Thursday, February 18, 2016

Silver and Black Sculpture: Common Raven

Photographing black-and-white birds can be a challenge. The camera does not have the dynamic range of the eye when it comes to the full range of brightness from very dim to very bright. Such contrasts on a camera often cause the white to be over-exposed, or the blacks to be too black, losing any detail. I have often been disappointed trying to capture Buffleheads or other black-and-white ducks against a high-contrast lake. This can also be true on all-white birds against dark backgrounds, or black birds against bright backgrounds.

That brings us to today's photo. It is lacking in several respects. The two primary failures are that the bird's head is turned and there is thus no face as the bird walks away. Faceless birds hardly ever work as a pleasing photographic subject. Secondly, the sun reflecting off the jet-black bird is completely over-exposed.

Common Raven
Common Raven. Ramona, California. January 2, 2016. Greg Gillson.
In spite of these flaws, I am really drawn to the highly-contrasting feather edges. The glossy plumage provides mirror-like highlights to the otherwise feathery blackness. It reminds me of a metallic sculpture of a muscle-builder. I think it would also work as a black-and-white photograph.

Common Raven

Yes, that's it.

This bird loses all such impression and pleasing contrast when it turns around and walks toward me.

Common Raven