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Stepping Into the Digital Darkroom: The Tuesday Evening Break

March 31, 2015
Northern Cardinal (Female)

© jmillerphoto.com – Northern Cardinal (Female)

Tonight I’m waiting for my under performing (and probably soon-to-be former) mobile phone provider to call me to try to get to the bottom of my poor reception and call quality issues at my abode.  And I can’t think of any better way to spend this time than to step into the Digital Darkroom and talk about an image I worked late last weekend.

This lady Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) sat somewhat patiently for about ten frames last Saturday while I sat in the bird blind.  Three of the ten were images of good enough quality to work further based on her pose.  I chose this one because I thought it had the most crisp feathers.

The overriding problem with the image is that my gear was far too meager to get her close enough for a full-frame image.   The settings in the camera were ISO 200, 1/400 sec at f/8 with the Standard Gear.  In the original shots the eye is about dead center in the frame–I needed a good focus point and the eye was it.  In Lightroom I did some judicious cropping, removing both empty space and stray branches that detracted from the image. Now her eye is sitting a little closer to intersecting lines based on the Rule of Thirds.

I also nudged the color temperature up a hair as my 60D always seems to represent things a little cooler than I saw them in the field.  Normally I’d have to do some noise reduction, but at ISO 200 there was very little noise to be found in the blank background.

From there it went to Photoshop where I really didn’t do much with it.  A little bit of shadow and mid-tone adjustment, a drop or two of vibrance and saturation, and it was ready to go.  Image #280 in the ever expanding portfolio.  But there sure are a lot of Cardinals in that portfolio right now.  Guess that could be the fodder for another blog post…

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