Great Egret, Webb Lake
I had been photographing this Great Egret flying in against the late day sky when suddenly she / he veered left and landed in a marsh about 80 yards away.
I was happy that I was shooting with my Canon 7D; its focus tracking worked beautifully.
I had my exposure set in manual mode (+1 1/3 stop off the sky), so when the bird swooped into a shady area I knew it would be about 1- 1/2 stops underexposed, but there was no time to adjust. Later, I was able to clean up the shot easily using the exposure slider, then the noise reduction controls in Adobe Camera Raw.
If you have Photoshop CS5 and you've been using the lame-o Noise Reduction feature under the Filters menu item, stop what you're doing, go back to ACR (Browse), and click the Detail icon. That's where they're hiding this wonderful noise reduction tool. (The masking and color noise sliders are nothing short of magical.)
That done, I selected the bird and did one pass of edge sharpening, then inverted the selection and added just a bit of Gaussian blur...not enough to blur the already-blurred background appreciably, but enough to blur graininess in shadow areas and provide an additional sharpening effect on the bird. (This works in the way that viewing a middle gray tone against a white background makes it look darker.)
Tech stuff: 1/1250, f/5.6, Canon 7D, 500mm lens + 1.4x teleconverter, ISO 800. Gitzo tripod and Mongoose M3.5 gimbal head.