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on May 27, 2014 in Wildlife Photography

Gettin Down with Birds

Blk-bellied Plover 1130

Taking the common in an uncommon way while bringing in the art and craft of photography is a simple way of grabbing the viewer’s attention. I’m down in Florida having the time of my life photographing birds on the beach. As I remind folks all the time when working with birds, it just takes one to make your morning. When you have over twenty five species and you’ve cached over 5k images in two mornings, well we can safely say you’ve found the one. But once accomplished, how do you get the viewer involved with your one and feeling the same exhilaration as you? There are lots and lots and lots of ways of doing this. I’m going to explore a number of methods we can use to make the uncommon out of the common this week. Now, it’s gettin down with birds.

Blk-bellied Plover 1100

What we have here is the Black-bellied Plover, a rather largish shorebird that is normally in the Arctic this time of year making babies. This individual is in his breeding plumage which makes him a hot target in my book. In the winter, you don’t see the white or black. The top photo was taken with the D4s / 800mm on top of the Gitzo 5561SGT w/ Wimberley Head so shooting basically at eyelevel. The body and lens are not as important here as the shooting at eyelevel. This is where 99.9% of wildlife photographers shoot. What if we just change this by taking that lens out of the tripod?

A favorite tool I can’t recommend enough to wildlife photographers is the Panning Plate. This very simple tool is incredibly simplistic. It permits you to put whatever lens you’re shooting with right on the sand. Shooting birds at eyelevel does two HUGE things for your photography. First, it completely changes the point of view to one that is anything but common. Second, it eliminates the detail in the foreground and background so the subject pops. You can’t help but see the visual difference between the top image shot from the tripod and the bottom image shot from the sand. It’s that simple starting to make your uncommon photos and grabbing the viewer’s attention. Just be forewarned, our necks aren’t made to be bent to shoot on the sand for long periods. It does take a tool. Yes, there are more techniques and we’ll explore them all week. mtc.