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Head in the Fog



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13 Comments |
pietnel
 
pietnel January 16, 2016
lovely stunning shot
mihrt PRO+
 
mihrt January 20, 2016
This is a lovely composition!
ircacaplikas
 
ircacaplikas February 01, 2016
magical capture !
lizvantonder
 
lizvantonder July 25, 2016
So beautiful!
jasbrat1
 
jasbrat1 July 25, 2016
cool shot
FrankSomma
 
FrankSomma August 22, 2016
Magical Elaine!
rachaellivingstone
 
rachaellivingstone August 22, 2016
This is incredible!
14renren
 
14renren September 25, 2016
I rate this as one of the best ethereal nature captures I have seen, stunning, skillful and just beautiful fine art. dave
txules
 
txules October 02, 2016
Join the conversation. Add a comment or even better, a critique. Let's get better together!
txules
 
txules October 02, 2016
impressive
danielobermeier
 
danielobermeier December 01, 2016
Beautiful shot! is that a Dark Eyed Junco?
Radar
 
Radar January 11, 2017
Composition is excellent, love it!
Jaxxlynn
 
Jaxxlynn February 26, 2017
Eye catching and peaceful
See all

Behind The Lens

Location

This shot was taken in my back yard through the kitchen window on a very cold winter day after a major snowfall. The little bird was queued up on a peony branch low on the ground, waiting her turn to eat at a nearby bird feeder close to the house.

Time

One would never know by looking at this photo, but it was taken mid-afternoon when the sun was high in the sky -- obviously not the ideal time of day for photography. But when shooting birds, you take the opportunity when it arises and make the best of it. I was in the house gazing out the window at the beautiful snow and all of the hungry birds congregating at the feeder when this female junco landed on the branch below it, as if posing for me. So I grabbed my camera -- which is always nearby -- and quickly took the shot before she joined the crowd above her. Fortunately, my camera settings were acceptable for the situation.

Lighting

Any photographer knows that high sun and white snow are not a good mix! And because I was shooting through a glass window, fill flash was not an option. So you can imagine what the original image looked like. The background was pure bright white with little detail left to bring out, and the little bird was nothing but a dark profile.

Equipment

This shot was taken with a hand-held Nikon D7000 DSLR and a Nikon 55-300mm zoom, shot at 195mm. No flash or other equipment was used.

Inspiration

I wasn't planning a photo shoot this afternoon. The conditions simply weren't right for the occasion-- wrong time of day, the snow was too bright, and it was way too cold to shoot outside. But nature has a way of bringing photo opportunities to you when you least expect it, and often in challenging conditions. This little bird just appeared and caught my eye. There was nothing colorful about her, nor did she possess any other attractive feature that might make for a dynamic photo. But her delicate pose and the way she puffed out her feathers to insulate herself from the cold was appealing in a way that I couldn't pass up. It's the composition and the alluring story it tells that makes this photo a piece of art.

Editing

Oh, yes, this photo required lots of post-processing -- more than 10 hours worth. Most photographers would have deleted the original image without giving it a second glance. But I knew there had to be a way to bring out its redeeming qualities. Fortunately, I am fairly skilled at using Photoshop to edit my less-than-perfect photos, so I used my imagination and made the best of it. In addition to adjusting the lights and shadows to bring out whatever detail was still salvageable, I created a cloud background layer to give the image a somewhat mystical appeal and to compensate for the detail that was all but obliterated in the RAW file. Blending in this layer so that it looked natural was very challenging. I played with gradient opacity and color for hours before I achieved the look I wanted.

In my camera bag

In addition to my full-frame DSLR, I sometimes carry a second camera with a cropped sensor. It's always good to have a back-up camera just in case something goes wrong with your primary camera. When shooting away from home, I will usually carry a general purpose lens, such as my Nikon 18-120mm zoom lens. I also carry a mid-range zoom (70-300mm) , a long-range zoom (200-500mm), and a 105mm macro lens for close-up photography. And, of course, I carry the peripheral essentials -- tripod, hot-shoe flash, ND and polarizing filters, wireless remote trigger, LED light for macro lens, spare batteries, lens cloth and cleaner, etc. All of this gets to be very heavy when traveling by foot, so I bring my husband to help with the load!

Feedback

Bird photography is tricky. It's best to plan your photo shoots in the early morning and late afternoon when the birds are most active. But the most alluring shot can come when you least expect it. So always be on the alert, never stray far from your camera and, most importantly, be patient. I always try to practice the 3 P's of good photography: Planning, Patience, and Persistence. And don't forget -- "Practice makes Perfect." Well, we all know there is no such thing as a perfect photo coming out of the camera. So use your imagination to create a near-perfect image in post-processing.

See more amazing photos, follow elainejohnstonschuch

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