Touchup of Hawk In Flight Shot

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So I grabbed this shot of a Red-Tail Hawk in flight the other day (probably the best shot of the group). Unfortuantely it was during the middle of the day and to get the hawk exposed I blew the sky.

Here's the shot.
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So I was messing around in NX this morning and ended up with this as a better looking shot to the eye...or is it too much? Any opinion is appreciated.
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And lastly, I think this is the best one yet.
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That's a real nice job considering the original image! I hit the shadow & highlight tool in CS2 in these circumstance but I don't know that it would have performed as well as this!
 
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Thanks Thomas. I've been tweaking the raw file a bit more (I did this from the already converted .jpg) and I am liking the results of it a bit more. I'll have another rendition in a minute.
 
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Ok, just added the newest touchup...I think the first rendition I did gave the hawk too much of a Halo effect almost like I was shining a light on him. This one seems a bit better (at least on my monitor).
 
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I like the last one. I have a shot of an Osprey in flight, and the sky (unretouched) looks exactly like yours. So... I'd say you did a first rate job.
 
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Thanks Stephen...I was trying to make it as realistic as possible and came off with too much blue the first time and my 2nd try was too dark of a blue. I think this one is closest to reality. I'm glad you can do this in post processing as you can save a lot of so-so shots due to the bad lighting.
 
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Great shot! I had a go at this one using selective color (CS3) and a gradient on the sky.

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Nice work guys. Looks like I have some learning to do in CS2. BTW peet, I like your last version the best. The sky looks good in the second version, but the halo around the bird is very distracting.
 
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I got a superb lesson from Iliah a while back on a technique for working with images like this. Here Is the entire thread, my first post will show you my first, quite tedious, attempt. In my case it was twofold, making the sky look more "interesting" with color as well as adding some texture with clouds.

Iliah's post is Here which explains the method, which is also explained in Katrine Eismann's book on Photoshop Compositing.

What is really cool is that this technique is REALLY fast and easy to do in Photoshop, and I find that it gives a much more "natural" look. One thing I often do is to stop the "blend" a bit short and then use a layer mask to fine-tune. With our gray skies here I use this often now, and have been taking "empty blue sky" pictures of the areas I frequent just for this purpose :wink: Takes me maybe 20-30 seconds now to do the whole process. And no selections, complex masking, etc., to do at all.

Here was my original:
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And my final version:
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The Frame Change was an entirely SEPARATE deal :wink:
 
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Here you go, one with some "pseudo" clouds in the background...

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I keep a library of clouds for this kind of use.
The image would be better with higher-res original so mask would be better.
What do you think?

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I keep a library of clouds for this kind of use.
The image would be better with higher-res original so mask would be better.
What do you think?
What technique did you use for the mask? I see a halo around the edges of the bird, but that could easily be nothing more than the fact that I am using a work, non-calibrated laptop. What I like best about the technique I mentioned that Iliah taught me, is that you don't do any masking or selection whatsoever, so you never have issues with fine detail edges. Absolutely amazes me how folks like Iliah figure this stuff out.
 

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