Overcast equals great photography conditions

The photograph below is a Reddish Egret.

Reddish Egret - Fort Desoto

Reddish Egret with vampire wings.

ISO 640 | f/5 | 1/1250 | Manual Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens with a 1.4x III Extender, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod, with flash and fresnel.

This Reddish Egret is standing still for a split second before launching to catch a fish. I really like the symmetry of the wings. When the weather is overcast, it is often leads to great photography opportunities. The bird seems to be drawn and stands out very well from the background. The secret is to overexpose in order to get the subject bright enough. The background will typically get overexposed while the subject is properly exposed, creating the dreamy ambiance. That type of photography is also called high key photography. I ran a bit of Detail Extractor from Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in of Nik Softwares for the image optimization. No background cleaning was needed.

The photograph below is a Galapagos Penguin.

Galapagos Penguin

Galapagos Penguin resting at Las Tintoreras, in the Galapagos Islands.

ISO 800 | f/6.3 | 1/500 | Manual Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens, the Canon EOS 5D mark III handheld.

Another stunning example of high key photograph thanks to an overcast day! Note that the 600mm f/4 L IS II can reasonably be handheld thanks to its lighter weight and high performing Image Stabilizer.

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Steven

Recovering the whites: Part II

The photograph below is a Great White Egret with breeding colors.

Great White Egret with breeding colors - Gatorland

Great White Egret with breeding colors – Gatorland, Florida.

ISO 400 | f/9 | 1/2000 | Av Mode w/ evaluative metering -2/3 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod.

This Great White Egret was less then ideally created because the whites around the shoulder were in the 245-250 range out of camera. When whites are above 235, it becomes difficult to recover details. This time, instead of using Detail Extractor from Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in of Nik Softwares, I went with the following procedure:

1. Regular Recovery slider at 20 from Photoshop RAW

2. Selection of the bright whites with a Color Range selection, then I applied a Linear Burn from the bending modes at 50% transparency

3. Addition of a layer mask to gradually erase some of the Linear Burn blending mode where the whites showed already enough detail

Lesson: do your best not to get whites above 235 when capturing the image!! Note the in camera highlights alerts will show only when the whites are burned, meaning above 255. One definitely wants to make sure there are no blinkies showing up and the histogram should stop somewhere in the middle of the fourth section to the right.

See below an animated GIF with the original creation, the first stage of whites recovery from Photoshop RAW and the Linear Burn blending mode applied to the brightest whites.

Great White Egret - Recovering whites

From the Original to full recovery

Note that I also cleaned up the area around the eye with the patch and clone tools from Photoshop.

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Steven

Recovering the whites – part I

The photograph below is a White Ibis in a sleeping position.

White Ibis sleeping - Fort Desoto

White Ibis in sleeping position – Fort Desoto, Florida.

ISO 400 | f/7.1 | 1/2000 | Manual Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens, the Canon EOS 5D mark III, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod.

When capturing an image, you ideally want your whites not to be above 235. Though 255 is the limit beyond which the information is lost (or your histogram is clipped to the right), it takes a lot of work to recover details between 235 and 255. Think about that when you are in the field and adjusting your exposure. The histogram is the best upgrade (by far) that digital brought over film. In the photograph above, I ran a Detail Extractor filter at 70% from Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in of Nik Softwares. Follow our link to enjoy a 15% discount! 🙂
This filter is very convenient to recover either highlights or shaded areas.

This is also another reason why you want to shoot in RAW versus JPEG. When importing the RAW picture into Photoshop, one can play a bit with the Recovery slider to recover burnt highlights.

See below an animated GIF with the original creation, versus the Color Efex Pro 4 enhanced one.

White Ibis recovered

Before and after Detail Extractor

Note that I also cleaned up the area around the eye with the patch and clone tools from Photoshop.

Support our blog by following our links for your purchases. It comes at no extra cost to you and it helps keeping this photography blog lively!

Steven

A bird eating a shark?

The following photograph depicts a Great Blue Heron in flight with a baby shark in its beak!

Great Blue Heron with a shark in its beak

Great Blue Heron flying away with a baby shark in its beak – Fort Desoto, Florida.

ISO 100 | f/5.6 | 1/2000 | Ap Mode w/ evaluative metering -1 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens, the Canon EOS 7D, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod.

The photograph above is absolutely real! Those Great Blue Herons are fierce birds ad would eat anything given a certain size range. See below a blown up view on the beak:

Great Blue Heron eating a shark

Incredible!

Birds have a very powerful digestive system. The photograph below is another Great Blue Heron catching a Sea Horse this time.

Great Blue Heron catching a Sea Horse

Great Blue Heron catching a Sea Horse – Fort Desoto, Florida. See our full species index.

ISO 640 | f/8 | 1/2000 | Ap Mode w/ evaluative metering 0 EV | AI servo focus

This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens + 1.4 EX III, the Canon EOS 7D, mounted on a Jobu Design Gimbal head, over the Manfrotto 190CX carbon fiber tripod.

Is not that another amazing catch? See below a blown up.

Great Blue Heron eating a Sea Horse

I feel bad for the Sea Horse

In both of the photographs presented, I applied a couple of filters from the Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in of Nik Softwares. Follow our link to enjoy a 15% discount on the latter! 🙂 The entire Nik Softwares collection is now for sale at $149. Add to that a 15% discount when following the link above, that gives you a very effective set of Photoshop plug-ins at $126.65!

ANSWER TO “Secrets for attractive blurs”: The first blur of Crows flying off was taken at 1/15 of a second shutter speed, while the Double-crested Cormorant was taken at 1/30 of a second shutter speed. This is partly why the ghosting effect is stronger with the Crows, as the shutter speed was a bit slower.

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Steven

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