Parrots in the Median

On Saturday I took a long bus ride from Hua Lamphong Station deep into Thonburi. Mostly it is unrelieved Thai suburbia but there are always some surprises.

One enterprising local (khet) council put large replicas of tropical birds in the highway median.

It was hard photographing them from a moving bus but I got some nice pictures by luck rather than skill. I used “sports” mode on the Nikon Coolpix P6000 which (for once) chose an appropriate shutter speed / ISO combination. (It often chooses (IMHO) incorrectly, but I digress – a subject for another post.)

I don’t understand the optical reasons but it is hard to get a nice blurred background with pictures taken with a compact camera. I would have thought their slower lenses would have less depth of field than a lens on a SLR but they don’t. I am sure if I did some research I would find out the reason. I think it’s why portraits are often less appealing when taken with a compact camera.

For this picture I tried blurring the background myself using Photoshop. I applied a 12 pixel Gaussian Blur and then used the History Brush to restore the parrots and the foreground to focus.

I could have used the Blur tool on the background leaving the parrots alone but this seemed easier.

I did this before applying my favourite Lightroom adjustments to make the white balance, exposure and saturation to my liking.

I posted both a blurred and an un-blurred version to Flickr. Here they are:

Blurred Background

Two Parrots in the Median

As Photographed

Two Parrots in the Median

You can click on either image to see a larger one in Flickr.

Which one do you prefer? Do you think this is a valid technique, or should I leave well alone?

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