Weathered Feather Panorama

While taking a walk at the Audubon’s Plainsboro Preserve in NJ, I was looking for some photo opportunities. Plainsboro Preserve is almost 1,000 acres with a variety of trails and an almost 50 acre lake. Because it is a large area, most birds are distant, but you never know what you might find. It also seems to a have a lot of Beavers, so you see their handiwork (felled trees with their tooth marks) all around the areas near the water on the Preserve.

I found this weathered feather along the path and thought it looked interesting. I took 2 images, handheld with a 300mm f/4 IS lens with a 1.4X teleconverter. I like this Canon lens for an all purpose Walk Around lens. It is sharp, image stabilized, focuses fairly close on its own, very hand holdable, fairly lightweight and sharp. So I use this lens quite a bit for when I am just taking a walk with no idea of what I might photograph. If you carry extension tubes with you, you can even get closer for a very close, almost macro lens.

I used Photoshop to combine the two images, which most of the time works well! You just have to give enough of an overlap so it seems to be more accurate in lining the 2 images and automatically blending the final image. Every once in a while you might have to do a slight touch up.

Feather In The Wind

We went to Davidson Mill Pond Park Earth Center in New Jersey to walk around and get some sun. I found this feather, stuck on a twig, blowing in the wind. I liked textures of the feather. But it was moving back and forth violently in the wind, so I used a shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second to try to get a sharp image. I also used a 300mm lens to get a smoother & cleaner looking background.

2 Shot Weathered Feather Image

When walking, looking for photo subjects, I like to find detail subjects along the way. They are good for accent images or just something interesting to look at. They can add interest to the blog or for use in an ebook. Often I have a long lens on my camera for Birds and other Wildlife when I am walking in a Nature area. But when I find smaller detail subjects, I do not want to change lenses. I usually also do not carry 2 large camera bodies and I do not like the quality of the iPhone images. So if I have a second camera it is usually a m43 camera with a 14-140mm lens. Or like I did here on these 2 images. I shot multiple images handheld with a 300mm and combined them in Photoshop. The featured image was 2 shots and the one below was 3 images. These were from a walk at the Plainsboro Preserve in NJ.


Feather in Duck Weed

Feather on Path

As I was leaving a local Nature Area, I noticed this feather on the path. I took a series of images to try a new technique a friend showed me. This technique helps eliminate noise and helps the fine details stand out. I opened them in Adobe Camera Raw, made my adjustments, then opened them in Photoshop, in layers and Auto-Aligned them. In Layers Panel, converted them to Smart Objects. Then chose Layer>Smart Objects>Stack Mode > Median. You can experiment with other stack modes also, but Median seems to work best. Your Photoshop version must be an extended version or a Creative Cloud version. Then flatten your image and you will see the noise is reduced drastically and to me seems a hair sharper. Maybe from just the noise reduction. I tried it in the studio with ISO 6400 and it made a huge difference. This image was at ISO 400.

Feather on Path v2 detail_43G4365

Tight Detail Crop from original file – 300 mm, 1.4X Series III Teleconverter,  f/16, 1/15 sec, ISO 400. About 8 feet away.

Feather on Path v3 detail_43G4365

Tighter Detail Crop from original file – 300 mm, 1.4X Series III Teleconverter, f/16, 1/15 sec, ISO 400. About 8 feet away.

Feather Closeup 1X to 5X+ in Studio

When the weather gets colder and the days get shorter and grayer it is fun to shoot some extreme closeups of natural subjects in the studio. When I am photographing outside I collect subjects to photograph in the studio at a later date. My favorite is feathers, but leaves, seeds or almost anything natural can be interesting. Your studio can be your kitchen, living room, etc. or an actual photo studio. It is fun to try stretching your photographic vision in a controlled environment to see what you come up with. It can be extreme closeups of everyday items in your home or natural items you find and bring inside. It is interesting to see even a slight change in angle or shift in lighting can make a big difference in your final image. Simplistically, shooting parallel to your image gives you more depth of field across the subject, shooting at an angle gives you more of a view to highlight a certain area in sharp focus and a softer look in other areas highlighting a certain area you want to show. Also you can use many homemade items to add to your image. Try a small reflector or mirror to bounce back a little highlight to an area or even a white fill card. Lighting from above and behind adds more to surface textures. It is fun to try different techniques or just experiment to see what you get. Another technique to try is focus stacking, especially for closeup macro shots for more depth of field in your image. Images below are from 1X to 6 or 7X with a variety of macro lenses. 50mm macro, Canon MPE 65mm , 100mm macro and 150mm macro.

Feather stack eleven v1

Feather – 11 stacked images for more depth of field

feather stack eight v2

Feather Image – 8 stacked images for depth of field

_43G5943 stack v4

Feather – 4 stacked images for depth of field

feather_43G6019Feather v1_43G5993feather stack v2_hp 43G6010Feather 5x_43G6016Feather 4x_43G5998_43G5986 set3_43G584 stack v2

Floating Feathers

I went to one of the local spots to see what I could find to photograph. A lot of Canada Geese off in the distance and a few ducks. So I concentrated on Feathers that were floating in the water nearby. Some had water drops that added some more interest and dimension. One Feather, at the right angle, was shaped like a fish. All are stacked images, from four to 10 images, stacked in photoshop. All shot with a m43 camera, lens 600mm equivalent.

feather cf v4

Feather cf v8

feather stack cf v5a

feather v2


Great Egret Preening Feather

We finally saw a few more birds at the Celery Farm Natural Area. A Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Herons, and a Kingfisher with some smaller birds thrown in. This Great Egret flew in to a pile of sticks in the water not to far from us. It started preening and feathers started blowing away in the breeze. It was very harsh contrasty light, so I tried some fill flash and underexposed a little.

Great Egret cf v10 2015_43G7996

Great Egret Cf v10 2015_43G7997

Great Egret cf v10_43G7998


Feather CloseUp Stacked Images

Busy with work and not great weather outside, so have not posted much lately. Had a chance to play with a feather in the studio with extreme macro at 1.3X to 6.5X and multiple images combined with Focus Stacking in photoshop. Used a Canon EOS1D MkIV with a Canon 100mm macro and a Canon MP-E 65mm 1X-5X macro lens.

Here are a few examples.

feather v1_43G5980 v2

Feather v1_43G5993



feather base no stack_43G5925

Feather 5x_43G6016

feather 5x v1_43G6026

_43G5857 set2 hp v3


Hawk Feather Still Life

I found this Hawk Feather in the yard so I thought I would try shooting a few Still Life images with the feather on an interesting background in the studio. I saved a wood section from a Pussy Willow tree that fell down during Hurricane Sandy and used it for an interesting textured background for the feather. When the weather gets colder or if it is a rainy day, it can be fun to try shooting setups indoors. You can use simple hot lights with homemade light modifiers, diffusers and scrims or even portable speed lights. I used a Canon EOS 1D MkIV with the Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM. Lighting was with a Canon 550 Speedlight with a reflector bouncing light back in for a ratio of about 1:3. Exposure was f/22 for maximum depth of field with an ISO of 400. During the year I save items I find thinking of using them as studio subjects when the weather turns cold.



%d bloggers like this: