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Plucked From Paradise
Plucked From Paradise

Photograph Information Photographer's Comments
Challenge: Harsh Environments II (Advanced Editing VII)
Camera: Nikon D80
Lens: Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR DG IF-ED
Location: Everglades
Date: Mar 13, 2008
Aperture: f/2.8
ISO: 100
Shutter: 1/1000
Galleries: Nature, Animals
Date Uploaded: Mar 16, 2008

I took a break from work and drove to one of my favorite places, the Anhinga Trail, to capture an image of the harsh environment of the Everglades. Another visitor that I had been talking to when I first arrived predicted that the heron that he was watching was about to attempt to catch the frog which was actually about twenty feet away from him. I was surprised to find that he was absolutely right because the Heron strode over to where he said there was a frog (I didn't see it) and after a moment of close inspection plucked it from it's hiding spot on the edge of the water. I carefully moved around to ensure that the water was in the background of the shot with a large aperture to reduce distractions and a fast shutter speed for sharpness in case of any quick movements of either of the animals. Actually, I pressed the shutter halfway as the bird was walking back to the water and waited too long to finish pressing it. This resulted in the shot being slightly out of focus. I compensated heavily by repeated use of unsharp at several different settings to make the bird's head appear sharper.

I would have liked to have had the opportunity to take this shot at any other time of day because the overhead sunlight was extremely harsh. To compensate somewhat for the harsh light I underexposed the shot by .3 step and also reduced the exposure of the RAW file further by about .22 step.

I had several shots to choose from, some of which were sharper and of a closer crop on the frog and with water dripping from the frog's feet or flying through the air from being shaken. But the background was not as good for this challenge and I felt it was important to keep the environment more prominent to keep my entry more in line with the challenge title. Here is one of those other choices:
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/35000-39999/39184/120/658566.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/35000-39999/39184/120/658566.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Post processing steps:

Converted RAW file in Nikon Capture NX
Reduced exposure by about .22
Warmed up the white balance to about 5000K
Used control points to darken the background in places
Used control points to reduce the blown out highlights on the frogs belly and the top of the heron's head
Used control point to brighten and saturate heron's eye
Opened in CS2
History brush to erase levels adjustment to frog's belly
Cloned out distracting twig that was over the heron's wing and head plumage
Multiple applications of unsharp at various settings alternated with selective use of history brush
Burn tool on the mentioned blown out highlights
Increased contrast, reduced brightness
Resize for DPC

Expectations during voting:

I expect that this shot will do well since it is somewhat unique. My biggest concern is that the subject is more of the animals and possibly not enough of the environment for this challenge and that voters will score it lower for this reason.

Score prediction: 6.3

Place: 6 out of 129
Avg (all users): 6.7238
Avg (commenters): 7.8000
Avg (participants): 6.2000
Avg (non-participants): 6.9237
Views since voting: 2866
Views during voting: 363
Votes: 181
Comments: 24
Favorites: 4 (view)

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10/16/2008 09:27:17 AM
I love the interpretation of the theme in this shot! Beautiful capture!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/28/2008 02:00:05 PM
Wonderful shot! Also,extra points for the description...
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/27/2008 10:45:12 AM
First let me say WOW !, simply magnificent.

The Title/Challenge

I like the title of the capture it fits well with the challenge giving us the best of both worlds paradise & harsh, nice mix.

The Border

The border is nicely done, the green & black work well together here giving a nice accent to the image. I see way to many borders that are over done and a distraction. This was done just right.

The background

Very nice use of DFO here we get just enough to recognize the glades without being a distraction or detracting from your focal point. Well done.

The composition

What can I say outstanding.

The tonality

Very well done the colors are deep and have lots of pop.

Over all

Just a great image all the way around the image has interest, eye popping color, nice clean, crisp focus. The details in the Heron & frog are fantastic, and an awesome composition. Well done !!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/24/2008 10:02:53 AM
Ohmy! What a fabulous nature photo! This is amazing. You compensated for the midday light really well! Not a distraction in the least! CONGRATULATIONS!

  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/24/2008 09:32:04 AM
Outstanding image. Congrats on top 10.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/24/2008 04:47:56 AM
Excellent capture, congrats on your top 10 finish!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/24/2008 12:59:08 AM
Congrats on a great score, and another outstanding "Everglades Critters" image!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
03/22/2008 05:42:06 AM
Fantastic capture! And you're right, it is a harsh environment for the frog.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/21/2008 06:10:54 PM
Great catch. Tough world for froggy, not for you. One of my high score fo this challenge. Good Luck.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/21/2008 02:15:14 PM
This is really nice, great exposure and composition, and tones. Not to mention the patience it must have took (or luck hehe) to get this shot.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/21/2008 01:01:16 AM
Great catch, too bad about the blown out areas; did you try reducing exposure in raw prior to converting to jpg? Also,, I wouldn't be surprised if conversion to black and white ended up enhancing the drama several fold.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/20/2008 03:50:38 PM
talk about the 'decisive moment' - excellent capture, although on my monitor it appears a tad over bright.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/20/2008 01:37:33 PM
Glad I'm not a frog! Nice and eye-pleasing.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/20/2008 12:36:57 PM
brutal! good capture!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/20/2008 07:16:34 AM
natures frog gigger
this is too cool 10
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/19/2008 04:08:37 PM
Wow, a lovely shot....colors are really vibrant!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/19/2008 11:36:08 AM
Fan-flipping-tastic. Nailed it. Insta-ribbon :)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/19/2008 10:16:51 AM
i am voting high on this because right place right time eans so much
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/19/2008 05:48:45 AM
ouch! 8 ...
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/18/2008 09:27:06 PM
very nice and harsh
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/18/2008 04:17:53 PM
Just superb !!!!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/18/2008 03:59:58 PM
Nice nature shot. Reeally harsh for the frog...
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/17/2008 06:01:11 PM
ouch..... that's gotta suck! nice focus and colors
  Photographer found comment helpful.
03/17/2008 12:34:32 PM
Nice catch.
  Photographer found comment helpful.

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