The Making of a Bird Silhouette
Spent last Sunday at sunrise hanging out at the Texas City Dike with tons of birds including Avocets, Black Skimmers, Black Crowned Night Herons and some very cooperative American Oystercatchers. More on the Oystercatchers later.
While trying to find the Oystercatchers, came upon this Great Blue Heron standing on some rocks. Thought that I could turn this into a decent shot but knew that the sun reflecting off of the water behind him was going to be a challenge. From instinct, bumped up the exposure compensation to +1 as the camera’s light meter was going to automatically darken the scene due to the bright background. Checked the histogram and saw that the bird still wasn’t properly exposed per the first photo below. It was going to take a lot more positive exposure compensation to be the Heron looking good, which would have really blown out the background.
Instead, decided to turn this into a silhouette shot. Backed my car up so that the sun reflection was directly behind him. Lowered the ISO to 100, removed all exposure compensation and let the light meter in my camera automatically darken the scene as it was very bright. Was very pleased with the result on the first try. Checked my histogram expecting that a little negative exposure compensation could be needed but it wasn’t. Another silhouette for my portfolio.
Used the back focus button on my camera to set the focus on the bird and then reframed the shot to get him in the right third of the photo.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x III teleconverter, hand-held out the car window using a camera bean bag
Original photo: Aperture priority, 1/3200 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation
Silhouette photo: Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F10, ISO 100, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation
A great post and great result. Wonderful photograph.
April 29, 2016 at 5:30 am
Thanks Victor for checking out my blog and commenting. Playing with the light is what I like to do with my wildlife photography so this was a good example.
April 29, 2016 at 9:13 am
Great description of the process you went through to turn the light to gold. I like it.
April 29, 2016 at 12:28 pm
Like both of them.
April 30, 2016 at 1:55 pm
Thanks Lyle. I’m a major fan of silhouettes. I’ll be able to use this example in next year’s FeatherFest workshop.
April 30, 2016 at 8:10 pm
Thanks Stephen. Always appreciate your comments.
April 30, 2016 at 8:11 pm