Also posted for Granny Shot It Bird of the Day Challenge though I have to confess that I’m not sure how Granny’s challenge works. Can you post any bird on any day, or do you have to post the bird of the day that she has – in this case, for October 15, its ducks. And these are not ducks.
So there you are: I’m not sure if I can technically post these photos to any of the above challenges, but I’ve given it a go. Because really, this white seagull that was kind enough to only move his head while I was shooting is quite an amazing fellow. I especially love the detail of his eye, if you zoom in.
I had tried to capture this skylight several months ago with my DSLR and standard lens. Due to the fact that the skylight isn’t flat on the top, I found that if one part of the skylight was in focus, another part wasn’t. And since I was standing on the floor, I couldn’t simply back up to create more space between me and the object. I finally packed it in and figured that I’d come back to it another time. The skylight is in one of our local Peet’s coffee stores, so I knew it would be no problem to come back and drink more delicious coffee. However the next time I was in, I didn’t have my camera with me. So I took a chance and took the shot with my phone. I was shocked at how perfectly it turned out. The ceiling registered as a deep, smooth black, and I had purposely angled the shot a little bit. The result is that the “walls” of the skylight, and the skylight itself appear to be floating in space – a very Salvador D’alí effect that I absolute love. The black of the ceiling would normally be considered negative space. And yet if I cropped off the black area, the result of seeing only the skylight would have produced a completely unremarkable photograph. Instead, I have a photo that I want to hang on my wall.
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.
How can such a small creature gather so much pollen? About six years ago, researchers discovered something new about flowers and bees. Would you believe electric charges????? It turns out as a bee flies through the air, the friction of the bee’s body parts against the air causes the bee to have a slight positive charge. The flowers that attract bees have a slight negative charge. So when a bee lands on the flower, the bee’s body attracts the pollen to it and the pollen sticks! On February 22, 2013, NPR ran the spot “Honey It’s Electric: Bees Sense Charge On Flowers.” Who knew?
It looks as though (sorry for the pun) bees have 2 eyes – the large ones that we see. These are the bee’s compound eyes that consist of many tiny lenses that piece together patterns that the bee sees, enabling it to recognize types of plants and other bees. However, the bee also has 3 additional eyes on the top of its head. These are called simple, or ocelli eyes. These eyes do not see patterns, but can see light. Or more importantly, these eyes see changes in light, which can alert the bee to predators flying overhead. If you look carefully, you can see one of these small ocelli eyes in the top photo; look at the large eye on your left, then look across the top of the bee’s forehead that has black coloring. At the inner tip of that, almost in the center of the forehead, you will see the leftmost oceilli eye as a very small dot. See it? Well done! You can also just barely see it in the second photo.*