Capture One RAW Conversion Tips. And Background Smoothing Effectively … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Capture One RAW Conversion Tips. And Background Smoothing Effectively ...

What’s Up

After being red-hot for days, photography at ILE has slowed down just a bit. I did get the cranes swimming on Saturday morning but that afternoon yielded only some Black Vulture images; several were on a lawn picking away at a fish that had been dropped by an Osprey that had been perched on a telephone pole. It is cloudy-dark here this morning, Sunday 5 APR 2020. I will head down to the lake at about 8:15am.


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Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase over $1000.00, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created on 2 APR at Indian Lake Estates. Working from my SUV, I used the Induro GIT 204/FlexShooter Mini-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and the 61-MP Monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO: 800. Exposure determined by Zebras with exposure compensation on the rear wheel; in the relatively soft light, I went with some Zebras on the whitest brighest parts of the bird’s neck. 1/1000 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB at 6:33pm on partly sunny afternoon.

Tracking Flexible Spot M AF-C on the bird’s face did the job perfectly. Click on the image to see a larger, sharper version.

Crested Caracara head and shoulders portrait

The Situation

As recently as Thursday past, I had been seeing two Crested Caracaras foraging for bugs in the grass on the North Field (and on the lawns of some adjacent homes). I created some decent images of the birds on the scraggly grass but was not thrilled with any of them. So when I saw this bird — the more handsome of the two — I maneuvered my Sequoia closer and closer to the bird who would simply walk a few steps to my right each time I approached. I started with verticals at 1200mm and my last efforts produced two horizontal images that turned out to be the winners.

Click on the image to enlarge and read the fine print.

Crested Caracara — pre- and post-Capture One RAW Conversion Adjustments

Pre- and Post-Capture One RAW Conversion Adjustments Screen Capture

The lower of the two images above, _7R42198, is the first of the two horizontal captures. Properly exposed to the right in the soft light, this image looks flat and washed out. The image on the top is _7R42198. With Capture One, the adjustments to the RAW are saved with the file after they are made. The sliders on the left of the image show the adjustments that I made. You can see them easily by clicking on the image to enlarge it. Study those changes to learn why the image on the top looks so much better than the image on the bottom.

Once I had the TIF in Photoshop, I did some bill clean-up using all of my usual cadre of tools: the Patch Tool, the Spot Healing Brush, the Clone Stamp Tool and several small, warped, transformed Quick Masks fine-tuned with a Regular Layer Mask. In addition, take a close look at the distracting out-of-focus grass stems in the background; compare the background in the top image in the Capture One Screen Capture with the optimized image that opens this blog post and see how much better the background looks in the optimized version.

Background Smoothing

Many folks attempt to do background smoothing by first selecting the subject. That pretty much never works well. I developed a technique where I first use either an 80% Clone Stamp or Content-Aware Fill to do the grunt work and then apply a Gaussian Blur that is refined by a Hide-All (Inverse) Layer Mask. The latter is described in detail on pages 41-43 of the a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail.

SONY 1200mm Sharpness

It is an absolute pleasure to be able to work with the SONY 600 GM and the 2X TC with either the a9 ii or the 7r iv and consistently produce sharp images of both static birds. I always try to go with higher shutter speeds with the 7r iv than I do with the a9 ii. In addition, though the a9 ii is clearly best for flight photography, the a7r iv can perform well for flight in certain (bright or very bright) situations with the 600 GM and the 1.4X TC (and even with the 2X on rare occasion).

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II).

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a Paypal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)

All the techniques mentioned above and tons more (with the exception of Capture One RAW Conversions) — along with all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — are covered in detail in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here. While the new e-Guide reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow, folks using a PC and/or BreezeBrowser will also benefit greatly by studying the material on DB II. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

Folks who learn well by following along rather than by reading can check out the complete collection of MP 4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos by clicking here. Note: all of the videos are now priced at an amazingly low $5.00 each.

You can learn how and why I converted all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. More recently, I became proficient at converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw. About two years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One Pro 12 and continue to do so today.

To purchase Capture One, please use this link. Then you can learn more about Capture One in the Capture One Pro 12 Simplified MP4 Video here. The next step would be to get a copy of Arash Hazeghi’s “The Nikon Photographers’ Guide to Phase One Capture One Pro e-Guide” in the blog post here.

You can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Folks can learn sophisticated sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and edited by yours truly. Please use this link to purchase NeatImage.

To introduce folks to our MP.4 videos and the basics involved in applying more NeatImage noise reduction to the background and less on the subject, I’d be glad to send you a free copy of the Free Noise Reduction Basics MP.4 Video. Simply click to shoot me an e-mail to get your free copy.

If In Doubt …

If you are in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog or Bedfords, for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would, of course, appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links or Bedfords for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who regularly visit the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

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