Little Egret - Extreme Dynamic Range

In the mornings this Egret is usually catching food or sunbathing by the river side. I’ve tried to photograph it multiple times but I always return disappointed,
I’m not sure if it’s my photographic or editing capabilities, or just a gear limitation. It would surely be nice to have a little more range and shallower DOF, since separation seems to be a big issue in this shots(Also nicer to show only certain parts of the animal instead of the whole).

Because of the direct sunlight on such a reflective body, there’s quite a bit of haze and glow(the teleconverter makes it worse) which can be easily treated with the amazing diffuse and sharpen. The CA is another story though… thankfully it’s not very noticeable when zooming back.

Definitely the most technically challenging thing I’ve ever tried to photograph so far.

Happy Easter!

This one was upscaled and sharpened in GIMP with G’MIC.
DSCF2197.RAF.xmp (16.3 KB)
DSCF2197.RAF (22.3 MB)

DSCF1626.RAF.xmp (27.8 KB)
DSCF1626.RAF (24.9 MB)

DSCF2228.RAF.xmp (42.2 KB)
DSCF2228.RAF (22.2 MB)

License: Creative Commons, By-Attribution, Share-Alike.


DSCF2197.RAF.xmp (13.4 KB)

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The main issue was the low exposure (in-camera jpeg seems rather aggressive for this camera?): +3 EV in exposure module.

Otherwise, in darktable with filmic no particular problems (basecurve Fuji preset tends to blow the highlights already w/o exposure added :confused: )


The low exposure was purposeful as I was being careful as to not clip the egret, as it happened in the past, maybe I went a bit too far though :grin: It’s a bit hard to judge exposure here with the histogram. I guess I need to turn the zebras back on, may help a bit.

You might be able to change the settings for the in-camera rendering tolower contrast, and give you a better idea of what will be in the raw file. The in-camera jpeg might not be all that nice as a result, but if you don’t use those (other than in the raw preview), that’s not a problem.

I think the zebras are still based on the jpeg rendering, not the raw file.

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DSCF2228.RAF.xmp (12.7 KB)

little.egret.pp3 (20.8 KB) RawTherapee 5.8 Development

I’ve also noticed in your other PlayRaws that this specific lens, the XF 70-300mm, has some CA/Fringing issues (especially the cyan). Not easy to get rid of without creating a somewhat sharp line between light and dark.

Getting/keeping some detail in the white birds isn’t all that easy either.

Anyway, all-in-all a nice Sunday late-afternoon challenge :grin:

EDIT: Refined the defringing/CA issue.

Off topic: Man, pixls is slow today…


Yep, I believe they are based on the jpeg. Usually in these situations I use the pro neg low jpeg film simulation which gives a more or less low contrast look. Helps a bit but isn’t perfect. I wonder when manufacturers will start providing raw histograms or waveforms.

Without the teleconverter it doesn’t have a lot of CA, but when I use it, it becomes very apparent in some situations unfortunately.

Getting/keeping some detail in the white birds isn’t all that easy either.

Without a doubt, specially since the background has so much contrast, a really difficult situation. You did a great job there!

If you have the “Natural live view” feature, turn that on, it disables the film simulations while shooting and is lower contrast.

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For me, it is the initial loading of the site. The rest is fine.

Definitely, especially the delicate feathers. Yesterday, a young bird came right up to me, so close I could see its plumage in full sharpness. It was a nice experience.

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Just about everything is slow atm, until it is cached. Try uploading an edited image… But experience with Pixls and the internet in general has thought me that it’ll pass given time :expressionless:

Birds in general, but feathers specifically are interesting objects to shoot. Also a great object to talk about how sharp/detailed something needs to be (lets not go there :rofl:) and easy to end up with interference/moire due to the patterns within a feather interacting with the sensor pixels, especially one without an AA filter, if you’re not careful.

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Three great shots - thank you for sharing them.
My tries in GIMP. Similar approach for all three. Blend of three exposures derived from Filmulator, using Enfuse. Define the black and white points using Curves. Crop.

Blends of 0, +1 and +3

Blends of 0, +0.833, and +2

Blends of 0, +0.833, +1.833


I do, thanks, I will give it a try next time I go out. I barely use the jpegs on the x-t3 so no use shooting by their standard.

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Definitely, especially the delicate feathers. Yesterday, a young bird came right up to me, so close I could see its plumage in full sharpness. It was a nice experience.

Completely agree! A few days ago, whilst I was working, a dove came to my window and stayed there for a few minutes looking and checking me out. Gave me enough time to slowly and quietly get my camera a take a few pictures.
(If you zoom in you can see my window reflected on her eye)

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My version…

DSCF2197.RAF.xmp (15.9 KB)

In my attempt I focused on relighting the scene so that it resembles reality a bit more.

DSCF2197.RAF.xmp (10.9 KB)


DSCF2197-2.jpg.out.pp3 (14,5 KB)

I’ve always had challenges with Egrets and juvenile Blue Herons. It really helps to catch them in diffuse light. They have great body tone but its all in the highlights, so I’m usually pretty aggressive with the exposure compensation. I tried to brighten the foliage but the bird’s tonality got washed out, so I chose a dark background instead.

DSCF2197_01.RAF.xmp (12.6 KB)

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