Posts tagged “Bird Photography

Scratching an Itch (Three Photographs)

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The title refers to the third photo where the Great Blue Heron is in fact scratching an itch. I wrote about cropping over the last few posts and I wanted to add some comments on composition. The first photograph is an example of framing within the photograph due to the overhanging tree, it helps focus the eye; the second and third photographs use negative space. The Heron is standing looking to the right, I have given him some room in my crop to look into, it would be very strange if the bird were to be very close to the right side of the frame. These are among the things I consider when composing on site and in post production.

Merganser Lunch (Three Photographs)

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Mergansers are diving ducks and this one caught a crustacean. Like most birds that hunt in the water the preparation of the prey for eating takes some time and involves a lot of dunking etc. These ducks given the lighting and colour of their feathers are hard to shoot, as it is far too easy to get backlit shots. I use spot metering and it works most of the time to get me a head start in post processing.

Mr. Grumpy (Three Photographs)

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Mr. Grumpy had good reason to be so. His favourite spot for fishing was well-known to every nature photographer in town. It’s a major park and playground with public BBQs etc. and he is wading in an artificial stream. I was a considerable distance from the bird, he’s glaring at someone else. I was able to see him give up glaring and go off hunting further on in the park. Sometimes animals just put themselves in places where there is almost no option but to be in close proximity to humanity.

Colour Editing (Two Photographs)

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I called this color editing because of something I have noticed. The most recent iterations of the software I use emphasize saturation and brighter images. So far I am going with the flow, being careful to balance those changes with contrast. These photos were taken at the end of the fall season. I think there is an appearance of dignity in these ducks.

A Sparrow and a Final Comment on Exposure (Three Photographs)

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When you are photographing small birds all kinds of crazy lighting situations can occur. I avoid the use of flash because I worry about the birds. So here if you look at the final shot, I had three areas of distinctly different exposures. In the other two I isolated the bird and toned down the background, I also removed some excessive blue. You note in the second one a slight outline around the bird, this is almost unavoidable in some of these circumstances. So there are solutions but the first step is to do your best in camera.

In concluding this series of posts on exposure I hope I have made the point that unlike aperture there are fewer clear answers for correct exposure but many things to try that may apply to your style or your subjects. The quest for a “correct exposure” if not a good exposure is often front and centre when I shoot, as much as anything else. It’s important to note that there are a lot of examples, like silhouettes where a perfect exposure is dark, or portraits where a brighter photo maybe just the ticket. Sticking to the middle of the histogram or trying to is not what this series of posts was about. It was about getting an exposure that you like using the best tools for the job.

Female Mallard and a Tenth Article on Exposure (Two Photographs)

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Ducks are always fun to shoot, especially with reflections and their attitude.

Some people will tell you that shooting manually will help improve your photography with a number of things including exposure. I started that way with a handheld meter, but today on DSLRs the meter is built-in and usually cannot be shut off. It will give readings in the viewfinder and those readings will depend on the metering mode (spot – good when the subject is in shadow or backlit, centre-weighted – also good for back-lit, and full frame computer generated metering – good for most circumstances.). As a result I am not sure how shooting in manual helps with exposure. I mention it only because I have read this argument several times with respect to DSLRs and have not quite understood it. On a camera with an EVF that shows the exposure in the view finder, manual is a dream. I do think understanding the modes and idiosyncrasies of the metering system of your camera helps a great deal, testing in all kinds of light circumstances will benefit you when you have to make choices quickly later on.

Nuthatch and an Eighth Article on Exposure (Two Photographs)

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These are some of those hybrid situations where the background lighting is very different from the foreground and while we can try to expose to capture the best of both, post-processing is needed to balance the two with selective contrast and brightness.

With all the background I’ve cited and all the tools I mentioned over the past post on exposure are we any closer to a correct exposure? Outside of a studio, where we can see the photograph and subject simultaneously, probably not. When I take a shot of a landscape, I cannot go back hours later or the next day with the prints to check the lighting, it will have changed. Moreover the image on the review screen at the back of your camera is only a JPG representation of the final product. The camera colour mode you chose in camera, vivid, landscape etc. also effects exposure. This is why exposure is problematic in spite of all the tools. And why many photographers say the final product’s exposure is a matter of preference.