Clutter

It’s often difficult to separate the subject being photographed from its background, especially when that background involves numerous tree branches and leaves that distract glaringly from the subject.

A male House Finch posed for several minutes on the tree outside my porch window, but even though I thought he was in the clear, the photos looked cluttered with excess numbers of twigs, stems, and branches.

Really not that attractive a photo, but a starting point.  I like the early morning light on his very red head feathers.

Really not that attractive a photo, but a starting point. I like the early morning light on his very red head feathers.

So I decided to improve on getting rid of unwanted features in photos, and put some of the power of Photoshop Elements to work that I hadn’t used much.

Cropping helps, but doesn't get rid of all of the distracting elements.

Cropping helps, but doesn’t get rid of all of the distracting elements.  There is too much confusion of light and dark in the background.

Cloning and blurring parts of the background helps somewhat. But the bird doesn't really stand out from this background the way I would like.

Cloning and blurring parts of the background helps somewhat. But the bird doesn’t really stand out from this background the way I would like.

Replacing the entire background with a muted blue sky helps the bird stand out.  But this sort of looks fake.

Replacing the entire background with a muted blue sky helps the bird stand out. But this sort of looks fake.  I had to do some minute cloning and repairing of his feathers that got axed by the blue sky maneuver — can you tell where?

I’m not a fan of highly manipulated photos, but sometimes it’s fun to see what it could look like, with better shooting conditions.  Which type of photo do you like best?

The House Finches are definitely feeling spring-ey and are singing up a storm, even if the cardinals are just half-hearted about it.  The male finches seem particularly bright red these days, as their hormones rev up.  I assume the outer duller portions of their fall molted feathers have finally worn off to show their rosy glow.

This guy just couldn't quit posing.

This guy just couldn’t quit posing as he snacked on sunflower seeds.  Maybe he was just showing off for the ladies.

8 thoughts on “Clutter

  1. It is fun to see what you’ve done with Photoshop. I rather like the last one that has a natural background but I see the point of the blue for contrast.

    I’ve never played with Photoshop much. You are inspiring.

    Marilyn

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. I voted for the second finch. The one I like is with just the cropping. The branches and twigs in the background aren’t that distracting and give it a natural look.

    My backyard cardinals are still unenthusiastic and singing only half their song but the finches are perky and bright red. I had some lively chickadees in the yard today and the Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are showing up in pairs. Spring can’t be far away, can it?

    • My cardinals are equally unenthusiastic, and sing very little if at all on cloudy, cold days. Downy and Red-bellied Woodpecker pairs are showing up at the feeders together here too. But spring will be a while — there is still at least 3 feet of snow in the backyard, and temps still below freezing (but not below zero).

  3. I actually think the background in the first shot is cool and not at all distracting (because it is blurred and abstract). If I had cropped it, I might have opted to crop it portrait style, leaving essentially the middle third of the image. I love the colors of the bird–I had no idea the male turned red.

    • Yes, I see your point. A good one. However, I really don’t like that twig sticking up into the center of the bird’s breast feathers. That’s kind of what inspired me to start editing the photos more severely in the first place. Stupid sticks that interfere with my portraits…

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