Quick BIF processing with DxO and CS6

While on a recent holiday I had one of those chance encounters we all have from time to time to unexpectedly capture a bird in flight. If you’re like me, often my camera’s settings are not ideal in these types of situations and I have to deal with the results in post. This article outlines some very quick BIF processing done with DxO and CS6.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Here is the original jpeg image…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 229mm, efov 618mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-160.
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 229mm, efov 618mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-160.

As you can see the image was underexposed as I only had a split second to adjust my manual setting for shutter speed. I didn’t have the time needed to adjust my ISO which was set for landscape images at ISO-160. Fortunately I had just changed lenses on my V2 as I spotted the bird approaching.

Now let’s have a look at the same image processed from the corresponding RAW file (I always shoot in JPEG fine + RAW).

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 229mm, efov 618mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-160.
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 229mm, efov 618mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-160.

The background of the photograph is still a dull grey, although a bit lighter so not much changed there. There is quite a bit of change with the subject bird. You can see a lot more feather detail both in the shadow and highlight areas.

This was done quite simply and quickly by using a combination of DxO OpticsPro 11 and CS6.

Let’s look at a screen shot from my computer showing how I processed the RAW file initially using OpticsPro 11.

hl-and-shadow-in-dxo

I used the standard settings in OpticsPro and only made three small adjustments.

  1. Highlights were reduced by -20. This may seem counter-intuitive but sometimes we need to go back before we can go forward. I knew that I would need to lighten up the entire image considerably so I wanted to ensure that when I did that there would still be some highlight detail left in the image. So, by reducing the highlights by -20 I ‘thickened up’ the highlight areas to allow for an overall lightening to the exposure later on.
  2. Shadows were taken to +10. This was a very minor change. Often we are tempted to make more aggressive corrections when dealing with an underexposed photo. We need to always consider all of the steps we are planning to do with an image before we start moving sliders around so we can do everything in moderation and arrive at our final destination with a minimum of fuss.
  3. I applied PRIME noise reduction. Again, this may seem a bit strange since the original image was shot at ISO-160 and there wasn’t that much visible noise in the jpeg. Regardless of the ISO at which my Nikon 1 gear is used I always apply PRIME as I like the results.

I then exported a DNG file into CS6. Next I made some simple adjustments in CS6. Here’s a screen shot showing them.

contrast-10-clarity-15-shadows-16-exposure-1-5

To help bring out the detail in the image I took Contrast to +10 and Clarity to +15. Then I slowly adjusted the exposure until the lighter feathers of the bird’s body were where I wanted them to be…that happened to be at +1.50. After that I tweaked the Shadow setting to +16 which was enough to create some differentiation in the dark feather areas.

As a final tweak I dodged the iris of the bird and burned in the pupil just a bit to give the eye more definition.

Including OpticsPro 11 processing time with PRIME noise reduction, it took about 3.5 minutes to correct this quick sample image.

I don’t think it matters what software each of us uses for BIF processing. Simply use what works best for you. The key is to consider all of the changes you anticipate making with your BIF processing before you start. This could help you identify some adjustments you may not have originally considered. It can also help you determine in which order to make your adjustments.

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7 thoughts on “Quick BIF processing with DxO and CS6”

  1. Hi Tom,

    I’m wondering what you think are the major advantages of DxO Optics Pro 11 over version 10? I currently have the Elite 10 version but am considering the 11 to cover a D500. Any thoughts?

    Regards,

    Ron

    1. Hi Ron,

      About the only difference that I’ve observed is that the PRIME noise reduction with OpticsPro 11 runs faster than in OpticsPro 10. I’m not a pixel peeper so I haven’t studied my files in any great detail so I can’t comment in that regard. I use OpticsPro as my initial RAW processor so I keep that program current. I export DNG files into CS6 for some adjustments and use the Nik Suite plug-in. So, for me the updates to OpticsPro are an affordable way of staying current with my main RAW processor. I have no interest in using cloud versions of Adobe software and paying a monthly fee. I shoot exclusively with Nikon 1 and I really like how my files respond to OpticsPro as it seems to deliver more usable detail for me.

      Here is a link to an article that I wrote regarding a comparison of PRIME processing time between the two versions of OpticsPro: http://tomstirrphotography.com/opticspro-11-prime

      Tom

  2. Hi Thom
    It was with great interest that I read this article. I don’t use the Nikon V serie cameras, but I use DXO Optics Pro 11 (Elite), Viewpoint 3, and the filmPak 3 expert. I love “Prime” and the ” customize” section and the use of my own “Presets”, with the different renderings it allows. The only drawback I found with it, is that I didn’t find a way to process large numbers of images in a reasonable time. I use mostly DXO products and finish my images in Lightroom (near 2 minutes in Prime per image).

    At black friday I bought a D500 (2200$cdn) with its amazing buffer for BIF, and high iso capabilities. I took quite a few shots of geese and ducks, last friday on the Richelieu river with the Tamron 150-600. The week before reported in our local newspaper 30,000 geese were estimated to be staying on the river for a few weeks. Acquiring and keeping focus for BIF is much simpler than it is with my D7100-750.

    regards
    Luc

  3. Great tips, Thomas!

    I have myself found that opening my ‘difficult’ images in DxO, using the PRIME setting, does wonders, and (you might have seen at Nikon 1 Talk) my experiments with RAW images from J5 and GX8, proves opening them in DxO (using PRIME, of course) really helps a lot, putting them on an even footing, while directly OOC RAWs are far better with the GX8.

    1. Hi Tord,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences when using the PRIME setting in DxO – its great to read that you’ve been having success with it! I don’t know why this seems to work well when used in concert with CS6 with Nikon 1 files, but I’ve found that using OpticsPro as a first step seems to deliver more useable digital information with which to work in CS6 (and I assume Lightroom). As you point out, this is quite important when working with a small sensor Nikon 1 RAW file.

      Tom

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