Let Your Photographs Evolve

February 28, 2010

Learning, Wildlife

Photograph © Rick Sammon – All Rights Reserved

Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 100-400mm IS zoom @ 360mm.

ISO 320. 1/400th sec. @ f/7.1

I don’t consider myself a wildlife photography expert, but I have taken some nice wildlife photographs over the years. Juan Pons, the co-founder of the Digital Photo Experience, is our resident wildlife pro – especially when it comes to photographing birds. And let’s not forget DPE’s Gear Guru/Outdoorphotogear.com founder, Chris Klapheke, who has taken some really amazing bird photographs.

My buddy Art Morris is perhaps the master of bird photography, as illustrated by the fine work on his site, Birds as Art. No! Not birds as Art Morris, but birds as art, as in artistic :-)

The opening image of this post – showing a mother magnificent frigate bird and her baby, which I took in Galapagos – is one of my favorite bird photographs. Why? Because it captures a magical moment in nature – a mother protecting her young. There’s no great action or drama, just a nice, peaceful moment in the wild.

This was not the first image I took of the scene. The photo session evolved. At first, my foreground was blurred and the background was too sharp – distracting the viewer’s attention from the main subject.

To remedy those problems, I selected a wider aperture, zoomed in more, got closer to the birds, and shot from a different position to eliminate the distracting foreground elements. I also got down on the subject’s level to “see eye to eye,” a technique I often use for my people pictures.

Even after all that, I took 27 pictures to get the one shot for which I was looking. You see, birds blink, too – and they move their heads rapidly. So out of the 27 shots, I got one I liked.

And even after all of that, I spent some time in Photoshop working on the image: selectively sharpening the birds and selectively blurring the background – in addition to adjusting the saturation and contrast (because it was an overcast day).

So the next time you really want to get a shot, think about how your photograph can evolve. Don’t settle for second best.

Explore the light,


P.S. Speaking of evolving, I hope someday that you make it to Galapagos – where Darwin developed his theory of evolution.

This post was written by:

- who has written 171 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Canon Explorer of Light Rick Sammon has published 36 books, including Exploring the Light and Digital Photography Secrets.

When asked about his photo specialty, Rick says, “My specialty is not specializing.”

You can follow Rick on twitter at http://twitter.com/RickSammon and visit his website at http://www.ricksammon.com

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