Last weekend was both sunny and warm, maybe too warm, so I grabbed my trusty camera kit and headed to the local park to take some pictures.
I headed to the local park to do that thing one does with a camera. There. The river, which runs through the park, was rife with feathered life in the way of Canadian geese and male mallard ducks. Joy and rapture! Somewhat willing subjects that typically behave if I approach them slowly and quietly and they were out in abundance.
I strapped onto my Canon 40D dSLR my Canon 70-200mm f/4L USM IS lens, checked my white balance setting, my metering mode, my ISO, etc. and turned the camera upon my slightly unsuspecting prey. My prey was, as I had hoped, pretty cooperative and actually deigned to allow me within twenty feet or so. After spending some time snapping away (and remaining in one spot) they seemed to become even more comfortable with my presence and THEY actually moved towards me. Well, the Canadian geese did, but the mallards stuck with the twenty-foot buffer. No harm, no fowl (come on…..that was fucking funny!). As I snapped away with my trusty kit I kept telling myself “Damn! I’m certain to have gotten some great pictures this time. They’re close, cooperative and look great in this four o’clock in the afternoon sunshine. Damn it’s a good day to be out taking pictures.”
Anyway…..I spent the rest of the afternoon taking more pictures, but I felt that none would be as good as those taken first, with the mallards and geese. One would think that I would be anxious to get home and see my craft. To get home and see the fruits of my labour. To get home and bask in the glow of my glorious photography skills.
Oh Jesus H. Tap-Dancing Christ…..stop it already!
However, this wasn’t the case. I actually didn’t review any of these Ken Rockwell quality shots until just last night while lounging in a recliner in my t.v. room. Mind you, the laptop isn’t the best vehicle for issues of colour reproduction, but I was only reviewing them after all. As I made my way through this batch of images (with such high hopes and expectations) I was suddenly filled with a sense of minor, but impending disaster. Of the images shot when the various birds were on/in the water the images lacked detail in the bodies of the mallards and geese because I had been shooting in the direction of the sun.
I know that shooting with the sun behind you is a far, far better thing to do and these images proved exactly why that is so. However, what was I to do? The other side of the river doesn’t have the mallards and geese: they only come to this side of the river. And as it was in the mid-late afternoon I didn’t have much in the way of choice as to where the sun was located. My bad.
Still, many of the pictures of the geese (who moved quite close to me and away from the water) are very nice and I’m looking forward to posting them soon enough. And the ones of the geese and mallards in the water aren’t horrible, unusable, wretched, etc., but simply lack the detail I would have preferred as I was shooting the side of their bodies that was cast in shadow. I guess I’m going to be learning something about High Dynamic Range in the next few days when I get serious and go through the pictures for the purpose of posting and printing.
Oh, and speaking of printing pictures I’d like to pass on a bit of advice I read last year. Printing pictures (or having them printed) can get pricey, but if you have your own picture-quality printer (and I have two: a Hewlett Packard C7280 and an Epson PictureMate Snap) I have read that a great substitute for high-end (and high-cost) photo paper is to use brochure paper with a gloss finish. I haven’t yet tried it myself, but the author of this advice said it gives very good results and at a much lower cost. I’m actually thinking of printing all the pictures I really like in this fashion and putting them into a notebook so that I can see my work over time and enjoy it on something other than a computer monitor.
You can thank me by sending money.