Using the Right Tool & Surf Scoter Image Quiz Comments « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Using the Right Tool & Surf Scoter Image Quiz Comments

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This Marbled Godwit image was created with the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II with the 2X II TC (hand held at 400mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/7.1.

Using the Right Tool

After two hours of photographing feeding Marbled Godwits with the 800, I realized that I was simply working too tight; I was using the wrong tool. So I left my big lens on the beach, grabbed my favorite zoom lens along with the 2X TC, and waded back into the surf.

By using a shorter lens, I was able to include more of the gold beautiful reflections. When I reviewed my images, I was disappointed in all of the images made with my big lens. The image above was my favorite by far.

Surf Scoter Image Quiz Comments

In the January 18, 2011 blog post here, I posted two Surf Scoter head portraits and asked five questions. You will find them below, along with my comments.

1-If you see a drake Surf Scoter swimming right at you on a sunny day would you want to be in Av Mode or in Manual Mode? And why? (Clue: there is only one right answer….)

You need to be in Manual mode. As several folks pointed out, as the bird gets larger in the frame there will be more black influencing the meter resulting in the bright whites being over-exposed. Becky was the first to answer correctly. Kudos to Kaustubh for his excellent explanation:

“When the …. light is constant, better to be in manual metering mode so that …. changes do not change the exposure. Exposure preset so as to not blow the whites/red but have them pretty close to the right side of histogram( which will make sure blacks aren’t blocked).”

2-However you choose to expose in the above situation what should be your main concern be?

My main concern was to avoid over-exposing those very bright whites. I created a single image in Av Mode when the bird was far away and saw that the two large patches of white were flashing at 1/1000 sec. at f/8 so I went a third stop darker to 1/1250 sec. at f/8 and eliminated the blinkies. As the bird swam closer to us I stopped down to 1/640 sec. at f/11 for the first image in the post. (At a given aperture, depth of field at a given aperture is reduced as the subject gets closer to the camera; that’s why you need to learn to stop down when working close to your lenses minimum focusing distance.) When the bird swam right up to the boardwalk I noted that I had a few blinkies so I stopped down an additional 1/3 stop to 1/640 sec. at f/13.

3-Which of the two images is your favorite? And why?

I love them both but favor the first image just a bit because of the crystal clear reflection and the softer blue water.

4-Why is the water a darker blue in the second image?

When the bird was a good distance from the boardwalk, the water reflected the distant, very light blue sky not too far above the horizon because the angle of declination of the lens is relatively shallow. As it got closer to the boardwalk I needed to point the lens down more and the angle of declination became steeper. Now the water reflected the darker blue sky more directly overhead…. When you are working from well above the water the sky will become progressively darker as the bird gets closer. That’s why its great to get down on the ground when possible.

5-The first image has a critique-able flaw. BPN Out of the Box Forum moderator Denise Ippolito spotted it in an instant. What flaw was she talking about? (Clue: it is not something subjective; it is something that can be proven….)

If you draw a line from the the pupil in the bird’s eye in to the pupil in the reflection in the first image, you will see that the image needed a small clockwise rotation. Subhrashis was on the right track there 🙂

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the image above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X teleconverter.
Canon EF Teleconverter 2X II. This 2X is currently being replaced by the EF 2X III TC.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera bod.y And this is the very best professional digital camera body that I have even used..

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. Fast and dependable.

If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our complete Shopper’s Guide.

7 comments to Using the Right Tool & Surf Scoter Image Quiz Comments

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Gordon and Robert: thanks! That’s the plan.

  • Thanks for the explanations; they were very helpful.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Subhrashis, You are welcome. Great to see you here.

    Gordon, YAW too 🙂

    Keith, I love all that gold water 🙂 I would not have minded some with the same smooth gold background but that would have meant backing up into the big waves with the 800 🙂 As for pleasing, it is all in the eyes of the artist and the beholder….

  • Beautiful, Artie. I can appreciate you wouldn’t want the bird to be too tight (with the 800) but this one seems to me to be not quite tight enough. Seems like a little too much BG, beautiful though it is. Which leads to a question: what is the right ratio of bird size to BG size to be pleasing – and does it depend on the bird and BG?

  • avatar Gordon Lindsay

    All very interesting, I find I am learning by seeing the answers posted and by your comments afterward Artie many thanks.

  • Artie, I think it was Johan Lundberg who hit on the rotation bit first.

    Thanks again for this insight into the thought process behind image making!