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View Full Version : Think Fast: Exposure Quiz!



Arthur Morris
05-20-2008, 05:37 PM
You are at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm with a 70-200mm lens in your hands. Your camera is (as it should be) set at zero exposure compensation. A woman screams. A gator--in full sun--has just grabbed an adult Cattle Egret. Let us know what camera you are using and how you would compensate. Remember, if you hesitate, you miss the image as the creature is headed for the water to keep others of his ilk from grabbing its meal. (See item two below...)

Arthur Morris
05-20-2008, 05:45 PM
Three seconds later, the gator is in the shadow of the boardwalk. Do you change your compensation or leave it. Remember, all of the action is over in five seconds. Only those with a thorough understanding of exposure theory have a chance in situations like this. Every once in a while you will find that you simply do not have time to make an image an check the histogram. I will comment on the answers on Thursday evening. Note: the answers will be different for different camera bodies... Please be sure to answer both parts of the question.

BTW, those who insist that manual mode is best at all times would be hard pressed at best to keep pace in the two situations out-lined above...

ps: Do let me know what you think of the images.

Robert O'Toole
05-20-2008, 06:04 PM
Awesome images Artie. the second would be - a lot since the meter sees all the darks, o would give you roasted whites.

How do you manage to get these each and every year!!! Amazing, good work Artie!!!

Robert

Robert O'Toole
05-20-2008, 06:21 PM
Hey Robert,

What if your camera is set to Manual?? The meter does not count! :)

I use the meter to set the exposure in Manual, I just glance over when I set the manual exposure.

On Nikon you have to be careful, the Exposure Comp still works in Manual!! If you have it set in Manual -3 according to the meter and you dial in +3 in Exp Comp you get the equivelent of shooting at 0 on the meter or metered at 0 in manual.

Robert

Robert O'Toole
05-20-2008, 06:26 PM
Artie I just realized a point in regards to the first image in full sun. A canon meter at zero comp would give you a good histogram in the first image, although I would be -1/3 probably, but only for Canon. A Nikon meter would lose all the whites at zero in the full sun, -1 would be safe guess without the time to check the histogram.

Robert

Jim Poor
05-20-2008, 06:27 PM
#1 I'm going -1 (D3) and metering off the brownish top of the CE's head. If the whites are a little hot, so be it, that's not where the action is.

#2 Assuming my buffer isn't full ;) back to zero, but in the heat of the moment, I probably wouldn't think about it or have time.

Now, for the dose of reality. In full Florida sun with white birds around, I would probably be at -.5 to -1 anyway unless I just happened to be looking into some deep shade.

Arthur Morris
05-20-2008, 06:28 PM
So far our two experts above are somewhat avoiding the questions:

1-What camera are you using?
2-How would you compensate with gator in the sun?
3-How would you compensate with the gator in the shade?

Only #1 is easy...

My point about working in manual mode is that it would be much more difficult to get to the correct exposure in #2 and #3 while in manual mode. Working in Av Mode as I often do (especially when unexpected action may occur or when the backgrounds are relatively consistent) I was able to dial in the EXP COMP for #1 and then change it instantly in #3,

Let's hear from more of you nature photographers out there. And lets have definitive answers from Maxis and ROT. <smile>

Freddy Franzella
05-20-2008, 06:40 PM
If I was standing there and saw this the last thing on my mind would not be the exposure but getting the **** out of there!! i must say though that is a fantastic capture!

Robert O'Toole
05-20-2008, 07:08 PM
So far our two experts above are somewhat avoiding the questions:

1-What camera are you using?

I am not avoiding the question Artie I just thought a general answer was better. A good expoure for my cameras will probably not be the right exposure for others so I used a general comp number. Even when we had the same cameras we needed different comp for the same histogram with the same camera.

2-How would you compensate with gator in the sun?

Okay okay, Zero comp on an average camera with that image but I would use -1/3 for a Canon pro body.

3-How would you compensate with the gator in the shade?

For a Canon pro body -2/3 comp or more. Zero or plus would toast the whites as the BG is almost black, the meter would attempt to make the darks a gray tone.

Robert

Dean Ingwersen
05-20-2008, 07:10 PM
Okay, I'll bite (pun intended):

#1 - I use a Canon 20D
#2 - for the first image I'd dial to -2/3, due to the white bird in a largely dark image
#3 - I'd go back to 0, again due to the white bird (if no white bird may have dialled in +1/3).

I think they'd go close (could be very wrong!)...but the images would be blurry due to my shaking hands!!

P.S. Awesome images and questions Artie. Can't wait to see what you dialled in.

Daniel Cadieux
05-20-2008, 07:29 PM
OK, here is what my instinct tells me, my settings would be similar to Dean's:

1. Canon 40D (no instinct needed for that one!!)
2. -2/3 for the egret and the surrounding dirt looks like it was rather bright (compared to the alligator)
3. Most likely back to 0. The water's surface looks like it is ever so slightly brighter than the alligator - and must have looked closer to neutral gray before the splashing.
Viva RAW!! :-)

Brian Wong
05-20-2008, 08:57 PM
Hi Artie!

This is tough!!!

1. Canon 40D
2. Thinking in manual exposure and starting from a 0 neutral setting, I would probably click less light -2/3 ~ -1 to prevent blowing out the white Egret..
3. I am guessing the water was near-by and hence subject was still in the same light ... just the water background was dark. I would probably leave the same setting as #2 above, again to prevent blowing out the white Egret. If in the same light, the gator should maintain the same exposure.

Great quiz ... very curious and really interested to see all the response, and eager to learn more on this subject!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
:)Edit May 22:)

I realize I failed this quiz, and accept my defeat ... at multiple levels:

1. Failed to read the quiz carefully (that answer is in AV mode)
2. That the gator moved to a shady area (light was NOT the same)
3. I didn't think or act quickly (as I had 2 days :) to think about this!!)

But just to finish the thought process of what I started above in manual mode (forces me to think & learn from mistakes), if the gator moved quickly into the shade (and I was still in manual mode from taking the 1st image) ... then I would have to think similar to a situation where the light changed (as if the sun went behind the clouds).

So for the 2nd image, I would have to quickly dial the opposite direction ... to let in more light. But again failing the quiz, because by now, I have lost my neutral position, and therefore just guessing at the number of clicks for the correct exposure!:(

I am anxious to learn the answer, and to also practice a new technique!!!
Really great stuff Artie!:D

Brian Wong
05-20-2008, 09:02 PM
Also forgot to add, great action with the gator capturing the Egret at the height of moment. Also very nice head position, and nice diagonal coming into the frame. 2nd image very powerful with the splashing water.

Ed Cordes
05-20-2008, 09:57 PM
OK I'll jump in - but not with the gator!!!

Camera 1D Mark 2

Image 1 I would do -1/3 as the gator and the ground will be brightened by the meter but not too much as it is mostly just a bit darker than neutral - except for the gator's head

Image 2 I would try to think clearly enough to do - 2/3 as the gator and water are rather dark so I would try to avoid blowing the whites.

Problem is that I don't think I could react fast enough in real life.

This exercise is fun.

Roman Kurywczak
05-20-2008, 10:08 PM
Hey Artie,
This is a very interesting question...........although quite unfair! I do understand your point by asking this question................but if i posed the same question to you......as an AV shooter.......................and the BG and lighting were changing..............would you still shoot AV??? As an all the time manual shooter...........I always check my exposure readings in the shadows on white subject and black subjects................note the difference.............and check the same in the light...........B4 I even took my first shot...............so when this happens.........i know how many clicks to turn the dial!!!..........I don't even think about it any more I just turn the dial between the differnece of the 2. Lets see if you can do that in AV! Proper preparation B4 shooting is the key!..........and I'm always checking! If you want to leave something to chance........go play the lottery!

Phil Seu
05-20-2008, 11:34 PM
i am sure i would have just pointed and fired away but in theory:

nikon d300, -0.67 for first scene; +.03 for second

phil seu

Doug West
05-21-2008, 12:40 AM
For pic #1...

1. Canon EOS 1D Mark II, Because its in full sun, I would just follow Artie's rule that the metering system
is smart in the sun and leave it at 0.

For pic #2...same camera, but with it being in the shadows, at least +1 on the comp.

Doug

Harold Davis
05-21-2008, 04:54 AM
D300, first one -2/3 and for the second +2/3.

Arthur Morris
05-21-2008, 05:15 AM
Great to see folks being brave. Many are on the right track. My answers and a funny story on Thursday at 8pm.

Arthur Morris
05-21-2008, 05:31 AM
Dear Mr. Curry-Check,

re:

This is a very interesting question...........although quite unfair!

Why unfair? It was a real life situation that I had to deal with and did...

I do understand your point by asking this question................but if i posed the same question to you......as an AV shooter.......................and the BG and lighting were changing..............would you still shoot AV???

Those who read the Bulletins and or ABP II know that I advise and urge folks to learn to use manual mode when the backgrounds are changing and the subject is in the same light. My point is that if you were in manual mode when this happened you might have gotten the first one right--assuming that you were set for "sun" and that you knew exactly what you were doing, but that you would have had no chance of getting the second one right.

As an all the time manual shooter...........I always check my exposure readings in the shadows on white subject and black subjects................note the difference.............and check the same in the light...........B4 I even took my first shot...............so when this happens.........i know how many clicks to turn the dial!!!....

Not that I am buying that at all, but in this case, you would not have a chance to turn as many clicks as you would have needed. Period. And that is why I almost always set Av Mode when I am simply walking around.

......I don't even think about it any more I just turn the dial between the differnece of the 2. Lets see if you can do that in AV!

Roman, this is not a contest. It is a matter of teaching folks how to get the image in a rapidly changing situation. If you understand exposure theory and are working in Av mode you can get this right in about one second. In this situation you simply cannot do that if you are working in manual mode no matter how much B4 preparation you have done.

Proper preparation B4 shooting is the key!..........and I'm always checking! If you want to leave something to chance........go play the lottery.

Again, if you are working in Av mode and you understand exposure theory (and many folks above are quite close) there is no need to be lucky (so I am really not getting your point about the lottery).

Respectfully posted.

Philippe Collard
05-21-2008, 08:14 AM
That's a tough one Artie. Especially that I do not excel at nailing the exposure yet - yes I have all your books and I read the chapters but I have a bad bad memory :D

Anyways I am jumping in :
#1. I use a 20D or a 1D MKII in AV mode and evaluative.
#2. First scene with the 20D I would dial -2/3 because this camera - mine does - always tends to overexpose. If I were with the MKII this camera seems to handle things better - I just got it so I have little experience with it - I would leave it to zero.
#3. Second scene as it is darker overall and in the shade I would go -1 with the 20D and -1/3 or -1/2 with the MKII.

Anxiously waiting for your explanations now!

As for the comments well these images depict the brutality of wildlife. :D I feel sorry for the bird but a gator's got to eat as well. To me the more interesting is the second one, I like the ray of light highlighting the teeth of the beast. They work well as a serie though.

Best,

Philippe.

Blake Shadle
05-21-2008, 08:30 AM
I'll play along.

#1: D300
#2: -1
#3: -1

Robert's right about the Nikon system having trouble holding white detail. In full sun light, I would make the first image at -1 EC. The majority of the scene in the second image is about one full stop darker than a medium tone... requiring us to compensate one full stop for the camera's error.

Roman Kurywczak
05-21-2008, 08:32 AM
[quote=Arthur Morris;85516]Dear Mr. Curry-Check,

you would not have a chance to turn as many clicks as you would have needed. Period.

Hi Artie,
I see you remembered the pronunciation :D

Mark 3............from #1 to #2.......5 to 6 clicks left (CCW......1/3 stop increments)..........if shade wasn't that dense........up to 9....for 3 full stops.....if shade was extremely dark.......for which I pre-check.

Will be interesting to see the answer!

Francis Bossť
05-21-2008, 08:50 AM
Artie,

Nice quiz! I will try it even if a look stupid! :p

1-What camera are you using?

Canon 1D MK III

2-How would you compensate with gator in the sun?

I will leave it at EV 0. I think there enough mid-tone (18% grey) in this scene for the MK II to nail the exposition...

3-How would you compensate with the gator in the shade?

I will dial something like EV -1, because the scene is really dark and the MK III will try to bring some mid-tone (18% grey again) in the picture

But ooking at your picture, it's somehow easy to say I will do that or do this but in real life I'm not sure I had enough reflex to change any setting from what from what a was setup... :D

Thanks,

c.w. moynihan
05-21-2008, 09:50 AM
The EC adjustment will depend on the metering pattern in use at the given moment. Are you metering all of the scene, partially or spot....then a compensation decision can be made.

Blake Shadle
05-21-2008, 09:53 AM
The EC adjustment will depend on the metering pattern in use at the given moment. Are you metering all of the scene, partially or spot....then a compensation decision can be made.

I'm pretty sure an Evaluative, or Matrix meter is assumed.

c.w. moynihan
05-21-2008, 11:38 AM
I'm pretty sure an Evaluative, or Matrix meter is assumed.

Canon user, -1 1/3 EC for both shots based on the majority of the scene being dark. Since the meter want's to turn the water and or gator 18% gray, the increased exposure will blow the whites, hence a significant exp. reduction is needed.

David Roach
05-21-2008, 01:15 PM
OK, my camera is back in the shop (3rd time for the same problem Grrrrr) so I might as well play along. Since I learned everything I know from experience and Artie's materials, I would have been in Av mode with compensation at 0 (evaluative metering) with my 1DMKIIN;
for image in the sun -2/3
for image in shade -1/3
I do know one thing; that histogram is a huge crutch that becomes useless in split second situations!!! Having never been one, I really admire the pros who worked with film for this very reason. Oh, to know exposure theory so well that it is automatic!!!!! Can't wait to hear the answer.....

Mike Lentz
05-21-2008, 01:27 PM
Good thread!
D200 user: Somewhere in the vacinity of:
~ First image - 1 1/3 EV
~ Second image + 1 1/3 EV

Thats my entry capitan!

Fabs Forns
05-21-2008, 01:31 PM
Great quiz, Maestro, I will claim the fifth, but would use the Nikon D3 with a minus comp for the first and pretty much even or little plus for the second.

This is a fantastic idea, getting members to use the little gray cells, as Agatha Christie would say :)
Important to know the difference in compensation according to the camera. Nikon tends to be more sensitive to whites and there's also a small diff between Canon's pro-sumer and pro bodies. I also believe that is true for Nikon, woning both models.

Looking forward to the revelation!

susanschermer
05-21-2008, 01:31 PM
Shooting with the 40D or the 1DMarkIII on Av with evaluative metering:
#1 -2/3 to save whites
#2 no change, meter would adjust for lower light conditions and the -2/3 still holds true.

Kevin Leclaire
05-21-2008, 06:11 PM
This BPN Newbie will offer a different perspective. I do not naturally "think" in A/Av mode (or manual mode, unless using flash indoors). As I spend a lot of my time photographing fast moving Ultimate frisbee competition, I have a Shutter-priority mindset (whether it's wise or not). When capturing Ultimate, I want to freeze the motion most of the time, and that requires a shutter speed of 400-640 to get good results and I'll let the F-stop float as high as possible because often the action & expressions of other players and spectators are priceless. If I'm at risk of underexposing, I have my camera set to automatically raise the ISO up to a ceiling of 800.

By reflex I've taken this mindset with me to wildlife photography, and this message thread has given me cause to question that mindset (and is an excellent education process, btw), however, to answer the question given that preface:
1) D300
2) Try to focus/meter on the bird, i.e. +0EV (I use center wtd auto metering) and spin the shutter speed up to at least 1/400 if not already there (probably would be due to the abundant sunlight)
3) As the gator enters the shadows, if I'm over 1/400, I'd spin back down to 1/400 by reflex as my minimum for action (would love to get it higher to freeze the splash, but would probably freeze myself when it came to any other exposure adjustment

Then of course I'd be glad I as shooting raw and try to recover in PP. Looking forward to the answers!

-Kevin
www.ultiphotos.com (http://www.ultiphotos.com)

Milo Burcham
05-21-2008, 06:23 PM
Great action by the way, Artie. love the fish in the frame of the second image. I use a 5D and am not sure how it differs from other bodies but I think I would dial in at least -1, maybe closer to -2 for the first shot (I'll choose - 1 2/3) as the whites make up a small portion of the frame and the majority of the frame is dark tones. As for the second frame, in shade it would be normal to dial in +2/3 or so but because of the whites, take a stop off that for -1/3 (or so!). I am wondering if you blew out the whites a little on the second shot as they seem a little grayish to me, as if you used the highlight tool on them. Regardless of my guesses, must have been cool to witness

Arthur Morris
05-21-2008, 07:14 PM
Milo, what fish??????????????

Dave Phillips
05-21-2008, 07:27 PM
I thought I saw a fish too:

Milo Burcham
05-21-2008, 07:45 PM
That's a fish for sure!

Arthur Morris
05-21-2008, 07:57 PM
Looks like a splash or some crud to me. When I go back, I will ask the gator!

ps: The next frame in the sequence shows it to be a splash...

Brian Kersey
05-21-2008, 08:17 PM
Shooting with a 1D2

-1/3 on the 1st
and zero for the second

Paul Pagano
05-21-2008, 08:20 PM
With my 40D I would have shot at -2/3 on the first shot and moved to +1/3 on the second. My 30D would be similar but probably -1/3 on the first and 0 and the second as it seems to be a bit 'brighter' than my 40D. Not sure if I am right but that's what I would have dialed on the fly. I usually always shoot in Av when birding. For me, manual is for landscapes when I have time to think through. (or sometime high key if 2 steps isn't enough) As I get more experience I suppose that may change.

Great idea, Artie and thanks for making me think. You have to think out there if you want really nice stuff.

Ian McHenry
05-21-2008, 11:12 PM
With Pentax K10D I'd take 1. Without any EV compensation as the alligator is most important even if egret is a bit overblown.
2. Add built in fill flash with usual minus one flash setting so no adjustments required.

Robert D. Gregg
05-22-2008, 12:23 AM
40d
+0
+2/3
---

Bryan Erb
05-22-2008, 10:45 AM
1. 1DmkIIn
2. -1/3
3. -2/3 to -1

Milo Burcham
05-22-2008, 12:18 PM
OK, I can see that what looked like the tail of the fish to me is a splash. The rest looks like some object in the water

Arthur Morris
05-22-2008, 08:30 PM
Sorry to be a bit late with the answer. The woman screamed. I saw that the gator had a white bird in its maw in the bright sun. As I moved to sun angle I dialed in -1 stop. Why? The gator, in the middle of the frame and the metering pattern, was very dark and the dirt was pretty dark too. The 40D needs less light to yield the same histogram as the MIII so I instinctively put in some extra minus. In the first two frames of the four or five in the sequence in the sun were made at 1/4000 sec (all at f/5.6). In those the histogram was dead solid perfect. There was no room to the right. In the next three frames more of the dark gator filled the frame so you would expect and the exposure dropped to 1/3200 at f.5.6. One would expect that the whites would have been burned but instead, there was a bit more room on the highlight end of the histogram. Why? I think because of the angle of the sun. Even though the gator was in the sun the angle of the sun was reduced as it got closer to me and thus there was effectively less light on the scene. So far so good.

Now the animal slips into the dark shadow of the boardwalk. I change the -1 stop to -1/3 stop. Why? Not as much need to save the whites with the Cattle Egret now in the shade... There were about 20 burned pixels on the Cattle Egret that went away when I underexposed .2 stops during the BreezeBrowser conversion. Minus .1 probably would have been fine.

To my mind, I had nailed both exposures and this was confirmed by both the histogram and the very few flashing highlights in the shadow images. I showed the photos to a guy and to the woman who had screamed. I explained my exposure choices to them. I saw the guy the next day and he confided in me that when I had walked away the woman had said to him, "What the **** does he know?" I thought that that was pretty damned funny.

So my answers would be: 40D, -1, and -1/3. Had I had a MIII in my hand, they would have been: MIII, -2/3, zero.

If I had had a D-300, it would have been D-300, -1 1/3, and -2/3 (though I have never made an image with this camera I am a good listener...)

If you used less light for the images in the shade than for the images in the sun, you lose 20 points. The same goes if you added light at any time. If you kept the same exposure, subtract 10 points. Lots of folks did pretty well and got the concept that they needed to subtract more light in the sun. And for Mr. Curry-check, the exposure for the shadowed images was 1/200 sec. at f.5.6. That's four full stops (4 1/3 from the first images) lighter than in the sun. So either 12 or 13 clicks would have been needed. Sorry Charlie; no time for that!

The good news is that the original ABP will eventually be reprinted in China though we have run into a dozen delaying problems; it contains the finest treatment of exposure theory on the planet.

Additional questions or comments welcome.

ps: to Christian: yes, as Blake said, Evaluative metering. And anyone using spot-metering in this situation would be worse off than the manual exposure folks, AND, I would bet anything that anyone using a spot or an incident meter could not figure the right exposures in these two situations even if they had an hour to get it right!

Blake Shadle
05-22-2008, 11:02 PM
Well I'm just glad I was only .33 off ;) I said -1, and -1 for my D300... I can live with that.

Arthur Morris
05-23-2008, 06:48 AM
So, if I was photographing another WHITE bird in the same light AS image ONE, would you still go to -1??

(BTW, "if I were..." is correct.)

That is not at all accurate. It would depend on the tonality of the background and the size and position of the white bird in the frame. And you have forgotten that there was a big black gator head in the middle of the image... If you photographed a bright white bird in the same light, however, you would likely be fine with by setting either 1/4000 or 1/3200 sec. at f/5.6 manually.

As I said, those who wish to learn exposure theory need to go back to the original "The Art of Bird Photography: and study the great chapter on exposure. Otherwise, they are doomed to fail when an amazxing situation with a challenging exposure takes place right in front of them. BTW, you are in good company; several very talented photographers flunked the quiz.

James Shadle
05-29-2008, 08:04 PM
"If I had had a D-300, it would have been D-300, -1 1/3, and -2/3"
Right on!

D300 user.
James

Charles Glatzer
11-02-2008, 08:42 PM
Hey Robert,

What if your camera is set to Manual?? The meter does not count! :)

Of course the in-camera meter counts, providing reference for exposure... unless you are using a reference value like sunny f/16 or hand-held incident meter. Manual mode simply means you have to dial in both parameters yourself.

Chas

Charles Glatzer
11-02-2008, 09:24 PM
Iíll play.

First off I would already have the camera set in Manual Mode to a sunny f/16 equivalent exposure (no meter necessary). In FL the sun is a bit more intense (closer to the equator) as it is at higher altitude (thinner atmosphere) so 1/1000 @ f/8, ISO 200. I can quickly alter the exposure for black or white subjects from the baseline. And, I typically have the camera set to Spot Meter Pattern. Being pro-active and complusive, I already know the comp necessary to render white bird correctly (plus 2 EV). The comp should be the same for the white bird in the sun or shade assuming there is no specular highlight or shadow influencing the metering pattern. I am simply placing the tonal value where it belongs on the histogram.

It takes me just as much time to dial in comp in Av, as it does to alter one of the parameters in Manual Mode with Spot Meter Pattern.


As mentioned, I agree ... at times it is best to play the odds Av with Eval. And, this scenario may well be a Hail Mary! I do know in Eval I could only initially guess at the correct comp, with the tonal values and sizes relative to the frame varying within each image. Honestly, I have a bigger problem with Eval, than I do with Av.

It is important to note their are Metering Modes and Metering Patterns, and understanding the difference is key in determining proper exposure as it relates to subject size and tonal value relative to the background. If the above statement is confusing to you, I highly recommend you take a class from someone with a firm grasp of the fundamentals. Mastering the fundamentals allows the photographer to concentrate on image aesthetics and creativity, expanding ones visual horizons.

Best,

Chas

David Thomasson
06-20-2009, 08:49 PM
Very interesting. Next comes Part 2: After you've made a fast and smart decision about exposure, as Art did, what do you do with the image when you get home?

As shot:

http://img44.imageshack.us/img44/1496/gator1.jpg

I would 1) set white point to get the most out of the whites and ensure that they're white. 2) Apply S/H to the gator to bring out shadow details. 3) Apply a curves adjustment layer to the gator to enhance contrast.

http://img26.imageshack.us/img26/6669/gator2.jpg

David Smith
06-22-2009, 03:47 PM
David:

Personally, I like the "as shot" image better than the second post. In the second post, the back of the gator look like it is overexposed to me and does not have the detail that the "as shot" does. And the white wings of the Cattle Egret look burned out in the second image compared to the "as shot"

JMHO

Dave

David Thomasson
06-23-2009, 08:01 AM
David:

Personally, I like the "as shot" image better than the second post. In the second post, the back of the gator look like it is overexposed to me and does not have the detail that the "as shot" does. And the white wings of the Cattle Egret look burned out in the second image compared to the "as shot"

JMHO

Dave

With white feathers in direct sunlight, these flat spots at the top of the histogram indicate that the image is underexposed. The whites in the edited version aren't burned out, but that's just a technical point. We like what we like, and I can't dispute your personal preferences.

http://img134.imageshack.us/img134/7939/histo.jpg