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Walking The Plank

Walking The Plank
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2005-12-24
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 170-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO Ultra DG, Digital ISO 100, UV 86mm Kenko
Exposure: f/6.3, 1/60 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Birds of South Africa 1, Birds / Aves, Wildlife of Africa, Birds of Africa, A study in Ornithology (birds) 1 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2006-04-11 14:25
Viewed: 6244
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 74
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Squacco heron - Ardeola ralloides

I shot this photo on my very 1st outing to the Thulasihleka Bird Sanctuary outside Richards Bay, on 24 December 2005. I only had my Canon for 3 days and boy was I green and clumsy. I never posted any photos from that time period as I couldn't get the photos to 'look' right. Basically I wrote off all the material from those first couple of weeks, but this afternoon I realised how wrong I was.

Sometimes one see or read something, but the lights just do not come on (yet). That was the case when Gert Ellstrom (ellis49) did a workshop on my 'Juvenile Mute Swan'. He explained the process he used to rectify the colours and to reduce the noise. Well Gert, I never even said thanks to you, because I did not realise what important and useful information you actually shared with me.

Last night I was looking at this workshop and I couldn't understand what Gert meant when he said he adjusted the black and white points in 'Levels'. I just could not see any buttons there that said anything about 'black & white' points. Gert also mentioned that he used NeatImage in Photoshop CS2 to remove the BG noise by selecting it with the 'Magic Wand Tool'. Now at least this made some sense, but I was under the impression that I did not have a version of NeatImage that would work with my Photoshop Elements 2.

However, tonight I realise anew how things sometimes work for us without us knowing the significance or the benefits of such workings, at the time. A week ago I asked Anna-Lu (hummingbird24) about a workshop where she used NeatImage. She pointed me to Mogens Jorgensen's (mogens-j) intro page where I found the URL to the site that offered a freeware version of NeatImage. I downloaded and installed the program, but I have not used it since.

So, this afternoon, as I booted my PC, Gert's words suddenly came to me. I opened Photoshop and grabbed this file of the heron to experiment with. Fortunately I figured out how to get to the levels adjustments via the 'Threshold' selection. After I opened the levels function, there it was – three eye droppers that each represented the functions 'Set black point', 'Set gray point' and 'Set white point'. How easy can it be? I was almost as exited as when I received my digital camera. This suddenly opened up a whole new episode in post processing for me. To crown it all I found that my freeware version of NeatImage actually works from within Photoshop Elements 2. Viva la big luck.

All I can say is a very belated THANK YOU VERY MUCH to Gert and Anna-Lu. You made my day.

Sorry folks, I realise that I normally talk too much and now there is no space to say anything about the Squacco Heron. Maybe some other time, but just maybe there is someone out there, in TN, that could benefit from my ignorance.

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0.
Adjusted black & white points in levels, Saturation +9, USM=65% at 0.6 radius & 0 threshold, selected BG with 'Magic wand tool' and reduced noise with Neat Image, cropped, and resized for TN

scottevers7, Fisher, firelord, wuta, Luc, aido, ALIRIZA, jeanpaul, SkyF, goutham_ramesh, SunToucher, ddg, sfirmston, ramthakur, coasties, Athila, tinman, livios, Dyker, Miss_Piggy, Aaltjie, Rehanna, betsie has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
Only registered TrekNature members may write critiques.
ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To scottevers7: Optimisationloot 1 04-15 02:52
To goutham_ramesh: Raw materialloot 1 04-15 02:42
To SunToucher: Shoebox materialloot 1 04-15 02:34
To ellis49: Enoy it!!!loot 1 04-14 15:11
To aido: So X+Y me pleaseloot 6 04-13 08:31
To manyee: Bad eyesloot 1 04-11 20:13
To jeanpaul: Merci Jeanpaulloot 1 04-11 17:58
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Loot,
An outstanding shot on this heron. Most shots from a digital camera need some correction in one form or another. They made look decent, but PP usually ( A word from my photoshop professor in college) OPTIMIZES what is already there. You did a good job on the initial photo. Now you know more to optimize it to make it look as good as possible. In this case, good composition, framing, exposure, and DOF were in place. You just needed color correction and probably some slight sharpening.

  • Great 
  • wuta Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 855 W: 2 N: 617] (2142)
  • [2006-04-11 14:56]

Hello Loot , A Beautifull shot from the heron , hi looks like his prooi , a beauty bird ,his colour details compositie pov and dof ,tfs Greetings Teunie .

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  • Fisher Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1540 W: 309 N: 2234] (8915)
  • [2006-04-11 14:56]

Hi Loot,

Excellent shot and well done on the composition. Beautiful work.


Very good shot of this Heron Loot.
Excellent colors and detaills.
Great POV and love the BG.

Hi Loot,

Great pic!! and wonderful note .. I cant wait to go home and play with the neat image .. I will look up the notes/workshops and see if I can gather more info.

Like your composition :)

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  • odin Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 177 W: 1 N: 209] (1169)
  • [2006-04-11 16:58]

Nice heron Loot, the composition is very nice and birds too. A little bit soft on the rear part of the birds, it's my opinion. But still a very very nice shot.


Hello Loot,
Wonderful shot.Clear details, nice colors, POV and sharpness are excellent. Congratulations...
Ali Rıza

Bonjour LootUne superbe de belle prise de vue que ce Joli Échassier,Très belle composition, les couleurs et le cadrage et les détails sont tous très bons.Je n'ai pas trouvé son nom en français.

Bravo et merci...JP

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  • SkyF Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2234 W: 188 N: 1912] (8073)
  • [2006-04-11 18:16]

Hi Loot,
this bird is beautiful, the color of the beak and details around the head are amazing. Nice sharpness, and lovely POV. Well composed.

Hi Loot. : )
Now I do love herons, and I have never seen a squacco heron. So this is a first for me, just to let you know that I am going to hold you to your promise to tell us more about that beautiful bird. : )
Love the pose, the POV, and the title.
I find that tree trunk sticking out of his back a bit distracting, so I did a WS to eliminate it. Hope you don't mind. : )

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  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2006-04-11 21:42]

Good picture, nice bird. Well done on the PP. Thanks Loot.


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  • chiliu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1457 W: 0 N: 1176] (6526)
  • [2006-04-11 21:56]

Hi Loot,
Fantastic shot on this beautiful heron,
Very good POV and excellent composition,
the details and colours also are excellent,
Very well done and thanks for sharing!


Awesome pic here. I have tried with these and
Green Backed Herons on numerous occasions and I could not get one as good as this! Excellent POV, Composition and sharpness of image. The BG is sufficiently removed from the subject adding to the quality of pic. Well Done and TFS,


Hi Loot,
PP is something all photographers should know, but does it really improve the quality of the picture to an extent where PP alone decides the quality of the image , i dont think so.
Your picture the "Raw Material" is the place where you have do 95% of the good job rest 5% is processing , in this picture i think you did an excellent job with the "Raw material"!!
Your note is very extensive and is of very high value , I'll and many others should learn from your experience!! so thanks for the note.
The position of the bird and the composition is perfect! good POV :-)
Goutham R

Beautiful shot Loot. Is perfect in colour, framing and great details.

Hi Loot,
Very intersting and informative note. I've also wondered what Gert did in that WS. I am still not sure how to do it, because I need to translate it to Dutch (using a Dutch version of PS CS) I also didn't know that Neat Image can be incorporated in PS CS. I need to try that one out later today. Anyhow, I am going to remember this technique and see if I can use it on an older photo.

So you do have a digital shoebox and you know how to enhance the somewhat darker shots. So I think we can expect a whole lot of photos from you over the past couple of week.

About this photo. Excellent sharpness and colors and such a good composition. I like the softness of the feathers. Great position of the Heron, as if it will jump of the pole at any second.

  • Great 
  • jossim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1538 W: 5 N: 2240] (12636)
  • [2006-04-12 6:11]

Excellente composition!

Félicitations pour la pose de l'oiseau prêt à l'action. Bravo pour le bg qui fait bien ressortir les belles couleurs chaudes du spécimen. L'éclairage est bien controlé et la netteté est parfaite.

Merci pour l'envoie Loot.


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  • ddg Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 867 W: 24 N: 1008] (5507)
  • [2006-04-12 6:15]

Loot bonjour, good shot of this Heron. Great attitude of the bird too. I like this composition and harmonious colors. Very well done, best regards, Didier.

Hi Loot, I'm very new to TN and still learning myself how to do PP so you note will probably prove quite useful, good to see another 350D as well though I still only have the kit lens. Great shot though, love the colours withing the birds feathers and around the eyes, and great composition, hope I get time to look at all your other shots as they look great so far.

Hi Loot, Great photo, perfect colors with excellent DOV, Perfect details on the bird, Excellent work. TFS Kyle

The image looks perfect and your discourse on how you got going with PP work is a useful workshop for all learners.

Hi Loot

Wow!!! Fantastic shot. Love the composition. Excellent colours and detail. Tack sharp with all the technical qualities that make an outstanding shot. Congrats! :-)

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  • osse Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 955 W: 0 N: 89] (7805)
  • [2006-04-12 15:18]

Hi Loot,
An outstanding shot.
Great POV and details.
Excellent composition.


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  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2006-04-12 20:24]

Loot, great picture here with the Squacco Heron placed on the post. I've also read all the notes - yours and Adrians, and I'm gonna print them out too, so I must check Gerhard's comments too. This place is a great place to learn how to take proper photos and how to fix them up too.
Super photo and Manyees WS is good too.
Have a good easter

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  • aido Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 1044 W: 156 N: 1218] (4046)
  • [2006-04-13 8:30]
  • [+]

Hi Loot,
Setting the black and white points (and determining the correct x+y coordinates with the threshold tool) opened up a new world for me too. That's the great thing about this site, so much knowledge is shared simply on the basis of good will, nobody gets paid for it and nobody expects anything in return. I'm learning a huge amount here too. Oh yes, I almost forgot, a nice shot :-) Colours are excellent and you PP has worked very well.

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  • Athila Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 335 W: 239 N: 493] (1982)
  • [2006-04-13 10:37]

Hi Loot!

Image is crisp and sharp. Right exposure and softlight render excellent details in shadows and highligths. Effectively like some members said, the dark object in the BG is not necessary to the image. Neglecting that I like the POV and the shallow DOF.
WS by Manyee does improve image a little. You might have been able to do something similar by moving left or right wich would have bring that object out of your frame. However, it could also had introduce something else in the frame also.

Still a very nice picture and TFS.


Hello Loot,
Very, very good photo; has fine details, colours and composition, nice green BG, contrast well with thew heron.

Top class note and so true, we all need to learn more on pp work i suspect. Well done on the post, great one!

Hi Loot,
Thanks for you kind words and Adrian did a great explanation about threshold.
This is a great shot wiht lovely colours and details.
The POV and compostion are also very good. The shallow DOF brings out the bird nicely from the OOF BG.
Great work, my friend.
I'm going for a 2 weeks vacation to Mallorca. Tired of snow and the cold. Maybe the spring has arrived when I'm back.
See you later.

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  • sAner Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1455 W: 74 N: 1426] (4750)
  • [2006-04-14 17:31]

Hello Loot,

Sharp focus, well composed and interesting pose. Well done & TFS!


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  • Luc Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1835 W: 301 N: 4287] (14767)
  • [2006-04-15 5:52]

Hello Loot!

This is a small story which I wrote to Janice Dunn:

One day, or an evening, there were three Wisemen who met. With them three
they had the largest and invaluable of the treasures which can exist. But
they did not know where to hide it.
Youngest wiseman said: "Let us hide it somewhere among the stars furthest
away from the Earth." "No", said the others. "One day men will create the
necessary technology to travel among the stars and they will find our
The second wise one said: "Then why not to hide it deeply into the ocean?" For
the same reason than that the stars", answered in chorus the two others.
Then the oldest of wisemen said: "I know where to hide it. We will hide it
in the heart of the living creatures, never they will think to seek it
there." The two other wisemen agreed.

This bird looks like our Green Herons. It is an excellent photo. Great PP. I have completely changed mine since two weeks for to make a better tribute to the foxes. In Photoshop CS2 I made a workflow script using NeatImage and FocalBlade + PT Lens and some other filters and curves. My little camera produce only jpeg files. I removed all the inner automatic settings: sharpen, contrast and saturation. Now the jpeg look like a raw file. When I'll be rich and famous I will buy a good camera ;-)

I will always remember your: "Viva la big luck."

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  • TPAKT Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Silver Note Writer [C: 97 W: 21 N: 20] (89)
  • [2006-04-15 5:56]

Privet Loot.
You think, that this bird who has reached the edge of a log searches? The pose, a composition and a drop which gathers on a beak quite approach under a genre stage. Good work.

Loot you note is VERY useful, although I'm still trying to figure out the details of the black and white points. Sometimes I think I'm getting this PP thing down, and then someone takes one of my photos and makes it look so much better I'm amazed I didn't know how to do that. So for that element, this site is so valuable. I don't have time to take a class, so my teachers are all here, and I can show up anytime!
Your photo is lovely, the pose very striking, excellent work, and thanks for the useful note, and a valuable diaglog.

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  • livios Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2150 W: 319 N: 4263] (16942)
  • [2006-04-24 22:30]

Loot, this is really very nice.

An excellent moment, a very nice photo.

I like pov and composition too.

The dof highlights the bird.

Maybe, a little bit more sharpness and contrast, but it's just an opinion.

My friend Loot
Since the space for a new posting is still empty I'll once again return to one of your older postings.Not that I am complaining because this is a great picture full of specialities and colours. I like the pose in which you photographed this heron. It is like it is walking on a modeling plank. Good shot and thanks for this beauty. The title of your picture fits well to the photo. You are a clever guy! Maybe a bit slow with the postings but really clever otherwise.
Warmest regards

Hallo Loot
You really are a genius with a camera. This posting proofs once again that you are indeed a very talented photographer. What a silky looking bird. The feathers come across so smooth it actually looks as if it has been ironed. Lovely pose, beautiful colours and contrast. Sharpness and exposure are excellent. The light is ideal, and brings out the light in the birds eye even more. Thanks for sharing.

Hello Loot

Iets moes die ou se aandag in besonder geprikkel het of so nie was hy baie honger en het gehoop dat daar 'n ou vissie of 'n paddajie uit die water sou spring wat 'n lekker versnappering sou beteken. Daardie geel oog is absoluut gefokus op die water en skynbaar het die voël geen notisie van jou geneem of selfs van jou bestaan bewus gewees nie. 'n Pragtige "candid" skoot wat die reiertjie baie netjies in sy natuurlike habitat too.

Pragtige kleure en mooi skerp fokus gee ons 'n duidelike blik van hierdie oulike voël en jy het weereens goeie werk gedoen om dit so puik vas te lê op die foto.


Hi Loot
Interesante voël. Nie baie trotse houding nie of Hoe? Hy kan darm spog met mooi kleure!

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