Processing BirdCam Photos

Dark-eyed Junco with Song Sparrow at BirdCam Feeder

BirdCam photos do not come from the camera ready to post.  A bit of work is required to get them in shape.  Conditions for a perfect shot don't always exist.  The first chore will be weeding out unusable pictures, the blanks, blurs and butt shots.  When the lighting is poor, such as early morning, late afternoon or on dark, overcast days, many of the photos will end up blurred or hazy.  While weeding photos, I rename the good ones by adding the species to the photo name.  The best also get three dashes.  "WSB0364Towhee---" would be a great Spotted Towhee shot.  This makes them easy to find later.

Next, comes a bit of simple photo editing.  This solves the problem of getting a great capture but a mediocre photo.  I am not very good at this, so I do very little of it, but I have learned how to improve the BirdCam shots.  Do not edit your original photos.  Always work with a copy, so if you screw it up, you can discard it and start over.  At the moment, I am using Windows Live Photo Gallery for editing.  It was something I already had and I like to keep things simple.  Picasa will also do the job, as will Photoshop Elements, of course.

To begin, here is a raw photo out of the BirdCam:

Click on the photos to view them in full size.  Photos are 3264 x 2448 pixels out of the BirdCam.  Blogger will resize them to 1600 x 1200 in the enlargement link.  I begin by sharpening the image just a bit:

The slight change might be easiest to see in the Junco's head.  Don't overdo the sharpening or the result will be a plastic look.  Next, I add a bit of contrast.  I might add a little brightness, but that is not always necessary:

I rarely fuss with the colors.  The last step is to resize and watermark the photo using Bytescout Watermarking.  I have settled on a standard size of 800 x 600 pixels for blog posts.  Bytescout does a good job of resizing without distorting the image.  The first photo above is the end result.  Here are two more examples showing before and after:

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)

Mourning Dove with English Sparrow Female

I would be interested in hearing about others' BirdCam photo editing tricks and tips.  You can add yours to the comments here.  Also, what is your favorite photo editor?