“I” stories voting and May 23rd Photos — Part 3

“J” story writing looms in my near future even as the country seems to be coming apart at the seams and our Baby President acts like the dicktator of a banana republic (with the unquestioning support of Republicans and supporters who seemingly have no clue what the word “patriot” means).

Against that backdrop, I understand why our “I”-stories vote count is on the low side. Still, if you want a break from our current bizarro world, read the “I” stories submissions, and after, if motivated, vote for their favorite of the “Alphabet Challenge I-Stories” HERE<<<This is a link.

That post has links to the individual stories and the poll where readers can click a box to indicate their appreciation for their favorite. And, after voting, readers can spread the news about the story to friends and family. Maybe.

So, continuing with the May 23, 2020 photo adventures . . . after capturing a few birds in the backyard, we went for a drive to Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge<<<This is a link and grabbed a few photos of birds on fences and reeds (shared a few posts ago <<<This is a link).

Then, as I stopped to look at the scenery, I noticed a large bird flying toward us (we were inside the car).

I turned off the car and lowered the window and zoomed in . . . 

A Bald Eagle, it was, angling in toward us.

That photo is as it came out of the camera and is shot at 300mm zoom.

The eagle was on a heading to cross right in front of us, so I only got four photos before I had the windshield interfering with the shots. Quickly, I lowered the passenger window and leaned over trying to get it on that side.

Instead, it turned right in front of us and headed back out across the lake. This time, I got out of the car, but by the time I was able to bring the camera into action, it was about 300 yards away (as measured on Google Earth) and preparing to land on a tree.

At the time, I had no idea why he’d done a fly-by . . . but I figured it out later (keep reading).

Anyway, back to the above photo. These next two photos show what I can get if I crop the original (essentially, doing the equivalent of a digital zoom).

NOTE: as usual, you can click on the photo for a larger version.

Not very good, those.

The first crop is OK as long as you don’t mind imagining what it looks like as opposed to seeing it. The second crop shows what happens when you enlarge a photo beyond the limit of the data you have.

. . . but I have Topaz Labs GigaPixel AI (see the previous post) . . .

Here are the same two photos after I enlarged the original 2X.

The photos are output the same size as the previous two, but they are cropped from a larger image, and hence there’s more detail, especially in the second crop.

The size differential is evident in the SmugMug Gallery HERE <<<This is a link if viewing the actual size of the uncropped images.

From herein, unless labeled otherwise, all the photos are the “closer” crops of a 2X enlargement of the original processed using DxO Nik Collection Color Efex Pro 4 and Lightroom CC.

Granted, if you do look at the full-size version — or even click on the above — and you closely look at the boundary between the bird and the sky, you might notice slight anomalies, but for me, I prefer these to the originals.

Here, some might say I’m cheating. What can I say? We admire paintings that are no more than approximations of the originals. A stylized rendition of the original. Well, photographers — from fashion to landscape to portraits — present an idealized and highly manipulated version of reality. And them be the ones who get paid a lot . . . I’m doing this for free, so I’ll do whatever I can to present something in what I think is the best way.

This next shot is of the eagle approaching the tree it was aiming for. Because it’s a poor-quality photo, I’m offering up the monochrome version.

The dynamic contrast between the eagle in the sun and the shade of the background tree was substantial, and it shows.

The shots in this next photo gallery are a bit — but not all that much — better.

That’s when I noticed a second eagle flying, this one between 500 and 600 yards away . . .

Original as captured
2X enlargement plus processing – crop no. 1
2X enlargement plus processing – crop no. 2

This next photo is close to a 1:1 crop of an original without any processing.

crop of an original photo — this is about as large as I can make it by cropping without enlarging

It’s a pretty decent photo (meaning, decent resolution) so I can play with it in Lightroom and improve it a bit (had to crop a bit less) . . .

Honestly, that’s pretty good. For comparison, here’s the version after enlarging the original 2X.

They look the same size because that’s how I output them, but the second one is much larger (click HERE <<<This is a Link for full-size version, then again to zoom in and out).

Here are two more photos from that series (they look the same but they are two different photos) . . .

That same bird made a sweeping turn and I took this shot . . .

At this point, I’m guessing 600+ yards because it eventually dropped below the treeline and the front of those trees are about 550 yards away.

This is a 1:1 crop of the eagle on the next photo in the series . . . 

Using the same process, here are two different crops of the 2X photo with that eagle . . .

It looks OK at 2X enlargement and presented at that size, but if I try to zoom/enlarge twice as much, we get this a bit of a mess. Here are a few versions at 4X enlargement processed slightly differently trying to get details to show . . .

Realistically, either one of these two crops are sufficient and hit the spot for resolution versus size (in my opinion).

The second shot is beginning to show artifacts from the enlargement. Those artifacts are clearly visible in the 4X enlargements in the previous gallery.

I went back to the first eagle . . . and missed when he took off . . .

I processed the first on in B&W because it shows a bit more detail . . .

. . . honest, some of these are OK but nothing beats either being closer or having a big-ass lens.

“Ain’t you got a P900?”

Well, yeah, but that’s not super-great at maximum zoom in the shade.

I like this photo for the visible eye between the leaves . . . but I messed it up because I had the camera on Auto, so it did its own processing and I think it’s too much.

Contrast the above with this shot where my in-camera processing settings are all set at a minimum.

As I said many times . . . what you gain in zoom, you lose in quality. The P900 is still a great walk-around camera held back by the small sensor. And, really, that’s probably better than the D7500 with a cheap kit lens (which is what I was using).

Anyway, remember I said I couldn’t figure out why the eagle had come our way and then went back? I think it’s because there was a dead fish on the road . . . and I was so intent on the eagle that I missed the vulture that had landed and was feasting on it.  . . .

This is a gallery of stills extracted from the video I took with the P900 (the D7500 was inside the car) and I was lucky to get these because I had a heck of a time focusing and shooting the video.

Here’s the video but it’s not worth watching because it jumps around a lot. I’m only including it for fans of Cloverfield.

It’s a crappy video because it caught me by surprise. It was windy and I had the P900 at max zoom in bright sun, so I had a hard time focusing . . . and when I moved, the bird took off.

I put these in the usual SmugMug Gallery (HERE <<<This is a Link) but you don’t get that much more (quality) than what’s here (only larger). I’m hoping someday to be a lot closer to one of these birds and get better photos.

Here’s a gallery of select photos to wrap-up this post.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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