Thursday, September 6, 2018

Coot photography challenge

If you live in North America like I do you probably see American Coots every time you visit a pond or other wetland. If you photograph birds you probably have a bunch of photos just like this one:

American Coot
Typical coot photo.
There's nothing wrong with the photo above. It's just common. It looks like any other photo of American Coot on a sunny day.

Only a couple of minutes after I took the above photo, I took the photo below. What changed?

American Coot
American Coot. Dixon Lake, Escondido, California. August 31, 2108.
First of all I got down a lower so I wasn't shooting down at the bird, but joined it on its level. I wasn't able to get down completely to water level, such as laying on my belly on the shore. I sat on a low rock. But since the bird was a bit farther away the angle was more horizontal than the first photo where I was standing up on a bank.

Second, I chose a more muted background. In this case the bird was in a little inlet. The brown water color is the reflection of the nearby curving shore.

Because I wasn't photographing the bright reflected sky, I was able to adjust the exposure properly. This third change is that the white bill isn't over-exposed and blown-out as on the first photo.

The next time you are looking at a coot, grebe, or duck in your viewfinder I want you to remember this. If you find it looks like the first photo, then stop. Change your shooting angle. Change your composition and background. Change your exposure. I challenge you to take a more interesting shot!

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