Photo Stories

Photo Story: Horned Lark in the Snow

When driving past snow covered cornfields in the Midwestern United States, it’s not uncommon to see Horned Larks gathering in the field.

Horned Lark in the Snow

Horned Lark in the Snow

Horned Larks can also be seen in flocks with Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs.  Horned Larks nest in Northern Canada and migrate south to the US in the winter months.

Horned larks have a yellow face and throat with a black mask on the face.  They also have distinctive black tufts of feathers on the top of their head that look like horns.  Unfortunately, this lark’s horns were not visible in this photo.

You have to be fast when photographing horned larks. You only have a few seconds to snap a photograph after stopping the car.  Spooked Horned Larks will often circle back to where they were once you safely pass them by.

This horned lark was taken out of the passenger side window with my Canon 500mm f/4 lens hand held.

Photo Details

Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: Canon 500mm f/4 with 1.4x III Telephoto Extender
Focal Length: 700mm
ISO:  400
Aperture:   f/9
Shutter Speed: 1/2000 of a second
Exposure Compensation: +1/3
Lighting: Partly Cloudy Afternoon

Processing

  • Cropped the photo in Lightroom 5.
  • Used the Clone Stamp and Healing Brush Tools in Photoshop CC 2014 to clean up the snow.
  • Applied the Lighten/Darken Center Filter in Color Efex Pro 4.
  • Used the Selective Color Adjustment Layer to whiten and remove the bluish tint from the snow.
  • Used Viveza 2 to selectively lighten the darken the image.
  • Added contrast, saturation, and pop to the photo using the Hummingbird Wings I filter in Topaz Clarity.  Spplied the feature to only the bird by using a layer mask in Photoshop CC 2014. 
  • Selectively removed noise from the photo using Topaz DeNoise.
  • Selectively sharpened the photo using the Unsharp Mask Filter in Photoshop CC 2014 reusing the layer mask from the previous steps

Written by Martin Belan

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Photographing the Hovering American Kestrel

 

 

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