Great Blue Silhouette

Today I'm sharing another image made at Viera Wetlands down in Florida.

Many times you arrive at a location before dawn.  While you can't really shoot any action you can take advantage of the sky back lighting some of the birds and use that opportunity to get creative.  Here I used the colors of the sky before sunrise to create a silhouette of the Great Blue Heron that was tending to her nest.

ISO 640, 600mm, F/6.3 @ 1/80th second

Hover over the image with your mouse to view the camera settings.  Click the image to view it larger.

If you look at the camera settings, you'll notice a pretty "slow" shutter speed.  Especially when we normally think of shooting birds.  Shooting a 600mm lens at 1/80th second does require a stable tripod.  Bear that in mind if you are out trying this.  Handholding at that shutter speed would not result in an image as sharp as using a tripod.

Another thing to keep in mind when shooting these silhouettes is I typically shoot these in aperture priority with multi-segment metering mode.  I then shoot them at about -1EV.  This allows for more contrasty colors in the sky and we aren't really looking for detail in our subject anyway so I am not worried about that.  

One last thing to remember when shooting these is how to properly read your histogram.  When you shoot these silhouette images, your histogram will be mostly to the left indicating not much shadow detail.  Great!  That's exactly what we are looking for.  In this case, the "perfect" histogram is all the way to the left.  Don't get hung up on your histogram needing to have the "perfect" bump in the middle while not touching either side.  That maybe perfect in some situations, but not if you're looking for a silhouette.  

This image made with my Sony A77 II and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  All mounted a top my Sirui tripod and Ph-20 Gimbal Head.

Not Your Paw Paw's Point and Shoot

On the days we just strolled around the quaint little town of Apalachicola during our workshop I usually left everything at the car except for my Sony RX-100 II point and shoot camera.  It wasn't at all because I wasn't taking my photography seriously.  Even though I heard things like "You're only taking the little camera?" or "This must not be very good if you aren't taking a real camera.".  It was just that I wanted to walk around comfortably, with the ability to just tuck the entire camera in my pocket when I wasn't using it.

Now, if you know anything about the Sony RX-100 series of cameras, you know they aren't your paw paw's point and shoot.  They have complete manual controls and shoot RAW.  This allowed me to shoot in Aperture Priority Mode.  I shoot in this mode 95% of the time when I'm using any camera so with this camera having that ability, I felt right at home.

Here's a scene that I came across as we were walking to have breakfast one morning.  It is a local seafood processing factory.  It happened to have the great breezeway that was back lit causing everything between in it to be silhouetted.  The scene itself made it very easy to capture.  

By the end of the workshop the things I was hearing were more like "I'm going to have to look into getting one of those little cameras.".

ISO 100, 37mm, F/4.9 @ 1/80th second

After I got home, I processed the RAW file in Lightroom.  Basically, all I did was convert it to black and white, then bump the contrast and lower the blacks.

Apalachicola, Florida

Short and sweet post today!  I just returned home from our Forgotten Coast Workshop in Apalachicola, FL.  The conditions were fantastic, especially for sunrise and sunset!  Some of the best I've seen!

I just wanted to share a quick image from a sunset shoot we were doing.  These are the rakes, or tongs, the oyster men use when they are out fishing.  I was kind of experimenting here a bit.  I borrowed this Tamron 10-24mm Lens designed for APS-C sensor cameras and mounted it to my Sony A7R body via a Metabones Adapter.  I quickly found out that I could get down to around 15mm without vignetting.  Anything between 10-14mm did have expected vignetting since the lens was not designed for Full Frame camera bodies.

ISO 100, 16mm, F/16, 1/5 second

ISO 100, 16mm, F/16, 1/5 second

Back lighting and Silhouettes

Often times as amateur photographers we are often taught to shoot with our main light source at our back.  This enables our main subject to be lit from the front side, or front-lit.  It makes exposing for the scene an easier task and that's why it is often suggested to amateur photographers.  

As you grow your ability and creative vision, I would suggest trying exactly the opposite and shoot directly into your main light source causing your main subject to be back-lit.

This is generally harder to expose for, especially depending upon how you have your camera set to meter the scene.  Generally the camera tries to over-think this situation and your pictures come out darker than they should.  However, once you to learn to control that by using your exposure compensation, or another light source, such as a strobe of speedlite, the results can be something to be proud of.  Today, I specifically wanted to talk to you about silhouettes.  They are really quite simple to achieve, but I'm asked how to get a good silhouette on many workshops I teach.  The first thing you need is your main light source behind your subject.  Then if you want your subject to be silhouetted, dial your exposure compensation down to -1, or in some cases, -2.

The image below was created just that way.  I had my subject get between my camera and the light source, in this case the sun.  I dialed my exposure compensation down to -2 and fired away.  Another tip...I set my aperture to F/16 to get that nice star burst from the sun.  A smaller aperture (bigger number) will give you more of a star burst effect