Landing doves - help needed

I do own my camera (Nikon D5200) and some lenses for quite some time, but i have mostly spend my time in front of Lightroom or Darktable instead of going out and take some pictures. Thanks to the corona lockdown i started enjoying taking pictures more and more.
This photo here was not intended to be a keeper, just some training of the camera controls and learning to zoom and track birds.
But looking at the photo i really do like it now. But i cant get really get a good photo out of that shot. I tried some different things, also b/w.

It’s not the best shot

i have taken, but maybe somebody here can make a better photo …

DSC_0169.NEF (24.1 MB) DSC_0169.NEF.xmp (15.5 KB)

This file is licensed Creative Commons, By-Attribution, Share-Alike.


I like the scene, and it will look fine printed/resized at <100%. I didn’t open the xmp, but it looks like you went a bit heavy on the denoise. The birds look ok, but not so much the bricks. My version is perhaps a little too noisy as the module is very slow on my system, but the bricks look a little more natural.

DSC_0169.NEF.xmp (22.7 KB)

Edit: My use of perspective correction may have thrown the horizontals off. Perhaps a better method would be to straighten the horizontals?

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The birds dead center and so much bland sky is what I felt were the two biggest issues. For me, an alternative crop helped.

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DSC_0169.NEF.xmp (12.6 KB)


Thanks for sharing

dt 3.0.2

DSC_0169_01.NEF.xmp (18.9 KB)


I prefer a gentler approach:

dt 3.1.0

DSC_0169_02.NEF.xmp (15,0 KB)


Thanks a lot for your feedback!

I haven`t really understood denoising in DT so far. In Lightroom it felt more natural to me and i could get better results. In DT, i just activate Denoise (profiled) if the image feels to noisy and hope that the result looks okay. Since this module is quite slow it’s not much fun playing with the sliders. But you are right, here the denoising is too much.

i straightened the horizontals, but the building is skewed (the chminey), it does always look wrong in reality as well :slight_smile:

I´ve been playing around the with the crop and rotate module for quite some time, but maybe the crop i want is not possible with this shot.

Looking at some other edits i am impressed how much detail i haven’t seen in the sky. I try not to overexpose ( after the lockdown i can even adjust exposure compensation without looking ;)) but i thought this shot would be too bright.


just like it. it “feels” good. Thanks!

fantastic sky! this one looks great viewed on my 32" inch monitor!

for me the bricks are too “dreamy”. But the doves are fantastic!

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I thank you. The landing doves could be seen as a time series of the motion of the same animal. So, this reminds me of the studies on animal locomation by Eadweard Muybridge.


@sotsoguk, I was very distracted by the headless bird. So I removed its body too! Now, the photo looks like birds about to take off after doing their morning ritual!! The details on the window will lead the viewer to this conclusion! Two doves and the half open window forms a nice triangle now. Hope you like this.
Done in GIMP with RT5.8 as the raw editor.
DSC_0169.NEF.pp3 (12.1 KB)


Nice material

DSC_0169.NEF.xmp (11.8 KB, dt3.1)


I agree. I had to study it carefully to be sure it wasn’t. IMO that’s the strength of the image. I prefer @sotsoguk’s attempt so far . Here’s my take in darktable 3.1.

DSC_0169.NEF.xmp (9.1 KB)

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DSC_0169-1.jpg.out.pp3 (12.9 KB)


darktable 3.0.2

DSC_0169.NEF.xmp (10,6 Ko)


a-DSC_0169.jpg.out.arp (17.8 KB)

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Made improvements today. I must get used to using two instances of color balance. Perspective aligned horizontally is much better.

DSC_0169.NEF.xmp (39.3 KB)

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Interesting :). But i think the three birds looking like a composition of one bird landing is the only interesting part of the image.

Nice dreamy look, thanx

That’s what i had in mind. Very good imho.

Just the focus on the birds, like it.

I think the birds are not that important in your picture. But man, the overall look is fanstastic, i have to take a look at your xmp file for similar pictures.

That’s my new version. Thanks a lot for all your input! I will definitely have to improve my DT skills (especially color and denoising).

In Darktable i still don’t easily get the color “look” i want. In Lightroom it was for me much easier. Do you use any styles / LUTS ?

Is there any good tutorial for Denoising in DT? I just booted my manjaro drive and luckily DT there is much snappier, so playing with different parameters is much less time consuming :wink:


DSC_0169.NEF.xmp (12.7 KB)

Tried to emphasize the birds even more. Kinda like a more dark tone.

Would someone tell me what steps to take in GIMP to export in a size suitable for posting?

Never mind, I exported a 12x9 image with print size 4x3, and it came out much darker than what I see in GIMP, but then I went back and exported a full size image, and it did the same thing. Problem lies elsewhere (maybe behind the keyboard).

I think the doves are the cool part of the picture, I personally prefer filling the frame with them

DSC_0169.NEF.xmp (22.1 KB)

Thanks, my crop is not as tight as others, allowing the scene to breathe. If you check the crop tool in xmp, and turn on golden mean guidelines, you will see how it all aligns nicely.

I’ve never used styles or LUTs in darktable, but they certainly have their uses.

Here is a link to the recent Bruce Williams video I watched:
The top comment by @rawfiner is also extremely helpful and clarifies a few things not covered in the video.
Search youtube for denoise darktable and you will find many other results.

If you just want to remove chroma noise, I like denoise (non local means) and turn luma down to 0.

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