The photograph below is a Great White Egret with breeding colors.

Great White Egret with breeding colors - Gatorland

Great White Egret with breeding colors – Gatorland, Florida.

ISO 400 | f/9 | 1/2000 | Av Mode w/ evaluative metering -2/3 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod.

This Great White Egret was less then ideally created because the whites around the shoulder were in the 245-250 range out of camera. When whites are above 235, it becomes difficult to recover details. This time, instead of using Detail Extractor from Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in of Nik Softwares, I went with the following procedure:

1. Regular Recovery slider at 20 from Photoshop RAW

2. Selection of the bright whites with a Color Range selection, then I applied a Linear Burn from the bending modes at 50% transparency

3. Addition of a layer mask to gradually erase some of the Linear Burn blending mode where the whites showed already enough detail

Lesson: do your best not to get whites above 235 when capturing the image!! Note the in camera highlights alerts will show only when the whites are burned, meaning above 255. One definitely wants to make sure there are no blinkies showing up and the histogram should stop somewhere in the middle of the fourth section to the right.

See below an animated GIF with the original creation, the first stage of whites recovery from Photoshop RAW and the Linear Burn blending mode applied to the brightest whites.

Great White Egret - Recovering whites

From the Original to full recovery

Note that I also cleaned up the area around the eye with the patch and clone tools from Photoshop.

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