While I was in Costa Rica last month we stumbled on a bird I’ve never seen there before. A Laughing Falcon, which is also referred to as a Snake Hawk. I honestly don’t know how our guide spotted it, as it was buried back behind so many trees, inside of trees, and so far away – but he did which is why Dennis rocks!
So we all jumped out of the vans, and had a two tiny little holes through these trees directly in front of us, to shoot through. This is one of those times where digital came in so handy. The falcon was pretty far away and the light was pretty low since it was deep in the trees.
That made it really hard to spot the branch that was in front of the falcon with your naked eye and even when you were shooting because it was so dark and distant. But after I took a shot, I reviewed it, zoomed in, and saw the branch.
After that, there was another small area to shoot through so I switched to that one and it allowed for the branch to move to the left so it wasn’t across the falcon’s face. Below is the before photo (before any distraction removal and cropping, noise reduction) and below that is the After photo.
Gear, Settings, and Post Processing
I used my Sony Alpha 1 with the 200-600m lens. I had my camera set to AF-S, using the Center Point Focus area with the center point squarely on the Falcon’s head/body (doesn’t matter at this distance as it will all be sharp). I was in Manual Exposure mode with Auto ISO turned on, as well as the zebras turned on in camera to help with exposure.
Post processing was done in Lightroom for exposure, cropping, color and toning corrections. Then I jumped to Photoshop for some heavy distraction removal using Content Aware Fill and the Healing Brush with a little bit of the Patch Tool thrown in. Finally, I moved to Topaz DeNoise AI for some quick Noise Reduction and sharpening (it does both and noise was worse here so that’s where I went instead of Topaz Sharpen). (more on Topaz here)
As always my editing is covered in my Wildlife Editing Secrets Course. Also, you can find links to all of my gear, computers, hard drives, etc… over on the Gear page which can be clicked on in the top menu (or just click here). And it’s always appreciated if you use the links on that page (even if you’re not purchasing that specific item) when buying anything. It doesn’t cost you a penny and it’ll help me out a bit 🙂
Thanks and enjoy!
Fabulous bird! What a great day !
Your commentary is terrific. Thank you for sharing with us.
Interesting about bird sighting in Costa Rica.
What is your guide Dennis last name
We did a Costa Rica/Panama trip in early 2020 with a Dennis (will look through old literature to find his full name).
Beautiful little bird. S/he looks like an American Kestrel embarking on a life of crime with that eye mask. Your editing is seamless and it’s an all-around awesome shot!
I really appreciate the info about settings and post processing. I’ve been going back through my gazillion bird photos and using the new Topaz iterations to edit. Holy rockets, what a difference! Even shots I thought were a lost cause are not only salvageable but actually look pretty darn good.
I’m very glad you’re doing a bird blog, and can’t wait for the new course!