Sunday, August 10, 2014

Blue On Green

Backlight is one of my favorite types of lighting, but it can be hard to deal with when photographing wildlife. This is classic backlight  -  all the light is coming from behind the Great Blue Heron, lighting the grass and edge-lighting his head and body. Notice that no light is striking the front of his body directly.  His body is being lit by ambient light, and some brightness reflecting up from the water.

When shooting backlit subjects, take a basic meter reading and then check the histogram. Sometimes it will be beneficial to increase the basic reading by one stop to make sure that the front of the body has received enough exposure. It is very easy to underexpose the main subject in a backlit scene.

I made at least one mistake when taking this shot. Just prior to my spotting this heron by the edge of the stream, I had been photographing birds in flight. In order to get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze their wing action, I had increased the ISO to 3200. But this shot did not need a fast shutter speed, nor did it need such a high ISO. The higher the ISO, the more noise is introduced into the image. I should have reduced the ISO to 800 for this series of shots, but I completely forgot that I had set the ISO so high. I was just happy to see this handsome subject standing in a great spot and beautifully lit.

Even so, using noise reduction in Lightroom removed most of the noise, so I was lucky that my mistake did not negatively impact this image. Most mistakes or oversights can be handled by Lightroom if you are careful in your optimization techniques.

Shutter Speed 1/5000 sec.  Aperture f/8.  ISO 3200.  Lens: Canon 200-400 f/4L IS with added 2x external extender for an effective focal length of 800mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III. Gitzo tripod with RSS ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."  --Scott Adams

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