Category Archives: Bird photography

Straight out of Camera versus Editing in the digital darkroom

In the last couple of years I’ve seen a lot on Facebbok and various forums regarding straight out of camera (SOOC) images and their merits as opposed to images that have been adjusted in a digital package (such as Lightroon, Photoshop, etc).  The SOOC folk seem to think there are some great merits to not having ‘done anything’ to their images, which means they have, in their not so humble opinions, got it ‘right’ in camera.  There are even Facebook groups devoted to SOOC images!

What many of them overlook is the fact that those jpegs they’re posting (they’re always jpegs as otherwise they’ve processed them) HAVE been processed – by the in camera algorithm of the company that makes the camera.

My take on editing treats digital ‘straight out of camera’ (SOOC) images I treat as negatives.  When I shot film (and I shot film for around 50 years) I wouldn’t show the negatives to someone and ask them didn’t they think it was a great shot.  I’d print it, or get it printed.  A process involves a lot of decisions and does involve editing.

So I don’t think the much touted ‘SOOC’ has any great merits.  I prefer to shoot raw (I always shoot Raw or Raw + Jpeg) and edit in my digital darkroom.  I do like to get it as ‘right’ as I can, so the editing I have to do is minimal, but I have absolutely no problem in adjusting colour balance, saturation, brightness and contrast in my digital darkroom – those are things we did in the wet darkroom, too.  Colour balance was achieved by the inserting of filters into the enlarger head, saturation and brightness by the timing of the exposure in the enlarger, and the enlarging lens settings, and contrast the grade of paper chosen, soft to hard. So there is no way a print from a negative is straight out of camera.

Here’s a recent image – the SOOC jpeg and the raw edited to bring it up to a better result.  I’ve only done exactly what I would have done in the darkroom – lightened the shadows a bit (done by dodging and burning in the wet darkroom), and adjusting white balance and levels.  SOOC is on the right – and it’s certainly a usable image, but the edited version on the left is far better.  You can see the settings I used in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) before opening in Photoshop and resizing to ‘print’ standard for the web.  As I only managed 2 frames of this bird before he flew off, I didn’t have time for a lot of in camera adjustments.  This is the strength of digital, we can save much more marginal images than was possible in film.

Bird Shot Comparison

I love digital.  I embraced it as early as I was able to afford it, and love the freedom it gives me to shoot as many angles and exposure combinations as I desire of a chosen subject.  The very fact that I DON’T have to make such critical decisions on the fly and in the field are, to me, digital’s huge strength and advantage.  Why limit yourself when it is not necessary?

And in digital you can make these fine adjustments yourself, so the result reflects YOUR taste and vision, not that of a technician in a photo lab somewhere.  No matter how good a photo lab, what they duo is filtered through your instructions of what you want to achieve and their interpretation of those instructions.  It introduces levels of misunderstanding that don’t happen when you do the work yourself.

In the film days, not may people had access to, or the high level skills to use, the resources of a full colour wet lab.  So we were reliant on the skills of this technicians,  I know I suffered some disappointments in when what I envisaged came back from the lab, and the results were somewhat short, and often very different.  Indeed, some of those images I have had scanned and adjusted in the digital darkroom, and I like my results much better.

So, for me, it’s digital all the way, and I embrace the width and depth of the editing possibilities available.  I even like to do montages, although I always state that they are composed using more than one frame, and I call them images, rather than photos.  And yes, you could do those in your wet darkroom too, although it took a lot of skills and a painstaking level of fine finagling to get them right.  Digital is MUCH easier!

Naturally, not everyone will agree, that’s what makes our photography such an interesting job/hobby/past-time.


Another whale of a time!

Today we saw 6 or 7 glorious breaches and this was the best your fearless photographer could do. I just kept being in the wrong spot in the boat. One of those days. But I had a thoroughly enjoyable (if frustrating) time and got a plethora of lovely whale tail shots.

But firstly, while waiting at the dock a pair of ospreys flew to the mast of a boat moored nearby, a nice little bonus!  The first one on got the good perch and the other bird had a frustrating time trying to balance and eventually flew off, in disgust, I imagine!

This whale was breaching right by Cook Island, just off Fingal.


The next shots are of a whale who seemed to be having (ahem) a whale of a time.  He tail slapped so vigourously and at least 20 or 25 times – just over, and over, and over again.  I have about 30 shots.



Nicki, the whale expert on board – she is a marine biologist who has studied humpbacks all over the world – assured us this next view showed he is a male.  I’ll take her word for it!


We left this guy then and saw a few more, with one excellent shot resulting.

I do have some more for editing but these are the outstanding ones.


A Sunday of Surf and Seagulls

I collected a friend and we toodled down to Duranbah to check out see the big swell which had been forecast.  It turned out to be not so big and was producing disorganised waves, but we were there, we’d lugged our big lenses down, so we grabbed some shots anyway!  All the surf shots are with the canon 40D (to give more ‘reach) and Sigma 150-500 – at 500 for all images.

I liked this one, I was shooting for the 2 figures but the pointy end of the 3rd board sort of gives it an endless line feel, if you know what I mean.

And I shot a couple of runs (up to 15 shots – see them on my website) of this fellow due to the fact that (a) we got talking to his dad who was videoing him, and (b) he was easy to pick out because his wettie was a bit ‘different’ with white at the top and down one arm.  I do wish there were more light coloured wetties – it would make the job of exposure much easier!

And those seagulls?  It came over showery so we went for a bit of a drive south to Hastings Point – where we purchased lunch at the great take away by the caravan park and drove out to the point and threw chips to the seagulls.  All seagull shots with 40D & canon 50mm f1.8.

This is actually two seagulls, I was a bit stumped at first by this apparently strangely formed seagull until I realised!

I call thius one ‘The Birds’ in a nod to AH!

Seascapes and a seagull

_P1Z4585, originally uploaded by Photography by Odille.

I toodled down to Duranbah yesterday and the surf was impressive but almost unrideable, the waves were only about 1 metre but they were just exploding with force. I caught a couple of nice wide view seascapes though and a seagull in flight I am fairly pleased with.

All with 1DsMkII and 100-400 zoom. As usual, large sizes on my Flickr

Vintage Lakes Wetlands

Naturally, as a photographer I like taking bird shots.  They always look good and some species can make pretty darned spectacular subjects.

I am lucky enough to have a local lake/wetland in the Vintage Lakes housing estate, at South Tweed Heads, just down the road.  I visit there often, here are some images from the area.

and some individual egret shots from a later visit