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How to Fix a Clipped Bird Wing in Photoshop

Save your bird photos with easy wing repair
Photo of a bird wing

The fun and challenging thing about bird photography is that it’s so unpredictable. You never know when a bird is going to be appear and you can never really tell which way it’s going to fly.

This, of course, can lead to bird photos where the bird isn’t quite where you want it in the frame. How many times have you been close to capturing the ideal image of a bird in flight only to realize you’ve clipped off part of the wing in your framing? If you’re like us, a lot.

Don’t worry though. All is not lost if you know a little bit about how to edit bird photos. In the below tutorial, photographer Jan Wegener shows you an easy editing fix when you’ve clipped a bird’s wing in your image.  

“I’m sure you know that frustrating feeling,” Wegener says. “There’s a perfect bird flying right at you, great light, great background and then in the perfect moment when you want to get the bird as it’s banking, you end up clipping the wing. So frustrating. That might happen because you were a little bit slow tracking the bird and you just have too much focal length, and that bird was a little bit too close.”

So, what do you do? Delete the image? Not so fast!

“There are usually two options when it comes to clipped wings. We can either go back and forth in the series of images that we’ve taken of the same bird in the same situation and see if there’s a wing pose that we could attach to the top of this image.,” he notes. “The other option is if there’s no good wing pose available, you could try and see if you could grab the bottom part of the wing, flip and attach it to the top.”

But before he shows you how to fix the wing in the video at the bottom of this post, Wegener addresses the ethical considerations about manipulating bird images during post-processing. For him, if the wing he is adding in comes from the same bird during the same sequence, he doesn’t have a problem with it. (You, of course, may feel differently.)

“If I’m grabbing the wing that was taken literally 0.1 of a second before the photo that I clipped the wing I’m not really altering the scene,” he says. “I’m’ just kind of fixing a problem that I had because my focal length was little bit too long or I was a little bit too slow.”

Watch below as Wegener takes you through his step-by-step process of fixing a clipped wing in Photoshop.

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