The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Bird Photography with Melissa Groo Practice Curating, Editing, and Sharing Your Photos

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    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Bird_Academy
      What were your biggest challenges in the editing or curating process? How do you approach sharing your photos? Contribute your thoughts in the discussion below.
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    • Richard
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      recookdotcom
      Melissa made a great point about including a story about the birds in the photos we post. Some viewers will know little about birds and might appreciate added context. With that in mind, I posted on my own page the following description of a flock of white pelicans and their interesting feeding behavior: This flock of white pelicans treated me to a fascinating display of communal hunting. They swim in a tight bunch into a confined area along the shore. Seemingly on cue, they all tip at once to feed head down (showing their black undersides). A few seconds later they're back upright and casually swimming away from shore, ready for another round. It's easy to imagine why they engage in such social behavior. By swimming in a tight group in shallow water, they presumably herd fish ahead of them, into a confined space. Once there, if they tipped individually, fish could dodge them more easily. But when they all tip together, dodging one bill puts a fish right into another bill. Great if you're a pelican, less so if you're a fish! 20200216_3907 Once they've cut off escape routes for the fish, they all tip together to feed. I'd love to know what signal they use; they all tip simultaneously.20200216_3886After a quick feeding frenzy, they head back out to open water, where they'll repeat the cycle a few minutes later. 20200216_3917
    • Cynthia
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      Cynthia_Case
      My biggest issue is deleting.  Do I really need 57 photos of a Red-tailed Hawk in flight?  Probably not. By nature I’m very much a minimalist, but this doesn’t seem to apply to photography.  I need to learn to let go and delete—just keep the best shots, and when I improve on those, delete the older ones.  I do keep lousy photos just for bird I.D. Sadly, I have quite a few of those!  But those constitute my evidence that I’ve seen certain birds, especially the rare ones like the Masked Booby that was way out of range for my lens, but I took the shot anyway just to have it.  Who knows when I’ll ever see one of those birds again? In terms of editing, my problem is over cropping, and according to what Melissa taught us, I probably need to get a better camera with more pixel power. I’m salivating over the Nikon D850; my D7500 just isn’t cutting it anymore.  I use a 500mm f/5.6 lens for birding, and sometimes that doesn’t feel like enough, hence the desire to crop, but I just can’t carry around any more weight than that. Adding a teleconverter makes low light photos near impossible with this lens. So I need to save up.  This is an expensive hobby! I enjoy sharing on FB bird and nature groups, and I love to see what others are contributing.  I try to limit my sharing to one or two of my best shots of the day, maybe a few more if I’ve had a banner day or if a sequence of shots tells a compelling story. Nobody wants to look at 20 shots of a Snowy Egret.  At least I don’t think they do!  Sometimes I’ll share a bit of info about the bird, especially if it’s a rare one or one that has traveled far, and when sharing photos of fledglings, nests, etc. I do explain my process so folks will know I’ve respected the bird. So in keeping with my philosophy, I’ll share one photo that I took yesterday that I’m proud of: A Red-tailed Hawk in flight.  I’ve been trying and trying to get a decent shot, and I think this is the best so far.  It was close enough not to require much cropping. Yay! And I gave it a bit of room, thank you, Melissa, to fly.000AE559-F056-4D29-B9E5-A72D03BFB9EC
    • Marcia
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      CaroneMA
      Like I had said in  my last submission, I always am excited to go to Presque Isle State Park because, on any given day, you never know what bird you may see that is either a permanent resident, that came out of seclusion, or a bird passing through, that just stops to enjoy the beauty of Lake Erie. When I post my pictures, I usually post them to my Facebook Page and many of my friends respond by telling me how much they enjoy the pictures I post because it gives them the opportunity to see the birds from the park and be in touch with nature. One such day happened last week when I was riding around the park and came to an area known as Perry's Landing. At the Landing I saw a gaggle of geese, floating in the water and among this gaggle was a lone Mute Swan. The area where the Geese and Swan were has a foot path you can walk along to be near the water, but not too close, so as to disturb the birds in the water or near the shoreline. The Mute Swan is a beautiful bird and a very graceful bird of the water. As I watched this particular Swan, it had been dipping into the water fishing for food. At the point when I started to take my photographs, the Swan was smoothing it's feathers and settling in to relax as it floated along, in the water. To just watch the grace and calm mannerisms of the Swan creates a calm sensation in all who watch this peaceful scene. With the lighting of the day, the blue skies, and the deep blue water, the pictures required just a little editing to enhance the clarity of the photo. To be in the presence of the Mute Swan is to be in the presence of grace!   0M8A3978a0M8A4165a0M8A4209a
    • Marcia
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      CaroneMA
      When going birding in my area, the best place to go birding is Presque Isle State Park, at Lake Erie, in Erie, Pennsylvania. I especially love to bird at this time of the year because the summer season is beginning to slow down, the tourists leave, and the birds can reclaim their favorite spots. Three days after taking pictures of the Canada Goose, I went to the North Pier and found one of my favorite birds, the Great Blue Heron. The Heron love to hang around the Pier because they stay close to the fishermen on the Pier and sometimes are able to catch a goby from a fisherman, who throws it in the Heron's direction. The area along the Pier is filled with people enjoying a walk along the Pier or Fishing on the Pier, and the Heron are not intimidated by the people on the Pier. There are times when a human may get a little too close for comfort and the Heron will make a small adjustment and maneuver it's way into a more secluded area where it still has a vantage point, focused on the water or fishermen. On this day I was able to capture a picture of a Heron making just such an adjustment. A couple strolling along the Pier didn't notice the Heron until they came a little too close and the Heron moved to safer ground. I was able to get the photo of the Heron's moving into a new, safer area. When I went to edit the pictures, I was disappointed that the Heron was not facing me, but to my side. I was fascinated when I saw the flecks of water coming off the feet of the Heron, as it took flight. This bird is huge and again my editing challenge was to go easy in the cropping of the heron, to try and get the effect I wanted, showing the flecks of water coming off the legs and feet. It is fascinating to watch a Great Blue Heron as they take their position on the Pier, to fish with the other fishermen that come everyday to the Pier.   0M8A4304a0M8A4306a0M8A4308a
    • Marcia
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      CaroneMA
      When editing my photos, I use the editing software that came with my Canon cameras. I usually begin by cropping the photo, if cropping is necessary, then I take a look at the sharpness of the photo to see if I need to making adjustments there and finally I do an auto adjust of the photo. Sometimes I accept the auto adjust and other times I like to let the photo stand as is, as I remember the lighting and situation that caused me to take the photograph. I think, for me, my biggest challenge is that I crop too much of the photo, when I should let the photo show the environment around the bird. The first set of pictures I am submitting are of a Canada Goose taking flight from on the water. I can see that I should have given more room for the Goose to take flight in the picture, but I was fascinated with how the goose seemed to be walking on water and using the water to push off and take flight. I continue to practice capturing birds taking flight or in flight. The result of my photography is below in a series of shots that show the progression of the Canada Goose as it takes flight.   0M8A3919a0M8A3920a0M8A3923a
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      lindacunico
      My biggest challenge in the editing process had always been noise reduction; learning to keep ISO to a minimum and "expose to the right" always confused me!  (I always though what I saw through the lens was the correct exposure with only my eyes to judge; but what I discovered while editing was that my shadows and blacks were always blown out!!! And of course generated a lot of unnecessary noise.   So now I spot meter on the  lightest part of an image.I heavily depend on my histogram, along with my RGB histogram.  Important to read the red, green and blue histogram so you don't blow out those colors, especially in a sunset image or sunrise.   I look for "blinkies" too, to judge my image exposure. It taking me a lot of time and patience to learn a new editing program-LightRoom Classic & Photoshop.  I'm still trying to catalog my images  that are scattered into the correct folders and collections so that I can find them in a few strokes of my keyboard-someday! I am sharing an unusual behavior of Killdeer parents who use a "broken - wing display, also known as "injury feigning",  a predator response. Before displaying this fascinating dance,  First, he ran away from his young chick, who was hiding behind weeds, and began to make alarm calls.  I suppose it was the father Killdeer, because mama was with the chick.  (After they hatch, both parents lead them out of the nest to feeding territory.) _C3A1627._Killdeer__C3A1641_Killdeer-Dance_When the bird had the predator's attention, he turned his tail and displayed the threatening orange color of the rump.  He then crouched, drooped his wings, and lowered his tail.  With increasing intensity, the wings are held higher, & the tail fanned out.  Accordinging to Wikipedia, this is done to protect a chick that is likely to fledge, since sadly, about 53% of eggs are lost to predation by various birds and mammals. This image was taken at Gilbert Water Ranch in Phoenix, AZ.
    • Cynthia
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      CynthiaDI
      Ok everyone, I have a very basic question. I am in need of new electronics. Right now, I have an iPad mini and an old laptop and old desktop. I am thinking of replacing one of these to support my new photography habit. 😂 I have not used Lightroom, photoshop or any of the editing software yet as I have owned a “real” camera for only 4 months. (Nikon D500) and I’ve been focusing on learning the camera itself. Quite a steep learning curve. My question - what electronics does everyone use to edit their photos?  Do I need  to get a new desktop to do all the fancy editing? Can I just get a fancy tablet? IPad Pro? How about memory issues - GB’s? Any and all suggestions would be so welcome. Christmas is coming 🎄 Thanks in advance!
      • Cynthia
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        Cynthia_Case
        I had the same issue and replaced my ancient and very slow laptop with an IPad Pro that has 2 TB of storage.  The display is crystal clear; I can upload directly from the Nikon to Lightroom in seconds—a few minutes if I have hundreds of RAW files to upload.  It’s amazing. Lightroom Mobile might not have all the features of Classic, I’m not sure, but it feels like more than enough for my purposes.  Screen is 12.9” and if there’s a grainy photo, it’s quite obvious. Best display I’ve ever seen.   Good luck!
    • Mark
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      hallmarkf
      As I take my daily walks around my neighborhood lake, I've had the opportunity to get frequent glimpses into the life of an Osprey who, though apparently not nesting there, is at least a regular visitor. These images illustrate the events told here. Several of the techniques from the course were used in capturing, cropping, and editing the photos. The Osprey has two regular perches, one near either end of the lake. It generally uses the one nearer the stream that feeds the lake to look for and dive for fish.  After catching a fish, it goes to the other perch (closer to the dam) to devour it. One would think that a large raptor like an Osprey would be the proverbial big fish in a small pond in such a location and be able to do as it pleased. The Osprey does, however, face challenges at the lake.  For example, on one occasion, the Osprey had the awkward experience of swooping down, catching a fish, and heading to its dinner perch, only to find a Great Blue Heron sunning its wings there. This apparently caught the Osprey by surprise, causing it to pull up and drop its fish. The neighborhood American Crows (with, perhaps, assistance from the Fish Crows that also frequent the lake) create additional challenges for the Osprey.  On more than one occasion, I witnessed a Crow intercept the Osprey immediately after the Osprey had caught a fish and aggressively attempt, apparently, to take the fish away from the Osprey in mid-air. On numerous other occasions, the Osprey has been unable to fish or even sit in peace, as gangs of Crows (though perhaps not a sufficient number to consitute a Murder!) occupy other branches in the tree where the Osprey perches and harrass it mercilessly, often leading the Osprey to fly away, with squawking crows in pursuit.E0E4E1FE-0421-49DF-BF23-0920FBE430B98991A5BF-02E6-4BA6-B079-4E9AC96BF5FF82FC9A80-3B3C-4D9B-8529-C02F98D14FAA
    • Dika
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      dikang
      1. Deciding which software tools to use for editing my images, both RAW and jpeg. I use both a Canon 7D mark 2 and a Sony RX10 Mark 4 for my bird photography.  When shooting RAW which I do only about 1/2 the time I at first used the digital image processing tools provided by each camera maker.  I took the trouble to download and learn Sony's Imaging Edge desktop to view and manipulate the raw image (.ARW) and then export to Photoshop.  It seemed worthwhile to have 1 tool that worked for both cameras so I purchased the newest version of Adobe Photoshop Elements, which includes Camera Raw.  I don't think it is as powerful as the tools specific to each camera model, and it appears to be fairly similar to Lightroom. One of the problems I've encountered is in photographing white birds against water.  When shooting in manual mode with auto ISO the whites are often totally burned out, so I will use exposure compensation to underexpose by at least 1 full stop.  Then in photoshop I can select the offending bird (quick select) and use a brightness/contrast layer mask over just that area to bring in detail in that previously all white area.  I don't find any of the raw processing tools that allow you to select just one area of the image, and Photoshop is very good at that. 2. Organizing the images on my computer. As soon as I get home from a photo shoot I view all images by projecting to the TV screen, which allows me to cull at least 75% of them on the card.  I did not want to use Organizer to define a system of storage on my computer (which is a Dell laptop).  Since I generally bird in a few hotspots in this area I organize by folder for each location, with a folder within for the date (from camera), which I then break down by species.  I'm trying this method for now. 3. Sharing with the world I post to my Flickr account and also to Facebook, sometimes to the specialized birding groups within FB, but also to eBird.  I've had an account there for the last 3-4 years.  I get the regular rare  species alerts for our county from eBird, and occasionally one of the posts is my own. 4.  Telling a story In the past I've had a Wordpress blog for my travel also birding.  But I found very few people looked at them, so it was too time consuming for me. So here is my example of telling a story: I have been visiting the Andree Clark Bird Refuge here in Santa Barbara at 2-3 evenings a week.  Only a 10 minute drive from my house plus a 10 minute walk to the 3rd viewing platform where the bird activity in the evenings is often quite rewarding to photograph.  I especially like watching the several species of herons and egrets that make a home there. Last night I arrive at the bench around 7:15 PM to find a man with a couple of boisterous children already there.  At first I saw only a distant Brown Pelican and then the Snowy Egrets started to join the scene - at least twelve of them.  I was happy to see the people leave and have the bench to myself. I had my Sony with shutter speed set to 1/1000 and my aperture to F4, which is the largest aperture for when the lens is zoomed in past 24mm.  Suddenly I noticed a Black Skimmer fly in and beginning skimming.  The bird was much more distant than when I see them att the beach, but I got a few acceptable images at 600 mm lens position. Blsk! Up close I noticed a couple of Black Necked Stilts probing in the water much closer to me.  I especially liked the color of the water.  Unfortunately I did not capture the full reflection as I was zoomed in too far. BNS1 The Snowy Egrets became quite boisterous.  I have always been challenged when multiple birds are interacting, but I did capture these two and after correcting for burnt our white, and some cropping in Photoshop I got this playful image.    
    • Carole
      Participant
      Chirps: 39
      Carole Poustie
      One of the aspects of editing that I find the most challenging  and which I need to learn more about is cropping. Melissa's guide of not cropping more than 25 to 30% is a good guideline, but I still struggle a lot in this area. I try to follow the rule of threes in making cropping decisions and remembering to keep more room above the bird and in front of the bird for it to walk or fly into. But sometimes I have no idea if I have made a good cropping decision or wrecked the shot! 😩 Also I'm a bit in the dark about whether the cropping should also take into consideration standard sizings: 4x5, 8x11 etc. Any advice here appreciated! Here are three photos it would be good to get cropping feedback on. 1. Silver gulls  that I've left uncropped. 2. Juvenile hooded plover — okay as is or crop a bit more/less? 3. Nankeen(rufous) night heron — uncropped. Is the big block of tree to the right a problem? Does it distract or okay as is? Or should I try to cut some of it out and lose a bit of the heron? (It was tricky to photograph as the way it was positioned in the tree, ready to roost, there were so many branches in the way!) (These birds are Australian) Thanks!37610FCF-40BB-4609-A238-9B52D25E3A75E5F224B0-1405-4EB5-B778-6EC1A8C6AE822892BC88-0FCB-4C82-909F-86D49502631C
    • Krispen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Krispenhartung
      These aren't the best of my shots, but capturing the experience was well worth the tradeoff.  I recently visited a local birding location favorite, a small lake with walking paths through and around it.  This time I decided to setup my tripod and looking for something interesting on the lake as the sun was setting behind me.  Aside from the usual suspects (mallards, geese, coots, etc), I was tracking and taking shots of a single Pied-Bille Grebe.  30 minutes later a pair showed up and started this interesting ritual. They were both about 16 inches apart from each other and sitting higher up in the water than their normal stealth diving mode.  For about 10 minutes, each bird rotated around and around in the water, as if they were both scanning the area to create a panoramic view of their surroundings.  As they were doing this, randomly they would align, facing each other, away from each other, looking the same direction, etc. I captured shots of this, and then after this activity, they turned to each other.  The grebe on the right opened its beak wide directly at the other with a call a few times (I captured this as well).  I assume this is part of their mating ritual. Then, that original single grebe decided he might join the fun and approached the pair after which one of the grebes chased him off.  It was super interesting and entertaining to watch!   I used Adobe Light Room to edit this set, using some of the principles discussed by Melissa. In particular, I like her suggest to back off on saturation and use vibrance, as it tends to be more subtle.  I also reduced some of the shadowing slightly, as it masked some of the finer details.  Other than this, one of my biggest challenges is the editing process is knowing when to stop and be satisfied with the output.  I will often experiment and like all of the various outputs, and so it is hard to decide which to go with.  As a new photographer, I am also starting to pickup on the various editing styles of other photographers.  Some really amp up the sharpening and enhance the vivacity of the colors in their shots to the point that the shots look almost surreal (I would consider this a more "augmentative" editing approach). Others are more moderate or conservative on sharpening or just let the original take speak for itself (the "realist" approach), or use noise reduction to create a softer look...but too much of this, I discovered, can make your shots look like oil paintings!   00001317-sharpen-stabilize00001313-sharpen-stabilize 00001329-sharpen-stabilize
      • Carole
        Participant
        Chirps: 39
        Carole Poustie
        Oh wow, Krispen, what great shots and so interesting to hear that story! Would have been so fascinating and so much fun to watch. I'm very much new at Lightroom and what you say about knowing when to stop or which version looks best is really tricky! But to my eyes these look really natural. I'm so enjoying seeing such variety of birds on this forum — from around the world!
    • Lucy
      Participant
      Chirps: 24
      Laspade
      One of my biggest challenges is knowing all of the functions of Photoshop and how to edit so that I do not make the photos look over processed. For me I almost always try to take pictures of animals on a natural object (Personal preference). There are times when a man made object will add to the story of the photo. I mostly share my photos on FB in a couple of birding groups for Texas birders. For years I have put my photos in files by bird type and if I go to a ranch I make  a separate folder for the trip and the have sub folders within. I have the photos on my computer and on a back-up drive. At least once a year I will make the time to go through my photos and weed out the older ones and keep the ones I like the best.
      • Carole
        Participant
        Chirps: 39
        Carole Poustie
        Yes — so much to learn to really get the most out of Photoshop. I've opted for Lightroom until I can feel more confident about what I'm doing then venture back over to Photoshop for what Lightroom can't do. I wish I had a personal tutor who could sit beside me and edit my photos with me until I get the hang of certain functions! I'm learning so much about the settings on my camera, too, that the whole learning curve is pretty steep! I'm gradually working through my photos, labelling them, and figuring out how I want to store them. That's another whole task in itself and very time-consuming! But SO important! I like your idea of filing by bird type Lucy.
    • Richard
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      rpesce1
      How to segregate the photos e.g., birds feeding, hunting, nesting, flying, courting was an issue until remembered the collections function in Lightroom. Sorting and curating is now much, much quicker.
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