Nature Photography Photo Critique
by bailey mccallion
Category: Nature Photography
Lens: Zoom: Variable focal
Exposure time: 1/200 ,
Description: Was walking a path near the edge of the bay and came upond this blue heron just sitti see all >
Was walking a path near the edge of the bay and came upond this blue heron just sitting there enjoying the early morning sun. I got as close as I could to the edge and shot the picture he contiuned to sit there so I shot off as many as I could.
Subject of photo
Composition & Perspective
Use of camera, exposure & speed
Color & Lighting
Depth of field
Blue herons are great subjects because of their interesting shape. You have caught this one in a typical pose and better yet, engaged in natural behavior - fishing and spotting prey. The rocks, water, and seaweed lend interest to the scene. There is also a blotch in the water that the viewer can image in a school of fish the bird is hoping to eat.
I like the pose of bird, the inclusion of the rocks in the corner, the reflection and the use of the surrounding water. To improve this shot, however, I suggest cropping out much of the "dead" space on the left side and top of image. This will leave all of the interesting stuff and also make the bird larger in the frame. The shoreline at the top right is distracting. You said you took several photos: it would have been good technique to try different perspective on the multiple shots by lowering yourself. A little lower angle on the shot would have taken us more into the bird's world showing the world as he sees it and making the bird look bigger by looking more up at it.
As far as I can tell, the focus is on the subject where it should be. The rocks and reflection are also in focus enough to service their supporting role. This also shows good hand held shake control.
The lighting is very nice with the subject fully lit and the warm directional light on the rocks completely tells the viewer that this was a morning shot. There are some shadows, but they function well in the image and do not interfere but enhance.
The color of the water, rocks, and green seaweed are very nice and true to the morning warm light. Here is were you run into problems with some animals - they are colored duller than their surrounding and it is hard to keep them the star of the picture. If you want to play with the image in post production you can try a few things to make the bird pop out from the nicely colored background elements:
Depth of field works for me but if the bird is calm you can try different setting to blur out the rocks and water. This could give a softer look to the photo - it a matter of personal taste and an artistic decision. Experiment to see what you like.
This is a nice shot but can go to the next level with a post processing crop. You can further enhance it with selective sharpening, color saturation, and color shifting. If this is on your regular walking route, you may have the chance to build this bird's trust and get a chance to get closer and try many different poses, angles, and actions.
How to improve your photo
Lower yourself to the level of the subject or even lower. This has the effect of making the small animals look bigger and it places us in their world instead of at the perspective the human experiences. This adds interest and uniqueness
Enhance the bird in post production to make it pop: Sharpen just the bird and make sure his blacks and shadows are in the darkest range - the highlights already look good. Desaturate the green in the rock he is standing on and the one immediately to his right slightly to keep the eye from getting drawn away. Just on the bird try to enhance the blue in the feathers using saturation and color shifting sliders . Right now he is a little bit to the brown side possibly due to the warm light. Try for a colder blue on the back . Also saturate the yellow on the beak - it is the only yellow in the shot and should draw the eye with its contrast.
This bird may be a frequent visitor to this spot. Watch and wait and your next shots could be of him catching a fish! Be sure to have your camera on a fast shutter. Learn to read his movements so you know when to expect a quick jab into the water.
Get feedback on your photos from Pro Gregory Sweeney