Male King Eider duck
Earlier in the week I posted a photo of a male king eider duck that I took at midnight in Alaska ‘s arctic, under cloudy skies. In contrast, I wanted to share a photo of the same species, but under completely different lighting conditions. I took this picture at 12 noon, about 12 hours later than the other frame (and not much sleep in between), and while I do not consider that an optimum time for shooting due to hot light and heavy contrast, this worked out o.k. Photographing a subject with white areas in mid day sunlight can be tricky, due to the tendency to blow out the bright highlights. My general approach to a subject in these conditions is to shoot in manual mode, find an exposure that does not overexpose the whites, use as low of an ISO as possible and then be super careful on the focus. The low ISO helps when it comes time to boost the shadows in Lightroom, which are fairly underexposed due to highlight preservation.
I’ve included a screen shot below that shows the initial capture, and the red highlight reveals a tiny bit of blown out area which was recoverable in the RAW post processing.
It might appear like I cranked the saturation in post production, but I really did not. Below is the final processing. I boosted the individual channels of blue and aqua saturation a little bit, but the brightness and fill light brought the color to life in the bird’s face. I also added a brightness brush to the bird’s face to bring in the eye a little bit.
It is also worth noting that I took this shot with Canon’s new 2x converter on the 500mm, on a 1D Mark IV that equals 1,300mm! It is amazingly sharp, and this tight compression let me make the simplicity of composition and use of positive and negative space that I think makes the image pleasing. It also provides a creamy, blurry background, with a slight pattern.
In addition, the bird raised its neck slightly for a few exposures, which make for a regal posture, as opposed to a more squatty, compressed look. I’ve got a few king eider photos posted on my website, but will have more added soon.