It’s been a while since I’ve discussed any photo techniques, so I thought I’d share two hints that you might not have tried recently. I also wanted to let you know what’s going on at Gatorland now that breeding season is in full swing.
#1 – Focus stacking: I’ve written about this before. You can read the posts here:
Both of those were macro-photography related. But the technique can also be used for other situations such as landscapes.
Beneath the bridge, by the rocks – Parish Park in Titusville, about a half hour before sunrise
I was at Parish Park in Titusville one morning, looking for a new view point and discovered this area where I could place these rocks in the scene as a foreground for the bridge and far shore. My problem was that without a tilt-shift lens, using the Scheimpflug principle, it’s hard to get the entire composition in focus.
I decided to make three exposures, changing the focus point in each. In the first, I focused on the rocks in the foreground, in the second on the nearest portion of the bridge, and the last was on the far shore. At home, I did some initial processing (the same for all three) and brought them into Photoshop on separate layers. Then I aligned the layers and manually blended them together using masks. I could have used Photoshop’s focus stacking capability, but doing this myself with layers gave me more control. The resulting depth of field is just how I wanted it. What do you think?
#2 – Fill flash: I often carry my flash and use it to add fill light or catch lights in eyes. It helps and doesn’t seem to bother the animals. I’ve also used fill flash for sunrise or sunset portraits of people. It can do a good job of balancing the exposure of your subject against a bright background.
When I saw this Tri-colored Heron posing in the bush, I made a few photos. But then I thought about adding flash. When I got home, the photos with the flash looked much better. The bright, ambient sunrise was balanced with the fill flash on the nearby bird. There’s a better detail in the bird when I used the flash.
Early bird – Tri-colored Heron at dawn (ISO 800, f/5.0, 1/320 sec, on camera flash in auto slow sync mode, -1 stop flash exposure compensation).
If you try this, you’ll need to practice a bit before you use it in a pressure situation. Make sure you know how to adjust exposure compensation (on both the flash and the camera), shutter speed, and aperture to get the best results. And if your camera has it, try enabling high-speed sync. This lets you shoot with flash at higher shutter speeds without getting any black bands on your photos (at the expense of a lower light output).
I went by Gatorland again last week. The Great Egrets continue to breed and their hatched chicks are growing fast. There are Snowy Egrets and Cormorants on eggs now and I saw Tri-colored Herons, Anhingas, and Wood Storks gathering nesting material although I didn’t spot their nest or eggs yet. A few cattle egrets have also arrived and are courting. And the gators are getting more active too.
Just before I left, I spotted this large turtle there – I’ve never seen one before. It looks quite intimidating and I wouldn’t want to be too close to it in the water.
For a better idea of what you can photograph at Gatorland, you can look through my album on Flickr.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.
7 thoughts on “A couple of photo hints and a Gatorland update”
Thanks for the tips Ed – inspirational stuff – they make one feel one should have a go! And the shots are terrific – I especially love the portrait of the heron!!
I haven’t done much with focus stacking nor do I use fill flash very often. These are good reminders for me. Also, thanks for the Gatorland rookery update.
You’re very welcome, Rhona and Jim. And thanks so much for your comments.
Thank you for the update and photo tips! I`ve never been to Gatorland…Hope to make it one of these days!
You’re welcome, Dorothy. I enjoy doing it. And thank you for commenting!
I think you did a fantastic job with the focus stacking image. That is such a great tip. I come across that same issue many times. I can’t wait to try it out. Secondly, the fill light you used on the heron is a brilliant idea! It looks marvelous! I’ve never known to even do that in that kind of environment (I’m a newbie). I really enjoy reading your blog; you are an excellent photographer with magnificent images always popping up, and you’re willing to share information with others quite frequently. Thank you!
You’re very welcome, Debra. And thank you – I enjoyed reading your comment!
It really helps to know that others find the info useful.