Spectral highlights have been a problem since the beginning of photography. They occur in water, chrome and just about any wet or shiny object. In a controlled studio environment they can be minimized by advanced (soft, or carefully placed) lighting techniques. In controlled outdoor scenic photography (landscapes, architecture etc.) they can be sometimes addressed with polarized filtration.
However, in the action-filled world of the wildlife photographer they can cause problems. Using auto-exposure can result in underexposed frames as the camera often misinterprets the highlights for overall brightness rather then point light sources. Digital exposures (particularly at higher ISO ratings) can make the reflections appear worse because the highlights seem to burn out faster (and bigger) than (they would) on film.
Add to all of this some "image sharpening" and the highlights begin looking like white spots within black rings. Ultimately there is nothing wrong (or too distracting) with (sun caused) spectral highlights in any outdoor photograph as long as no other white appearing in the frame is of the same (blown out) value. One approach when using Photoshop RGB curves is to keep non-spectral whites below about 240 and let the reflective highlights go to 255. Often you can mask the spectral highlights before sharpening to minimize the black circles.
To improve the above photograph, I would leave the highlights on the bird’s beak and reduce the brightness of the distracting and unimportant bright spots on the rocks (particularly that big rock under the bird) using Photoshop tools. After saying all of that, I don’t think spectral highlights are much of a problem unless they seriously detract from the subject.
My Outdoor Eyes Photography Blog|
Bladder Campion Wildflowers At Fort Hill On Cape Cod
Bladder Campion wildflowers are abundant along the trails at Fort Hill. I loved this photograph where you can see the “bladder” so clearly. The 3/4″ white, lobed flowers bloom at night and on overcast days. The Bladder Campions bloom from June through September, so you still have plenty of time to see them. Interesting wildflower, don’t … Continue reading Bladder Campion Wildflowers At Fort Hill On Cape Cod
Mom Bluebird Feeding Her Three Babies In Our Yard On Cape Cod
The bluebirds have all fledged and sure are hungry. You can hear their little peeps all day long as the moms fly in for the seed and then fly back and feed their young. Yesterday the little babies were all on a branch in a nearby tree. Mom would fly down for a seed and … Continue reading Mom Bluebird Feeding Her Three Babies In Our Yard On Cape Cod
Spectacular Day For Kayaking Nauset Marsh On Cape Cod
It was a glorious day… sunny with little wind and a perfect day to take our kayaks out on the water. We launched at Good Hummock in Orleans and paddled Town Cove to Nauset Marsh and then out along the outer beach to Nauset Spit. It couldn’t get any prettier! We stopped for a bit … Continue reading Spectacular Day For Kayaking Nauset Marsh On Cape Cod