Friday, March 21, 2014

Subjective Subject

What is the subject of this image? Is it the duck (a scaup photographed in Alaska), or is it the reflection of fall colors in the pond? The answer is entirely up to you. Both form part of the overall scene. You could decide that the duck is just an element of added interest to the basic subject of water reflections. Or you could decide that the reflections form a pleasing backdrop for the main subject of the duck.

Send your answer to    I will let you know what the majority decides in a future blog. There is no right or wrong answer, but it will be interesting to know what you think. All entries will be entered into a drawing for a $25 Gift Certificate from Hunt's Photo and Video. Deadline for responding and being entered in the drawing is noon Eastern Daylight Time on Monday, March 31. All entrants have an equal chance of winning.

To determine exposure for a scene like this, it is generally best to take a meter reading of the water when you first arrive so that you can set the basic exposure. If you are handholding your camera, set the shutter speed fast enough to avoid camera shake, generally a number similar to the focal length of your lens, for example 1/200 sec. if you using a 200mm lens.

The duck is a small part of the scene and therefore will not affect exposure significantly. As you start photographing it is important to check your histogram every few shots to make certain that the dark areas of the duck are not underexposed, and that the light areas are not overexposed. Also if the light is changing, for example if it is a partly cloudy day and the sun comes and goes behind the clouds, it is especially important to keep a careful eye on the histogram.

In this case the duck was swimming slowly across the pond and there was plenty of time to check the histogram periodically. When the action is fast and furious, which is the case when birds are taking off or flying in for a landing, it is especially important to have the basic exposure set because there will not be time to check the histogram between shots. In those cases, a good basic exposure will assure you of good detail in most areas, and if it turns out that there are small areas of over- or underexposure, Lightroom (or other image optimization software) will enable you to recover detail in the shadows or highlights as necessary.

Shutter Speed 1/250 sec.  Aperture f/11.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 17-40 f/4L set at 35mm.  Camera: Canon 40D.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Fortune favors the prepared mind."  --Louis Pasteur 


  1. I can't stop looking at this image. The colors of the reflection are beautiful fall colors and the bird and the ripple he's making behind him shows motion. Darn! Even the colors look like they are in motion. The picture as a whole is the subject! It can't be picked apart. LOVE IT!

  2. Thanks, Linda. I really appreciate your wonderful comments!