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Birdsong

Unsharp Mask for Waxwings???

11 posts in this topic

Perhaps this should be in the Photo forum, but it does concern birds. Does anyone have a special formula that you use for unsharp mask on cedar waxwings so that they do not lose that 'molten lava' look to their feathers? Don't know how else to describe it. Buttery? Butter creme? They just have a different quality to their plumage than other birds. And I seem to be losing that quality no matter what route I take. Thanks.

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Don't know how else to describe it. Buttery? Butter creme? They just have a different quality to their plumage than other birds.

I always thought they had a smoother look to their plumage or a "waxed" look. Almost as if it wasn't real.

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Oh, very good! Hence, the name. Never thought about describing that smooth quality as waxy, or why they were named waxwings. Good grief! But yes--how do you manage to keep that unreal quality and still have a sharp image? I'll try to do some selectively.

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Well first of all, when you use unsharp mask, try not to set your levels to high. I usually start with amount 30%, radius 1 pixel, and Threshold at Zero. Make sure you use a masking layer when you do this so you can try different settings to get what you are looking for. If you use to much sharpening you will get a white fringe around your bird.

Best rule of thumb for sharpening is to start with a sharp image. Unsharp Mask is really there to help make raw images pop better when converted to PSD, JPG, Tiff, etc.

Hope this helps a little bit. I am not a Photoshop expert but I know my way around it enought to cause trouble.

Good luck.

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I'll lasso the whole bird and the sharp portion of the perch and give the subject a shot of USM or smart sharpening, generally at 75 percent, .7 pixel radius, 0 threshold. Experiment with this so you don't get oversharpened feather edges. This adds a bit of detail and preserves the gentle, mouse gray textures of the main body feathers that waxwings are noted for.

Then, while the whole bird/perch is still selected, I'll hit "inverse" to select everything else in the frame and run noise ninja on it to make the BG even cleaner.

Then I'll lasso the patterns/colors of wings and face and sharpen them further selectively at whatever works (less sharpening for print, more for Web). This makes the wings and eye/bill/face pop.

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Thanks so much. I'll give it a try later today--on my way out the door. I'll post them here if I get anything close. I'm afraid light may be my biggest problem. Once again!

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Birdsong,

I rarely use a lasso tool and apply sharpening because of the halo issue caused by subtle color shifts in the pixels in your photo and I like to brush in sharpening where I want it. Now many folks posting here do that and do it very well so don't get me wrong it works when precautions are taken.

But as with many things there is more than one way to sharpen a bird smile Two things that will help with eliminating haloing and getting the EXACT sharpening you want with ease. Luminosity sharpening and sharpening on a layer. Luminosity sharpening lessens the color shifts when sharpening your pixels, reducing the halos. Sharpening on a layer with a mask, in other words using your brush tool and painting in your sharpening and then adjusting the opacity of that layer to increase or decrease the sharpening by using a slider is very fast, accurate and again virtually eliminates any of the color shifting which causes the haloing.

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Thanks DBL. I can see this is another thread I need to print and put in the notebook. As a painter (sort of) your method has its appeal. You were right. I took my original siskin into USM and haloing started at less than 85%. That was pure carelessness on my part, all that needed sharpening really was the eye. I think my first agenda has to be getting exposure under control so I don't have so many sharpening issues. It will be helpful not to be steaming up my camera monitor waiting for the 'perfect shot.' I have discovered that is why I have to be careful of my poor bottom lip--I get a frost build up on the quick release lever on the ball hinge of my tripod. Too bad breathing isn't just a luxury.

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I think my first agenda has to be getting exposure under control so I don't have so many sharpening issues.

Exactly.

No matter which sharpening regimen is used, the less of it needed, the better, and getting the sharpest and most well exposed image at capture eliminates many challenges in PP.

With your WW image, Birdsong, the one with the berry passing, a big issue is simply that the background is much brighter then your subjects. Overexposing using exposure compensation will expose your subject properly but blow out the sky behind them, or almost blow it out. Using a flash is one way to compensate for the difference in brightness of subject and BG.

There are many times that things happen in front of us as photographers with no warning, and we can't manage the scene in any way but simply have to get the best images we can. I find if I keep the ideas of uncluttered foregrounds or appropriate backgrounds always in the back of my mind, there are times I can take a couple steps in a different direction to make the capture and find better conditions.

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