Friday, April 25, 2014

DISCOURAGING BACK LIGHT

As everyone knows, ya just don't take pictures directly into the sun, especially into the sun pointing the camera up into the sky.  Most eagles seem to perch high in trees with their backs to the bright gray or white of the morning sky with the sun at their backs.  I sincerely believe, after countless attempts to photograph bald eagles and other raptors, that all these birds of prey purposely stage themselves in this manner in order to avoid looking into the sun which would hinder seeing their prey.  The purpose of this explanation is to inform the reader why I can't achieve perfect, colorful and detailed photographs of the baby eagles in the nest I have been posting about.  Note the terrible contrast, detail and color in the below shot.
The quality is terrible.  Everything that makes a photograph good is shy in the above picture, as holds true in the ones that follow.  Shortly I'll show you the difference in being resigned to shoot into the sun compared to the results, just two hours later, of shooting when the sky is placed properly behind the subject.  Bored yet?  Here's another baby eagle shot:
That little pile of brown to his right is his sibling.  Again, the quality is horrible but if I want to gather documentation then it has to be good enough and quality can be sacrificed in the name of photographic data gathering.  These little guys are growing like bad weeds.  They've doubled size in one week.  He's testing his wings below:

I mean these guys are really growing up fast.  The photographic problem is that all the property around the eagle tree is private property and I can't get out of the truck to walk for a better vantage point.  In reality, I'm stuck in the truck and I have to stop at the exact same spot every time.  No variation exists in my approach.  If the sky is dark blue or even light blue I'm good to go.  If it's late afternoon and the sun is behind the truck - I'm good to go.  When in a boat I can drift past to set up my position to the eagle.  I'm imprisoned by the water but at least I have some latitude of adjustment in my position.  So, please bear with this growing up of the baby bald eagles.  There will be some acceptable photography as well as some less than adequate photography but, you will observe the young birds until they bounce up and down on the tree limbs and eventually test flight.  Now, compare the above shots to the shots below where I could position myself to the subject critter, or when the sky was darker (rich blue) behind the subject.  Quite a difference.
 He came off that limb so fast I almost missed the shot.
 I panned the camera quickly and caught up with him in the above shot.  Note the clarity and definition --- and the sky.
 The forest provides the buffer between bright sky and my camera lens.  If one is shooting manual, the light meter has to be observed constantly and adjusted.  Manual is rarely selected for these shots.  I prefer shutter priority and when opportune - I select an ISO number as low as possible as long as the shutter can stay above 1000th and I never, ever use the automatic 7 shots per second option.  Anyway - these pictures were taken when I controlled the background by maneuverability of my person, or where nature conveniently placed me with back to the sun.
 So, there ya have the excuses that explain why I can't get great pictures of those baby eagles.  I'm a victim of circumstance!  Ha.  Yep.  That's it.  I'm a victim....The sky will be blue behind them at different periods in the day and I'll stumble along at the right moment and get some shots of them that you will like.  Gotta be patient with nature.  See ya.