Disadvantage into advantage


Photography has always had a hard time in the art world. It is still believed by many people that a camera sees the way that we see. This truly could not be further from the truth. The Human eye can see around 126 stops of light information, 126! An excellent modern DSLR can see around 14 stops of light information, not very similar at all. This fact is often a huge problem when trying to capture the complete dynamic range (range of light information between bright areas and dark areas) of any scene with bright highlights and deep shadows. Conventionally graduated neutral density plates are used to increase the amount of light information captured. Taking multiple photographs at varying exposures and later blending them in editing software can yield better results, but much more computer time is necessary.

With this photograph taken on Loop road in the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida I used the disadvantage of the cameras limited 14 stops of light information to my advantage. I did this by isolating a great blue heron in very bright mid-morning light and juxtaposing it with dark swamp greenery covered in deep shadow behind. By exposing for the bird and not the shadow areas, I was able to capture the light information of the bird, but the shadow area fell off into complete blackness. The dark background created a stark and dramatic backdrop for this massive and stunning bird.

Canon 6D, Canon 400 F5.6L, ISO 400, F/5.6, 1/1000th of a second.

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