This is my second day taking up Patti’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #66: Filling the Frame over at Pilotfish. She has encouraged us to include shots of before and after we filled the frame. In some cases, as I’ve mentioned before, filling the frame has to happen in post production because the photo that we have is, well, the photo that we have. When you are photographing wildlife, there’s no do-over.
This also was my first time out with my new mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera, with a Zuiko 75-300mm lens. (Yes, I finally saved enough pennies! More on the new camera in a future post.)
Here is the original shot of a Snowy Egret.
The egret is too high in the frame because I didn’t have my tripod and my hands tend to wobble. And in this shot, since I was too far away from the egret even with my telephoto, the eye is drawn to the water and the reflection – not what I am trying to accomplish. The exposure is also too dark, given the sun’s position and the resulting shadows.
Here I’ve cropped it down, as well as lightening the exposure and then increasing the color saturation to compensate.
In this, the eye of the viewer is drawn as much to the reflection in the water as to the egret. Better, but not ideal. The exposure is better, but there’s still too much shadow on the egret, making the lovely detail on his face and beak difficult to see.
So I did some more cropping and further lightening of the exposure.
Now, the egret fills enough of the frame that there is no question as to the central focus of the photo. At the same time, I have kept enough small details in the shot so that your eye should linger. The curve of the shadow on the right is the curve of the underside of the egret’s neck. That should draw your eye back to the incredible coloring of his eye and beak. Now look at his body. Do you see the ruffling of his delicate feathers on the back of his head and his tail? Is the air breezy or calm? Do you see the ripples of water reflected in stripes of light on his chest? And I’ve lightened the exposure of the water just enough, but not too much, so that I haven’t lost the places where you can see through the water’s surface to the mud beneath, adding a sort of impressionistic effect to the water so it’s not just one shade of blue.
And somehow, through pure luck, the position of the sun, and the angle of my camera, you can see under the water’s surface in the egret’s shadow. Can you find his refracted black leg and orange foot? You might have noticed them in the first two photos, but now they are right there, almost, but not quite, stepping out of the photograph.
At least, that’s the effect I was aiming for.