Thursday, March 04, 2010


Last weekend I went on a field trip to Chalk Ridge Falls Nature Area below the dam at Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Right near the parking area we saw two wrens - a canyon wren and a rock wren. I wanted to go back with my big Sigma lens and see if I could get photos.

We went this morning. At first I was disappointed - no wrens in sight. But I meandered the path below the dam, rewarded by a sighting of a kestrel and a phoebe as well as watching the vultures (both turkey and black) begin their morning soaring, riding the thermals around the dam. As I was heading back to the car, I saw movement at the top of the boulders along the dam slope. Yes, it was the rock wren. But so much farther away than on Saturday. I dutifully took my photos, knowing quite well that I would have a little wren in a big picture. It would still be a good memory, even if not publishable quality.

I came on back to the car, and stopped to study the area where the water was spilling out. It was on these rocks that we had seen the canyon wren the day before. I was about to give up, when I saw movement again. Yes . . . it was the canyon wren, but really far away - a very small bird in a big frame. And there was a swallow as well, a rough winged swallow, I think.

I came home and took a look to see if I had anything and began to play with two of the images. Now one of the phrases of common wisdom in photography: "garbage in-garbage out" which means it is really difficult if not impossble to create a high quality image in photoshop when the original is not good. And, I agree with that statement which is one of the reasons I work really hard when I am working with the camera to capture the best image possible. But sometimes, that is not always possible. These two little birds were a long way away and not willing today to come down and play with me. I'm hoping to go back more than once with the big lens and hope that I get lucky enough that I have the chance to capture them up close and personal with publishable images. But I wanted to have images to share with the group that went birding last week.

I started with the rock wren. I picked the frame that looked the best and did the standard conversion from RAW. Then I used Genuine Fractals to enlarge the image, knowing I was going to be cropping a lot and would need all the details I could keep. Then I chose my crop, knowing that even with the crop, I would not be able to fill the frame and have a decent image. Then I went to Topaz Sharpen which can do a really nice job in bringing out details that are trying to hide in the pixels. I had to use enough Topaz that this really becomes "digital art" rather than straight photography.

I went in with the canyon wren and did things a little differently. I upsized in Camera Raw. I left him smaller in the final crop because there just wasn't enough detail to make him look good larger. Once again some creative work in photoshop left me a a image that if nothing else will be a great memory shot for me of one of the few canyon wrens I've ever seen.

No comments: