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Hermit Thrush Photo Advice

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Old Friday 16th June 2017, 17:44   #1
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Hermit Thrush Photo Advice

I was lucky enough to have a Hermit thrush perch near me and burst into song earlier this spring. I took dozens of photos while creeping closer, and I'm looking for critique on this photo in particular. The bird was located in a dense stand of young aspen, making a clear shot difficult. Unfortunately, this resulted in a blurry branch across the foreground of the photo. This is more noticable in the horizontal crop of the photo. With this in mind, which do you prefer, horizontal of vertical? Also, can anything be done about this stray branch or do you prefer it in the photo? I have made minor adjustments in exposure and contrast, as well as resizing in order to post to the forum. Are there any other changes you would make? The photos were taken at 1/640, f/5.6, ISO 640 with my Canon T4i and 400 f/5.6L lens. Thanks for your help.
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Old Saturday 17th June 2017, 09:18   #2
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Difficult to critique an image like this, as it's a bird singing in it's natural habitat - there's little you can do about twigs and other obstructions. It looks like you've lost some detail on the bird due to noise reduction, and the lighting isn't ideal; it's still a nice image of a good bird singing... sometimes that's the best you'll ever get.

I've done a quick edit to show what you could do if you wanted to spend time on the image, although I'd probably see if I could get some more detail on the bird - maybe less noise reduction on the RAW file before doing anything else. The problem is, where do you stop? Do you clone out the twig behind the bird too? How about the flower above the bird's head?
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Old Saturday 17th June 2017, 10:44   #3
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In terms of purely composition I prefer the horizontal image, but once one opens it up to see the detail I think the vertical one works better. Again, from the point of view of composition I'd prefer the bird to be further to the left, but that would give us more of the stupid twig, so I think you've found a good compromise (I've been there!).

I do think that there are quite a few positives: The light is beautiful and the bird is doing something that conveys more than a picture of a bird, but an aspect of the nature of the bird. I agree with Chris that one would like to have more feather detail in particular on the bird's head if that is possible from the original, and that removing the twig certainly improves the photo. Because the eye is drawn to the bird I don't think you have to worry much about the unknowing viewer picking up any remnants of the removed object.

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