Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Do More Than Skim The Surface

Skimmers are some of my favorite water birds. They are sleek, speedy fliers with incredible skill. They barely skim the water with their lower beak, which are longer than the upper beak, scooping up small morsels. They ply the same stretch of water over and over again, which makes it easy for photographers. Once you spot one it is a safe bet that you can set up your tripod and be ready for a show for at least several minutes.

Patience is the keyword when photographing skimmers. They move quite quickly, so if you miss getting good shots on one pass, just wait and chances are they will come by again. That makes it relatively easy to pre-focus in the general area they have passed before. Then it is a simple matter for your autofocus to grab on when they come by again.

This image has been optimized in Lightroom, the image optimization software I use most. The water has been darkened a bit and its color has been enhanced with the Vibrance slider. Fortunately this was shot on an overcast day so the bright whites and deep blacks held their detail and did not need any help. The bright orange area on the beak is an excellent point of color contrast against the deep blue water. And the naturally occurring reflection adds nice punch to the overall composition.

If you look carefully, you can see the water dripping off the beak. You can trace his forward progress by the thin line traced in the water as he skimmed for food.

Shutter Speed 1/8000 sec.  Aperture f/8.  ISO 1600.  Lens: Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS with built-in 1.4x extender for an effective focal length of 560mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "We skim over the surface thoughtlessly. But we must acknowledge that thinking well is a time-consuming process. Take the time to contemplate...."   -M. Scott Peck

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