…My Little Chickadee

Okay, the best part of this post is being able to say Chickadee! Try it, you’ll see.

One of the things my wife and I love to do hear at the Russian River is set out bird feeders in the autumn and winter months to help the birds through the lean times. Here is one of our standard guests. He (or she, I don’t know how to tell them apart) is a chestnut backed chickadee. Who knew that “chickadee” was a real word. Who knew how fun it was to say!

Chestnut Backed Chickadee

Chestnut Backed Chickadee photographed at a bird feeder on the Russian River in January of 2012

The photography is nothing special. The fact is that the exposure (it was a little under exposed) was not the best. The aperture was small, providing the narrow depth of field and the nice bokeh. In addition, the plumage was in nice focus over most of the bird, so I thought,”Why not see what I can do with it?”

In post, I did the following:

  • I cropped the image. Many possibilities here, but I put the bird’s body along one of the thirds and the birds eye at the intersection of one of the horizontal thirds. (see rule of thirds)
  • I created a selection to separate the bird and perch from the background.
  • I created a sharpening layer using a copy of the background and applying a high-pass filter and setting the blending mode to soft light. I also applied the selection mentioned above to this adjustment layer to sharpen only the bird
  • I also created a curves adjustment layer and applied the same mask as above to bring our the bird’s whites. Remember, the image was under exposed.
  • lastly, I added a little darkening to the corners (vignetting) with an exposure adjustment layer and a layer mask. I had painted the layer mask. I purposely left it a little splotchy to add some interesting movement to the background.

An if you are wondering about the title of the post, here is a brief into to W. C. Fields and his signature phrase.

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