Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: How to photograph dark birds on water - Seeking advice

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    How to photograph dark birds on water - Seeking advice

    I'm trying for an action shot of a dark bird in action on ocean waters... The bird is almost black but it looks dark brown when the sun is shining on it... The ocean waters are blue/green not a gorgeous tropical blue green just an ordinary blue green.

    What I am finding is that if I expose to the right for the birds the water is washed out and the white bits on the wings are overexposed, and if I expose in the middle the water is washed out, the bird underexposed...

    Also I am puzzled as to why the water colour changes quite a bit with each photo (even in the original jpegs)... (All auto white balance)

    When I edit the photos in Lightroom the program wants to decrease the exposure which makes the water too dark... If I hit auto white balance the water is brown...

    Manual, SS 2000-2500 A 5.6 iso 1250, Auto WB so the only thing that is changing with the photos is that I either tried spot or matrix metering.



    Original JPegs Matrix Metering

    How to photograph dark birds on water - Seeking advice

    Spot
    How to photograph dark birds on water - Seeking advice


    Original Jpeg Matrix Metering
    How to photograph dark birds on water - Seeking advice


    Edited Jpeg

    How to photograph dark birds on water - Seeking advice

    Edited Jpeg... I can't find the original but if I try to set the WB to reflect the true blackness of the bird you can see that the water colour is a dark blue which is not really the case.

    How to photograph dark birds on water - Seeking advice

    I suspect that there is something that I am missing or not understanding about metering correctly to capture all the correct colours in the photos. Is there a way for me to photograph these birds and expose for the black and the white, and get the colour of the water right? Any tips would be appreciated.

    Thank you.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    6,571
    Real Name
    Dan

    Re: How to photograph dark birds on water - Seeking advice

    Hey, Christina. You've presented some confusing information.

    First, you indicated that you are shooting in manual:
    Manual, SS 2000-2500 A 5.6 iso 1250, Auto WB so the only thing that is changing with the photos is that I either tried spot or matrix metering.
    If you are truly in manual at the same settings then which meter you have configured doesn't matter because it's not changing anything. Yet the images are clearly either exposed differently or processed differently in post. Since the one you indicate as spot metered is over exposed, it looks like something was in auto that you weren't aware of. I tried looking at EXIF but it looks like photobucket strips or masks it so I couldn't see it.

    The very first shot looks reasonably exposed, maybe slightly over but easily corrected. The second is definitely well over exposed which one would expect if spot meter was used on a black bird and either ss, aperture, or ISO were in auto.

    Are you shooting JPEG or RAW? I ask because you indicate "original JPEG" on a couple of the shots. It is important because if RAW, LR can't read the WB information in the NEF file so how you had the camera set is not relevant. But if you shot JPEG, then the WB/color information determined by the camera is reflected in the JPEG that LR opens.

    In answer to your last question, see my comments on your other post. It looks like you had fairly flat lighting so you should be able to get some detail in the black without blowing the white out. But not likely straight out of camera.

    One fundamental thing you must understand is how your meter sees the world. In these shots, everything is dark other than the bits of white patch on the wings. So even with matrix metering the meter is going to want to overexpose the scene. Spot on the black bird will be even worse. It is counter intuitive but you must get this down.

    If the scene you are shooting is dark, you have to UNDER EXPOSE relative to what the meter is telling you.

    If the scene is bright, you have to OVER EXPOSE relative to what the meter is telling you.

    Seems backward but remember the meter is trying to achieve an exposure that makes everything GREY. Like in your second shot. Spot meter on a black bird, viola, the bird is grey. That is when you have to recognize a situation that the meter can't handle and override it either with manual setting or the exposure compensation button (+-) if shooting with anything in auto.

    Of all these shots, the third one looks like the best exposure and colors that I would expect to see. That's just by eye. I'm not on my editing machine so didn't download any of them to look at histos etc.

    There is some very good news in these shots..... They are sharp as a tack

    By the way, I'm envious. In all the years up here I've only got one image of these guys. See them all the time but can't get close enough to shoot them.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    2,342
    Real Name
    Steve

    Re: How to photograph dark birds on water - Seeking advice

    One more thing to add to dan's post.....................when using spot metering, it's important to use your meter lock button. Especially if you're recomposing the shot.


    As an example.............if you spot metered off the duck, and then recomposed the shot. Now the center dot of the camera is over the water and not the duck. Your camera will continually update the metering untill you click the shot. So what will happen, is you will have metered off the water , instead of the duck. (unless you lock the metering, with the meter lock button)

  4. #4
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    Re: How to photograph dark birds on water - Seeking advice

    Hi Dan,

    I was in Manual mode using auto WB, and constantly changing between auto iso and a set iso and spot metering and matrix metering to see which worked best for exposure...

    I shoot jpeg and raw... For jpegs I set my camera to standard or neutral or normal depending on the setting. The edited photos are the edits in raw using LR, using the white and black points, clarity, and auto WB. So that helps explain the difference in colour. I didn't realize that auto WB in raw did not really set a WB, so good to know.

    One fundamental thing you must understand is how your meter sees the world. In these shots, everything is dark other than the bits of white patch on the wings. So even with matrix metering the meter is going to want to overexpose the scene. Spot on the black bird will be even worse. It is counter intuitive but you must get this down.

    Thank for this..

    If the scene you are shooting is dark, you have to UNDER EXPOSE relative to what the meter is telling you.

    If the scene is bright, you have to OVER EXPOSE relative to what the meter is telling you.


    And for the explanation on metering.. Very helpful as is your critique on the exposure because it helps me see what I should be able to see. The histograms are to the right on the Jpegs and to the left on the raw photos edited in LR.

    It's great to hear that they are sharp as I've been working on this. I photographed these birds from the end of a pier, usually from above. I'm off to try and find an eagle this weekend.

    Thank you so much Dan. Great advice that is very informative and helpful.

  5. #5
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    Re: How to photograph dark birds on water - Seeking advice

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for this. I was tracking the bird and waiting to click the shutter button so in a sense I guess it is recomposing. It is something that I missed, and I will read up on it and try it.

    Truly appreciated.


    Quote Originally Posted by Steve S View Post
    One more thing to add to dan's post.....................when using spot metering, it's important to use your meter lock button. Especially if you're recomposing the shot.


    As an example.............if you spot metered off the duck, and then recomposed the shot. Now the center dot of the camera is over the water and not the duck. Your camera will continually update the metering untill you click the shot. So what will happen, is you will have metered off the water , instead of the duck. (unless you lock the metering, with the meter lock button)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •