There's been more than one time I take a photo of a bird and it's nice but lacks a certain "hook" that brings the viewer in for a double take.

 

There's been more than one time I take a photo of a bird and it's nice but lacks a certain "hook" that brings the viewer in for a double take.

One of the techniques I use, for birds, tigers or other subjects that have a feature that's worth highlighting is to use selective saturation.

This technique can take hours, or a few minutes and can puzzle anyone unfamiliar with the technique.   I use Photoshop, but there are many other programs that make this easy also.

Here's a photo I took on our epic three day journey from Sydney to Perth last weekend that was about 42 hours of hard driving.  We saw so many birds we could have taken two weeks for the drive.  This one is shot through the open sunroof, handheld and with the Canon 1D3 and a 500/4 lens.

This is a picture of a Black Shouldered Kite, in cold weather (see the ruffled feathers, eyeing the two strangers in their Landcruiser, pointing two large white tubes in its direction.)

This was one picture of about 20 I took that was any good, but not perfect.

First of all I added a layer in photoshop.   The bottom layer, in colour, I added any adjustments to white balance, curves etc (this could be detailed in another book).   The top layer I then converted to Black and White and made any curve and tonal adjustments.   I then masked the top layer, and used a brush to paint back in the bits of the bottom layer I wanted.

It's sitting in a busy tree so I cloned out the offending branches.   The whites looked a little blown out, and I noticed that if I dumbed down the exposure, the feathers showed more detail. So rather than a wholesale reduction in exposure, I used the "burn" tool to selectively modify a few parts of the exposure around the white feathers.

Then I did an "unsharp mask" at 250%, radius .03 pixels and a threshold of 0 (This is a really good set of parameters for a quick sharpen)

I flattened the image and exported it.

 

 

 

Colour Image

 The Original image looked like this:-

Rob