Pied-billed Grebe

What a difference the light makes

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On the recent SDAS Birding Photo Club walk at Whelan Lake, I arrived early (about 30′ before sunrise) and set up my camera behind a camo screen on a tripod about 6″ above water level. My goal was to capture both Eared Grebes and/or Ruddy Ducks in mating plumage up close at water level. I accomplished neither, but did get some images of another bird, a Pied-billed Grebe. Certainly a common bird, but one that often is very accomodating for a photographer. These two images are of different individuals, but were taken from the same spot about 30′ apart. What a difference the light makes. Both of these images have been cropped heavily, about 50%. In processing the first one, I selectively brought up the exposure on the bird and down on the background. I also brought the Dehaze slider down on the background to increase the haziness. On the second image, I processed it very little.
Both images were taken with a Canon R5, 600 f/4.0 lens. The first at SS 1/1250, ISO 4000, f/4.0, EC 0. The second was taken at SS 1/2000, f/4.0, ISO 1250, EC +0.3. Both shots were taken using the LCD back screen to compose and focus (my days of laying on the ground to look through the view finder for these shots are gone).

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Mike Warner

Thanks for all the interesting setup and post-processing information regarding the grebe pictures. I prefer the second shot (in the light) because the colors are so attractive (Golden Hour light). The first shot just looks underexposed to me – I want to see it as a hazy, foggy surroundings but it doesn’t really look like it. Thanks for both!