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