Have you ever considered a blue jay feather? It is simply lying on the path when you stumble upon it. It strikes you that this would make a good photograph. What do you do? Most people pull out their point and shoot cameras or iPhones and snap an Instagram type shot and hope for the best.
Luckily, you’re not most people. Your looking for impact. Better yet, you want to see the scowl on your mother in-laws face because it’s good enough to hang on your wall type impact; and YOU took it.
The challenge in taking this photograph is three-fold:
- You want to focus. You want the feather in complete focus while allowing the background to also have a texture. Texture is important. It adds a character to the picture and lets the viewer identify with it. In this kind of shot texture is good. On most DSLR type there is a P setting or a A-Dep. Use them. Experiment. Most of all, focus on the feather.
- It was important to maintain the contrast between the various blues of the feather and the blacks and browns of the ground. You really want the picture to highlight the differences not only in color but also in texture. The lines that you see in the feather just simple straight black lines. Yet, when you see them in the feather as a whole they are very striking and they give a delightful contrast to the texture of broken nuts and wood underneath it. Contrast can help bring this out. Remember, texture is good. Contrast is good.
- The lighting is tricky. This feather is lying under a large canopy of trees. It is a partly sunny day and that means that at anytime the sun will breakthrough introducing a slashing bright light across the mid-section of the feather. If you aim the camera into this specific area, the camera will try to compensate for the bright light and It would suddenly darken the shot for the picture and everything is black. If you choose the darker areas, then the shot would be vastly over exposed and the color gets washed out. You have to try to get your timing just right. Sure, you can always fix the picture in Photoshop or Lightroom later, but the idea is to try to do as little post-production as possible.
These are but three of the many steps you do when taking this shot of a blue jay feather. But that’s just part of the story, Little did you know when it happened, but you would soon be introduced to the previous owner of the feather. There was a reason he had so recently shed it, That story and a picture on the next post.
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