Monday, January 25, 2010

Case Study - Don't Forge The Gear

I am convinced I am a solid novice photographer, but I do enjoy time spent with my camera. That said, I won't lie - I sometimes DON'T like it when I forget to bring some important gear and the weather isn't cooperating.

Case Sudy #1

Yesterday, I, with my good friends Don and Natalie, headed out to do some birding (hmmm, imagine that - me birding with friends....). Anyhow, after dipping on the Iceland Gulls at the Visteon Pond (but securing two Glaucous Gulls instead), we opted to check some hotspots for winter owls. They have been sorely lacking this winter here in Metro Detroit.

One of those hotspots includes Oakwoods Metropark. Knowing that Michigan Memorial Park, right across the river, has some good habitat too, we opted to check it out. Imagine our excitement when we confirmed the raptor sitting on the crucifix was a Merlin!

While I was able to "save" the picture (positive exposure compensation and some minor Photoshopping), the whole situation was almost a complete loss. The skies were much darker gray than what the picture shows (the exposure compensation (+1) blew out the gray and made it almost white) and the sun was getting closer to the horizon with every passing minute so my situation was not going to improve. Plus, the bird and the post were very dark. Unfortunately, taking a picture of a dark subject on a brighter background can be a tough. What could have helped me with the shot? My external flash with the Better Beamer. So why didn't I use it? Like a bonehead, I left it on my kitchen table. Had it been with me, I could have put some light on the bird, limiting my need to overexpose, thus keeping the background a more realistic gray instead of that fake white.

Note to self - bring all your camera gear. Don't leave parts behind.

Case Study #2

Today, solo, I went back over to the boneyard with flash in hand. No Merlin. Fine. Heading back to my place, I spied a Kestrel hunting a field not far from my place (a half mile away, to be exact). I basically crawled halfway out of my sunroof and got the pic below. What a difference a flash can make a gray day.

Granted, both images are stunningly sub-average, but you can really see a difference, can't you? Now, if I can just get these small darlings to perch on something eye-level 30 feet from my driver's side window in front of a pleasing background with good lighting and no traffic of any kind.

Is that asking too much?

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