will work for 15 days and allow you to create full sized images.

NYC Weekend Nature Photography Seminar

Presented by Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure and Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Hilton Garden Inn, Staten Island, New York. December 8-9, 2012 from 9am-4:30pm.
Weekend: $169. SAT or SUN: $99. Lodging available for out of town guests.
Saturday: Image Capture Sunday: Image Evaluation and Processing

Click here for complete details including the Saturday and Sunday schedules, club and group discount info, and registration incentives and for more info on the In-the-Field Seminar Follow-up Workshop.

Artie, the grizzled veteran, is widely noted as one of the premier bird photographers, tour leaders, and educators on the planet. Denise, who specializes in flowers, is the mega-creative up-and-comer, a popular lecturer, a skilled field instructor, and an amazing Photoshop wizard who will share her tips and tricks with you. Both artie and denise are full time professional nature photographers.

BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours

Click here for complete IPT information including the current schedule and links to general IPT info, deposit and cancellation policies. and the required registration and release forms.

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11 comments to Sunrise/Sunset Silhouette Magic: No Flash Needed

  • Really wish there was something like this for Capture NX 2! Would be great to have this for Nikon shooters. At $10, it’s well worth it!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Miguel. I will try to think of someone who could write a good Capture NX 2 guide. Actually, the DPP RAW Conversion Guide is turning out to be much more work than I had anticipated. We may raise the price of the DPP RCG to $15 and the price of Digital Basics from $20 to $30; all the more reason for folks who have been on the fence to purchase DB now to beat the price increase….

  • avatar Nick Sharp

    Great. I have the Digital Basics and can’t wait for the update that includes the new DPP Raw Guide.

  • avatar Richard

    Looking foward to the DPP RAW guide, the two of you combined should be a deadly combination.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Richard. I am working hard on it right now. I am glad that you wrote deadly and not dead :).

  • Your post processing workflow is very interesting here in offering the “optimized” version which is certainly more appealing than the “original.” When visiting Bunche Beach Preserve in Fort Myers not too many months ago, I had the pleasure of observing a similar scene, although I chose to treat the birds for a true jet black effect resulting in an avatar I like. That opportunity has only occurred once in the near hundred times I have visited the venue. When studying the image treatment you’ve made of the crane here, Artie, I am compelled to ask why you didn’t treat the birds reflection with similar adjustments to make the final image super realistic? I have never found the use of flash in the field required when appropriate camera settings are made. The sometimes extremely slow shutter speeds necessary for wildlife photography in very low light is always weighed with thought of how much ISO is tolerable while keeping the gear as steady as possible. With great fortune I had a fairly recent image captured with a 600mm at 1/30 that I was not too disappointed with.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I made a few attempts with this image to create a true silhouette with jet-black blacks but all failed miserably. I believe that if I had tried to get any detail out of the reflection of the bird that the same fate would have awaited me in spades….

      Over the years, there have been some killer images made by flashing the shaded side of a silhouetted a bird; the most notable one that I remember was of a Great Blue Heron made at East Beach in Fort Desoto by a guy named Charlie…. Can’t remember his last name right now. He’s the guy who first taught me about using a contrast mask.

      Charlie; are you there????

      • I may be misunderstanding Bob regarding his question about the reflection, but I too am curious why the reflection of the bird in the water was left dark, rather than lightened along with the bird. I definitely like the bird better with all the processing, but it does look a bit disjoint with its darkly shaded reflection…

  • avatar Chris Cooke

    Thanks Arthur and Arash despite being an owner of Digital Basics I would like to purchase a stand alone copy when it becomes available.

    Thank you both for the effort.