By Roger (20 November 2014)
I'm still working on bird photos, so, this week, it's time for an easy walk-through. Let me remind you, again, I am not a wildlife photographer.
The only problem I noticed in all the photos was the tether on each bird. The handlers use them to keep the birds safe, since the birds can't survive on their own in the wild. Obviously, they weren't going to remove the tethers, but they were a distraction I wasn't going to leave in the photo.
It's not that I wanted to pass off these bird photos as “captured in the wild” – that would not be ethical. I just wanted to make them look a bit more natural, and the dangling tether really detracted from the photos.
The simplest solution was cropping into the photo, during post-processing, so the branch was the bottom of the photo. In just a few seconds, in Lightroom, the tethers are gone. Even if the tether wasn't there, I think the cropped photo looks nicer. The background is less distracting, and bird fills the frame.
Of course, you can do this in the camera. I started farther away than I needed to, at first. I moved in closer as I realized the birds were fairly calm and wouldn't panic as the camera got closer to them. With a long telephoto, you can, also, get a head and shoulder shot to eliminate the distracting tethers all together.
I did the head and shoulder shots for a few times, but I preferred the full-length portraits over the close-ups. With the handler's assistance, we could get the tether moved to the side, but the birds still moved around, and the tether was back in the way. In fact, I made more interesting photos when the birds moved and stretched their wings.
For the photos where the tether was still visible and cropping would remove the tail, I had to resort to the clone tool. I increased the clarity to make the falcon stand out a little more from the background. Nothing fancy here.
As I explained last week, this was a quick, group shoot, to try something different. With that minor goal in mind, I considered the shoot successful. Although I had a good time and would try it again, the experience did not convert me into a bird photographer. Those folks have more patience than I do. I'd much rather go photograph some toddler running around the playground than sit in the woods, waiting hours for one of these birds to show up on their own.