As we paused to watch a performance just outside of the castle, I became distracted by the low-flying birds overhead. One. Two. Three. A fourth. I wondered if I could capture one in midflight. I lifted my iPhone and composed a wide frame to retain the context of the environment—the castle and a performer focused on his audience—while leaving a wide-open space for my subject to position itself, in its own time. Standing steady, I tapped the sky to create an area of focus and just waited. After several minutes and a couple of misses, this beautiful bird soared into place and I tapped the shutter button just a moment before its wing aligned with the tip of the castle.
I chose to process the image in black-and-white using the VSCO Cam app to minimize color distractions, tone down a too-vibrant blue sky and to put visual emphasis on the simplicity of the composition and spontaneous alignment of subjects. I chose the B5/BW Moody filter and kept the filter saturation at +12. I then increased the contrast by +1, rotated the image just a bit, reduced highlights to +3 and sharpened the image to +6.
Challenge yourself to reveal a fresh view of a tired scene. Study the environment, and notice when and how unexpected moving elements such as people or birds add a dynamic element of interest. Then give yourself time to anticipate and capture the magic.
Stephanie Calabrese ( www.stephaniecalabrese.com) is an award-winning documentary photographer and author of the best-selling The Art of iPhoneography: A Guide to Mobile Creativity, 2nd Edition and Lens on Life: Documenting Your World Through Photography.