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Shooting into the light

OK, let us talk a bit about photography today, and I am going to break down a few shots that I took on Sunday 12 May, at Lions Nature Education Centre in Sai Kung - which is about 5 minutes away from where I live.

As an aside, someone wrote to me recently asking where to take nature photographs in Sai Kung, and I do highly recommend the venue above. IN a couple of hours I had discovered over 30 animal species that I photographed, including two changeable lizards, and a myriad of wonderful butterflies, beetles, and other bugs. Not to mention the flowers and plants. Plus there is a great "Deaf" Cafe, for refreshment. The downside? If you step off the path, it really becomes dog poop city, as so many careless dog owners think it acceptable not to be responsible and to clean up. Anywayyyyyy.....

As I had back surgery 4 days previously I took my lightest set up, a canon MKIII, with a 100mm lens. Which meant i scared most of the animals I tried to get close to...and I would recommend taking a zoom with at least 200mm.

So, this lovely changeable was spotted in the grass. The sun was in front of me, and he was almost silhouetted. My original shot below, withe centre point focus, burst of 5 shots, and cropped and some contrast added in the picture above.

1/180s . f8. ISO 500

As you can see the bright sun has blown out some highlights in the picture. I shot this with exposure compensation +1 1/2, as I could see his face was in shadow. The backlight gives it quite a soft tone, and also rings his crest in light. It would have been even better with a lower viewpoint, but this was blocked by the grass. The exposure of his face is now correct, although, as we can see from the photo below, it lacks the clarify and detail with the light

We watched this lovely chap for a bit, and as he relaxed and looked for a good vantage point he scuttled past us and up a small tree.

The 100mm lens meant I could not frame him much closer than this, but given the light was now behind me, I knew I would be able to make the substantial crop in the second photo shot at 1/750s f8 ISO500. For an even better result, I could have dropped the ISO to 250.

Waiting for him to turn his head so I could catch the "catchlight" in his I kept the centre focus. Now, with the light behind me, you can see the difference in clarity, tone and sharpness. His crest is not highlighted, but his head is nicely exposed over the crest, and there is lovely detail in the scales around his neck.

Both pictures have their merits, and its true that the one shot into the light looks much better large on a computer screen.

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