Monday, March 26, 2007
Ultimate Travel Photography
Camera techniques to help you shoot like a pro on your next photo adventure
2 My Top Exposure Tip
When it comes down to it, when we take a picture, all we're doing, technically, is recording light. Therefore, we have to do everything in our power to accurately record the light.
Recording the light starts with seeing the light—the highlight and shadow areas of a scene, the contrast range of a scene, the direction of light, hot spots and deep shadows and, of course, the color of light.
Compare these two pictures, one taken at sunset (the monochrome image) and one taken at sunrise (the picture that includes the sun in the frame). It was easy to get a good exposure of the sunset picture because there wasn't a lot of contrast in the scene; I put my camera on aperture priority, composed the scene and took the shot. The sunrise picture was tricky, because of the contrast range of the scene. To avoid the sun from being overexposed, I set my exposure compensation to -2. It may sound as though I was underexposing the image; however, I was getting a "right on" exposure—especially of the sun, which is what I wanted. Note that you don't want to underexpose a scene too much. The more you do, the more digital noise you get in a picture.
For the sunrise picture, I knew to adjust my exposure compensation because I've learned how to see the light and have learned that I don't like any overexposed areas in a scene.
As for the color of light for both of these images, I shoot RAW files and adjust the color in Adobe Camera Raw, usually increasing the saturation a bit for a more colorful image. If you shoot JPEG files, try setting your white balance to "cloudy" for a more saturated image.
3 Main ingredients for wildlife photography
To digress from tech talk for just a bit, here are three of the main nonphotographic ingredients for successful wildlife photography: luck, a good guide and patience.
We were lucky to witness and photograph the annual migration of the zebra and wildebeest, but we increased our luck by timing the workshop for mid-September, during the annual migration of these herbivores that basically follow the rainfall between Kenya and Tanzania. We also were fortunate to see so many animals crossing the river, as this mass crossing only happened on one morning and for only about an hour.
And when it comes to patience, you need plenty of it! We waited for almost half an hour for this African fish eagle to take flight. I was able to capture its takeoff because I set my camera to rapid frame advance and because I left room in my frame to capture the bird away from its takeoff point. By the way, I have plenty of other pictures from this sequence with a wing or a claw or the beak cut off, and with a background that's not as pleasing. So take a lot of pictures to get one you like.
Back to tech talk: The fish eagle filled only about one-third of the original frame. I was able to get a sharp enlargement because of my camera's 16.7-megapixel image sensor and because I shot a RAW file, which retains all of the data. What's more, I set my lens at ƒ/8 (the sharpest aperture on the lens), and I set my shutter speed to 1⁄500 sec. to "freeze" the bird in flight.
My ISO was set to 400, which, in my camera, produces little or no digital noise. Always choose the lowest practical ISO setting for the sharpest possible picture.
Another tip for wildlife (and people) photography: If the eyes aren't in focus, you've missed the shot. To get the eye, and the entire animal in focus, I set my camera to the AI Servo auto-focus mode, which tracks a moving subject right up to the moment of exposure.
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