Birds of a Different Feather
The goal here was to improve bird photos. I had to shoot all of these photos through a window, and was about 75 feet (23 meters) from the birds. I don't have what you'd call a 'pro' camera so when I started getting deeper into Photoshop techniques I was very pleased with how I could improve the photos I take. I use a Canon SX280 HS. 

As you might expect, the birds were always moving. If they weren't chomping on seeds they were flitting from perch to perch or walking, heads bobbing like they do. The originals are at the bottom in a photo grid.
Goldfinch Treasure Chest - This photo was hazy and I think some camera movement contributed to an unappealing texture. I did the crop, and then used Camera Raw to dehaze, improve saturation and sharpness. Maybe I went too far with some of the tools because it has taken on the look of a painting. Almost. The birdseed in the feeder reminded me of treasure in a treasure chest and I toyed with the idea of adding some golden rays and sparkles rising from the top! But, for this project I didn't want to get too far out there. Maybe I'll toy with it for another.
Mr. Cardinal in the Cold - I didn't make very many changes here other than dehazing, reducing the exposure and using the brush tool to add some blue to the snow. It had to be a little bit colder than the original. Brrrr.
Sparrows' Diner - This photo was severely crooked so I used 'straighten' in the crop tool and then spent time in Camera Raw sharpening and dehazing. I also perked up the saturation a bit.
Boss Dove - This bird perches on top of this feeder pole every morning and strikes this pose, like it's the boss of the feeder area. Since it was so still I could spend more time tweaking the manual camera settings before shooting. In post, I removed some tree branches that bumped into the bird and did a little work on the exposure and clarity.
Wild Turkey - This was just one of a group of four turkeys that strolled into my yard one day. I did quite a bit of work on this because the background really competed with the birds. I used four brushes in Camera Raw on different parts of the background to reduce its prominence and soften it. At first, I tried keeping all four birds, but just couldn't get comfortable with the resulting composition. So, I cropped out the others. That left this one missing part of its tail. So, I used the patch tool to paste a tail from one of the others on to it. Besides doing a lot of work on the exposure, haze and clarity, I used the healing brush to remove tall grass stalks that ran across the bird's body. The sad thing is when I got all done I still can't say it is an interesting photo. It's fine for bird identification, but there's just this stoic, nervous personality to this bird. 
Vanity Birds
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Vanity Birds

Retouched Bird Photographs
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