My pal Rick Sammon has a Facebook group where he offers education and inspiration on a regular basis. He asked me to contribute an image and some tips to his group. In case you’re not following that group, I wanted to provide the tips here on my blog as well. I hope you enjoy them.
Tip #1 – When you’re photographing outdoors, use your surroundings to make, shape and create light. In the case of this eagle photo, I made it near Soldovia, Alaska. Photographing bald eagles is hard because their bodies are nearly black and their heads nearly white. That wide dynamic range is hard for any camera. If you underexpose, the shadows block up and you can’t see the glorious details in the bird’s feathers. So find yourself a reflector. In this case, it was my lucky day. It snowed and I used the snow-covered ground as a reflector to pump light back into the underside of the eagle’s feathers. This opened up the shadow and gave me detail that wouldn’t be possible any other way.
Tip #2 – To make your composition more balanced, leave a place for your subject to go in the photograph. In this case, the eagle is flying right to left, so I composed the shot in such a way that he was traveling toward the far edge of the picture. This makes our eye feel more comfortable when we view the image because it makes sense. He wouldn’t fly backwards! Also, compositionally, I used the sloping curve of the hill to further balance the image. The hill slopes up in the same direction the bird is flying. The reeds and grasses at the top left of the picture anchor that side and the clouds on the top right of the picture anchor that side. The result is a pleasing composition that the viewer can enjoy.
Tip #3 – When photographing in snow, under a blue sky, remember that the snow will take on the color characteristics of the sky. Blue sky over snow means blue snow. It’s okay if there is a slight tinge of blue in the snow. That is normally the way our eye sees it, even if we don’t consciously register that information. But most of the time, the picture will record that blue too heavily. Simple solution – go to Photoshop (or any other photo editor) and create a duplicate layer. Go to HUE-SATURATION and remove the saturation in the BLUE channel. Mask the sky so it remains blue, but the rest of the picture doesn’t suffer from a blue color cast.
Bonus Tip – Always have fun when you have a camera in your hand. I hope you find this helpful and always feel free to reach out if you think I can help.
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