Making This Waterbird Image

Wildlife photography continues to grow in popularity as prices of high quality digital cameras and zoom lenses continue to fall. Enthusiast photographers are picking up the challenge and creating great wildlife images. Here are some tips from one of my heron images. Read on for details on making this waterbird image.

Heron

A combination of high overhead cloud, a clean background and a great reflection make this image work

This image was taken at Albert Park Lake, just a few kilometers from downtown Melbourne, Australia. (If you are a motor racing fan, this is the lake that the Australian Grand Prix Formula One race goes around).


This shot was taken in the early morning, with high overhead cloud and no wind. In fact, it was a surprisingly still morning.

What makes the image work:

(1) Lighting. The high cloud results in very even lighting on the bird. There are no harsh shadows from sunlight. Melbourne in the winter gets a lot of cloudy weather which is ideal for evenly lighting outdoor subjects.

(2) Background. I had to walk to get to a position where there were not reeds or other distractions in both the foreground and background. Having a clean background increases the focus on the subject, and that has worked very effectively here.

(3) Reflections. Still days can create great reflections in water. You can get them in lakes, but also smaller areas of water. Even puddles can provide great reflections. I composed this image to include the reflection as a key component of the image.

(4) Focus. This image was shot at f2.8 using a single focus point aimed at the birds eye. This has provided very sharp focus on the bird. If you are looking to increase the quality of your wildlife images, try using a single focus point and aiming that focus point at the subjects eye (use this tip for portraits of people as well)

(5) Distance. Being some way back from the heron means it was going about its normal business without really being aware of the photographer and the camera. This image was shot with a 70-200mm lens at 200mm on a crop sensor camera (effectively given the equivalent of a 320mm zoom).

(6) Crop. I have cropped this image to square format to fit with the shape of the heron. It worked more effectively in this format than as a horizontal dimension image.

I hope these tips have been useful in understanding making this waterbird image. Best wishes with your wildlife photography.

 

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