Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Great Egret in Flight

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Great Egret
This past Saturday I was at Merritt Island; I went there mostly to look for shorebirds, but I couldn't resist spending some time photographing this Great Egret.  He was perched in the trees by the road, and he was too close for me to get more than his head in the frame.  But then he took off, and he flew circles around me at least a couple times before he settled on another place to perch.

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Great Egret
Normally when shooting birds in flight, I overexpose because the sky is often so bright that I would end up with  the bird being way too dark.  But with white birds like Great Egrets I find that I often need to underexpose a little, especially if the wings are receiving direct sunlight.  With these photos, the sun was high in the sky, and the birds face was cast in shadow.  To make matters worse, when birds are flying, what's receiving direct sunlight changes depending on whether the bird's wings are up and down.  Here, though, even when the wings are up, the top of the birds head still receives direct sunlight.

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Notice the contrast between sunny and shaded parts of the bird
I'd much prefer to have a shadowy look than blown out feathers, so I expose for the brightest part of the image.  So in Aperture Priority Mode, I under expose by 1/3 stop to compensate for what's receiving direct sunlight.  Then I increase the "exposure" to the shadowy portions of the bird in Lightroom. While I would love it if the sun was shining evenly on all parts of the bird (that is, with the sun low and behind me), I do like the sun shining through the bird's flight feathers in the shots with the wings up.

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Great Egret
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Great Egret

2 comments:

  1. Glorious images, Scott! The first photograph is especially ethereal, though they all are lovely. Outstanding work, as usual!

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  2. Fantastic photos Scott! They are beautiful shots!

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