<<< o >>>Bab Al Shams falcon #1 10 comments + add yours

This is the first of two shots of this falconer and his falcon taken at the Bab Al Shams resort, near to Dubai. We headed up there to shoot the falcons, one of Bobbi's passions, and while they're not a subject I'd normally choose to photograph, it was fun. I didn't get any decent shots of the birds in flight – apparently they can fly close to the speed of sound – but I did get this shot and one other that I'm pleased with.

In terms of my aims for the shot: I underexposed by two stops to create the silhouette and used an aperture of f/16 to create the star-burst effect.

The post-production was also relatively straightforward: I shifted the white balance in Camera Raw to warm up the image, added a couple of curves to increase the contrast, and then decided that I needed a bit more space above the top of his head (and for once Content Aware Fill actually worked).

I also used the head of the bird from a different shot. I'd been shooting this guy for at least an hour before this one and liked the fact that both the falconer and falcon were looking towards the setting sun. When I showed it to Bobbi though her immediate reaction was "it's a shame the bird isn't in profile". And I could see her point: the shot worked for me, because I'd been there, and watched them both for ages, but didn't work anywhere near as well for the viewer. So, ten minutes later, after a bit of fiddling around with the Warp Tool to get the proportions right, the bird had a new head.

focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
image editor
plugins (etc)
5.44pm on 13/3/11
Canon 5D Mark II
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
aperture priority
Camera Raw
Photoshop CS5
minor recomposition
3x2 + travel [Dubai, UAE] + show the original
comment by Dan Kaufman at 07:34 PM (GMT) on 25 March, 2011

Masterful composition.
On a technical post-process note: how would you extend the sky without CS5 C.A.F., that is with CS4 and the regular cloning tools?

comment by djn1 at 08:22 PM (GMT) on 25 March, 2011

Thanks Dan. In terms of using CS4 or earlier: it wouldn't be too hard with this image - the sky isn't especially complicated - but it would take a bit longer. You'd need to extend the canvas then use the Clone Tool to blend in sky. Providing you did it reasonably carefully it shouldn't be obvious.

comment by Ian Mylam at 10:26 PM (GMT) on 25 March, 2011

Marvellous, inspirational photography, David. Thanks for sharing the post-processing steps.

comment by Christopher at 11:03 PM (GMT) on 25 March, 2011

Stunning shot--wonderfully done!

comment by Simon at 11:50 PM (GMT) on 25 March, 2011

I think someone is pulling your leg David. A Peregrine max's out at just over 200mph when stooping while the speed of sound is about 760mph depending upon your altitude. That's got absolutely nothing to do with it being a beautiful image though...........

comment by Carlos Garcia at 01:51 AM (GMT) on 26 March, 2011

Love the toning. Great results Dave.

comment by djn1 at 09:20 AM (GMT) on 28 March, 2011

Thanks everyone.

Simon: yep, I did think it sounded a bit implausible.

comment by Jason at 01:09 PM (GMT) on 30 March, 2011

Fantastic atmosphere and a classic timeless composition. No offence but this would make a cool postcard :)

comment by payam mohammadi at 06:46 AM (GMT) on 4 April, 2011

very nice composition & color!

comment by Chris at 11:13 PM (GMT) on 5 April, 2011

Great choice of color for this scene. I have to agree, the image improves a lot by changing the birds head position. It is interesting how certain features can change the way we view things without even realizing it.