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Catching a Few Rays

Catching a Few Rays
Photo Information
Copyright: John Plumb (JPlumb) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 158 N: 896] (2904)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-10-19
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D200, NIKKOR AF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 ED DX VR, Optex 77mm Circular Polariser
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/125 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-02-11 17:39
Viewed: 5280
Points: 56
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The Little Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) is said to be one of the most common waterbirds found in Australia. It is also found in New Zealand where it is known as the Little Pied Shag. It is comfortable in both fresh and salt water, especially where there are large numbers of fish. Someday I hope to catch a shot of one of these guys swimming under water. They are excellent, very quick swimmers. It is quite a sight. As well as fish they also feed on Yabbies (freshwater crayfish) and other crustaceans.

They breed either in colonies, or less commonly in single pairs. The nest is a platform of sticks, lined with green leaves and is usually placed in a tree. Both adults share in the egg incubation and care of the three or four young.

They mix readily with the Little Black Cormorant.

This one was seen while I was checking out the St. Kilda Pier near Melbourne. At the end of the pier, beyond the St. Kilda Kiosk there is a small protected rocky little island. It is just the perfect spot to catch a few rays of sunshine, and that’s what he was doing. He wasn’t really interested in swimming, or you’d see that shot, but was just content to sit and soak up the sun. I liked the backdrop he gave me here, with the blue-green algae and rocks seen under the water. He was very patient with me, letting me take a few shots from either side before I backed off and left him to his peace.

Some of this from: http://www.amonline.net.au/factsheets/little_pied_cormorant.htm
ID from: Simpson K. and Day N. (2004), Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Penguin Books, Camberwell.

Workflow for this shot was as follows:
The shoot – shot in Raw with Jpeg reference (200 mm ISO 200 f5.6 1/125)
NEF file adjusted for exposure and shadow, and vignetting
Adjusted levels – this time I only tweeked (lightened) the midpoints by eye – I had a full histogram so didn’t want to touch the black or white points.
Adjusted curves for contrast, and pulled down the highlights slightly
Burned and Dodged with overlay layer (5% opacity black and white brush)
Added saturation layer +15 to master -10 to yellow
Saved as a tiff
For this post, cropped, resized, selected on water and reduced noise - created a new layer, inversed selection, sharpened bird and rock with USM and masked down certain areas with 30-70% opacity black brush), framed and saved as a jpeg.

keanhoon, rcrick, timonejoon, mariki, Jamesp, pablominto, valy67, kjpweb, Luis52, horia, jusninasirun, uleko, mlines, pierrefonds, Adanac, shal has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Janice: Little Pied ShagJPlumb 1 02-12 04:18
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Critiques [Translate]

Wonderful shot. The water BG add more illusion. In fact that BG also simulate deeper view.
Best regards,

Hi John,
This is wonderful, excellent POV, really good detail; the polariser has done the job of cutting down the glare off the water to the extent of showing us some of the vegetation, wonderful light, really nice work all the best Cheers Rick :)

Hi John

Very intresting shot with nice notes. I like the BG specialy the green reef. very well exposure and composition.
well done

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2008-02-11 23:27]
  • [+]

To us in NZ he is the Little Pied Shag!
It's a super composition John, and I like the colours and patterns in the watery BG.
Well done on your capture. He is nice and sharp, and his patterned black feathers have come out well

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-02-11 23:48]

Hi John

This is a really lovely shot. The composition is lovely and I really like the sea in the BG - it really helps bring out the detail in the cormorant.


I have not had chance yet to sit down quietly and go through your notes on layers - been too busy - but will be in touch when I have.

Hello John,
This is a fine pose, simply majestic!
Great details in the bird, effective composition with a wonderful 3-D feeling...
Very well done on the close-up work, fine natural colours!
Pablo -

Hello John !
This is a very nice picture, because I love your high POV with the water in BG - we can even see some vegetation under the water ! Excellent details, wonderful composition, nice natural colors, and of course a beautiful pose of the Cormorna - I didn't know this species in particular and I found your note veru interesting. Very well done !

Hello John,

Great composition. Excellent POV and DOF. Light and colours are wonderful. Splendid background with the water and the algae.
Very well done,

Good compositione and POV.

  • Great 
  • inked Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 132 W: 0 N: 249] (771)
  • [2008-02-12 2:36]

hi John,
nice shot.. really nice lighting and focus bringing out the details in the plumage. i like the background too, great depth. and fantastic composition with the space that he's looking out into. great work, tfs

Magnifique avec une profondeur de champ impressionnante, quel beau POV et superbes couleurs et détails.

Just gorgeous. The POV - though rare to shoot down on a bird makes this think rocking and rolling! Wonderful in detail and light! Bravo!

  • Great 
  • pvs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1127 W: 254 N: 3161] (14464)
  • [2008-02-12 9:08]

Hi John,

A nice capture of this cormorant waiting for a fish to go by,well seen and I like the water BG in this shot,tfs


  • Great 
  • lizzie Gold Star Critiquer [C: 207 W: 0 N: 605] (2855)
  • [2008-02-12 16:30]

Hi John,

Very nice composition by keeping the cormoran on the left giving him more space in front. Love the use of the polariser, such a great effect to the water. Nice vivid colours with great details in the plumage. Very well done!


  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2008-02-12 17:19]

Hola John.
Very nice photo here of this "Cormorant"
Great inage and excellent shaprness. I also like the pose, and the beautiful water in BG.
Saludos John

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-02-13 4:33]

Hi John

This is a terrific shot of this beautiful species!
It's quite different from the ones we have here, but i like them all :)
I'm a bit surprised to see such a short focal length used for this great close-up. Every time i tried to get a nice photo of one, they would be very wary and fly off immediately :(
Anyway, your result is terrific! I really like the good details on it and that splendid water BG. The light is also very nice and therefore the colors came out lovely, too.
I also love the fact that you included the photo-facts in the note. I learn a lot from reading that part, too. Thanks!

Bravo and TFS

  • Great 
  • Elanor (50)
  • [2008-02-13 6:38]

Amazing shot! Great POV and really nice composition! Beautiful colours!

This is nice shot. The BG is perfect to give a sense of perspective as to how far above the water he is.

Hello John,

Thanks for sharing the useful notes and a very nice composition. I've never seen this bird before even on pictures.

This bird is well captured in good natural perch. I like the details of the plumage and vividness in the white and black colors of this bird. You have managed the light and shadow very well to be able to expose superb sharpness here. Perching on a rock like that against distant busyness is rather hard to find shot for me here and you did very well with 200mm lens. Nicely chosen aspect ratio with very pleasant placement of the subject.

Well done and thanks for sharing.


  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-02-14 1:05]

Hello John, very interresting pose of the bird, the composition is very good and the light and exposure are great. Thanks!


  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-02-14 1:08]

Hello John,
Excellent capture of the Little Pied Cormorant. I captured this beautiful bird in Sydney Bot. Gardens against a background of skyscrapers which was less good!! Here you've caught it against a fine background of water. The light is perfect and details are very sharp. Very well composed too.
TFS and cheers, Ulla

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-02-14 20:08]

Hello John

A beautiful composition,that I think would lend itself to a nice painting.
Well focused with very good detail.
The lighting is excellent with well saturated colour.
Very good POV.


  • Great 
  • mlines Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 556 W: 26 N: 668] (3116)
  • [2008-02-15 21:36]

Hi John, This shag on a rock has a reputation for being a well recognised bird near the coast. I like the clarity you achieved which is not always to get right. The POV shows many of the characteristics of the bird, and the note is excellent. TFS. Murray.

Hi John,

An informative note, the cormorant on the rock is impressive, He is not disturbed by the presence of the photographer. The subject is well framed. The point of view is showing the details and colors of the bird. The photo is clear and precise. Have a nice day.


  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2008-02-18 15:55]

Hello John,
What a cutey, you have captured here with excellent details in the black plummage. Thank you too for the great notes.

  • Great 
  • shal Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 256 W: 64 N: 481] (2140)
  • [2008-02-20 20:23]

Hi John,
this shot is wow, what timing and gr8 that you captured the Cormorant sitting where it is, excellent depth and emotion,

Cheers :D

Hello John,
This is a fantastic shot, excellent composition and pov, great regal pose, superb sharpness and depth of field,lovely natural colors, good light and very good details.

Hello John,
Very good one.
Beautiful background for example.

  • Great 
  • waylim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 296 W: 8 N: 489] (1765)
  • [2008-03-15 11:49]

John, I really enjoy looking at this one, don't know why. Nice background to really enhanced the bird. Great detail of him relaxing and getting some warm of the ray. Good composition, and very natural color. Very helpful note.
Great frame with matching color.

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