Chestnut-mandibled Toucan Magic « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan Magic

This Chestnut-mandibled Toucan image was created by BPN member Vikram Potdar with the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR AF lens and the Nikon D-700 replaced by the Nikon D800 Digital SLR camera body (w/FREE Bonus Item – $191.60 Value! [expires soon]!). ISO 200. Ev -.3: 1/250 sec. at f/4. White balance: Fine Weather.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2012: Vikram Potdar.

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan Magic

Having been home only six days since October 16 and having been swamped with travel, teaching, photography, image optimization, and writing (as in the blog and the Bulletins) it has been great to have had a bit more time to be active on BPN (Bird Photographer’s.Net) lately. I came across the image above here in the Avian forum on the evening of December 24th.

It was created by BPN member Vikram Potdar of Pune, Maharashtra, India. It is published here with his permission.

The following is adapted from my comments:

Welcome Vikram, This is actually a fine image that needed better processing and some tender loving care. I love the pose and the bird and perch and the background. There seems to have been some foliage between you and the bird’s tail and the face could have been a tad sharper–you may have focused on the toucan’s back. Subtracting light in this situation seems to be an error; zero or even some plus compensation would have pushed the histogram to the right where it should have been. In addition, a minimum of ISO 400 or even ISO 800 would have given you some valuable depth of field.

This is my repost. You can see it in Pane #5 here.

For the repost I corrected the huge green cast with (about) a 75% average blur color balance, ran NIK Color Efex Pro Detail Extractor (at about 40% with a Quick Selection Tool selection) and Tonal Contrast (at about 33% via a Hide All Mask) on the bird only, did a bit of bill clean-up, lightened the face with a Tim Grey Dodge and Burn, and sharpened the face with a Quick Mask and a 15/65/0 Contrast Mask.

All of the above as described in detail in Digital Basics which includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, all of my keyboard shortcuts, “Layer Masking for Dummies,” and NIK Color Efex Pro basics. This PDF which is sent via e-mail will be the best $25 that you ever spent on photography.

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After the color balance was corrected, the judicious use of Detail Extractor on the toucan image here was the key to improving the photograph. As regular readers know, Color Efex Pro has drastically changed my digital workflow and lately I have begun using Viveza to solve sticky image optimization problems. You can save 15% on all NIK products (including Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, and Viveza) 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.

The animated GIF above clearly shows the improvements that were made in the repost. Note especially the detail on the back that was there the whole time and revealed with the judicious use of Detail Extractor.

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14 comments to Chestnut-mandibled Toucan Magic

  • avatar Barry Boulton

    Thanks for the excellent example of Nik DE which inspires me to try and then probably purchase it since I do mostly bird photography. But I have one comment and associated question – the rather heavily mottled bill in the after-shot seems to me to detract from the image and I fear that it’s unrealistic, so could you comment on that please?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      One man’s heavily mottled is another’s wonderfully detailed. If I had noticed that it had gotten a bit grungy there, I could have eliminated that with a Layer Mask. As noted below, I started with a relatively tiny 150KB JPEG 🙂

  • Hi Arthur. Was the RAW file of this shot made available to you? If all the refinements were performed on jpeg file; I wonder how!

    Thank you with regards.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    Thanks for the continued tips re Nik. I am currently editing toucan and jaguar photos from Brazil and have found the Detail Extractor an amazingly effective tool. I usually run it at full strength (first option) and add a hide all mask and then paint out the mask to taste. The Tonal Contrast tool has also been amazing for all the birds. Using both on a yellow billed cardinal really brought out the detail in the red head that had been “lost” due to the light angle. Thanks for introducing me to this great software.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      YAW Bill. I fixed your typo. You can refine your technique by reducing the opacity of your brush when painting away the Hide-all mask. To either 50% or 33%. And then you can hit X and reduce that further if you want to go back the other way.

      Color Efex Pro is killer good on images made in low light 🙂

      • avatar Bill Richardson

        I usually paint at 33% or less with a soft brush to build up the effect as necessary. I also put the detail and tonal Nik effects on differnent layers to adjust them independently rather than using recipes although I do use recipes now and then.

  • avatar Chris Wyatt

    Thanks for using the automated GIFs in showing the before and after images. I see a large difference in the bird’s back feathers due to using NIK’s detail extractor. Do you use a set amount for most images or is it strictly an image by image decision?

    I have your Digital Basics PDF, but I think I have missed an update or more as I don’t have anything about NIK Color Effects; my Digital Basics has a March,2011 update.

    I will be in the Fort Myers area this next week. I have your SW Florida site guide. Any recommendations on what’s good this year?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Chris, Thanks. I do not use a set amount. I almost never use DE at anything close to 100%. As described in the last DB update I sometimes use a combo of DE and Tonal Contrast at various percentages. Write Jim at with proof of purchase and he will shoot you the last update. Have not been down recently but Little Estero on low tides and the Venice Rookery in the afternoons have been consistently good the last few years.

  • Love the changes. The bird’s beauty is now evident. Good work, Artie!

  • avatar Ar

    I don’t like the changes made to the yellow feathers, beak and eyes. Just MHO.