PHOTO TIP OF THE MONTH

Bald Eagle with Fish:
I was photographing bald eagles fishing in Homer Alaska in March 2006.  I wanted to freeze the action and obtain good exposure throughout the scene, including the white head feathers of the eagle, the snow capped mountains in the background, and the dark body feathers on the eagle.   

I needed to have either overcast light to reduce the overall tonal range I was capturing or shoot the eagle in full sunlight to capture all the detail in the dark areas.  Since I have recently switched to digital, my overall latitude (tonal range) I can capture is 2-3 stops greater than slide film so this assured me of getting both the white highlights and dark body feathers.  Digital exposure is much easier than  film.  There are basically two ways of exposing a scene like this.  I start off by either  setting my meter to middle tone ("0" compensation), taking a shot and looking at my histogram to see how much the highlights are overexposed.  Next I underexpose the scene so that my highlights (the white head feathers)  are 1/3 stop from being blown out (blinking on my preview screen).  The other way is to spot meter on the white head feathers and open up 2 stops.  Alternatively, since there was no clouds in the sky I could use the sunny 16 rule and shoot sunny 16 -1/3 stop, so as not to blow out and overexpose the highlights.  I also needed the fastest shutter speed I could to freeze the motion of the wings.  For this I used ISO 400 (one stop more than 200) and f8 gave me 1/1600 sec for my shutter speed.  The rest was to position myself with the sun at my back and the mountains in the background. 


Past PhotoTips

September 2004

June 2004

May 2004

April 2004

February 2004

January 2004

December 2003

November 2003