Osprey on the Tar River

It was a beautiful evening on the banks of North Carolina's Tar River, and I was sicker than a dog. We had just finished attending the World Irish Dance Championships where our daughter was dancing. 

The 2019 Irish Stepdance Championship was held in the unlikely city of Greensboro, North Carolina. They had a large and nice convention center and food and lodging was much more reasonablly priced than what we are used to for these Championships, typically expensive places like like Dublin and Montreal.

We had left my niece's house in Myrtle Beach that morning after a nice visit, and ended up at Goose Creek State Park on the north shore of the Tar River, at a lovely secluded and forested campsite. I was having an allergic reaction to pollen, probably oak, that was so thick it was visible in the air, and I had been feeling unwell for a week. I had felt better at Myrtle Beach where there was a strong offshore breeze clearing the air. But at the State Park I was again having difficulty breathing.

Regardless, my wife and and I decided to take a walk just before sunset through the piney woodlands that made up the shore of the Tar River estuary. Unfamiliar country to us with lots of new plants and animals about. We ended our walk with the sun setting behind the nest of a female Osprey. The raptor had youngsters in the nest and was coming and going frequently hunting fish. I was able to get a nice photo of the bird with the sun behind her, but with the sun obscured by a scudding cloud which killed some of the hard direct light. This presented the bird and nest in silhouette, with sun highlighting her more translucent wing and tail feathers, which were outstretched in landing.

The photo was taken with the Sony A6000 and the Zeiss Vario Tessar 16-70mm F4 lens. Not a perfect lens but well suited for traveling. Zoom was 70mm - maximum for this lens, ISO was 100, shutter speed was 1/500th of a second, and F stop was F11. All those are a recipe for a good sharp photo of something moving, but I was a bit worried about the low light.

Fortunatly the exposure was good and the photo did not need a lot of post processing.

Dark and light is emphasized, with mid-range tonal value de-emphasized using Capture One's 3-Way Color Balance tool. Cropping to a square greatly improved the composition. I added a luminosity mask layer, and with a very small brush, traced the wing-tip and tail feathers, and further boosted these as highlights to emphasize their highlights.

The image was uniformly sharpened just a litte, which brought out some undesirable haloing. Capture One has a new tool for removing halos which helped hide these. There was some dust on the sensor and the low light made made these apparent as undefined blobs in the sky. I used Capture One's dust spot removal tool to get rid of these blotches.

Overall I like the sweep of the composition, and the contrast of dark and light.

I ended up leaving the campground and spending the night sitting in the parking lot of the ER in Washington, NC. I never felt quite bad enought to go in. I felt somewhat better in the morning and getting this photo made it all worthwhile.