Hawkish Physiology (faux wet plate collodion)

A detail of display at The World Bird Sanctuary. I believe this was from a Red-tailed Hawk, but the way my brain / memory works hiccups along, who knows.

Royal Tenenbaum: “Jiminy Crickets… that d**n bird must have radar in its brain!”

Gene Hackman – The Royal Tenenbaums

About this image: digital image taken with smart phone and heavily modified in Photoshop to replicate wet plate collodion


52 thoughts on “Hawkish Physiology (faux wet plate collodion)

  1. The effect makes it feel like you just came across it on a dry barren desert half buried in the sand. I think I am feeling a little “heavily modified to replicate wet plate collodion” today myself. Very heavily modified.

    • That’s true! It’s probably a good thing I wasn’t around during that era… I’d likely be creaped out a lot… and that’s saying something, considering I’m making stuff like this!

  2. Robert, it looks beautiful and delicate and, I’ll say it, creepy! Are you sure you found this at the sanctuary, hmm? You can tell me if you found it somewhere else. I promise not to tell ANYbody. Nice job on making it look more errie than it already is. Nice enhancements!

    • It is kind of intense, isn’t it, Amy! When I came across this in my back yard, er at the sanctuary, I knew I’d have to try something with it (although it’s taken me a while to do so, because we go there fairly often… I’ve been meaning to do so for ages)! Thank you again, Amy! Can you tell I’m very happy to be back at my crazy Photoshopping?!

  3. Robert, I was looking at this last night, and didn’t comment. Wanted to wait until this morning. It’s THAT interesting. You’ve given what appears to be an antique Smithsonian piece the modernistic appearance of three full dimensions. I have no idea how you manipulate PS to obtain the wetplate look but in this instance it’s amazing.
    An 1890’s avian skull, within an x-ray, with perfectly curved bubble shapes highlighting the skull itself.
    Another winner!

      • Thank you very much, Ms. B! I love every Wes Anderson movie I’ve ever seen…
        although I probably watch ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ and ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ the most. Maybe. I think. Possibly.

    • I’m so happy to hear that you liked this! Thank you! Hahaha… yeah, commenting on some of the stuff on this blog is probably a bit of a challenge! That’s why I try to include the quotes (when I can think of something). That way if someone has a difficult time coming up with something to say about a random Hawk skull or something, they have the option of going in a different direction.
      Thank you so much for your kind thoughts, Ms. B! I appreciate it very, very much!

  4. A skeletal offering, now this is definitely something new
    and interesting, I like what you have done with this SIG 🙂

    You always find something extraordinary, which is brilliant
    for everyone that calls into your Space as we never know
    what we will be viewing next 🙂 Now how cool is that? 🙂 🙂


    • I’m very happy to hear you liked this one, Andro! Thank you so much! I often try to space-out my more, um… ‘unique’ posts a bit (I’d hate to scare anyone off)… but I was afraid it was getting a bit stale around here lately (and I have to try to keep everyone from falling asleep, too)!

      Variety of subject matter is also something I struggle with a bit. I very much enjoy working with a lot of different things, but that leads me to worry that things might not be very cohesive at times. Which is why what you’ve said was particularly nice to hear… so I thank you for that, sir! Very much, indeed!

  5. Me likey (I was going to just hit the “like” button, but it didn’t truly express my thoughts on this photo. Could you work on laying in a better assortment?)

  6. So…that’s what they look like inside….We see one buzz overhead every now and again. Good photo…although, to be honest, I don’t know about collodion plates.

  7. I am just calling in for another look at this one SIG,
    oh and to wish you and your fine lady a wonderful rest
    of day and equally an exciting evening also 🙂 🙂


    • Hahaha… just don’t tell his friends on me, please! 😉 To tell you the truth I’m not positive about that… I’ll have to double-check that the next time I’m visiting…

  8. So annoyed that you took this with an iPhone. I was thinking this morning about how a woman saw a picture of mine recently and said my camera must be nice and how it really has nothing to do with the camera but then changed my mind and decided it has a lot to do with the camera when it comes to a $3500 one versus my $900 one, and then you go and do this with a stupid phone.

    • In Bob’s absence I’m going to be naughty and leap in here because I’m always saddened when I come across this type of situation…

      I use a high end SLR (Canon EOS7D) with the L series lenses. They are key to the work that I choose to do (lowlight inner-city photography and football) With my chosen camera I can stop the motion to claim really sharp shots with excellent resolution. However, if I move a small distance down the range to perhaps the EOS450D, what do I find? A camera that does 90% of what mine can do very effectively – in fact my monster only truly comes into its own in very low light and when taking high speed sports. And the real key is the lenses.

      Near the close of last season our team escaped relagation by a single win in the last but one game. I got some great shots of the action, catching Ahmet in mid air hoofing the ball over the stand. But when Ahmet scored and the team celebrated it was a shot caught on a humble cell phone that caught the moment best (complete with motion blur because it would never stop the action) 🙂 And, it’s very interesting explaining to persons without any knowledge of cameras how that situation can come about!

      Every Camera has its abilities and limitations from Cellphone through mid-range to the very best. The key is to understand what you want to achieve with your camera and to maximise its potential (but also to appreciate that in certain circumstances your camera may be out performed by something less expensive). In the end your photographic eye overcomes the limitations of the camera. The likes of Cartier-Bresson didn’t have the wonderful machines we use today!

      I recall a story from The Amateur Photographer’s Handbook by Aaron Sussman – a photographer went into a store with a portfolio of prints that he had taken on a box brownie. He was looking to improve his photography and asked the shop owner what camera he should buy to improve his work. Having looked at the images the shop owner said “No new camera is going to improve your photography – just make it easier to achieve the results”

      Sorry this is over long but hope I’ve encouraged you 🙂

      • I’m need to ask you to leap in more often, Martin! I might have to write a whole post about this kind of thing someday… because I hear overhear / see / read related things all the time. Well, when I say ‘I should write a post’, what I really mean to say is I should steal the content of that post from you, because (while I think we have very similar thoughts on things) it’s obvious you have an incredibly eloquent way of expressing those thoughts! 🙂

        • As long as I haven’t upset anyone – I like to encourage photography as an art-form open to all. Perhaps a mention here that the basic Photoshop Elements at around $75 allows so much creativity for anyone regardless of the camera they choose to use and provides almost everything that the CS version offers – certaily it covers all the computer processing of images that an amateur is ever likely to need. Ironically, I choose to do very little to my shots normally other than cropping and sharpening – I like to present the real ‘street’ and as much ‘in-camera’ as I can. You provide a totally different and more artistic vision Bob and I always love to compare styles.

          • Not at all! Your comments are always both insightful and inspiring! Thank you!
            I have to say I really respect the purist in your work, Martin (it’s very… classic… and elegant… two things which I love to see). Hahaha… of course I’m busy getting carried away with the over-editing as I say that! The problem is I just have so much fun with it all (it can be difficult to convince myself to pull it back a bit)!

    • Hahaha… well, I don’t know. And in all fairness most of the effect is Photoshop stuff. Well, that, plastic and polyurethane, I guess. But I definitely see your points. All of them.

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