Tips and tricks: New examples of picture adjustments
by Ooi Beng Yean  and Stéphane Moniotte

The first 6 pictures are in 3 sets of 2 pictures each. Each set is with an original copy before adjustment, followed by a copy after adjustment using Photoshop5.5.  I must qualify that all I have done on the 1st copy before adjustment was merely change its image size to 8" wide and 6" height whereas the 2nd copy after adjustment was also resized to 8"x 6" then went through the following steps:
  • Step1: use IMAGE > ADJUST > LEVELS to brighten the image by merely moving its right hand scaler inwards by approximately 10-15 mm.
  • Step 2: use FILTER > SHARPEN > SHARPEN to sharpen the image overall, followed by 
  • Step 3: use FILTER > SHARPEN > SHARPEN EDGES to give a bit of sparkle on the eyes of the bird. 
Please note that I normally prefer to use UNSHARP MASK but for this exercise, I find that it is more consistent for comparison by using the above FILTERing steps. The same routine applies for set 2 and set 3. 

Sets 1 to 3 were shot on the same male pigeon but in ascending magnifications using a Swarovski AT80 HD. I was using Nikon Coolpix 990 digital camera attaching with Swarovski Scope on tripod with a metre long shutter released cable in my hand. This finding may be useful for 2 purposes at the least :

  • Firstly, we normally would like to capture some "safety" shots before we move closer to the bird and higher magnifications can fulfil such need particularly when the bird is not that big or very sensitive. 
  • Secondly when one is able to get reasonable close to the bird, some closed-up shots with higher magnifications can be useful and satisfying for highlighting the special feature/part of the bird for identification and educational purpose. I find that closed-up shots at times are so much more outstanding if one does not mind forgoing the habitat and vegetation that surround the bird.
Set 1 at 20x, 2nd set at 30+x and 3rd set at 40+x.  and the bird was just short of 50 feet indicated by the markings of my scope.  (I have previously sticked markings of 20, 30, 40, 50, 60,80,100,120 & 140 ft.  around the sizeable focusing ring of  my scope after carrying out such distances calibration with ropes).  I focused on the head of the bird for all my shots. 

The original image properties of the 3 sets are as follows (Click on each shot to get larger views):

Dscn 9866 ( 20x - 1st set of original) :-  File Size : 743.3 KB;  Image Size 2048x1536, Image Resolution : 300x300 dpi;  Image Quality : Normal;   Metering Mode : CentreWeighted Average; Exposure Mode : Aperture Priority;  Speed Light : Off; Focal Length: 19.4 mm (x1.00);   Shutter Speed : 1/13.9 sec; F Number : f/3.6; Exposure Compensation : -0.3 EV; White Balance : Auto;  Sensitivity : ISO100; Sharpening : Normal;  Image Adjustment : Normal.

Dscn9862 - 1st set, before adjustments.

BEFORE                                           AFTER 
Dscn 9881  (30+x - 2nd set of original): File Size : 773.3 KB; Focal length : 22.8mm (x1.00);  Shutter Speed : 1/4.2 sec.;  F number : f/4;  Exposure Compensation : -3EV: ; other parameters as 1st set, above.

Dscn 9881 - 2nd set, before adjustments. 

BEFORE                                           AFTER 
Dscn 9891 (40+x - 3rd set of original): File Size : 766.8 KB;  Focal Length 22.8 mm(x1.00);  Shutter Speed 1/1.8 sec.,  F Number: f/4;  Exposure Compen. : -3E; other parameters as 1st set, above.
Dscn9891 - 3rd set, before adjustments 
BEFORE                                           AFTER 
I observed that if the object is reasonably near (say within 100 feet), the lighting is correct and not too bad, the surrounding air is clear without heat wave, mist or haze, the bird can be shot with almost the same sharpness image with increasing magnification of the scope (may be up to 40x or more) as shown in the picture below. For this case, there wasn't much obstructing or disturbing objects (such as leaves or twigs) surrounding the bird and therefore I am not sure if that helps the focusing sharpness on the bird.  Last and most important (of course) factor of them all is that the bird must be cooperative and posted long enough for a steady shot as you can see the shutter speeds of the 3 sets.

This is just my observation and food for thoughts and by no means suggesting or encouraging shooting bird with higher magnifications only.  It is still best to shoot as close as possible to cut down all other undesirable elements that can affect sharpness, brightness (hence faster shutter speed) of the object in mind. All I am suggesting is that when the condition is right, one can experiment higher magnifications before moving closer to the bird, particularly if you know for sure the bird is very sensitive to movement closeby.  For some instances, it may be rewarding and increase the success rate of having a shot..

To conclude, see here my last two pix. These are the ones I consider best and loving among all my shots for the series of pink-necked pigeon pics I have taken for the day.


Back to the TIPS - Back to the digital darkroom