Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Photographing Birds with Reflections

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White Ibis
One of the biggest challenges to bird photography is that you can never seem to be close enough to the birds to suit your lens.  I use a 400mm lens, but even if I owned an 800mm lens, I would frequently wish I could make the bird larger in the frame.  While cropping is almost always needed, you don't have to crop as much if you include more of the bird's environment.  If you can ever shoot birds with their reflection included, though, you can have your cake and eat it too.  You don't have to crop as much, and in most situations, your composition will likely be improved by including the bird's reflection.  Whether the reflection is a crystal clear and perfectly formed or wavy and deformed, they add a sense of tranquility and beauty that I think benefits most images.

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White Ibis
(pristine reflection.  This is the same bird in the same position as in the first
photo, but I moved closer and changed the angle of view to exclude the
mangrove in the background.)
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Tricolored Heron
(some waviness caused by the ripples made by the heron)
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American Avocet
(distortion caused by wind)
The only exception to this that I can think of is when there's muck on the top of the water.  Whether it be pollution, floating debris (litter or otherwise) or the tops of plants, sometimes the muck detracts from the attractiveness of the reflection.

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Tricolored Heron
(I'd prefer this image without surface clutter on the water, but still like it)
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Great Egret
(here the reflection doesn't look attractive to me, so with this photo I'd probably crop
it out.  But since I have many photos of Great Egrets in flight that are
better than this, I probably won't use it other than to illustrate this point.)

4 comments:

  1. Great article & photos Scott! I also like the perfect reflection of the tree in the first White Ibis photo.

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  2. Scott, gorgeous reflection images! Wonderful post, as always!

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  3. Awsome pics Scott, and please continue to tell us what lenses you use for each photo, I for one want to learn more.
    All the very best Gordon.

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