I usually do very little post processing of my images, cropping, rotation or white balance adjustments then selectively masking and sharpening the subject is about all I do. But there are times when I think an image might be worth a little extra work and this young male Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) image seemed worth the effort.
I was photographing some ducks in a small pond that has marshy areas on the shoreline and was focused on the birds on the water when out of the corner of my eye I spotted this young male harrier coming in my direction. I quickly focused on where I thought the harrier might fly by but I had not zoomed back and the harrier flew closer than I anticipated, thus the clipped wingtip. The image above is full frame, straight out of the camera and resized to 850 pixels on the long side. I knew when I clicked the shutter that I should have zoomed back to 350mm but it all happened so fast.
I brought the image into ACR, made my adjustments and cropped the photo there then opened the file in Photoshop. I had to add canvas on the bottom and that took me longer than repairing the wingtip so that it looked very natural. The final image is a bit tighter on the top and bottom than I normally like but I loved the spread of the wings, the view of the plumage patterns and the look of concentration on the harrier’s face.
I could not post this to a critique forum without disclosing the repair work I did to the picture because of my personal ethics and also I don’t want to mislead any new photographers into believing that this image is “natural”. I also wouldn’t enter it into a contest because the rules often stipulate that only minimal processing should be done and cloning is not a minimal “processing”.
I learned from this experience though and next time a situation like this occurs I will back the zoom up a bit.
Even my photographic mistakes teach me something of value.