Monthly Archives: November 2013

Starling Gazes …

This chap was sat quite happily and seemed completely unfazed as I approached ‘armed with a cheap as chips’ Canon 55-250mm. I did run it at the 250 end; sadly as a JPEG not RAW which lead to the 8 bit posterization on the BG. I shot in very low res which was entirely my own stupid fault! The image works, but would have been so much better in RAW to convert. I’m thinking that the full version of Photoshop is the answer. I find Elements quite limiting at times; especially as it only edits at 8bits rather than 16.

Starling for emjay WP



Growing from tubers there are many within the species range from smooth right through to giant sized paper lace types. Usually for photography purposes they don’t really make a particularly good subject.

Year after year I have taken a picture of them, and year after year I delete. Finally … I may have cracked it! I rather like it, hopefully someone else will as well 🙂

Canon 500D, 24-105L @ 90mm, Custom WB, CWA metering, Manual exposure, 1/30.

PSE9 Photomatix for light tone-mapping, SPE for BG and then several layers once more in PSE9 to complete the transition from RAW to JPEG.


Sometimes An Image Just don’t Work!

And then you look at it again and again … your finger hovers over the delete file then you hesitate to clear the bin as you lose the file forever! THIS Starling was one such image. I was going to title this one: ‘NO! I will not turn around!’

I started by saying ‘sometimes, an image just doesn’t work!’ This one doesn’t on several aspects; firstly it is a boring back image. Then the back of the head is partially out of focus and this extends partly down the neck. It was a JPEG not a RAW so any post editing had to be done very carefully so as not to wipe out any existing detail. I couldn’t sharpen either in unsharp mask or through the high-pass in the filter selections for fear of breaking down what you had.

Then you wonder if a few selections over several layers might work!? You keep going back through undo history because simply put it ends up looking awful; then from nowhere you get a break when you remember a way of making an image that does not work into one that does for the creator!

Why then does it work now? Just because of the wonderful detail that only a Starling has … and quite rightly so 🙂

Starling back final-RED

Flower Bug

This one came just as the glorious September this year drew to an end. Fascinating wee creature, with a less than fascinating name! ‘Flower Bug. Anthocoris nemorum.

Size: 4-5mm body length. Widespread through Europe and Great Britain.

100mm f2.8 Macro with PSE9, DPP, SPE.

Flower bug


One I’d taken a while ago, but at that time I’d only just started using my new Canon DSLR & knew next to nothing about post-processing. I felt therefore … I should revisit this image, which was until today … in my folder ready for deletion. I’m actually rather glad I kept this one.

Processing was actually fairly minimal; other than curves, highs n lows, contrast, very minor sharpening, and of course conversion from RAW to JPEG etc et al, per se. Almost all Canon DPP plus Adobe PSE9 and of course a wee shake of SPE. The BG is just trees n plants in my garden.

Taken in my garden – as are almost all images here on my blog unless otherwise stated. 🙂 Lens was the Sigma 150-500 at f5.6 with manual settings.

Starlings RED

Early Autumn.

I’d taken a few shots of some blackberries growing wild, and wanted to see how it might work by adjusting the BG greatly without initial selecting and going down a cut n paste road.

Most of the final image was adjusted in PSE, with much dodge and burn carried out. Using a layer mask the BG was altered to be in-keeping with the subject. One of the worst issues was the berries were very slightly wet, and of course using two off camera flash units with additional back lighting, above, gave me way too much reflection going on in each berry. Dodge and burn with some airbrush work has reduce it to what I consider acceptable now. I have included the original image for comparison purposes. Original image is straight out of the camera with camera settings faithful. 

Ultimately I had just eight layers from start to finish. Hardware was Canon 500D with 50mm prime f1.8. Actual: f5.6, centre weighted, -1 exposure, iso 200, 1/30 speed, RAW only. Software as above with SPE to finish.

Oh, and thank you for the likes and follows. I’m still trying to decide if this is the theme I should stay with or change to another. 

Blackberry before editing

Blackberries with BG

Another Bee.

This wee lad dropped in a few backs back when I started to get a feel for the 100mm f2.8 macro lens.

I’d not actually realised – just how difficult a decent bee image is to get … as they hardly stop moving. This was a shady area, so unable to run with a quick shutter speed; despite iso 800.

Bee 24.11.13 RED