I was getting a little exercise on a morning walk last Wednesday when I noticed some birds in the distance soaring on a thermal. As I got closer I could tell they were Swallow-tailed Kites.
I always enjoy seeing these birds. They’re very distinctive and watching them use their tails as a rudder to swoop, glide, roll, and zoom through the sky is fascinating. They migrate about 5000 miles from South America and arrive in Florida in the spring, spending several months here to breed and then returning south in the late summer.
It’s not uncommon to see them in my neighborhood, and even over my house. But they always appear when I’m not ready to photograph them. This time was no different. The only camera I had with me was my phone and I was sure they’d be gone by the time I could get home and get my big lens out. As I got closer, the birds circled lower in the sky and I decided to try making some photos anyway.
I used the built in camera app with the 3x lens (50mm equivalent) and the output set to RAW mode. I made about 30 frames, hoping some would turn out.
I went through them when I got home and picked the best ones to process. Most of the rejects were due to framing, exposure, or chromatic aberrations / fringing. Their colors make them hard to expose correctly and the white feathers were blown out in many of the frames. There was very distracting blue / purple fringing along wing edges in the ones that were made at f/1.8. The f/2.8 ones didn’t have that issue. This left me with just a handful of images to process.
I ran them through Adobe’s “Enhance / Super Resolution” and used masks and subject and sky selections to make local adjustments. I also set the sharpening to zero in Lightroom and used Topaz Sharpen AI as a last step.
A couple turned out OK, but I really wish I’d had my big lens with me!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – make some photos, even if all you have is your phone camera!
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