Rhapsody In Brown And Gold

Reminder:  You can enlarge any of the photos in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full-screen image.

I’ve posted photos of Pied-billed Grebes before and written about the species.  They are cute little divers, smaller than any duck.  I’m posting more images of this species (two different individuals) tonight, but today I’m more interested in the photographs than in the subject.

I’ve said this before: in nature photography the most important variable, sometimes even more so than the subject that one photographs, is light.  Light makes or breaks pictures.  Pictures of even exciting subjects can be disasters when taken in poor light and pictures of even the most mundane creatures can look beautiful if the light is right.

I think I hit the jackpot the other morning.  I was over at Sweetwater Wetlands, about an hour after sunrise.  The sun was still low on the horizon and objects were being lit obliquely.   I noticed this little Grebe sitting on a pond.

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What caught my attention immediately was not so much the bird but the way in which the sun modeled it against the pond’s dark water.  It was almost as if the bird was in a studio and lit by carefully placed floodlights.

Moments later I saw a second Grebe and, if possible, this bird was even more dramatically lighted.

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These Grebes are rather dull in color, but this light brought out all sorts of brown and gold highlights in the bird’s plumage, highlights that are normally invisible.

Even better, the low rays of the sun were doing cool things with the pond’s water.  Not only was it creating perfect reflections, but the dark water appeared as a rich brown, perfectly complementing the bird.

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I don’t get the opportunity to photograph in light this good very often and I was thrilled to get these images.

Photos taken with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 400, “M” setting.  The first photo shot at f6.3 @ 1/640, the next two shot at f6.3 @ 1/500.

 

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