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Why Does the Bird Seed Appear More Clearly Than the Male House Finch in the Attached Image?
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Apr 18, 2021 14:07:12   #
Shooter41 Loc: Wichita, KS
 
In my attempt to get maximum clarity in the images I create, I am mystified why the bird seed appears to be much sharper than the bird, even though they both are in focus. I can't decide if it has to do with lightness and darkness, or perhaps the sharply defined edges of of bird seed, or yet some other element I'm not smart enough to think of. What say you, master photographers on UHH?


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Apr 18, 2021 14:13:48   #
ejones0310 Loc: Tulsa, OK
 
In my opinion, it’s because the feathers that make up most of the bird are softening the edges of the bird and the different color areas in the bird. If you look at just his feet, they seem just as sharp as the seed.

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Apr 18, 2021 14:24:30   #
Cwilson341 Loc: Central Florida
 
I tend to agree. The bird looks sharp to me.

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Apr 18, 2021 14:25:39   #
PixelStan77 Loc: Vermont/Chicago
 
Shooter41 wrote:
In my attempt to get maximum clarity in the images I create, I am mystified why the bird seed appears to be much sharper than the bird, even though they both are in focus. I can't decide if it has to do with lightness and darkness, or perhaps the sharply defined edges of of bird seed, or yet some other element I'm not smart enough to think of. What say you, master photographers on UHH?


What F stop did you use?

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Apr 18, 2021 14:26:46   #
leftj Loc: Texas
 
Shooter41 wrote:
In my attempt to get maximum clarity in the images I create, I am mystified why the bird seed appears to be much sharper than the bird, even though they both are in focus. I can't decide if it has to do with lightness and darkness, or perhaps the sharply defined edges of of bird seed, or yet some other element I'm not smart enough to think of. What say you, master photographers on UHH?


In my opinion the bird is as sharp or sharper than the beans. LOL

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Apr 18, 2021 14:27:32   #
robertjerl Loc: Corona, California
 
Shooter41 wrote:
In my attempt to get maximum clarity in the images I create, I am mystified why the bird seed appears to be much sharper than the bird, even though they both are in focus. I can't decide if it has to do with lightness and darkness, or perhaps the sharply defined edges of of bird seed, or yet some other element I'm not smart enough to think of. What say you, master photographers on UHH?


The sharply defined edges are probably the answer but also the bird, like most living creatures, has constant "micro-movement", esp. when balancing on a perch itself.

Get your longest telephoto lens, focus on a sharp edged target on the other side of the yard/room etc. and then try to hand hold the lens perfectly steady for a period of time. Breathing, heart beat, muscle twitches etc. will give you constant micro movement (or not so micro). A monopod helps cut down on this, a tripod does better, and a tethered camera so you don't touch it even better, beanbag/sandbag rests also help and the highest shutter speed practical in the situation. But a lot of this only works for a still subject in a known location. Not when hand holding or out "hunting" birds and other subjects. Then a monopod or rest with high SS are the main things to cut down on this. When out and about after birds etc. anything I can brace against or rest the camera on becomes one of my best friends.
Oh, yeah, it also helps if the subject/target is still. You think finches move a lot - try Bushtits, I think of them as "little flying nervous breakdowns".

But as noted it is mainly the sharp edges vs the fuzzy/fluffy feathers and color patterns. The bird does have lots of good detail.

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Apr 18, 2021 15:04:22   #
bobmcculloch Loc: NYC, NY
 
Shooter41 wrote:
In my attempt to get maximum clarity in the images I create, I am mystified why the bird seed appears to be much sharper than the bird, even though they both are in focus. I can't decide if it has to do with lightness and darkness, or perhaps the sharply defined edges of of bird seed, or yet some other element I'm not smart enough to think of. What say you, master photographers on UHH?


First off, nice image, to me the feet look sharp, the seed at the top looks sharper than the seed at the bottom, if you hadn't asked I never would have noticed but the birds eye and bill seem softer than the feet. Could you check the original image before cropping? where was the focal point? might give you a clue.

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Apr 18, 2021 16:05:02   #
Shooter41 Loc: Wichita, KS
 
ejones0310 wrote:
In my opinion, it’s because the feathers that make up most of the bird are softening the edges of the bird and the different color areas in the bird. If you look at just his feet, they seem just as sharp as the seed.


Dear ejones0310...I think you are correct. Looking at the birds feet, they are just as sharp as the seeds. Well spoken, Sir.

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Apr 18, 2021 16:07:42   #
Shooter41 Loc: Wichita, KS
 
PixelStan77 wrote:
What F stop did you use?


Dear PixelStan77...I used F5.6 rather than my usual F2.8 or F4.0 to make use of a wider depth of field and clarity.
It would appear that worked well.

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Apr 18, 2021 16:11:19   #
Shooter41 Loc: Wichita, KS
 
leftj wrote:
In my opinion the bird is as sharp or sharper than the beans. LOL


Dear leftj...Perhaps I am looking at my own image cross-eyed or prejudiced in favor of bird seed. (Do you mind answering the question, "Did you enlarge the bird and check for noise to arrive at your conclusion?")

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Apr 18, 2021 16:17:14   #
leftj Loc: Texas
 
Shooter41 wrote:
Dear leftj...Perhaps I am looking at my own image cross-eyed or prejudiced in favor of bird seed. (Do you mind answering the question, "Did you enlarge the bird and check for noise to arrive at your conclusion?")


No I did not. I looed at the photo as posted. Pixel peeping is not my thing.

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Apr 18, 2021 16:18:16   #
Shooter41 Loc: Wichita, KS
 
bobmcculloch wrote:
First off, nice image, to me the feet look sharp, the seed at the top looks sharper than the seed at the bottom, if you hadn't asked I never would have noticed but the birds eye and bill seem softer than the feet. Could you check the original image before cropping? where was the focal point? might give you a clue.


Dear bobmcculloch...I hate to admit my own ignorance, but in this instance I have no choice. The reason the seed at the top looks sharper than the seed at the bottom is because I copied the seed at the top and transferred that portion of the image to the bottom to cover up a distracting black plastic ramp that funnels the seeds to the opening when the birds remove seeds. In regard to me discovering where my focal point was, I have no idea how to do that. Would you mind sharing with me that technique. It will come in handy in improving my clarity when I struggle trying to focus on the birds eye but I am zoomed out too far and only focus somewhere on the birds body. Thank you in advance for sharing your knowledge.

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Apr 18, 2021 16:23:43   #
Shooter41 Loc: Wichita, KS
 
robertjerl wrote:
The sharply defined edges are probably the answer but also the bird, like most living creatures, has constant "micro-movement", esp. when balancing on a perch itself.

Get your longest telephoto lens, focus on a sharp edged target on the other side of the yard/room etc. and then try to hand hold the lens perfectly steady for a period of time. Breathing, heart beat, muscle twitches etc. will give you constant micro movement (or not so micro). A monopod helps cut down on this, a tripod does better, and a tethered camera so you don't touch it even better, beanbag/sandbag rests also help and the highest shutter speed practical in the situation. But a lot of this only works for a still subject in a known location. Not when hand holding or out "hunting" birds and other subjects. Then a monopod or rest with high SS are the main things to cut down on this. When out and about after birds etc. anything I can brace against or rest the camera on becomes one of my best friends.
Oh, yeah, it also helps if the subject/target is still. You think finches move a lot - try Bushtits, I think of them as "little flying nervous breakdowns".

But as noted it is mainly the sharp edges vs the fuzzy/fluffy feathers and color patterns. The bird does have lots of good detail.
The sharply defined edges are probably the answer ... (show quote)


Dear robertjerl...You are correct. The male House Finch bird is a breathing, heart beating , jitterbug, in constant movement, while the bird seeds are motionless inside the feeder tube.

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Apr 18, 2021 16:37:19   #
bobmcculloch Loc: NYC, NY
 
Shooter41 wrote:
Dear bobmcculloch...I hate to admit my own ignorance, but in this instance I have no choice. The reason the seed at the top looks sharper than the seed at the bottom is because I copied the seed at the top and transferred that portion of the image to the bottom to cover up a distracting black plastic ramp that funnels the seeds to the opening when the birds remove seeds. In regard to me discovering where my focal point was, I have no idea how to do that. Would you mind sharing with me that technique. It will come in handy in improving my clarity when I struggle trying to focus on the birds eye but I am zoomed out too far and only focus somewhere on the birds body. Thank you in advance for sharing your knowledge.
Dear bobmcculloch...I hate to admit my own ignoran... (show quote)


AS for the focal point, I always use the center point and only the center, puts my focus where I want it, crop for framing in post, I did stumble across a setting in my Canon software that showed where to focus point was when the photo was taken, don't remember where it is as I have not used it since I found it.
OK, went looking, in DPP it's in 'quick check', hope that helps you, Bob.

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Apr 19, 2021 05:18:12   #
R.G. Loc: Scotland
 
It's easy to make large detail stand out but it's more of a challenge to make small detail stand out. You're already at the limit of how much sharpening you can give it.

You're also right in thinking that lightness and darkness (i.e. contrast) is a factor. An increase in contrast gives an increase in vividness and an increase in vividness gives an impression of increased sharpness. However, you're already at the limit of how much contrast you can give it.

Much of what we do in editing is about increasing vividness. For example we need to add sharpness only up to the point where it gives an increase in vividness. Any more than that is excessive and is likely to produce unwanted effects. And it's not a good idea to depend on any one thing to add vividness. Sharpness, contrast, saturation and relative brightness should all be used together, but never to excess.

OK, your sharpness, contrast and saturation are pretty much at their maximum. So what does that leave? There are three things you can change - your expectations, the vividness of competing elements and their relative brightness. If you try to push contrast, sharpness and saturation any further you'll end up with an overcooked look. What you can do is reduce the vividness of anything that's not the finch - in particular the seeds. My suggestion is to select the seeds and reduce their contrast a little. That allows you to reduce their vividness without reducing the detail or colour. You could also brighten the finch a little and darken the seeds a little, especially the highlights (the eye is drawn to bright objects).

You could also give the finch a WB shift towards yellow and the background a WB shift towards blue (warm colours advance and cool colours retreat). Plus warm colours (red, orange, yellow and yellow-green) are more vivid than the cooler colours (green and blue).

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