I am slowly making my way through the thousands of images I shot while spending 4 weeks in Florida in December and January. “Making my way” means reviewing them and culling out those that are not “keepers.” Then, after selecting the best, they must be processed. If you are not a photographer and are interested in understanding what processing entails, the last couple paragraphs of this article explains it (without going into too much detail). If you already know or are not interested, skip the last paragraphs. Now, to the images in this article.
The above opening image is a Great Egret taken at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. They are also known as Great White Egrets or Common Egrets. Males and females are identical in appearance. Egrets have a slow flight, with their necks retracted. This also is a characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes, ibises, and spoonbills, which extend their necks in flight. Great Egrets feed in shallow water, feeding mainly on fish, frogs, small mammals, and occasionally small reptiles and insects. They will often wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk their victims.
Often mistaken for the Great Egret is the Snowy Egret (above and below), which is a small heron. Snowy Egrets are smaller than Great Egrets and have a slim black bill and long black legs with yellow feet. The area of their upper bill, in front of their eyes, is yellow but turns red during the breeding season. Snowies, as they are sometimes called, eat the same prey as Great Egrets, and although they too will sometimes slowly stalk their prey, at other times they run through the shallow water shuffling their feet to flush prey into sight. This behavior is entertaining to watch.
Below is a Belted Kingfisher photographed at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. The kingfisher is a stocky, medium sized bird with a large head and long, heavy bill. Kingfisher’s habitat is near inland bodies of water or coasts and are often seen perching on trees where they can watch the water for fish. When they find a fish, they will fly over the water hovering for the right opportunity to dive down to the water to catch their prey. I photographed this kingfisher as it was hovering over a flooded sinkhole and was also able to photograph it (below) as it dove down to the water. It is easy to tell when a kingfisher is in the area because of their unique reverberating metallic call.
As noted in the opening paragraph, the following explains what image “processing” means in my photography workflow. Processing includes converting the images from RAW files to JPG files. RAW files are the files made by a camera’s sensor and contain all of the digital information captured when a photograph is taken. RAW files must be converted to JPGs in order to be seen on the Internet, printed, or when emailed to a recipient. When processing, I may do any number of things to create my artistic vision of what I saw and what I want to present in the final image. Examples of some of the things I do in post processing include cropping, adjusting exposure, combining more than one image of different exposures, “burning and dodging” to darken or lighten selected areas, modifying color vibrance and/or saturation, sometimes converting to black and white, and sharpening, which is necessary for all digital images. It all depends on the image and my artistic representation of what I saw or want to present.
Post processing images is a critical step in digital photography. However, many people set their digital cameras to record images as JPGs, and then, no post processing is required. Adjustments can be made to such JPG files, but with limitations. Shooting images in RAW provides all of the unprocessed data and the ability to better render an image that represents what the photographer saw when the picture was taken.
With the above explanation, you now know why it takes time to review and process digital images. It can be time very consuming. Many professional and amateur photographers do not enjoy this part of photography. They would rather be taking pictures than sitting behind a computer. For me, I enjoy processing my images for two reasons. First, I am able to “relive the moment” when the image was made, and second, I enjoy creating an image that best represents the beauty I saw and want to share with others. Besides, I do most of my image processing in the evenings or on rainy days, when I cannot be outside photographing some of nature’s spectacular beauty.
In conclusion, Saturday, I spent the day in Cambridge, Maryland, photographing several species of ducks on the Choptank River. It was a fabulous day and a very successful day from a photography perspective. As a sample of a future blog post images of the ducks, one of the images is below. It is a Canvasback Duck. The Canvasback has a distinctive wedge-shaped head and long graceful neck. The adult male has a black bill, a chestnut red head and neck, a black breast, and bright red eyes. Standby for more…