You Gotta Learn to Love Shade… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

You Gotta Learn to Love Shade…

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This image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/5.6 at 11:30 am on a bright sunny day. The key was waiting for this Bighorn Sheep lamb to work its way into the shade. So I did.

You Gotta Learn to Love Shade…

While I must confess that I love the low angled, richly colored light of early morning and late afternoon, those magic minutes go by all too quickly and before you know it that wonderful light is replaced either by harsh contrasty light with strong shadows or by darkness. When you want to photograph all day long there is nothing better than bright overcast. In the same manner a cloudy day will do just fine; see the Black Bear image below. When the sun is bright you can look for subjects in the shade as I did for the bighorn lamb image above. If you are doing flowers or other macro subjects you can shade your subjects either with your body, some cardboard, or a large diffuser. And on mornings that promise clear skies and blazing sun you can try to find some birds or wildlife before the sun comes up as I did with the big bull Elk below.

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Here I used the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L II lens with the 1.4X II CT (hand held at 222mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/4. When Denise and I headed to Moose-Wilson Road in Grand Teton National Park we would hope for a cloudy day or look for bears in the shade. This one was created at 11:15 am on a cloudy day. Had the sun been out it would have been pretty much impossible to create a pleasing image of this Black Bear.

When creating images in anything but sunny conditions you need to be ultra careful with the color balance of your images. On cloudy days you can get a head start by working in either Shade or Cloudy White Balance. Then you can fine tune the color in a variety of ways during post processing. All of the basics are (of course) covered in our Digital Basics File. I will be updating that soon and will be including a great new technique that Robert O’Toole taught me yesterday (along with lots of other great new stuff.

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This bull Elk image was created in pre-dawn light with the Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/80 sec. at f/5.6. Note that even with a large, dark subject I needed to add lots of light to my exposure to come up with a good histogram that was pushed well to the right. Most folks will underexpose the images that they make in low light conditions.

Shopper’s Guide

Here is the gear that I used to create the images in this post.

Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS II lens
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS
Canon EF Teleconverter 1.4X II
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head

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.

2 comments to You Gotta Learn to Love Shade…

  • Terrific shots! Living in the Pacific Northwest like I do, I’m usually shooting under overcast conditions. The white background in the elk shot is a very familiar “look” to me…living here, sometimes I forget that the sky’s supposed to be blue! When I’m hiking with my camera it’s usually early in the morning before the sun has even come over the mountains. I often see elk and sometimes bears, so I set my camera to aperture priority and set the evaluative metering to +1 to +1-2/3 stops…it used to surprise me how much extra exposure was needed to properly expose big animals. I expose to the right as you’ve suggested (even more so now that I have a 7D), and always check my histogram when I get a chance. Sometimes the action happens so fast that you can’t do it until after the fact though. Right now the elk are in rut so I’ve been getting lots of tantalizing fleeting glimpses of bucks but no shots yet this season.

    Always enjoy your posts, Artie and I’ve learned a lot from you, so thanks big time!


  • The lamb has the sweetest face. The bear looks great. The fall foliage adds to the scene.