Blacklit Images « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Blacklit Images

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Blacklit Coastal Brown Bear, Katmai National Park, AK. See the image below for the techs. And do click on each image to view a larger version. I created the opening image from the image below.
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This image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L lens, the 1.4X II TC, and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 640. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop (to preserve detail in the rim-lit fur): 1/200 sec. at f/9.

The second image represents what I saw in the field, the first image is the one that I visualized.   It is much better to create an image with the histogram well to the right (as in the second image) than to try and create the opening image in camera.   Your files will contain much more info by following this approach.

Here is how I created the opening image.  First, I converted the RAW file in ACR.  (When you do this, be sure that the rim-lit fur is not flashing.)  Next, I did a Levels adjustment by pulling the left-hand slider far to the right while holding down the Alt key (until the shape of the bear appeared almost solid black). Then I moved the middle-tone slider to the right to make the image even darker. I do these two things often to create blacker SILHs. Then I added Black to the Blacks and to the Neutrals in Selective Color as described in Digital Basics:

This particular image was inspired directly by Miguel Lasa’s BBC honored blacklit Polar Bear image.  (I thought that it deserved top honors….)   You can see Miguel’s winning image (in the Creative Visions of Nature category) here:  It would be interesting to see the RAW file.

I first came across the term “black light” in Andy Rouse’s latest and highly inspirational book, “Concepts of Nature.”   The opening image is a combination of Andy’s “Black Light” and his “Atmospheric Ring of Fire” concepts.  You can learn more about this great book here:   I have long pitched the idea that in order to improve folks need to look at as many great natural history images as possible, and in Concepts of Nature Andy has made that easy to do.  I was so taken with the words and the pictures that we ordered fifty copies of Concepts of Nature so that the serious photographers on this side of the pond could take advantage of Andy’s brilliance.

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Here is an abstract blacklit image of the backlit hump and back of a big bear. It was created with the same gear as the image above. ISO 500. Evaluative metering -2 1/3 stops, again to prevent flashing highlights in the rim-let fur: 1/800 sec. at f/11.

I take pride in the fact that I have coined many terms commonly used by today’s nature photographers.  Even though the opening image was jointly inspired by MIguel and Andy I will take credit for coming up with the term “blacklit.”  I will be back soon to share more images from my Alaska trip.

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