View Full Version : Processing raw images exercise for September 2012: Birds with complex background

Roger Clark
09-21-2012, 11:16 AM
I'll be starting up the monthly exercises again. It was not my intent to stop over the summer, but work got the best of me. I travelled about 80,000 miles in the last four months, more than I usually do in a year (it did include one 2-week pleasure trip to Tanzania). I think I am now back to my normal schedule, so should be able to keep up again.

This month's raw image comes from Vikram Agrawal. What would you do with this image assuming it was your only image of these birds and wanted to salvage it?
The raw image can be downloaded from:

So show us your best on what you can do with this image. As with all images, BPN guidelines apply, so you will need to process the image and create a jpeg not more than 1024 pixel wide to show your work. The photographer retains all rights, so this exercise is only for posting on BPN unless you get written permission from the photographer for other uses. All posted examples need an explanation of what you did. The more detail you can give, the better, as it can help others understand better the processing steps. Examples are in the other raw processing threads (to which you may still contribute).


Tom Graham
09-25-2012, 12:30 AM
I like photo because of perspective with tree back ground, the birds are in good relative positions, wing position, view at 3/4 front, and nice sun light.
What struck me first was the immediacy of the birds. They seem below tree top level, close, just overhead. So trying to emphasis this perspective I cropped in a lot.
Cropping the top bird's wing even more does not bother me because if they were close overhead, they would more than fill your field of vision.
So -
Cropped to taste, the aspect ratio is 4x5
Being in the sun it needs more color and pop. So ran a Velvia action, strength to taste. (Velvia is a Fujifilm chrome film).
A bit of Shadow&Highlight to keep some detail in the black(?) feathers.
Noise Ninja on the background only.
Sharpen and remove small halo around wings due to sharpening.



Jerry van Dijk
01-23-2013, 09:57 AM
A little late to the party, but I wanted to give it a go anyway. I tried two approaches, both of which I've seen people use in this forum, but never tried myself. I'll post the second one in a separate reply.
To start with the in my view best, but certainly not satisfactory approach, I processed the raw image first to optimize the looks of the lower bird in ACR. Second, I processed a copy of the DNG file for the sky in the LR corner. I opened both versions in PS, using the clone stamp to create a nice free area in the image processed for the sky. Then I selected the bird in the first image, using the quick selection tool, adding the fine details (feather tips) later with the magic wand tool set at very low tolerance and refining the edge only using the smooth option. I copied the bird and pasted it in the LR corner of the "sky" image. After that I cropped for composition.
My self critique is that you can still see quite well that the bird was copied in, because my selection wasn't flawless.

Jerry van Dijk
01-23-2013, 10:02 AM
In the second approach, I tried to retain the BG but make it less conspicuous by blurring it. I made a separate layer, selected the bird and cleared the BG. ON the original layer, I refined the edge of the selection, shifting the edge inward and creating a lot of feathering. I then applied a quite heavy gaussian blur (9 pixels) to the BG image.
I'm absolutly not happy with the result, because there is still a clear darkened halo around the bird. I post it anyway, to hopefully get some advice on how to avoid this.

John Chardine
01-24-2013, 10:01 PM
I think you a super job with this Jerry. I must say I couldn't see the birds for the trees in the original but you saw the potential. I like the one with the plain BG the best. That's a really superb masking job that shows no signs of the bird looking like a "cutout".

Jerry van Dijk
01-25-2013, 02:09 AM
Thanks John! I had some trouble masking at the "fingers" of the wing, which is a bit of a giveaway for the bird being cut out.