2019-08-31: Birds – Shades of Blue

Travelling through southern Africa, pretty much any time of year, will provide the opportunity to see a great variety of birds.  Today I chose to focus on ones with feathers in shades of blue.  I hope you enjoy the variety of images today, and wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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A lilac breasted roller
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A burchell’s starling
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A white-bellied sunbird
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A pair of cape glossy starlings
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A green wood-hoopoe
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A cape glossy starling
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A wire-tailed swallow
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A double-collared sunbird
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A lilac breasted roller

2019-04-07: Birds

A random selection of bird images this week!

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Oftentimes, spotting a congregation of vultures like this, and heading to where they are circling yields an interesting discovery… but in this case, they were all just hovering over a bare patch of desert beyond this bush.
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A group of wattled cranes seen in Botswana.
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A little bee-eater ruffling its feathers.
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Try as I might, I am unable to identify these raptors.  They were spotted on a game drive in Botswana from the Leroo La Tau camp.
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A red-billed quelea flock at sunset.
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Red-billed quelea leaving a roosting spot.  That small tree was absolutely vibrating with energy while they were there.
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An African harrier hawk taking some grief from a pigeon.
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My personal favourite, the lilac breasted roller.
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A Meyer’s parrot spotted in Botswana.  This was the first wild parrot I’d ever seen.
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A Meyer’s parrot.

2018-10-28: Birds

As mentioned last week, I decided to go with bird images for my last round of editing images with On1 Photo Raw, Topaz Studio and Luminar, seeing how the results compare with the different software choices.  I thought bird images would be a great choice because there are lots of fine details in feathers that need to be enhanced, and often things like distracting backgrounds that need to be minimized.

In very broad strokes, I’ve come to realize editing an original image in Topaz Studio that requires colour correction is not something I enjoy doing, and not something I will try to do moving forward (until they provide some updates to that portion of the interface).  I don’t find that the colour temperature slider works well enough to deal with complicated colour scenarios, and I can get much better results using On1 Photo Raw, or even Luminar.

The first images I picked are of a purple roller that I spotted on the banks of the Boteti River in Botswana.  I decided to edit original images in each program, rather than correcting colour first in On1 Photo Raw and editing the resultant images.  For a series of images, it’s obviously not a good strategy, but I really wanted to see the different colour rendering and how well I could adjust the images.  The results are mixed.

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First up is an image from Luminar.  Despite desaturating the blues, the sky still looks a bit too blue and oversaturated.  The roller was quite a distance away from me; all of the purple roller images were shot at 300mm, and I think Luminar brought back an acceptable amount of detail in the feathers.  There’s only so much you can do with images of a small bird on a distant tree!
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This is the version from Topaz and try as I might, this was the best I could do with the sky.  I find it has an odd colour cast, but I am happy with the detail in the feathers.
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This is the On1 Photo Raw image.  I think the sky in this version is the most true to life.  The focus seems a little bit off, but I only had these purple roller images to work with, so I made the best of it.  This is the only time I have ever seen a purple roller, so despite the image series being far from perfect, I still wanted to edit and share them because they really are a striking bird.

Next up are some wattled cranes, also seen along the banks of the Boteti River while staying at the fabulous Leroo La Tau camp.  While these images were all shot on the same morning, the light was changing very fast and the birds were moving around relative to our vehicle, so some images were shot into the sun and others with the sun at my back.  Wattled cranes are listed as a vulnerable species; our guide Calvin had been so excited to see a group of this size while we were out on game drive.

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First up is the Luminar version.  You can tell from the white hot sky this was shot well after sunrise, and that the sun is already quite high in the sky.  I think what I like best about this version is the shimmery effect of the grasses behind the cranes.  There is a bit of a warm cast to the image, especially when compare to the On1 Photo Raw version.
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This Topaz version was shot earlier in the morning, with the sun at a more forgiving angle.  I love the postures in this image, with the three birds foraging while one appears to be on sentry duty.  I did colour correction for this first in On1, as I gave it a quick go in Topaz and was just getting frustrated with the results.
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Here are the wattled cranes edited using On1 Photo Raw.  I think this and the Topaz versions are the most successful in terms of colour rendering. 

Up next are one of my favourite birds, the beautiful lilac breasted roller.  Unlike the purple roller, I have seen this bird on all my trips in Africa, and have gotten a few really good shots over the years.

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The version from Luminar.
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The version from Topaz.
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The version from On1.

These roller images are the best ones for comparing the software, since the bird is fairly close and the light unchanging.  I am finding the version from On1 looking a little crunchy when compared to the other two, and the Topaz version lacking a little bit of contrast.  I think I was able to bring out the colour and tones the best with Luminar on this particular image.  I found Topaz was able to bring out a lot of fine detail in the feathers without making the image look crunchy (it’s hard to see on a web sized image, so you’ll have to take my word for it).  I think the On1 version could have done well with backing off the tonal contrast a couple of points; though if that version had been posted in isolation, I would be very happy with it.

I started getting some editing fatigue looking at so many similar images, so I decided for the last few, I would just pick a few one-off bird images, and edit one of each in the various programs.

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I edited this image of cormorants using On1 Photo Raw.  This was shot during the early morning on Phinda Game Reserve, at one of the large dams on the property.  It was a chilly, misty morning, and this cormorant was flying in while hippos were calling the in background.  It felt like the reserve was just starting to wake up while we were sitting here.
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This is an African Hoopoe edited using Topaz Studio.  I found the colours in this image flat (no fault of Topaz this time) and thought the image would work much better in black and white.
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This is a flock of red-billed quelea heading to a roosting spot at sunset.  This was probably the largest flock that I have seen, spotted while staying in the Okavango Delta.  I know from watching nature programs that these birds can flock in extraordinary numbers.

There are pros and cons to each of the programs; Topaz and the colour correction issues I have been having, Luminar with the lack of adjustable luminosity masks, and with On1, I don’t find the noise reduction function is a good as some other options.  But saying that, all the options are robust programs that have a lot of great features, it’s just a matter of learning how to use the tools to your best advantage.  I don’t feel like I am in any type of editing disadvantage by choosing to use these software options over the more common Lightroom and Photoshop scenario (that I also used for several years).

From these editing immersions and comparisons, I think I am a getting a little closer to knowing where all these options fit into my workflow.

 

2018-06-03: Monthly Project – Bird Photography

Part of the reason that I chose bird photography this month was to get out and enjoy the nice weather, as well as get familiar with a new lens I have purchased.  So at first glance it may not make any sense that today I’m posting images from my last trip.  I have gotten out a bit over the past couple of days and taken some bird images, and I have been really impressed with the lens so far.  But I’m already half way through Sunday and I haven’t had a chance to start editing, so rather than miss posting altogether or rushing my editing process, I decided to go for some bird images from my catalogue that I haven’t posted before.

I hope you enjoy my selections for this week, and next week I will be sharing some of our local birds.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.

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We came across a very large sociable weavers nest while on a game drive through Etosha National Park.  There was a lot of activity in and out of the large communal nest, here one of the birds pauses in a more open spot where it is easier to see them.
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Up against the nest, the weaver is very camouflaged.
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The nest itself was so large it brought down one of the large branches of the acacia tree.
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This crimson breasted shrike played hard to get for a photo; this was the best that I could do while driving through the Makgadikgadi Pans.
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A beautiful glossy starling in early morning light.
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My personal favourite, the lilac breasted roller.

2017-08-17: WPC: Ooh, Shiny!

The WordPress photo challenge topic for the week are things that are distracting, and I need look no further than birds.  Just yesterday, while taking my dog for an afternoon walk, a flash of yellow caught my eye in the bush, and I ended up rather mesmerized at the side of the road trying to photograph the birds flitting passed, mostly so I could try and identify them later.  Those photos aren’t worth sharing, but I’m no different whilst on holiday either.  Birds are definitely one of the things that stop me in my tracks so I can gaze at them in wonder.

I hope you enjoy my selection of photos.

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A black korhaan, also known as the helicopter bird, spotted while out on a game drive in Etosha National Park.  Namibia, April 2017.
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A flock of red billed quilea taking to the air.  Okavango Delta, Botswana.  May 2017.
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A southern ground hornbill spotted on an afternoon game drive in the Okavango Delta.  We were very fortunate to see these endangered birds on several game drives in the delta.  Botswana, May 2017.
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A grey go-away bird running along the edge of the Boteti River in Botswana.  Granted it isn’t the best bird shot, but I loved the gesture of it too much not to include it.  He looks like he’s doing a jig!  Botswana, May 2017.
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A pale chanting goshawk perched next to the Boteti Rover in the early morning, likely looking for some breakfast amongst the frogs and other small creatures at the waters edge.
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I think I need to bring a magnetic bumper sticker the next time I go on safari that says “We brake for rollers”.  I’ve never seen a lilac-breasted roller I didn’t want to snap a photo of.  They are such beautiful birds, with such a gorgeous array of colours.  Botswana, May 2017.

 

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WPC: Ooh, Shiny!

2016-12-04: Birds of Southern Africa

I was going through my folder of edited photos and realized I have a large number of random bird photos ready to go.  Which is good, because I’ve not managed to get out and capture any of the local wildlife lately!

Even splitting the group of photos I found into two, I’ve still got a fair number of bird photos to post in the future!

I hope you enjoy, and have a great day!

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A magpie shrike perched in an acacia tree.
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A lilac breasted roller perching beautifully for a photo.
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A pair of kori bustards in the Kalahari Desert.
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A green backed heron hunting along the edge of a dam.
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A brown hooded kingfisher.
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A sacred ibis flies over on of the swamps of the Okavango Delta.
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An African wood hoopoe.