Ugly Lessons II

black-vulture-head-portait-bpn-_y9c3797-indian-lake-estates-fl

Black Vulture head portrait; immature. Indian Lake Estates, FL. This image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop (as framed): 1/400 sec. at f/9 set manually. The lens was supported by the BAA-designed Big Lens Ultimate Beanbag (BLUBB) that was resting firmly on the mostly lowered window of my SUV.

Central Sensor (by necessity) Rear Focus/AI Servo AF (active at the moment of exposure). Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. For a greater appreciation of the image, click on the photo. Then click on the enlarged version to close it.

Ugly Lessons II: Ageing Black Vulture

With it relatively smooth black facial skin the Black Vulture in the image above is a youngster. The skin on the face birds of this species becomes progressively lighter (tending towards yellowish on really old birds) and more wrinkled. See image next.

Here is another lesson in the making: in Ugly Lessons I here I photographed an adult Turkey Vulture with the same gear in the same light. When this bird hopped closer on the ground just below the adult vulture I went one stop lighter (from 1/500 sec. at f/11 to 1/400 sec. at f/9) without batting an eyelash. Why?

black-vulture-adult-_y9c3276-indian-lake-estates-fl

Black Vulture head portrait: adult. Indian Lake Estates, FL. This image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop (as framed): 1/640 sec. at f/9 set manually. The lens was supported by the BAA-designed Big Lens Ultimate Beanbag (BLUBB) that was resting firmly on the mostly lowered window of my SUV.

Central Sensor (by necessity) Rear Focus/AI Servo AF (active at the moment of exposure). Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. For a greater appreciation of the image, click on the photo. Then click on the enlarged version to close it.

More Questions

Why did I create the image of the adult bird (bottom photo) at +1 stop when I had added only 2/3 stop for the image of the immature bird (top photo)?

Which bird do you find more handsome, the young bird above or the older bird below?

Which image do you like best? And why?

Do you think that my JPEGs look great? Learn everything I do once I get the images home in our Digital Basics File, a PDF sent via e-mail. More than 3,300 sold.

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Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the images in today’s blog post. 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. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon 1.4X III Teleconverter. The new 1.4X TC is designed to work best with the newer Series II super-telephoto lenses but it works just fine with the current lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

BLUBB I designed this one myself. Beware of cheap knock-offs; they cost half as much as the BLUBB but …
LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
Be sure to check out our camera body User’s Guides here.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV User’s Guide. Learn to use your Mark IV the way that I use mine. Also available for the 7D and the Mark III here.

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9 comments to Ugly Lessons II

  • avatar cheapo

    Super images Artie. But to honest I must object, albeit mildly, to this series. I realize that it’s a tongue in cheek intention on your part, but no animal is ugly. ;¬) They are all beautifully fitted to their purpose.

  • I prefer the juvenile. Did you do something to his eye, like lighten the iris and darken the pupil?

    Eye is right out of camera, stunningly sharp. artie

  • avatar Jay

    I don’t think it’s necessary to choose one over the other. Both portraits are good. Unlike Maggi, I do like the background in the picture of the younger bird. The greens and browns help the bird stand out and seems more interesting than the plain blue background in the older bird. The older bird, with the wrinkled head, is a much more interesting subject. Also, I like the tip of the beak on the older bird better than the beak on the younger bird. It may just be the way the light reflects off of the younger bird’s beak, or the space between the upper and lower parts of the older bird’s beak.

    Thanks Jay. I am with you on the BKGRs far preferring the mottled green and yellow to the somewhat boring sky…. And yes, slight changes in head angle will greatly affect the look of a bird’s bill. Both bills look pretty snazzy to me :). artie

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    As a portrait, I much prefer the second image without the background, which personally, I find distracting. Not sure I like the ‘startled’ expression of the younger bird either.

  • avatar Lesley Kes

    I prefer the younger bird because of the background, the head angle and the almost startled or alarmed look in his eye. Both pics are great, though.
    Lesley

    Thanks Lesley. Looks can be deceiving :). The young bird was not at all startled, it just wanted the adult’s perch! artie

  • avatar Charlie Young

    Neat portraits. OK who wins the ugly bird contest? These vultures are bad news but so are wood storks….perhaps a dead heat?

  • avatar Ben Sadd

    Nice portraits. I like the background, bird, and angle of shooting better with the younger bird.

    Does the extra light have to do with ETTR, and thus bringing out more details in the darker skin of the younger bird? It is possible with the younger bird, but not with the older because those lighter patches of skin will get blown out at the same exposure.

    Well seen on the different perspectives; the young bird was just below me, the adult on the roof of a shalter. More on the EXP to come :). artie

  • avatar Marty

    Great pix, mannnnnn trick-or-treat! Very well don’t makes me jump back……

  • Hi Artie, Great portraits, as per usual with your high standards.

    1/3 stop more light for the considerably lighter background of the adult bird

    The younger one is better looking, the adult reminds me of an English barrister, with the bumps and ‘curls’ of its head like the dusty old white wigs. (The rest of the vulture is kind of like a lawyer to, come to think of it ;-)

    The background of the young bird portrait makes it a much more interesting image to me.

    I regularly read and enjoy your blog, but don’t often comment. Thanks for all the great tips and pointers!

    Bruce

    You are most welcome Bruce, and thanks for your kind words! And for your erudite comments. artie

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