Watercolor Portrait: Tricolored Heron

Three nights ago, just before dark, I walked through the woods to the small lake and noticed something different: the fountain in the middle of it was blue. Someone had added colored gels.

It was very pretty, and I wished I had the camera with me, but I didn’t bring it because it was too dark for good picture-taking. I figured I’d do it the next night, but it was not only raining, there was thunder and lighting. Lightning in Florida is dangerous. You do not go out when that is happening.

Last night, same thing. Another thunderstorm with lightning. Taking a pic of that fountain at dusk will have to wait again.

However, yesterday morning was clear and sunny, so I went to the lake and found three different birds there, each one at different locations. Directly across the lake was a lone mottled duck. Boring, right? The lighting was wrong and too harsh, and while that can work on a lighter subject, it was detrimental to this duck. Also, the background was way too busy, because my F-stop was set too high to create a pleasing blur.

Same thing happened when I shot what I thought was a small great egret, hunting in its own patch a distance away from the duck. Busy background, but the lighting was much better, as I dropped the exposure almost one full step. That prevented the highlights from blowing out.

When I returned home, I discovered it was a snowy egret, maybe my favorite heron because of the bright yellow eyes and feet. The light color of the bird made that background acceptable; it did not detract overmuch from the heron’s beauty.

That was not the case with our last bird, the tricolored heron. It was the one closest to me. I took a lot of pictures of it and caught it raising its wings. The lighting was good, but that busy background! Ugh. The shadows from the sun were hard and distracting, too, but isn’t the bird beautiful?

I decided I had to do something about that background, and after trying a couple things that didn’t work, I eventually decided to go full-on artistic.

I turned it into a watercolor.

There are different ways to do this in Photoshop: you can paint it yourself using built-in brushes, find a tutorial online that shows you a way to accomplish the effect, or run an action.

I chose an action, since I have one I like that I don’t use nearly enough. Every time you run it, you get something different, and every single step (and there are a lot of them) can be altered/modified/changed or even deleted, so you never get the same result twice.

I easily spent a couple of hours messing with this one. šŸ™‚ Busy background gone.

I did so much to this, I can’t remember all the steps, but I had tons of fun (I don’t play often enough!). It was a terrific way to spend a thundery Saturday afternoon.

See you next time.

About Fenraven

Fenraven lives in central Florida, which reminds him of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Find him on Twitter and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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