I had a good bit of birding at lunch today. In particular, I had some particularly good luck working with goldeneye ducks. These birds are tricky, because their plumage contains very intense contrast. This makes it very difficult to expose them correctly. They also, for some reason, seem extremely prone to chromatic aberration. Partly this is due to the aforementioned contrast, but the CA issues when shooting goldeneyes for some reason are even more annoying than those encountered with other high-contrast birds, like buffleheads. It may be due to their eponymous eyes, which are susceptible to CA in a way that the black eyes of buffleheads are not. The fringing on the eyes diminishes their apparent sharpness in a way that is quite frustrating…

Goldeneye -- unedited, with rockin' CA

I was able to clean up the CA, for the most part. It helped that I was shooting with the 400mm f/5.6 ED AIS rather than my 300mm f/4.5 non-AI. I shudder to think what the CA would have been like without the ED glass, and the extra reach is essential in having enough image to crop in and sharpen appropriately.

My approach to dealing with CA is generally to drop a control point on the fringing in Capture NX, crank the saturation down, drop some other control points in adjacent areas, and then tweak until it looks right. It works. There are more elegant solutions, I’m sure, but I don’t know that those elegant solutions are up to some of the gonzo CA I occasionally get shooting with my old lenses….

Male Goldeneye

Female Goldeneye

Another stroke of luck — got a couple more shots of the Hooded Merganser x Barrow’s Goldeneye hybrid that drops in from time to time:

Hooded Merganser x Barrow's Goldeneye

CA is even more irritating in this case, because the bird has purple plumage that isn’t all that far from the color of the purple fringing…

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