Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bird Alone

I began an experiment a few years ago with an attempt to isolate a bird from its surroundings. While I do prefer the environment (especially early morning golden light on the mangroves and their reflections), I imagined that seeing only the bird and its reflection in the water with a complete black surrounding would make it "pop" out and provide a unique and interesting image. This began after one morning spent with a great white egret that was successfully catching fish along Biscayne Bay while the ripples in the wind-disturbed water reflected the blue sky, as seen below.

After that, I took it to another level and picked out a couple previous images of white birds and post-processed them to make the effect. This took lots of patience and some Photoshop savvy (trial and error & watching YouTube instructional videos). Mostly, the work was with the quick selection tool and refining the edges before inverting the selection and using curves to darken the surroundings. Despite the power of Photoshop,  I quickly learned that creating a successful image would begin in the field.

Consequently, when on Biscayne Bay, I would look for those opportunities that would make a "bird alone" image possible. This, of course, works best with white birds as I expose for the white feathers. causing most of the surroundings to darken. Darker birds are more difficult to work with as naturally the surroundings will be lighter upon exposure, making it more difficult to get rid of them during post-processing. But, with additional patience, it worked! I even managed to keep the water drops coming from the worm in the bird's mouth in the photo below.

Wading bird images with the bird in completely calm water are very appealing, but there is also an appeal to a reflection that is distorted by moving water. With the "bird alone" technique, I thought it added a fun dynamic to the image. I love the interaction of the water ripples and the colors of the bird's reflections. Reminds me of black light psychedelic posters from back in the 60s and 70s.

Water disturbed by the bird's motion is yet another element I attempt to isolate from the surroundings. Because of the light reflection, this makes the isolation from the undisturbed water easy.

If you like the effect of these, go back to some old images you might have of a wading bird and see what you can do with it. The key is to maintain the naturalness and avoid a cut-out look. And it doesn't always have to be black!

No comments:

Post a Comment