View Full Version : Processing a bird pic

07-10-2009, 8:46pm
I shoot my bird pics in raw mode and then I covert to jpeg. I have noticed lately that some of my birds pics are getting a halo around them. I do like to lighten some of areas under the wings to show the detail, so obviously I am doing something wrong when trying to lighten. I don't think I am heavy handed when lightening.

My latest pic of the Osprey which I really like is a good example of what I am talking about. I had this pic printed and it is darker than what is on my screen. I really want to get this pic correct, as I have a couple of other special Osprey shots that are just as good. I can go back and recapture this bird, if I need to.

Does noise removal effect this? I use neat image...free version
Shadow and Highlight slider in DDP do this?
Does Shadow and Highlight sliders in CS2 cause this.

Or is it my technique of high pass sharpening (which i thought was the best process - i find with the 400 lens, i apply very little sharpening 0.5 usually or sometimes 1).

Can anyone help me? Its interesting that I starting experiencing this when i starting using the 400 lens.

07-10-2009, 9:34pm
I believe it may be a combination of both your use of highlight/shadows and highpass filter sharpening.
Just to exaggerate the effect, go into highlight/shadows and slide both the highlight and shadow amount to 100% and you should see a fair amount of halo. I generally avoid this feature cos I personally feel it often results in a badly done HDR type effect and if I use it, I will usually only use 2-3% in the shadows.

I sometimes use highpass filter sharpening too but don't often see the effect at settings around 0.7 radius (in the same ballpark as what u use) and overlay blend mode. But if it is too much, either step back the radius setting or reduce the opacity of the sharpening layer a little. I'm no expert on sharpening and the more I read about it, the more I realise it is a tricky area of PP. I've read recently that many 'experts' are advocating several sharpening steps, both localised and generalised along the way during PP and sharpening is also output specific, ie. settings for web differ to settings for print.

07-10-2009, 9:51pm
Thanks Swifty.

I will look at what you said. I wish i did not need to process, but to get that little bit extra out of your pic - you need to.


08-10-2009, 8:43am
I have been using almost always the "Smart Sharpen " option in CS3 nowadays and with a bit of practice and tinkering the results are much more manageable to avoid halos and the like.

08-10-2009, 8:48am
Also if your print is darker (or lighter) than your screen image, you need to calibrate your monitor (and ensure you're using a calibrated print service). With a properly calibrated workflow, the print should have the same colour and brightness as what you see on screen.

08-10-2009, 9:33am
I find that the halos appear most during the highlight/shadow phase of PP, when your working with the image zoom to 100% or more on an edge and do some of the general shadow work and keep increasing the slider until you see the halos, that will tell you the max figure you can use, then dial it back a bit. Hope that helps a little.
Totally agree with David, everyone should get their screen calibrated especially when you want to do prints.

Richard Hall
08-10-2009, 4:52pm
Yep, the halos you're seeing in the Osprey photos are from the highlight/shadow tool as I mentioned in that Osprey post. They're not sharpening halos, as they are very broad around the wings and not just along the edge where the sky meets wing.

Instead of just relying on the shadow/highlight tool to bring some light back under the wing, you could try a variety of methods. I find the shadow/highlight tool certainly has it's place, but it can create an odd, almost HDR look if abused. It really all depends on the image itself as to what works best and there's a heap of different ways of attacking the problem.

Here's a shot of a Whistling Kite I took a while back, in this case it's pretty dark under the wings and I really should have dialled in at least +2/3 to + 1 EC. Though in my defence I was taken a bit by surprise as I'd just stepped out the car at a cottage we were staying at when it flew over, I could do nothing but aim and shoot....that's my excuse anyway. :D

I'll run through a very quick few steps on this image to show one way of processing it. I'll deliberately exaggerate things a bit to make them more apparent.

The untouched original.

Simply using the shadow/highlights tool has created a really bad halo around the bird and given the colours in the bird that strange HDR look.

One method I use (for birds against the sky) is to choose levels in PS, and drag the midtone marker to the left slightly. This will normally brighten any mid-tones in the image (underneath the bird is usually the area most affected). Ignore how the histogram looks, it's not often going to be a nice curve when shooting birds, and it really doesn't matter in my opinion.


After tweaking the levels, it looks like this. No halos have appeared. :)

The downside is the background, usually a blue sky, will be lightened as well. However, a simple fix is to choose "Selective Colour" from the Image>Adjustments menu in PS, choose the blue channel and slightly increase the amount of black and whatever else takes your fancy to bring back the colour you want.


With an adjustment in selective colour, this is how the image appears. We could have left it how it was in the previous step really, but often you'll want to tweak this.

The last step has added a little noise to the background. You can jump in with your noise reduction at this point and then finish off with some sharpening and touching up.

You can see in the, ahem, final image above it's been over-sharpened. This exaggerates any halos and the effect of noise reduction around the bird. I like to go around the bird with the clone tool sampling areas near the edge of the wing and covering up any of the haloing and noise left over. You can see around the front of the wing on the left it's clean, whereas the wing on the right has some noise and sharpening problems needing cleaning up. The "finger-tips" also need to be tidied up.

Hope that helps a bit Shelley? If you have any problems with a particular image you can always post it up and I'm willing to try and find a "fix". :)

08-10-2009, 5:59pm
With regards to prints being too dark, +1 for the monitor calibration but I remember reading something at luminous landscape that also might help explain the problem.
scroll down to the Prints too dark bit.

08-10-2009, 7:10pm
Thanks everyone for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas.

Darksome - i really appreciate what you have posted. I am going away for the weekend, but when I get back I will have a good read. Then I will try what you are saying on the Osprey shot - i might post it again for look and see. :) It makes sense what you have explained.

Thanks again to everyone.