Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bird Headshots and Portraits

Reverting to "Plan B"

It has rained 8 of the last 9 days here in Florida totaling over 24 inches of rain according to my neighbor's rain gauge. Since this has prevented me from getting out, I decided to revisit some photos from past outings and take a closer look at some headshots.

Getting a good headshot is aways a big challenge for me and most of the time the I end up not liking a lot of the shots I make. It's particularly difficult for me to capture enough close detail and create a well composed shot at the same time. This is something I'm still working on - trying to achieve the kind of balance that will jump out at me when I see it. The examples in this post are some of my better attempts.

30247 Tricolor Heron
The tricolor heron image above was captured in St. Augustine, Florida. Getting this kind of shot is easy when you just happen to get an unexpected opportunity at very close range. I was fortunate to have this happen one morning in the Everglades National park, which resulted in the two images below. Neither of these birds spooked as I approached, so it was pretty easy to get these images. I figured the birds in close proximity to the trails at Shark Valley must have become accustomed to human presence because they were very tolerant of people approaching and snapping photos.
42043-Black Vulture

The cormorant was the first decent headshot I've ever gotten of one. I only wish this particular bird had been in breeding colors with the blue ring around the eye. I have seen some amazing photos of them but have not had the opportunity to capture an image like that myself yet.
42431 Green Heron
The green heron image above was captured in the early morning light at Wakodahatchee Wetlands. Sometimes a bird approaches closely but lands on a the railing of the boardwalk or some other man made object. I will usually not photograph a bird and show it standing on something other than a natural perch, but this type of situation does give an opportunity for a head shot, which is what I did in this situation.
23919 Purple Gallinule

The purple gallinule is one of the most colorful birds I've ever seen. On the few occasions I've had to photograph one, I have not yet had an opportunity for a really good full length shot. This one walked up into the grass beside a trail where I was standing in the Everglades National Park, allowing me the opportunity to make this headshot.
29375 Cattle Egret
This cattle egret shot above was made in St. Augustine. It was perched on a tree near the boardwalk at the Alligator Farm and made an easy target for a headshot.
35551- Wood Stork
In this last shot, I was able to get fairly close to the wood stork. But I was in a hurry to get the shot, thinking the bird was about to leave, and neglected to choose a narrow enough aperture to keep the back of the neck within the depth of field and in focus. I'll try to remember this in the future and hopefully avoid making this same mistake again. Taking headshots is fun, but it is also something I do as a throwback when I am unable to capture a full shot due to either an unsuitable foreground or some other distraction that would disturb the composition. That's why I consider headshots as 'plan B' on most outings.