Windows For the Soul - Photography

A photo tells a story

A photo tells a story...or does it?

(Part 1) - A photo can tell a story, but it is often not the real story... This small white egret seems to be trying to get some fish but it is actually slipping and crashing into the water in spectacular style. A rather high score for its artistic performance.

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Nikon D600, Nikon AF-S 300mm f4, TC1.4

(Part 2) - A photo can tell a story, but it is often not the real story... "the waltzing egret" could be a befitting caption for this photo. Yet, what seems to be a graceful moving egret is in fact an egret recovering from the awkward moment of clumsiness on the previous shot.

It is true that a photograph can tell a story, but a moment frozen in time can be quite deceiving, be that in nature photography or in other genres.

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Nikon D600, Nikon AF-S 300mm f4, TC1.4

Little egrets with different colours as background

I keep coming back to the same sort of "concept", if I can call it that: trying to get a decent photo out of what I can get, when what I can get is not much.
An ordinary photo, of an ordinary subject with less ordinary colours. If I take away the odd colours, I am left with almost nothing, so I look for reflections at chosen hours of the day. With these little egrets, the challenge is in avoiding to have them overexposed but, at the same time, avoiding underexposure on the rest of the photo. These are 3 examples in three very different conditions.

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Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 300mm f4, TC1.4

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Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 300mm f4

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Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 300mm f4, TC1.4

Working with what you get

Unfortunately - or (n)fortunately as I sometimes write - I have a day job and my time for photography is extremely limited. Consequently, I cannot afford to wander far when I am out and about on my spare time and I tend to focus on a relatively short number of subjects when it comes to wildlife photos. Things can get pretty boring if one does not challenge himself to do a few variations on the subject. Recently, I have posted on my Instagram a number of images with egrets, picturing different scenes with different options. I will reproduce those posts here.

When I took this first photo, it was getting dark, at 19h24m in early October. I could still see the egret as it scanned the water for food but the camera was already struggling with the high ISO to keep up to the bird's speed as it shot its bill into the water. I thought I should stop fighting the fading light and embrace it with some shutter-dragging...handheld, though. Luckily, instead of the tiny fish it had been catching until then, the egret caught a nice sole. A quick peek at the lcd, the egret's eye was sharp enough, I was happy...the fading light, the murky waters...I could see a B&W photo.


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Nikon D3S, Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4 ED-IF, Nikon TC-14E

The fishing spot on this second photo was so hot that the egret did not care that I got closer than I have ever managed to. In about 10-15 minutes I reckon it managed half a dozen catches. A good end of the day for both of us! Although I had a nice winter late afternoon light, it was a tricky task avoiding having blown up highlights in a rather contrasting setting with deep shadow in parte of my background. I chose the angle to ensure that all the background above water level was dark shadow. A typical hunting scene but the scenario is unusual. The black and white option seemed a natural one, as colour did not add much to the photo and B&W increases the contrast in the light across the photo. The 1x1 format was meant for the Instagram post, but I think it works best on this shot so I leave as it is.

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Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4 ED-IF, Nikon TC-14E

I posted this next photo on Christmas. As it never snows around here, I thought that a high key, black & white egret hunting was the closest I could get to a white Christmas photo. Apart from the parallel reflection there was not much going on on this photo. The challenge was only in choosing the right combination of settings to avoid blown up highlights whilst achieving this high key image. My goal: simplicity. Again, working with the little I had...

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Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4 ED-IF, Nikon TC-14E

This was my last post of 2017 on Instagram (@windowsforthesoul) - one more egret. This one got lucky and caught a big fish. I thought it was a befitting image for my wishes for the new year of 2018...I have got quite a few, nothing too fancy, though. I tried to keep the shutter speed low enough to have some wing movement whilst avoiding a totally blurred photo. On the other hand, this would help keeping the ISO in an acceptable value, even for D3S standards. Still, I could not avoid a larger aperture reducing the the in focus area to a minimum, fortunately, just by the bird's beak and eye.

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Nikon D3S, Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4 ED-IF, Nikon TC-14E